Seeing Isn’t Always Believing: A Worldview Lesson From Sequoia Trees

By Sean McDowell Published on August 11, 2018

Sequoias are the largest trees in the world. Redwood trees are taller, but sequoia trees have the greatest mass.

The General Noble Tree, which now exists as the Chicago Stump, is perhaps the largest tree ever cut. It takes about eighteen men standing with arms outstretched to surround the stump completely (You can see me sitting in the stump in the picture here). Before it was cut, the General Noble Tree was roughly 3,200 years old, which means it started growing roughly two hundred years before the time of King David!

Sequoias are so large that when they were first discovered nobody believed a tree of this size could exist. Why not? The issue wasn’t a lack of evidence—people had seen photos and heard personal testimony to their existence. The rejection went deeper.

Spiritual Readiness Logo - 400To prove that sequoias were real, the tree was cut down and shipped in pieces to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair where it was reassembled for spectators. Would this be enough to convince skeptics? Nope. Amazingly, the tree was reassembled, and viewers still believed it was a hoax. In fact, it was referred to as the “California hoax.” The physical remains of the tree itself was not enough to persuade people of its existence. But why?

Blinded by Pre-existing Beliefs

People rejected the existence of sequoias not because of a lack of evidence, but because of pre-existing beliefs about the possible existence of such large trees. In other words, they had already determined the size limits of trees before weighing the facts, and so they dismissed compelling physical evidence.

The story of the Chicago Stump is a timely reminder about the powerful role worldviews play in our understanding of the world. If you begin with the worldview that God doesn’t exist (naturalism), for instance, then no amount of evidence will convince you of a miracle. If there is no God, then any natural explanation must be preferred.

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But why begin with that assumption, especially given the severe difficulties naturalism has in explaining certain features of the world? As my father and I explain in Evidence that Demands A Verdict, naturalism fails to explain the origin of the universe, cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life, the origin of consciousness and the existence of free will. In the absence of proof that God doesn’t exist, doesn’t it make sense to at least begin with an open mind and follow the evidence wherever it leads?

If the evidence points away from God, then follow it. But if the evidence points to the existence of God, be willing to follow that too. An open-minded approach to the existence of the supernatural is the most reasonable position to adopt. Otherwise, you might repeat the mistake of those who rejected the existence of sequoia trees.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

 

Originally published at SeanMcDowell.org

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  • JP

    How could any evidence point away from God?

  • Ray

    All a man has to do is start walking, and keep walking and notice how big the earth is, and realize that nothing he has ever seen could have made it, and when he gets tired of walking, he might take a rest, sit down on a rock, and take the chance that God exists, and that he made the world, as people have said. He might just want to take the chance that God does exist, and that he might hear him say, “Thank you.” ..Thank you for making the world so big, for giving me water to drink, when I am thirsty, etc, and if he keeps on like that, day after day, he can not escape an experience with God, such that no man should be able to talk him out of it.

    It’s easy to prove the existence of God. You just have to do it for yourself. No one else can do it for you. So If someone asks you to prove that God exists, remind them that it’s up to them to do that. They have to do their own work, or go to those who buy and sell.

  • tz1

    Obviously the physical tree must have been true, just like Nebraska Man and Piltdown Man.

  • Boris

    Science doesn’t deal with super naturalism or magical explanations for very good reasons. The only way we could ever accept a supernatural explanation for anything is by first eliminating all possible naturalistic explanations. However we could never be sure we’ve done that. A belief in super naturalism has never led to anything, it’s a complete dead end. Science based on naturalism is the only thing that has ever led to any human progress. And that’s the way it’s always going to be. People like McDowell are involved in a last ditch effort to stymie advancing science by appealing to a scientifically ignorant American public with their ridiculous lies about science.

    • Andrew Mason

      In short you refuse to believe in a non-Atheistic explanation. You also ignore that much of science is founded on the progress made by those who believed in supernaturalism. Worse, many of the contentious ideas of our modern era remain untestable assertions taken on faith with heretics persecuted.

      • you use words carelessly. “supernaturalism” sounds very similar to “spiritualism” which is necromancy.

        • Andrew Mason

          Supernaturalism was Boris’ phrasing. Supernatural in this case would refer to God and such things.

          • Ignorance of already existing meanings of words are not my fault.

          • Bryan

            When God held the Red Sea for the Moses and the Israelites to cross, was that a supernatural act of God?
            The definition of supernatural is “(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.” This is generic when it describes “some force” but the key is that the event is beyond the natural order of things, hence supernatural. You can take that to mean necromancy or “spiritualism” if you want. But your lack of understanding the meaning of words is not the fault of others either.

          • you are misusing a term and then forcing it into a situation it does not belong. nature and supernature relate to Plato. The observable world is physical, but since the physical cannot explain itself then there must be some mechanics above it. This is metaphysics.

            The metaphysical is still a created, contingent thing; it is just not observable or understandable by natural means. Like you cannot measure something with no physical presence. you are trying to use a high-level philosophical term, but have no knowledge of philosophy. This is like a child with a gun, and is incredibly dangerous.

            you are equating God who is the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover and who is totally outside of creation, with created things that are in creation but higher-ordered than your fallen self. you ridiculously assume these metaphysical creatures are divine just because they are unseen and can do party tricks; that is INSANE.

            Take for example necromancy or “communing with the dead.” These fools honestly think they are talking with the dead, but are really being tricked by demons. The existence of demons and the tricks they play are far above the low-ordered simpletons who honestly think you can talk to the dead by the force of will alone so they are prey for evil spirits exploiting those people.

          • Ken Abbott

            “As stated above (Article 4), in Christ’s conception His being born of a woman was in accordance with the laws of nature, but that He was born of a virgin was above the laws of nature. Now, such is the law of nature that in the generation of an animal the female supplies the matter, while the male is the active principle of generation; as the Philosopher proves (De Gener. Animal. i). But a woman who conceives of a man is not a virgin. And consequently it belongs to the supernatural mode of Christ’s generation, that the active principle of generation was the supernatural power of God: but it belongs to the natural mode of His generation, that the matter from which His body was conceived is similar to the matter which other women supply for the conception of their offspring. Now, this matter, according to the Philosopher (De Gener. Animal.), is the woman’s blood, not any of her blood, but brought to a more perfect stage of secretion by the mother’s generative power, so as to be apt for conception. And therefore of such matter was Christ’s body conceived.” Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 31 (5).

            By the way, the “Philosopher” that St. Thomas cites in the article above was Aristotle, not Plato.

          • It is whichever one that created the philosophical discipline of physics and metaphysics. It doesn’t matter to me or my argument which one of the two it was, so pretend I said the other.

            Also, did you miss the larger point of my message about hayseeds confusing ANYTHING metaphysical for an act of the divine?

          • Ken Abbott

            That wasn’t the point of my post. I was wondering if you would castigate St. Thomas for using the word “supernatural.”

          • I don’t think you read my post very closely.

          • Ken Abbott

            I read it close enough. Perhaps you didn’t write it clearly enough.

          • I even clearly reiterated the point for you. In the post and in reply to you.

            you didn’t read it at all, considering your intellect only allowed you to think I was attacking the word in general. I even defined the word clearly.

          • Boris

            No magic is the word. Magic is what you creeps believe in.

        • Trilemma

          Believing in God is supernaturalism.

          • One would hope you would try not to make terms up on the spot, as that precludes any discourse, but maybe that is your goal here.

          • Trilemma

            I’m using the dictionary definition of supernaturalism. Look it up.

          • I’m sure you would use your own wishful thinking if you found it convenient.

      • Boris

        Scientists who have believed in super naturalism have left their beliefs behind when they studied Nature. If you are implying that evolution is contentious or untestable you could not be more wrong. But you’re a Bible thumper and you people have always been wrong about EVERYTHING. and you’ve always lied about EVERYTHING. None of you know ANYTHING.

        • Juan Garcia

          Please cite the empirical study that proves naturalistic evolution true. I’ve studied the 17 major competing theories within the general theory of naturalistic evolution and have not seen the empirical proof you require. Have you?

          • Boris

            It’s really funny that people who can’t prove any of their religious claims even might be or could be true are always demanding that others prove things to them. Scientific theories prove themselves to be true by being useful and making accurate predictions. Evolution is the foundation of biology, immunology, medicine among other things. If you have some other way of making progress in these areas with your rib woman – magic tree – talking snake “science” then show us the experiments and demonstrations and the data they produced that can be put to use in the areas I just mentioned. Otherwise every Christian college and university that teaches life sciences will continue to teach evolution just as they have since the 19th Century. So you creationists are the ones that have the work to do and the proofs you can out produce modern naturalistic based science with your creation magic. Let me know how that goes for you.

          • Andrew Mason

            Oh this is hilarious! Evolution is the foundation of nothing other than evolution. Medicine is not only not based on evolution, but evolutionary assumptions have impeded medical progress – vestigal organs for instance.

            As for every Christian college and university teaching evolution, not so. A friend who studied biology a number of years back was exceedingly irked that they taught it from a YEC perspective. I think evolution was mentioned, but in the same sort of context as needing to know Flat Earth theory or Geocentrism.

          • Boris

            No one can teach biology without evolution. Name this college for us please. Bob Jones U, perhaps. ROFL! You are such a liar.

          • Andrew Mason

            Of course you can teach biology without evolution. As with any real field of science it can be taught without recourse to fantasy. Of course as someone demands indoctrination through education that will be anathema to you.

            Name the college? Oh sure because of course I desperately want to give out personal information to some strange angry guy I ran into on the net. You won’t accept my word for it of course so I’ll just have to content myself with the knowledge you’re yet again committed to denying reality. What’s that phrase about not trusting one’s lying eyes?

          • Boris

            Biology without evolution is natural history, not biology. I had a semester of biology at my college which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church. That’s juts enough to know people like you are full of it. Christians colleges and universities have been teaching evolution since the 19th Century. People need to have some understanding of biology, ecology, environmental geology and other subjects so they can make informed decisions regarding scientific issues. When people like you feel free to reject evolution as part of a cherry-picking approach to science in the same way they do their Bible, your other choices will be no better informed. The rest of us have to pay for your ignorance and the bad life decisions you make especially in the voting booth.

          • Andrew Mason

            Seriously? Did you even do science at school? Biology is the science of life and living organisms, including such aspects as their their structure, function, and growth. Contrast that with natural history: the study and description of organisms and natural objects, especially their origins, evolution, and interrelationships. Seems like natural history is more focused on evolution than biology, at least by that definition.

            One semester at a college affiliated with the Lutheran Church. And were you a militant Atheist before then?

            Sure Christian Colleges have been teaching evolution since the 19th century, but Christian Colleges have also been denying Christianity since before the 19th century so your point is rather moot. You have to judge by substance not labels.

            People are supposed to learn enough about science at school so as to make informed decisions.

            Actually folk like me reject evolution as contrary to science. It’s not a matter of cherry picking but logic. Ironically it’s folk who lean more towards your side of the fence that are prone to cherry picking Scripture.

            Actually you tend to benefit from the wise life choices folk like me make at the voting booth and other such places. The reverse isn’t true however. We don’t benefit from losing equality and freedom because you object to different views existing in public.

          • Boris

            “Seriously? Did you even do science at school?”
            Yes and so unlike you I know how to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience like creation magic and Intelligent Design Magic.
            “Seems like natural history is more focused on evolution than biology, at least by that definition.”
            You don’t know what you’re talking about and I reject all claims about science coming from non-scientists. You’re as non-science as it gets.
            “One semester at a college affiliated with the Lutheran Church. And were you a militant Atheist before then?
            I have always been an atheist. I don’t know much about evolution until I went to college. There is where I learned that human evolution is the best documented science we have. It’s the only thing in science we’re absolutely sure of. Your lies to the contrary are even dumber than the claims the flat earthers make. At least they’re honest and brave enough to admit the Bible makes repeated references to the earth being flat. You’re neither brave or honest.
            “Sure …….Christianity since before the 19th century so your point is rather moot. You have to judge by substance not labels.”
            I love how you Bible thumpers tell us that universities were founded by Christians but now they’re not Christian anymore. They were forced to follow the evidence wherever led and now you have disowned them for doing that. Actually they’ve disowned you. And Michael Behe and William Dembski.
            “People are supposed to learn enough about science at school so as to make informed decisions.”
            They are which is why fundamentalists often home school so their children won’t learn about science or how to think for themselves and then make informed decisions.
            “Actually folk like me reject evolution as contrary to science. It’s not a matter of cherry picking but logic.”
            That is not true and you know it. Other people convinced you that you would burn in hell if you did not accept Jesus and believe every world of the Bible. That is the only reason you reject modern science. Fear.
            “Ironically it’s folk who lean more towards your side of the fence that are prone to cherry picking Scripture.”
            Not true, like everything else you say and believe. I don’t try to distort reality by distorting the language. So I don’t call religious fiction “scripture.”
            “Actually…. losing equality and freedom because you object to different views existing in public.”
            How are you losing equality? What bothers you is that other people are finally having rights equal to yours and you don’t like it. You don’t want to others to have the privileges previously afforded only to white male Christians like you. So besides atheists, blacks, Asians and women, who else do you hate and who else’s rights would you like to curtail? I mean besides women’s rights.

          • Andrew Mason

            Apparently you don’t because you conflate your faith with real science.

            And apparently you don’t like the dictionary, at least when it doesn’t support your definitions. Okay that’s fine you can live in your own world, at least for a while.

            Always been an Atheist? I presume that means you were raised in the Atheist faith by Atheist parents. Not really so surprising that you’re militant and intolerant then. Since you just needed some sort of creation myth to support your faith it’s not surprise you seized hold of evolution. That was its intent after all. And it’s ironic you mention Flat Earthers since the only ones I’ve heard of are evolutionists. Whether there are folk who actually claim that the Bible says the Earth is flat, or whether that’s just another lie by evolutionists I can’t say. Such folk wouldn’t be brave and honest though but rather ignorant of both Scripture in general, and observable reality. It suits the evolutionary narrative of course.

            You have an amazingly cherry picked definition of Christianity. Perhaps I should be amused by how your kind feel so entitled as to dictate who and what is Christian, but the illogic and foolishness wears thin after a while. The organisations in question haven’t followed evidence, they’ve simply chosen to walk away from their foundation. Perhaps it’s akin to talking about God fearing Christ following Atheists?

            So you’re saying you were home schooled? I know some people who were home schooled and they’re highly intelligent but guilt by association and all that so I guess you’ll discount that. There’s also plenty of parents who sacrifice to ensure their kids get a decent Christian education.

            Actually I know the reverse. I wasn’t taught to accept Jesus in fear of burning in Hell but to follow Jesus because He is the Way and the Truth. As for fear of modern science, I don’t fear it in the least. Modern science supports Scripture. What I ‘fear’ are the fools who claim to be wise and knowledgeable yet conflate their foolish faith with real science and persecute those who don’t embrace their faith.

            Actually I said folk who lean towards your side of the fence rather than you specifically but don’t let details get in your way. And I don’t call religious fiction scripture either, unless in a specific context perhaps e.g. Buddhist scriptures. That’s quite different to Scripture which is non-fiction.

            How are we losing equality? How about being forced out of business, facing unemployment, being denied the right to speak or gather, and the consistent depiction of Christianity as evil? Odds are you’ll plead ignorance of deny the claim. Of course you don’t think religious freedom merits defending, and doubtless oppose the notion of religious orientation as being fundamental to identity. That being the case you see no problem with dictating conduct to private businesses and denying them the right to practice their faith. You see no problem with sacking staff who for reasons of conscience cannot or will not do particular things, or say particular things. You will of course object when the wrong kind of staff are sacked for violating the ethos of their employing organisation. You likely won’t have a problem with FB, YouTube, or any other public square depriving people of the right to speak so long as it’s the right people being bannedarrested. And you likely won’t have a problem with universities and colleges banning student groups you dislike. You claim I am bothered by other having equality, yet the problem is you define equality in 1984Animal Farm type terms. You insist that granting unique privileges to other groups is equality. And of course you insist that I must, for reasons you don’t elaborate on, hate all the various named groups along with others. Sad but predictable enough.

          • Boris

            “Apparently you don’t because you conflate your faith with real science”
            Faith is belief without evidence. That is your deal not mine. Unlike you, whatever I believe can be supported by evidence. Your beliefs are irrational superstitions for which there exists not even the tiniest shred of evidence.
            “Always been an Atheist? I presume that means you were raised in the Atheist faith by Atheist parents.”
            Wrong again. My family is Jewish. Like almost all educated Jews they were non-religious. That doesn’t mean they were atheists.
            “Not really so sur prising that you’re militant and intolerant then. Since you just needed some sort of creation myth to support your faith it’s not surprise you seized hold of evolution.”
            Yeah like every other educated and intelligent person on this planet. Evolution is not a myth. It’s a much of a fact as water is H2O. Creationism is a myth and a very stupid one at that.
            “That was its intent after all.”
            Man it’s hard to believe anyone can be that stupid. The intent of science is to find out how nature works. The intent of religion is to brainwash and you are a prime example of how well that works.

            “And it’s ironic you mention Flat Earthers since the only ones I’ve heard of are evolutionists.”
            You never get tired of lying do you?
            “The organisations in question haven’t followed evidence, they’ve simply chosen to walk away from their foundation. Perhaps it’s akin to talking about God fearing Christ following Atheists?”
            No, they followed the evidence. You can claim otherwise until you die but it will still be a lie.
            “So you’re saying you were home schooled?”
            I graduated from Wakefield High School, the school closest to the Pentagon, along with Washington- Lee the best public schools in the entire world. It’s hard to imagine someone could go to school and be as ignorant and uneducated as you are. We didn’t turn out idiots in Arlington County the way your county does.
            “Modern science supports Scripture.”
            If modern science supported scripture then you creationists would not have been fighting a war on science for the last 1700 years. Science crushed your religion and all you can do now is lie about it. And lying is all you people ever do.
            “That’s quite different to Scripture which is non-fiction.”
            It’s 100 percent fiction from start to finish. Nothing will ever change that.
            “How are we losing equality? How about being forced out of business, facing unemployment, being denied the right to speak or gather, and the consistent depiction of Christianity as evil?”
            Christianity is not only evil it is the worst human tragedy ever. It’s nothing but lies. If you have a business license then you have to serve whoever walks in your door. If you don’t they need to take that license and you can go work somewhere there aren’t any customers.
            “You likely won’t have a problem with FB, YouTube, or any other public square depriving people of the right to speak so long as it’s the right people being bannedarrested.”
            The government cannot control speech. Your boss on the other hand can. Tough.
            “And you likely won’t have a problem with universities and colleges banning student groups you dislike.”
            That is BS. You don’t know me. I am against extremism whether it’s from the authoritarian left or the far right.
            “Sad but predictable enough.”
            Nope. All of your statements about me are wrong. Atheists are complex people, all different. We aren’t carbon copies of each other like you Bible thumpers. All of you are very predictable and we know what you are going to say before you even say it because you all go to the exact same websites to get your answers. Group non-think is what we call it. You’re all alike. uneducated and dumb as a bag of rocks. Oh and wrong about EVERYTHING.

          • Andrew Mason

            I’m not going to waste much time on this given it’s such a bad mix of lies, ignorance, and scripted responses. I did want to note that your final point (“You’re all alike. uneducated and dumb as a bag of rocks”) cracked me up – I’m still chuckling over it in fact so thanks for the laugh. I don’t really think you be uneducated, dumb as a bag of rocks, and have post-grad qualifications, not of course that you’d likely accept the evidence even if I waved paper in front of your lying eyes. Then again there’s more than one reference to Harvard and other such grads being clueless idiots so perhaps you can be tertiary educated and yet still dumb as a bad of rocks. Not sure how you could make your point about uneducated stick unless you radically redefine your terms though. Keep up the entertainment. 😀

          • Boris

            “And Evolutionists have left their faith behind as they study Creation. People can and do change their mind.”
            Yeah they do. About 55,000 American Christians stop going to church each week. Contrasting that you claimed there were so called “evolutionists” who became creationists. You could not even name one, not one from the last couple decades. Now let’s do the math on that shall we? Whatever you come up with it’s apparent that a lot more people are leaving the Christian superstition than are joining up with it. 3 out of 4 Christians college students reject their faith before they graduate. According Frank Turek, the AFA and others this number increases to about 94 percent by the time people reach 30 years old. Now the reason for this is obvious. Nobody wants to be associated with science denying crackpots like Ken Ham or Stephen Meyer or Frank Turek or you. You creationists are killing Christianity and more effectively than we atheists ever could. Keep up the great work.

          • Juan Garcia

            It might help to do a little more study and a little less hating. I’m not a ” creationist” in the sense you mean. My son is an MD, my best friend a Ph.D. biologist. We follow the evidence where it leads. I’ve read all your books, try reading one of mine. “The Devil’s Delusion” by David Berlinski, an agnostic or “Being as Communion” by William Dembski.

          • Boris

            Great, a couple of kooks. No thanks I know who these hoaxers are.
            David Berlinski is #24 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons:
            Diagnosis: Boneheaded, pompous and arrogant nitwit; has a lot of influence, and a frequent participator in debates, since apparently the Discovery Institute thinks that’s the way scientific disputes are settled (although he often takes a surprisingly moderate view in debates, leading some to suspect that he is really a cynical fraud rather than a loon).
            William Dembski is #103 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons:
            Diagnosis: Seriously deluded kook who, despite being obviously intelligent, lets his own preconceptions completely obstruct his view as to how things actually hang together – even on topics related to his field of expertise. Extremely influential nonetheless, and as such extremely dangerous.

          • Bryan

            I am shocked! You’re entire philosophy of the worthiness of an author is based on the singular evidence of “G.D.”, a blogger who not only doesn’t bother to show a picture of him/her-self in their own profile, and doesn’t even provide their real name or any credentials for making the claims he or she makes.The simple fact that you agree with this person doesn’t mean that they actually have said anything that resembles truth. And here I thought you were a person of science and logic and reason. It turns out you appear to be “loonier” than the ones you criticize.
            By the way, the taunt “I’m not wrong, you are”, is what we said in elementary school when emotion of the moment started to cloud logic and reason. It was usually followed by name calling, which, true to form, you’ve done as well.

          • Boris

            The worthiness of an author is based on their knowledge and research. I have read some of what Dembski and Berlinski have written. I have heard both of them being interviewed, Dembski many times. Neither one of them is qualified to make the claims they do about the validity of Evolutionary Theory. They are both extremely dishonest. Both of them are either loons or are pretending to be to make money.

          • Juan Garcia

            Encyclopedia of American Loons. A most credible source. Not biased at all. Thanks for the reference. I’ll pray for you and hope your hatred doesn’t turn violent.

          • Boris

            Both Dembski and Berlinski work for the Discovery Institute which disqualifies them absolutely. This is the most dishonest organization there is. They’ve never discovered anything other than how to quote-mine legitimate scientists to make it seem like they question the validity of evolution or support Intelligent Design Magic. Neither of those things are true and the dishonesty of the Discovery Institute and its team of writers (they do no research, they just crank out anti-science propaganda) is well documented. Anyone can Google the Quote Mine Project and see for themselves exactly how they work and how incredibly sneaky and dishonest they really are. You need to go there and see this for yourself. You need to see the lies you’ve been fed for yourself and all the proof you need they are lies. But you won’t because you’re a coward who is afraid of the truth. You want to live in your little fantasy land instead of the real world. Yes I harbor an immense amount of hatred for lies and the lying liars who tell them. That is a good thing and a healthy kind of hate.

        • Juan Garcia

          And I might add that ad hominem is the refuge of the weak argument.

        • Andrew Mason

          And Evolutionists have left their faith behind as they study Creation. People can and do change their mind. Yes evolution is contentious, and untestable, but as it is faith based heresy is largely ignored and excluded.

          So why are you even here? If you believe Christianity is wrong about everything, Christians lie about everything, and know nothing, what is the point of hanging around here? Or is it that you fear you’re wrong about everything but unwilling to back down? Just curious, though I’m not expecting an honest answer.

          • Boris

            I’m not wrong, you are. I’m here to let you demonstrate that to others who are not as delusional and dishonest as you are. When they see just how dumb your arguments are they stop going to church and dump their religion.

          • Andrew Mason

            You do realize that verges on the incoherent right? How does your presence here demonstrate I am delusional and dishonest? And note that accusing folk of such is probably contrary to the ToS. The problem with your claim that upon seeing “… just how dumb your arguments are they stop going to church and dump their religion” is that this doesn’t accord to reality. If that were the case then no evolutionist would renounce their faith in natural selection etc and become Christian, except that happens. Yes it is true many folk do stop attending church and stop ticking Christian on the census, but how many of those grew up being taught evolution at school, on TV, perhaps even at church?

          • Boris

            “no evolutionist would renounce their faith in natural selection etc and become Christian, except that happens.”
            Name ’em and claim ’em.

          • Andrew Mason

            Name and shame, why? If you really want names try starting with something like Answers in Genesis.

          • Boris

            I’ll give you one more chance. Name ’em and claim ’em.

          • Bryan

            Dr. Matti Leisola

          • Boris

            When people are pressured by family circumstance to change their opinion about an important issue, their recantation is likely to be genuine, rather than insincere, so that they can honestly look at themselves in the mirror. People try to preserve their self-respect if they turned to Jesus “because evidence pointed the way” but not when “their wives and in-laws nagged their ears off and whipped them into a fundamentalist frenzy.”

          • Bryan

            Who are you quoting? What does this have to do with evolutionists who renounce their faith and become Christians?

          • Boris

            I’m telling you why Matti Leisola became a Christian. This guy always believed there is a God. It’s not like he was an atheist and he’s not qualified to make comments about Evolution by Natural Selection. And neither are you.

          • Bryan

            So only atheists are qualified to make comments about evolution and natural selection? Yet according to you, Christians have been teaching evolution at their universities since the 19th century. In another place, I think you said or implied that only real scientists could make comments about evolution. Now I forget, you said you studied history or science as a major?
            By the way, I’m not making any comments about evolution or natural selection. You asked for the name of a person who studied science who believed in evolution and, after studying evidence, decided it led to intelligent design as a more plausible explanation than evolution. I provided a such a name. Instead of arguing against an actual fact (he’s quoted as saying as much in an interview with creation dot com), you’d be better served by figuring out why you believe the author of the “Encyclopedia of American Loons” has any legitimacy or credibility make the comments he or she is making.

          • Boris

            “So only atheists are qualified to make comments about evolution and natural selection?”
            Hardly. Kenneth Miller is a Catholic who co-wrote a high school textbook on biology. Biologists, the people who use their knowledge of evolution in biology, immunology, medicine, pest control, farming or whatever are the people who are qualified to write or speak about the subject. People who work, not people who sit around and write books for public consumption – the people you get your misinformation from.
            “Now I forget, you said you studied history or science as a major?”
            History. I had one semester of Biology. Just enough to know that you don’t know.
            I didn’t say that Matti Leisola is in the Encyclopedia of American Loons. I never heard of him until recently somebody told me I should read his story and so I did. It’s similar to the Lee Strobel wife/family deal and many others and it’s BS. There’s no such thing as believing in evolution just like there’s no such thing as believing in Geometry. These are subjects that are taught everywhere they teach science and math. Either you understand these subjects at least a little or you don’t. You creationists don’t realize that you could no sooner refute Darwinian Evolution than you could Euclidean Geometry. 150 years of lying about evolution has made you American creationists the laughingstock of the rest of the world and embarrassed the rest of us. That is all it’s done. Thanks for nothing.

    • JP

      There are already things that science cannot explain by the forces of nature alone. Things like the origin of life and the universe cannot be explained by the forces of nature. Nor can consciousness.

      • Boris

        You are wrong again. Just because we don’t have an explanation for something does not mean we never will. These things can and will be explained and when they are you will still lie about them. You can’t help yourself because as a Christian you are forced to be wrong about everything and to lie about everything. This is why you are irrelevant and your religion is nothing more than a rotting, stinking corpse.

        • JP

          How long will we have to wait before scientists admit there is no way for the forces of nature fail to explain the origin of the universe and life?
          How many ridiculous scientific explanations will you accept before you admit how absurd they are?

          • Boris

            How long will we have to wait before Bible thumpers admit there is no way for the forces of magic to explain the origin of the universe and life?
            How many ridiculous magical explanations will you accept before you admit how absurd they are?

          • JP

            Actually you are the one who believes in magic. No way for the forces of nature to explain the origin of the universe or life. Not even close to explaining it.

          • Boris

            Can you prove the universe had an origin? Can you prove the mass/energy that comprises the universe hasn’t always existed in one form or another? What do you suggest cosmologists and origins researchers do, just stop looking for explanations for things? Because we’ve already learned quite a bit about life as it exists today by trying to figure out how life began on Earth. We’ve put that knowledge to work. We are close to explaining these things and that is exactly why you want scientists to stop looking for answers – you’re scared stiff they’re going to find them and soon too.

        • Trilemma

          You said, “These things can and will be explained.” That is simply a statement of faith.

          • Boris

            Nope, wrong again. That is an educated guess based on the fact that thousands of things have been explained that religious hoaxers just like you said never would be. It takes blind faith to believe that science cannot explain something. And you are nothing but blind faith and made up crapola.

          • Trilemma

            Past performance does not guarantee future results. Your educated guess is simply faith. Please list some things that are not subject to direct observation that science has explained that the religious said never would be.

          • Boris

            The role of germs in the spread of disease has supplanted the superstition and claims that demons cause disease – except for people like you who still don’t understand this. You’re not a scientist you are a complete scientific ignoramus just like your cult leader/hero Ken Ham.

          • Trilemma

            Germs are subject to direct observation. What religious person said that science would never be able to explain disease?

          • Boris

            Mary Baker Eddy and the 9 million people who bought her book. Today I’d say about half the U.S. population believes demons and/or sin causes disease and that would include you. So why are you asking? You’re one of them.

          • Trilemma

            Please provide a Mary Baker Eddy quote in which she claims science will never explain disease. Please provide a Mary Baker Eddy quote in which she claims disease is caused by demons. Please provide your source for your claim that about half of Americans believe disease is caused by demons and/or sin.

    • Juan Garcia

      Thank for proving Sean’s argument.

  • swordfish

    It’s clear that McDowell is struggling to find things which naturalism hasn’t explained: with the entire universe to work with, he’s only come up with five things!

    Of these, free will has essentially been shown not to exist, cosmic fine-tuning doesn’t really require an explanation, and we’re making good progress understanding the origin of life. That only leaves consciousness and the origin of the universe. We’ve traced the history of the universe back to 10^-43 seconds after the start of the big bang, and our understanding of consciousness is improving, although I agree it’s a hard problem.

    “An open-minded approach to the existence of the supernatural is the most reasonable position to adopt.”

    Not if it isn’t an explanation for anything: you can’t explain the unexplained by referring to something else unexplained.

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