Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Sad State of Apologetics

The Sad State of Apologetics

Glenn R. Morton May 13, 2020

When I was an arrogant young 19 year old, as opposed to being an arrogant 70 year old now, I became a Christian and was surrounded by YECS. At the time, I knew no geology, barely knew physics, and I read a creationist book. I was thinking, these are Christians. They will be among the most honest people on earth. I didn’t think they would make up data (what a mistake). I didn’t think they would twist data (what a mistake). I didn’t think they would ignore data (what a mistake). Believing that what I was being told was absolute truth, and that there was no data that they would refuse to tell me, I began 17 years as a YEC.

But I was working for an oil company and was forced daily to see contradictions between what Christians were telling me and what I personally saw. In 1979-81, I was an arrogant 29 year old in charge of hiring and training geophysicists for ARCO. I had 60 people working for me and a private secretary and flew business class to colleges all over the US recruiting. And I went to CHC, the college associated with Institute of Creation Research. I met Henry Morris, Duane Gish, Steve Austin, Gerald Aardsma and others. Morris was a vapor canopy advocate and Jody Dillow had done a mathematical model of it showing that the world would be cool. I went over the math, found an error, and told Henry Morris of that error. Henry wasn’t interested. He didn’t care to hear anything that went against his view. I was learning how little YECs cared for observational data, or for being correct.

In the Genesis Flood, Henry cites a delta which formed in a matter of a few days. When I went to look up the reference what Henry didn’t tell his readers, who are obviously thinking about the Mississippi River Delta forming in a matter of days, is that Jopling’s delta is 20 feet long and 1.5 foot thick! This is egregious behavior for a Christian!

I wrote articles in the CRSQ trying to explain the problems I saw. My articles were not received well and indeed; creationists didn’t want to know the problems. In 1985 Emmett Williams became the editor of the CRSQ and I was told directly it was with the purpose to stop me from publishing in CRSQ. I must say I was disillusioned by my fellow Christians, whom I had started out believing would be truthful in all things( what a mistake).

In 1986 my last real gasp as a YEC gave a paper at the Inter. Conf. On Creationism in Pittsburgh. It was entitled, Challenges to a Young-earth. I showed geological problem after problem; and I showed pictures. I really wanted help on the issues I presented from my fellow YECS. That was not to be.

Before I went to Pittsburgh, Robert Schadewald had read a couple of my CRSQ articles, called me, and wanted to have breakfast with me and Kurt Wise. As I recall, Kurt wasn’t at breakfast but Bob introduced me to Kurt later in the day. Schadewald was an atheist, who spent his life ridiculing and ripping people from our faith. While he and I became friends, and I reviewed his posthumously published book, we never saw eye-to-eye. He always knew I was a Christian and would shake his head about it.

After I gave my talk, John Morris came up on stage to challenge what I had just said. He claimed to have “had experience” in the oil industry. I asked him what oil company he had worked for. I am going to let an account of this published in the Skeptical Inquirer in late 86 or early 87. It was written by Robert Schadewald. Of this event, Schadewald wrote:

" John Morris went to the microphone and identified himself as a petroleum geologist. He questioned Morton’s claim that pollen grains are found in salt formations, and accused Morton of sounding like an anticreationist, raising more problems than his critics could respond to in the time available.Morris said that the ICR staff is working on these problems all the time. He told Morton to quit raising problems and start solving them.
"Morton chopped him off at the ankles. Two questions, said Morton:
‘What oil company did you work for?’ Well, uh, actually Morris never worked for an oil company, but he once taught petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Second, How old is the Earth?’ 'If the earth is more than 10,000 years old then Scripture has no meaning.’ Morton then said that he had hired several graduates of Christian Heritage College, and that all of them suffered severe crises of faith. The were utterly unprepared to face the geologic facts every petroleum geologist deals with on a daily basis. Morton neglected to add that ICR is much better known for ignoring or denying problems than dealing with them. "

It is truly sad when an atheist can say this of a Christian organization. At the ICC in 1986, I was presenting the problems because I wasn’t smart enough to solve them, so John telling me to solve them, well, I was not capable, and John was not capable of correctly describing his academic and work background. I knew that John was not a petroleum geologist. We both went to Oklahoma U. and he was a year or two behind me. My roommate was friends with John at the time. If anything, he is a petroleum engineer, and those guys don’t take geology courses. They are concerned with drilling wells. I checked his Thesis and Dissertation out of the library and point it out here to document what is said above:

John’s Masters Thesis was entitled "Tidal Power State of the Art -1977

His Ph.D. was entitled, “Development and properties of a self-bursting Pellet as Agglomerated from Coal Fines by Use of an Organic Binder,” 1980

His Ph.D. dissertation includes only one legitimate geological reference "S. A. Friedman, “Investigation of the Coal reserves in the Ozarks Section of Oklahoma and their Potential Uses,” Oklahoma Geologic Survey, Special Publication 74-2, 1977.

His Masters Thesis also includes only one legitimate geological reference. D.J.P. Swift and A. K. Lyall, “Origin of the Bay of Fundy,” Marine Geology, 1968, 6, pp 331-343. A three page article on geology! Having hired about 130 geoscientists, I know this isn’t a geological thesis.

All other references are to engineering and mathematical texts. He isn’t a Ph. D. in Geology as he claimed on the Radio Show Science, Scripture and Salvation, on July 10, 1994. Why do people exaggerate their education? I don’t know. Why do Christians go light on the truth? Again, I don’t know.

When I left YEC in disgust in the in 1987, the biggest part of my disgust concerned the utter lack of interest in geologic data. I could put data in front of them, show them pictures, explain what the pictures meant, and the data was still ignored, treated as if it didn’t exist.

Sadly in my interactions with old earth Christians, I have often had the same experience. Data seems not to matter to us Christians, of any stripe and this grieves me greatly. Old earth creationists have ignored or lightly researched anthropological data which says archaics have capabilities they don’t want them to have. We all make mistakes, but when everyone makes the same mistake, what is one to think? Maybe it is that no one wants to look deeply at those issues

The fact that pain in childbirth goes WAY back to 2.4 myr, doesn’t seem concern anyone who says Eve was a Neolithic woman whom God cursed with what she already had. Same for sweat with Adam.

I had a year long debate with Fazale Rana, about art and music being much older than their arbitrary cutoff of 60,000 years. Rana was stuck on the claim that Neanderthals and H. erectus were mere spiritless animals. The data didn’t matter to their belief at the time that Adam was less than 60 kyr old. Now, after about 18 years, they finally have Adam at 150,000 years of age. They still claim N’s and H. e.'s are spiritless animals. They should have been able to know the age of Adam 30 years ago.And still there is much ignored evidence that Adam is even older than that. Same with my friend Dick Fischer. It seems that our job as apologists is to not dig too deeply into the science and present to the unsuspecting public something that can be easily disproven? That was the problem with YECs. They presented theories that could easily be disproven.

I suspect that part of this is to not run off readers, or to go along with the crowd.

Dennis Venema and Scott McKnight wrote Adam and the Genome, in which they argue against the existence of a real Adam and Eve.  They assume Adam and Eve must be H. sapiens. When we claim as Venema did in his book,  that there was no population bottleneck in the past 200 kyr, so no Adam and Eve, without even trying to look for an alternative, one must wonder what is more important–eliminating Adam and Eve or searching for other options which can make the Scripture true. The statistics he uses only apply IF Adam was a H. sapiens. If Adam was an earlier species of hominid, then Venema’s arguments fall apart. Venema’s view is based on the Out of Africa theory, which has now fallen inside of Anthropology itself. A form of multiregionalism has won the day. We have too much DNA from Neanderthals, Denisovians, and the Ghost species of West Africa.

"Until recently, the story of our origins was thought to be settled: Homo sapiens evolved in eastern Africa about 150,000 years ago, became capable of modern behaviour some 60,000 years ago and then swept out of Africa to colonise the world, completely replacing any archaic humans they encountered. But new fossils, tools and analyses of ancient and modern genomes are tearing apart that neat tale. The Jebel Irhoud skull has turned out to be a key to a new, slowly emerging paradigm. With the dust yet fully to settle, the question now is how many, if any, of our old assumptions still hold. “Should we be thinking of a completely different model?” asks Foley. “Abandoning out-of-Africa?” Strap in, it’s going to be quite a ride." Graham Lawton, "Becoming Human", New Scientist, April 3, 2019, p. 34

"If the AMH genome contains any degree of dual ancestry (that is, archaic and modern) the single origin model must be rejected. Although most of the AMH genome might descend from a single African population, if further studies confirm a non-negligible contribution of archaic genetic material to the AMH genome, it would imply that the evolutionary lineage leading to AMH did not evolve reproductive isolation from other archaic hominin subpopulations and, therefore, cannot be considered a distinct biological species." Daniel Garrigan and Michael Hammer, "Reconstructing Human Origins in the Genomic Era," Nature Genetics, 7(2006), p. 677

Well, we do have a non-negligible genetic heritage from archaic species. Eurasians have 3-4% Neanderthal genes; Papuans have about the same amount of Denisovian DNA and west Africans have 2-19% of their genes from a ghost archaic species we are still looking for.

"Similar patterns were seen in the genomes of Mende people in Sierra Leone, Esan people in Nigeria and those in western areas of Gambia. The four populations are estimated to derive between 2 and 19 per cent of their ancestry from an archaic group of genes.
" This mystery hominin is most likely to have diverged from the ancestors of Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern humans before that lineage split into these groups, according to the researchers. They estimate this divergence took place at some point between 1 million and 360,000 years ago, and interbreeding between the archaic population and the ancestors of the modern populations occurred at some point in the past 124,000 years." New Scientist, Feb 12, 2020,

If Out-of-Africa isn't dead, it has been put on a respirator.

When I left YEC in 1986, I spent loads of time looking at the data from the point of view of ‘where am I wrong?’ not ‘How is my theory correct?’ I had been egregiously wrong about YEC for 17 years or more. Thus, for the rest of my life, when I got an idea about something, the first thing I did was find out what was wrong with it. That allowed me to learn the data, but also, ensure I had solid answers for what anyone would throw at my theory. I fear, Christians don’t use that approach, but use the confirmation bias approach-- take the data if it supports the view, and ignore it if it doesn’t. The artwork I have shown from the archaic species is new information to most on this list. It shouldn’t have been.People like Ross, Rana, and others should have been at the forefront of displaying it, but doing so, undermines their claim of non-personhood for Neanderthals and thus, such data can’t be shown, ever! But pointing it out leads to unpopularity .

I can guarantee one and all, if I had my preferences, I would never have suggested the concordism approach I have–with Med flood and an extremely old Adam. I know John Walton, the OT scholar thinks I am nuts–but he wouldn’t listen long enough to see what I have to offer. He isn’t the only one. Many people just don’t respond to me. I offer my view because I firmly believe the data conforms to the theory. It makes Scripture be true rather than mythological or just plain false. Life would have been much easier for me, if I had gone along to get along with a Neolithic Adam and a Mesopotamian flood. I might even have been popular and influential.

To me the troublesome concern is, “Is ignoring evidence or lightly researching an area the way Christians should work?” and, “Is this the excellence God expects from us?” We seem not to care about Col 3:24: “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men,”

On this side of the vale, we cannot prove what God did. All we can do is create theories that match the observational data. While God may tell me I am utterly wrong in a few months, I can at least stand and say I applied the best work ethic and research I could do even as I was dying. If I am wrong, it is not for lack of trying and it is not because I ignored data so as to save a popular view. I do believe we will stand before God for his judgment. I want and hope to hear, Well done…and I have done my research to the best of my ability, be it right or wrong. At least I am not telling everyone something I know to be false nor am I telling everyone something that doesn’t match the facts of geology, anthropology and physics. This should be the goal of every Christian in science.