Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Horseshoe Crabs and Pre-Flood Gigantism

Shown is a picture of a Mesolimulus specimen. Mesolimulus is a kind of animal commonly called a horseshoe crab. It belongs to the arthropod group, Chelicerata. Chelicerata is the same group that the arachnids (spiders, scorpions, and ticks) belong to. Mesolimulus comes from Late Jurassic sediments, supposedly making it between 160 to 145 million years old.
Is there anything that sticks out about the photo or the text describing Mesolimulus?
Sharp creationists might recall that horseshoe crabs are still alive today. The most familiar living genus is Limulus, which is very similar to Mesolimulus. Matter of fact, Mesolimulus was initially classified as Limulus, highlighting just how similar the two species are to one another. Therefore, the fossil shown above is a “living fossil,” a creature that has remained nearly unchanged for supposedly hundreds of millions of years.
Very sharp creationists might have noticed something else. The Mesolimulus shown shown is a little less than six inches long. Why is the length of Mesolimulus important? Because the living Limulus can achieve lengths of up to two feet long. Mesolimulus is significantly shorter than its closest living relative. As a further note, the Mesolimulus specimen shown above is not small, it is average for its genus.
The discrepancy in size between Mesolimulus and Limulus is important because it is a significant contradiction to the idea that every species found in the fossil record is larger than their relatives today. Some things have very large relatives known only from the fossil record. There are dragonfly fossils that have a wingspan of nearly three feet. There are crocodiles known only from the fossil record that are fifty feet long. Many creationists claim that these fossils are organisms that lived in the pre-flood world and that it was the pre-flood world that allowed them to achieve such great sizes. One common idea is that there was a water canopy around the earth that shielded earth’s inhabitants from harmful radiation. This shielding allowed the animals to live longer and since some animals, such as reptiles, grow throughout their lives, the large fossil reptiles are probably very aged animals. Additionally, the water canopy applied a lot of pressure to earth’s atmosphere. The greater pressure allowed a more efficient transfer of oxygen into an organism’s body and this more ready supply of oxygen helped contribute to their large size.
But what are we to make of Mesolimulus? Surely, it too belonged to the pre-flood fauna. How come it is so small compared to its living relative? Did it escape the benefits of the pre-flood world, or is there some other reason?
One explanation is that the horseshoe crab kind has a wide variety of sizes coded for in its genes. So perhaps Mesolimulus simply received all of the small genes while the living Limulus received all of the large genes. That could very easily explain the discrepancy in size.
However, the genetic explanation of the size difference between living and extinct horseshoe crabs poses a problem: couldn’t the same explanation work in reverse? In other words, maybe the three foot dragonfly and the fifty foot crocodile are not large because they lived in a different environment, maybe they simply have genes for large size and their living relatives lack these genes.
How can we test these two ideas?
If the pre-flood environment was responsible for the large size of many creatures known from fossils, then we would expect that fossil specimens would be consistently larger than their living relatives. For instance, all fossil crocodile specimens would be large, all dragonfly specimens would be large. There might be a few exceptions, but there should be a general trend.
On the other hand, if the large size of fossil specimens is due to genetic variation, then we would expect some of the genetic variation that exists today to also exist in the fossil record. So, while there might be a very large crocodile and a very large dragonfly, there would also be average sized crocodiles and dragonflies.
As it turns out, the latter is the case. There is a fossil dragonfly named Petalura that averaged one and a quarter inches long. That is similar to modern dragonflies. There is also a fossil alligator named Diplocynodon. Granted, it is an alligator, not a crocodile, but both animals probably belong to the same kind. Diplocynodon was around ten feet long, making it longer than the living Chinese alligator but far shorter than the American alligator. Diplocynodon could be considered average for living alligators.
These are example of just a few animals, but there is a similar pattern in most other creatures where there is a relative in the fossil record that is larger than living species. Yes, there are fifty foot fossil sharks, but here are also three foot fossil sharks. Yes, there are elephants thirteen feet at the shoulder, but there are also elephants just a few feet at the shoulder. Yes, there are giant lizards, but there are also lizards that are just a few inches long. Yes, there are enormous giant tortoises, there are also tortoises of an average size.
In other words, there is no trend of gigantism in the fossil record. Almost all of the gigantic animals have a relative that are far smaller. There are also the exceptions like Mesolimulus, where the fossil species is actually smaller than the living species. A better explanation is that what we are seeing is a natural variation in sizes. Some of that variation may be lost so that we may never see a gigantic specimen of a dragonfly today. But it is not necessary to claim that a unique pre-flood environment is responsible for the gigantic size of species known from the fossil record.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Super Soldier Ants and (Lack of) Evolution

There is a fascinating article at the following website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/01/06/sci-supersolider-ants.html

The first thing that is fascinating is the biology itself. To learn that there are genes common to many ants is very interesting. That these genes are typically not expressed but can be induced by applying hormones to a larva is also interesting.

But what is more fascinating is the interpretation of the research by the scientists. Note this sentence from the article:

"The authors suggest that hanging on to ancestral developmental toolkits can be an important way for organisms to evolve new physical traits."

“[E]volve new physical traits”? The paragraph before said that the study showed “dormant genetic potential that can be invoked by changes in the environment”. Dormant genetic potential does not show evolution. True, the species of ants that the scientists induced to produce super soldiers previously did not produce super soldiers. But if the genes for super soldiers were already present and all that was needed was to stimulate the genes, it is not true to say that a new trait evolved. The information for the trait was already there, so there was no true evolution occurring.

The fact that this study showed that super soldier genes were present in these ants demonstrates that many ants have a common set of genes. Having pre-existing common genes is not consistent with evolution because no new genetic information was generated. However, pre-exiting genes is very consistent with the concept of kinds. If ants all belong to the same kind, we would expect that the same genes would be found in most ants, even if those genes are not being expressed by a particular species. The results of this study can just as easily be used to promote the idea that ants belong to a single kind that was Divinely created, unique and separate from all other kinds.

This study is very interesting, because it shows the potential for the environment to stimulate the development of latent traits that previously had not been expressed. What it does not show is the evolution of a new trait. That interpretation was read into the results by the researchers.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reflections on the First Chapter of First Peter

Here is what the apostle Peter said in I Peter 1:11-12:

"Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."

According to these verses, the purpose of the prophecies was for us, the saints who are alive after the resurrection of Christ. Now, the prophets themselves must have had some understanding of “the things, which are now reported unto you,” such as “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.” However, their understanding was incomplete: we as New Testament saints can now look back and have a more complete understanding of the events of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

I think this principle applies to a lot of the Old Testament. Just as we can not fully understand Christ’s redemptive work from Old Testament prophecies alone, there are many things in the Old Testament that we can not understand from the perspective of the Old Testament alone. Take the Law for example.

As Paul says in Romans 3:20, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” This confused many people in the Old Testament, for they thought that the purpose of the Law was to lead to salvation. However, there was still an understanding among Old Testament saints that salvation was not by the Law, but by grace (for example, David speaks of salvation by grace in Psalms 32:1-2, which is also quoted by Paul in Romans 4: 7-8). But, the full application of justification by grace was not understood. This confusion carried over into the early Church, where there were disputes as to what parts of the Law the Gentiles must follow (which was addressed by the council at Jerusalem in Acts 15). Here is what Paul had to say about one part of the Law:

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, they circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumsicion be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, it if fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?" (Romans 2:25-27)

Apparently, circumcision has no significance, it is keeping of the righteousness of the Law this is significant (Paul does say in I Cor. 7:19 that “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God”).

Now, would an Old Testament saint know that circumcision is of no account to God? Maybe not. As pointed out before, they did have an understanding that salvation was through grace, not works, but considering that circumcision was an issue that was disputed among the early Church (and came to a head in the council at Jerusalem), there was some error in the thinking on circumcision. The same would apply to other aspects of the Law, such as eating unclean versus clean animals, keeping holidays and feasts, and other issues dealt with by the apostles in the Epistles. However, we have the New Testament to clarify and explain what is the significance of the Law to New Testament saints.

The purpose of this discussion is not to say that the Law is outdated or old, but the purpose of this discussion is to highlight that the Law (and the Old Testament as a whole, for that matter) is merely the beginning of God’s plan. That plan was completed and fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection, and now, looking back, we can have an understanding of what the whole plan looks like and better understand the various parts of the plan. Again, as Peter said, to the prophets “it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel.”

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Villain-Turned-Heroes in Animated Movies

My sister commented that there have been several animated movies that came out in the last year that have a prominent character who starts out as a villain but eventually changes and becomes a hero in the end. I know of two of these characters: Gru from “Despicable Me” and Flynn Rider from “Tangled.” I want to compare these two characters to examine their “turn-around” from being a villain to being a hero. The purpose is to examine the “turn-around” and see how believable it is. Are these conversions a genuine change of character? Are these villains-turned-heroes laudable or subtly misleading?

(Warning: There will be many spoilers in this discussion, so if you haven’t seen either movie and don’t want to know what happens, you should not read on.)

Gru is the main character in “Despicable Me” while Flynn Rider is only the lead male in “Tangled.” Gru is a master criminal who has his own secret lab, a mad scientist at his disposal, and a legion of minions to do his will, while Flynn works with a couple of thug brothers. Despite these differences, they actually have a lot in common. They are both thieves. They both stumble upon a woman/girls that they have to work through. Gru find a trio of orphan girls who he finds can help him in his plot to steal the moon. Flynn Rider has the crown he just stole taken from him and hidden by Rapunzel, who will not give it back until he takes her to see the floating lanterns. Neither Gru nor Flynn like the arrangement: they seem to accept the prospect of working with these women grudgingly. But, eventually, they begin to have a fondness for the women.

Now the stories of Gru and Flynn Rider deviate from one another. I’ll focus on Gru first. Gru begins to be attached to the girls, and the movie demonstrates that the girls also have an attachment to him. This is shown in a scene where Gru has just been turned down by the Bank of Evil for a loan to build a rocket in order to steal the moon. This is a huge blow to Gru, as it has been his dream since a child to go to the moon, and now that dream has morphed into stealing the moon. He eventually has to tell his minions that the plan to steal the moon is off, but the girls decide to give him what little money they have to help Gru build the rocket. This action inspires the minions to do the same, and working together, they build the rocket.

The scene described above is the first thing I dislike about the plot of “Despicable Me.” The girls show their support for Gru by helping him steal the moon. Sure, stealing the moon is a fantastic idea, but why did the movie show them become supportive of his criminal actions? It’s like the viewers are not supposed to care that Gru is planning a theft, it’s just touching that the girls want to help him.

Anyway, while building the rocket, Gru faces a fork in the road: his mad scientist calls the orphanage so that they can come and take the girls back. The scientist, Dr. Nefario, says that the girls are slowing down the plan: Gru has to choose between them or stealing the moon. Gru chooses the moon. Later on in the movie, Gru calls this choice the worst mistake he ever made, demonstrating that he felt a remorse for giving up the girls. But how remorseful was he? When did he decide that the girls were worth keeping at the expense of the moon?

Never, actually. Gru does eventually rush to the girl’s rescue, right after he steals the moon. He has to rescue the girls from his enemy, Vector, who kidnapped them in order to get the moon from Gru. Gru does hand over the moon in an attempt to free the girls. It doesn’t work, however, and a chase scene ensues and the moon inadvertently is put back into orbit. Now, it may appear that Gru was willing to give up the moon to save the girls, implying that he considered the girls more important than his criminal activity. However, I don’t see that as the case. Remember what his original dream was: to go to the moon. He had accomplished that. Even though he gave the moon up, he could still say, “I went to the moon and stole it.” Quite simply, he accomplished his goal. It was only after accomplishing his goal that the girls took such a priority that he had to go rescue them. So he never really gave up anything valuable to save the girls, his priorities changed simply because the first priority was accomplished. This does not seem like true repentance to me.

So was Gru a true example of a hero-turned-villain? I don’t think so. Not only did caring for the girls become important only after he stole the moon, he never returned the moon to orbit himself: that was simply a lucky accident. So the movie “Despicable Me” made an attempt to show repentance, but failed to show Gru actually have change of heart.

Now what about Flynn? If anything, this guy starts out even worse than Gru does. After stealing a crown right out of the castle with the help of the Stabbington brothers, he eventually double crosses his associates in order to save his own skin. So not only is he a thief, he is a liar and a traitor, which puts him in stark contrast to Rapunzel, as she makes it very clear that when she makes a promise, she will always keep it (this becomes critically important later on).

In the course of taking Rapunzel to see the floating lanterns, Flynn begins to fall for her. Nothing unique there: why wouldn’t a guy begin to become attached to a pretty girl after spending several days with her? Then the test comes. Mother Gothel, Rapunzel’s fake, and extremely devious and manipulative, mother, tells Rapunzel that Flynn has no interest in her, he only has an interest in getting the crown back. So, she challenges Rapunzel to return the crown and see what Flynn does. So after Flynn takes her to see the lanterns, Rapunzel returns the crown to him. And Flynn does not abandon her.

Now, to be honest, events happen rather quickly after Rapunzel returns the crown to Flynn: the Stabbington brothers show up again and this time, they take advantage of Flynn and turn him over to the authorities. Mother Gothel double crosses the Stabbington brothers all for a show to convince Rapunzel that the world is just far too dangerous for her in order to convince Rapunzel that she must return to her tower and stay there. With all of this happening, we really don’t get to see whether Flynn was willing to give up the crown, and more importantly, give up his old way of life, for Rapunzel. As things go, there is actually reason to believe that he will continue a life a crime, for as he is on his way to be hanged, he is rescued by a gang of ruffians. But to be honest, that was not Flynn’s doing, that was the work of the horse, Maximus.

After being rescued from the gallows, Flynn Rider immediately rushes off to the tower to find Rapunzel, fearing that she is in danger. I might point out that at this point, he does not have the crown and he does not appear to have any intention of reacquiring it. Also, his fear that Rapunzel is in danger was true, for after arriving in the tower, he finds Rapunzel tied up, and then Mother Gothel mortally stabs Flynn. Rapunzel desperately wants to save Flynn by using her magical hair. Pleading with mother Gothel, she promises her that if she lets her save Flynn, she would stay with Mother Gothel forever.

Now here comes Flynn Rider’s true test. He has two choices: be healed by Rapunzel and let her become a permanent slave to Mother Gothel (not by force, but because Rapunzel promised it) or somehow try to save her. Guess what Flynn Rider does? He cuts Rapunzel’s hair. This renders her hair powerless, making Rapunzel useless to Mother Gothel, therefore permanently freeing Rapunzel from Gothel. But without her hair, Rapunzel cannot save Flynn. So unlike Gru, who accomplished his dream before rescuing the girls, Flynn gave up all his dreams (because, quite simply, he died) in order to rescue Rapunzel.

Now, a Disney princess movie could not end with the lead male character lying dead on the floor, so unbeknownst to anyone, enough magic remains in Rapunzel’s tears to revive and restore Flynn. But that doesn’t matter, as far as the test goes. Flynn had no idea that would happen, therefore when he cut her hair, he gave up all hope of rescue for himself in order that Rapunzel would be free. That is genuine repentance: Flynn Rider gave up everything, including his old way of life, to save someone he genuinely loved.

So while “Despicable Me” attempts to show a villain-turned-hero change, it failed, but instead showed a man who never gave up his way of life, only refocused it. “Tangled,” however, showed genuine devotion and repentance, and that makes it a much better movie than “Despicable Me” could ever be.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Foundation of Human Rights

Here is a quote from Mark Levine which he spoke on his radio show on Thursday (4/14): “But in order to have unalienable rights, there has to be a power beyond man and beyond government.” To set the context, Levine was talking about elected officials who want to be fiscal conservatives but avoid the social issues. Levine’s point was that our country was founded on morality that came from religion (another quote from the same segment is “the founding [of our country] is based on a belief system,”), so one who wants to be a conservative but is avoiding a moral code is in fact acting contrary to the constitution and is thus not a true conservative.

I agree with Mark Levine. I agree that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles derived from the Bible. In particular, I want to focus on the idea in the first quote above: the idea that unalienable rights (which are considered to be precious in our country) can only exist if there is “a power beyond man and beyond government.” I will do this by contrasting two ideas for the foundation of unalienable rights. The first idea for the foundation of unalienable rights is the Judeo-Christian view. In this framework, rights come from God. Quite simply, that is why they are unalienable: they come from Him and since He is unchangeable and all powerful, He will not take them away and no one else can take them away. In this sense, to say that unalienable rights are natural is to mean that because they have been given to us by God, they are therefore part of our nature. In a similar fashion, since God is the Creator of the world, He is also Nature’s God.

The other view of unalienable rights also sees rights as natural, but their idea of nature is different. Instead of being a part of the nature that God gave to man, rights are natural because they are derived from nature. This is the atheistic or agnostic view: since God does not exist (or we don’t know or care whether He exists), rights are not coming from an outside authority, they are simply intrinsic in the way the world works. The problem with this view is that rights can not be unalienable. If there is no eternal God outside of nature, then there is no guarantee that these rights will not change. For instance, most atheists and agnostics acknowledge some form of biological evolution. In this framework, man has not always existed. Rather, man’s lineage arose from apes. So were there human rights before man existed? There couldn’t be, because there was no concept of a human. Human rights must have arisen after the arrival of humans. Therefore, human rights can not be eternal, for they must be conditional on something (at the very least, on the existence of humans). If those conditions change, the rights change (or vanish).

Some sharp atheists might note, “But in the Bible, humans weren’t created until the six day. Therefore, human rights could not have been in existence the first five days of the creation week and therefore, they must also be conditional on the existence of humans.” The error with this statement is simply that in the Bible, human rights are not dependant on humans: they are dependant on God. God always intended to create humans (He even built the world around the existence of humans) so He had human rights in mind from the beginning of creation. Without an outside authority who bestows rights on His creation, the only thing rights can be derived from is the natural world itself, and if that is always changing, human rights can also change, and they are therefore not unalienable.

So I agree with great conservatives like Mark Levine who hang our sacred rights on the existence of a God who grants rights to His creation. Denying this outside authority is to deny the foundation of human rights.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Which Sabbath?

Which “Sabbath” should be honored? The fourth commandment instructs us to honor the Sabbath, which is Saturday, the last day of the week, yet most Christians worship on Sunday and treat that like the Sabbath. Now there is a precedent for meeting to worship on Sunday. The early church met on Sundays for breaking of bread and apparently for worship (Acts 20:7) and Paul gave instructions for the collecting of gifts that were to be sent to Jerusalem to occur on Sunday, presumably because that was when the Christians congregated (I Cor. 16:2). The reason for Christians meeting on Sunday is because we commemorate Christ’s resurrection by worshiping Him on the day of the week that He arose. What of Saturday? Are we no longer to honor Saturday? After all, the reason the fourth commandment instructs us to keep the Sabbath is because that is the day God rested from His creation during the creation week. Has Christ’s resurrection exceeded the end of God’s creation in importance? I think that question is faulty because it presumes that only one day of the week can be honored. Why not honor both Saturday and Sunday? Our society already does this: Saturday and Sunday are the weekend, a time distinct from the rest of the week. The reason for the separation of Saturday and Sunday has been largely lost by our culture, but the template is still there: honor the weekend as special days distinct from the other days of the week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Brute Facts

Brute facts. They are brute because you can’t change them, they just are. There is no kind way to use them: a brute fact is introduced into in argument to smash an opponent’s argument, not mold it.

Certain people seem to think that they have cornered the market on brute facts. Atheists like to contrast their brute facts with the faith of Christians. An atheist may claim that the facts may seem hard and cruel, but at least they are true, unlike faith, which is ultimately based on wishful thinking.

But those who rely on brute facts to settle an argument don’t know what brute facts are. What they fail to understand is that brute facts don’t exist. For that matter, a fact doesn’t exist outside of an arbitrary definition.

Take something that should be very simple to accept as fact, like length. Two people, Joe and Jake, desire to know the length of a piece of rope. Without making any prior measurements, Joe claims that the rope is 3 meters long. Jakes decides to differ and claims that the rope is not 3 meters long. So, being a couple of bright young men, Joe and Jake decide to settle the argument by measuring the rope using a meter stick. They measure the rope and it turns out to be 2.5 meters long.

Rather than allowing the measurement to settling the issue, Joe decides to be stubborn. No, the rope is 3 meters long. Joe claims that the meter stick is wrong: it is slightly short so it is no longer accurate. So Joe and Jake decide to measure the meter stick for accuracy. They collect all the meter sticks they can find and compare them. It turns out that all the meter sticks have the same length.

Still, Joe is not convinced. Sure, all the meter sticks they have collected prove that there is consistency among the meter sticks, it does not prove that any one of them represent a true meter.

At this point in the narrative, it may seem that Joe is making a frivolous argument and is simply being stubborn rather than admit his error. But Joe has a point. Has there been a brute fact so far? The original meter stick may very well be too short. Joe is also correct in noting that repeatability is not the same thing as accuracy. A meter stick that is 4 cm short will always provide measurements that are 4 cm shorter than the true length of an object. Additionally, multiple meter sticks that are all 4 cm short will all give precisely the same length for an object, but they will all be wrong.

But what’s the probability of several meter sticks all being 4 cm short? Very high, if they were all manufactured at the same time in the same place in the same manner.

How can Joe and Jake be certain that they did not collect all the meter sticks created from one bad machine? Well, they can measure their meter stick against the standard for a meter. A meter is the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second. Assuming Joe and Jake have the necessary equipment to measure light in a vacuum and 1/299,792,458th of a second, they may then verify the length of their meter stick. They measure the stick and verify that it is a meter.

But Joe refuses to give up. No, that definition of a meter is not good. It has just got to be the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/271,451,789th of a second. Jake counters the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second is the definition of a meter. Then Joe questions who made that definition…

And then it hits both of them: a meter is an arbitrary unit of length. “Definition?” I thought there would be a brute fact behind the length of a meter.

Arbitrary should be explained at this point. “Arbitrary” is not the same thing as “random.” To say something is random is to say that the occurrence of an event was not controlled. Arbitrary events are controlled but arbitrary events are not the direct cause of previous events. For example, Marge painted her room purple because she likes purple. Obviously, Marge’s likes controlled the decision in painting her room purple. But Marge also likes white unicorns. Why didn’t her like of white unicorns cause her to paint white unicorns on the walls of her room? Simply because Marge arbitrarily chose one action over another. There was no necessary cause but there was reason.

The same can be said with any definition devised by man. A meter is the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second because a group of men settled upon that definition. There were reasons for that definition, but nothing that dictated that that must be the definition of a meter. Rather, an arbitrary standard was chosen in order to make all measurements uniform.

But that only shows that human measurements are arbitrary. The fact that the units of measure are arbitrary should not affect the validity of the world that they are used to measure. No, but…

What happens when Joe and Jake discuss the color of the sky? Jake says the sky is blue, Joe says that it is green. To prove that Joe is wrong, Jake takes a blue card and holds it up to the sky, illustrating that the card and sky are both blue. While Joe agrees that the card is blue, he claims that the sky and the card are not the same color. Jake claims that Joe is just being silly. Obviously, Jake sees that the card and the sky are the same color, so Joe must see the same thing. But Joe points out that Jake can not know what Joe sees: only Joe can perceive the world according to Joe’s sense.

How can Jake prove to Joe that the sky is blue? Jake can ask every person in the world what color the sky is and they may all say that the sky is blue, but Joe just claims that only proves that everyone’s eyes are precise: it does not prove that they are accurate.

Jake then acquires a spectrophotometer, measures the wavelength of light coming from the card and the light coming from the sky and shows that they are the same wavelength. Joe reminds Jake that all he has done is use a sophisticated machine in place of a pair of human eyes: just because the spectrophotometer agrees with all of mankind that the sky is blue, that still only shows precision, not accuracy.

Frustrated, Jake claims that the sky must be blue because the interaction of sunlight with the atmosphere scatters blue light. Joe asks why this must be so. Jakes say that multiple scientists came up with the laws that dictate the behavior of light. Joe claims that the agreement of the scientists only proves precision, not accuracy.

At this point, Jake throws up his hands and leaves. Clearly, Joe will never accept that the sky is blue, just like he never accepted that the rope was 3 meters long.

Why did Jake fail to convince Joe? Was Joe so stubborn that he could never be convinced? Partially, but more importantly, Jake could not muster a single brute fact that Joe had to accept. Every fact Jake referenced to prove that the rope was 3 meters and that the sky was blue relied on an arbitrary definition or consensus among multiple people.

Such is the way with brute facts. Every brute fact ultimately rests on the observations made by a person or persons. But what standard exists to prove that all of those observations are accurate? Even if every person in the world agreed on one observation, that can only demonstrate precision, not accuracy. So what standard exists to prove that any human observation is valid?

Here, then, is the bitter irony: brute facts can not trump faith. Rather, brute facts must rely on faith. Why? Faith does not appeal to wishful thinking. Rather, faith appeals to a higher standard. Only by referencing an authority outside of human observation can human observation ever be verified.

The Christian has a standard he can point to prove that human observations are valid. That standard is God, and He gave us His standard in the Bible.

What standard does the atheist have? None. Since he does not believe in God, removed the one thing that can every verify the validity of his observations.