Sarah Salviander & the Sequence of Biblical Creation

Of course you do, but nobody without a prior bias in its favor would.

Says the unbiased expert. What a crock!

Need an actual calculation from you @Guy_Coe.

The 1 in 26 factorial thing cited above is completely nonsenical and is based upon taking such extreme liberty with the Hebrew text so as to render it completely foreign to its original context and grabbing arbitrary things that no Christian who does this could ever agree upon from the natural history of our universe to the best of our current understanding. A Bible reading that can mean anything is to make the Bible say nothing at all.

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I did not make the calculations, nor am I trying to defend them. Your beef is not with me…

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Ah factorial, not a power of 10, although by cosmic coincidence, 26! is pretty close to 1026. Still, GIGO.


Thank you for the references.

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Since you refuse to provide any actual examples of probability calculations @Guy_Coe , I’ll pull one up for you. Here is the ultimate Design Compendium:

Pick one of the files, preferably either part 3 or part 4 which claim to be actual probability calculations. Let’s go to part 3. And then is the hard part. The actual probabilities do not have any references next to them, all the references are scattered throughout the bottom of the PDF. How on Earth one is supposed to check any of these remarkable probabilities that are presented all over the country to Christians and university students is beyond me. But let’s try doing one of them.

Something specific like ‘distance from nearest Seyfert galaxy’ gives a probability of 90%. So there is a 90% chance that the distance that we are from the nearest Seyfert galaxy is within the region to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less. What paper reference might this be in? God only knows. But let’s do a search for ‘Seyfert’ in the document:

It pulls up 3 times it is used in the document:

  • There’s a 90% chance that the distance we are from the nearest Seyfert galaxy is sufficient to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less.
  • There’s also a 90% chance the distance we are from the nearest Seyfert galaxy is sufficient to sustain unicellular life for three billion years.
  • There’s also a 90% chance that the distance we are from the nearest Seyfert galaxy is sufficient to sustain intelligent physical life in a globally distributed high-technology civilization.
  • And that’s it- no references to any paper titles with that word in it.

Maybe one can search the RTB website for that term and find the only webpage that seems to just be a copy of this ‘design probability compendium’:

Now a quick glance on the Wikipedia page for Seyfert galaxies says that roughly 10% of galaxies are Seyfert galaxies, but that says nothing about the probability of our distance from the nearest Seyfert galaxy. I’m not going to bother to try to figured out anything more than I’ve already done.

And voila. I give up. I just chose a random one that had a specific enough phrase I thought I could figure it out and lo and beyond, I couldn’t.

So I’ll probably still stand by my claim: made up probabilities multiplied by made up probabilities make for impressive apologetics but little more than that.

I also linked above to a critique from Luke Barnes which has the following paragraph in it:

Some of the items on the list are indeed questionable. E.g. point 109 (which is similar to point 6): decay rate of cold dark matter particles. If too low: insufficient production of dwarf spheroidal galaxies, which will limit the maintenance of long-lived large spiral galaxies. If too high: too many dwarf spheroidal galaxies produced, which will cause spiral galaxies to be too unstable. The relevant paper is by Renyue Cen, who considers the problem of star-formation being observed in low-mass galaxies when CDM galaxy formation models predict that photoionisation by the UV background would prevent gas cooling. Cen suggests that the decay of dark matter particles could help: these galaxies accreted their gas in the past when they were larger, but have since lost mass due to the decay of dark matter particles.

While this is an interesting idea, it is currently nothing more than speculation – it isn’t the only possible solution to the problem; there is no unambiguous, direct evidence of dark matter decay (we don’t even know what the dark matter particles are); the paper only presents a general outline of the idea (there are no plots); in the last 9 years, the paper has received just 14 citations; and there are enough uncertainties surrounding galaxy formation that the claim that dwarf spheroidals are crucial for intelligent life is plausible, but far from established. It is thus highly questionable to claim the dark matter decay rate as a candidate for fine-tuning.

If this example of “fine-tuning” makes the list, then Ross can’t have very high standards. This calls into question all the other items on the list, most of which are outside my area of expertise (the layman’s dilemma!). What we want is a carefully considered, critically compiled collection of well-studied, well-understood examples of fine-tuning. Instead, we seem to have a list where any claim to fine-tuning, no matter how speculative or marginal, is included. Some items surely deserve a place on the list, but we have no way of knowing which ones.

I may not be an expert, but I’m unbiased. And you are neither. So whose conclusions would be expected to be more reliable?

I have a better question. Why do so many life science Ph.D.s have such a materialist/reductionist chip on their shoulders? Is it remnantial “physics envy” (dating back to the 19th century, when physics was the model of successful science, and was more reductionist/materialist than it is today)? Do they think that the more reductionist and materialist one is, the more scientific one is?

The scientists I most respect are people like Fred Hoyle, who, though himself not a believer in God, admitted that evidence and common sense would incline a rational person to think that someone had monkeyed with the laws and constants of the universe. That conclusion went against what he wanted to believe as an atheist/agnostic, but he was intellectually honest enough to state it. I haven’t seen very many atheist biologists or biochemists making similar admissions, during past 12 years or so reading their statements on the internet. They seem to stick monolithically to the reductionist/materialist party line. Where Hoyle saw surprise and reason to be perplexed, our atheist life scientists seem to think everything is under control and there is no need to reflect on anything, or suppose that maybe their fundamental assumptions might need revisiting. Must be nice to be in possession of such sure and certain knowledge that removes all doubt, and all habits of intellectual self-criticism.

Unbiased regarding what?

Yes, and why have so many of them stopped beating their wives?

All due respect, but why should anyone care which scientists you respect or why? The reason most scientists don’t make similar admissions would be that the claim has no support. Hoyle, you may note, had a number of crackpot beliefs: that Archaeopteryx had been faked, that viruses falling from space were responsible for evolution, and even his maintenance of belief in a steady-state universe long after that belief became untenable. Your characterization of biologists is one long canard.

Regarding whether the bible ought to be read as fitting the true history of the universe. I neither affirm nor deny, a priori, that anything in the bible is inerrant or a true statement of history.

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With all due respect, I have little or no respect for your claims of being unbiased, and as for being an expert, I agree with your self-assessment.

Sure. But why should anyone care about who or what you respect or don’t?

Exactly my question for you, Einstein.

I spoke of atheist/materialist biologists; I grant that not all biologists fit into that category.

But since you are complaining about an unfair generalization, you should note that your original post, which I was remarking upon, seems to be making a similar one, about chemistry professors and engineers. The sense left by your question was that you thought chemistry professors and engineers were more likely to be fuzzy-minded than other scientists (by which I presume you had in mind biologists at least). If you don’t like generalizations about biologists, you might avoid generalizations – even indirectly implied ones – about other types of scientist.

As for Hoyle, his particular views aren’t the issue here, but only his willingness to admit that there was evidence for a conclusion he didn’t personally like. (That there was a Designer.) That shows scientific integrity. Which atheists here have granted that there is any evidence, however small, for intelligent design, in either biological systems or the cosmos overall?

It may not matter which scientists I respect, but it is a big problem if general public respect for scientists goes down – as it has, in my lifetime. Back in the glory days of Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, the public mostly liked and trusted scientists; but in the era of Lawrence Krauss, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Mann and others, public respect for scientists has gone down. Scientists used to be perceived as people who would tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and who provided information only, never acting as advocates (except as advocates for scientific research, of course) for political or social agendas. Now they are seen as politically slanted like everyone else, and often as elitist, anti-populist, and anti-religious. And also as willing to fabricate data, hide data, manipulate things behind the scenes, etc. I think one of the reasons that scientists aren’t getting the response they want out of the public regarding global warming and evolution is the way they and their prominent popular spokespersons have conducted themselves. So you should worry about how non-scientists think about scientists – if your goal is to get the public to drop its resistance to “consensus science” claims. If the public doesn’t like or trust you guys, you will always be fighting an uphill battle.

Well, we don’t have “the true history of the universe” available to us, only various reconstructions based on extrapolations into the past, but I agree with you that the narrative in Genesis 1 doesn’t fit with the standard modern accounts of origins. I’m not a concordist of any type, and I see no value in trying to match up Genesis statements with particular modern scientific theories.

Actually, even TEs, who claim to be against concordism, sometimes slip into that mode – I’ve seen BioLogos leaders take “Let the earth bring forth living creatures” out of context, and suggest that it harmonizes with the evolutionary account. But of course, it would make sense that BioLogos folks would relax their condemnation of concordism when the concordism supports theistic evolution rather than YEC or OEC. There are double standards all over the place in these discussions.


You’re saying that if I do something you don’t like, that’s a justification for you doing something you think is similar?

I think they are to the extent that you use the loaded words “admit that there was evidence”, which implies that Hoyle was correct. What credit does he get for admitting something he doesn’t like if it’s just wrong?

I blame the Republican Party, the oil industry, the tobacco industry, and other groups that have been actively trying to decrease respect for science and for facts and reason in general. Scientists are no worse than they’ve ever been. Asimov and Sagan were flaming atheists, you know.

There you go repeating a common creationist trope, that we can’t know anything about the past and it’s all speculation. That’s a serious misunderstanding of science.

That’s not what he said, is it. Read it again:

And you’re not biased.


Yup, that’s exactly what he said. Do you think those “various reconstructions” aren’t reliable? Are they merely wild guesses? What was Eddie implying there?

Expound about dark matter and dark energy for us, since you are so enlightened.

You are going to have to make some kind of explicit point, connected to the prior discussion, because I don’t see where you’re trying to go here. Yes, there are many things we don’t know. Then again, there are many things we do know, and the former doesn’t invalidate the latter. I think you may be edging toward another creationist trope, “We don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing.”