My Atheist Professor And Evolution!

I became interested in Christian Apologetics when I was a college student. Actually I had lost my faith by the time I reached school senior years, and wanted to know the truth. That is the time when someone gave me a copy of Bible and Modern Science by Dr. Henry M. Morris.

From there it was almost 14 years of study — of Bible, history, archeology, the mathematics of probability, chemistry, and physics — before I came to the final conclusion. The conclusion was that a rational person needs to make a choice between evolution or creation based upon which of these models best fits the available evidence. I decided in favor of creation.

Dr. KG Bansigir, one of India’s most prominent physicist was the Professor and Department Head. The School of Advanced Studies and Research in Physics at the Jiwaji University was a centre of excellence at that time. Dr. Bansigir had seen to it that an atmosphere highly conducive for open discussion was created and maintained.

What the department called “Seminars” were a frequent event. In it a student or faculty member would speak for about an hour on a selected topic from Physics, and then the audience made up of MSc. students, PhD researchers, the professors, and (at times) specially invited subject specialists would grill this person for 3 to 4 hours on that topic.

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Picture: A Michelson interferometer for use on an optical table

The seminar was never easy for the speaker, but it forced him to think through the subject and present it in the most accurate way. I still remember when I was speaking about the Michelson’s Interferometer. A couple of professors from the Engineering College and the nearby Science College were present. As the questions proceeded, they finally came to a question where I was supposed to get a white band of light. On being asked the theory, I explained it with surgical precision, and then dropped a bombshell that the band I got was dark instead of white. You should have seen the commotion, because what I got in the laboratory was just opposite to what the textbooks had been saying for around four decades before me.

I was only into the second month of my MSc., but instead of brushing aside the anomaly I reported, my professor made it a point to spend several hours with me in the darkroom studying the anomaly. He then presented a “Seminar” in which he explained how textbooks and researchers tend to neglect anomalies — though anomalies often help one to perfect the theory. He then went on to present the mathematical justification for this anomaly. That was back in 1976. But many things happened after that.

The most important development was the academic bonding that developed between me and my professor. We made it a point to challenge each other’s assertions in a spirit of research and were not content till the other person offered a satisfactory answer to the challenge.

Once when I mentioned the evolution of life as the result of random processes, he immediately challenged me in the classroom. That was a bit embarrassing, because he was known to be a non-creationist. But that challenge worked wonders. He was the most outstanding teacher of the mathematics or Probability. Thus with his help I started to explore the depths of probability and molecular evolution. This was an eye opener.

He, to the best of my knowledge, never became a creationist. But by challenging my leaning towards evolution he questioned me on mathematical-scientific grounds. Eventually he helped me to see the impossibility of molecular evolution through blind chance.

Objectivity, whenever it is directed to science, has to result in the conclusion that blind chance is a destroyer and not creator of order. [Picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson_interferometer]

[Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a physicist, with expertise in Quantum-nuclear Physics, and has worked extensively on the inner quark-structre of Protons and Neutrons. He has also specialized in Christian Apologetics, Biblical Archeology, and several other fields]

Cracks In The Edifice: A Follow Up

I am thankful to Ian who posted a lengthy response to my post Cracks In The Edifice. I am basically an empiricist because of my scientific training, and comments/questions at the empirical plane are always welcome. They help both sides to think clearly on issues they had not considered before.

In my post I made the following claims:

  1. Evolutionists have been offering the Phylogenetic Tree for almost a century and a half as one proof of evolution. (Phylogenetic Tree is an arrangement of all the known flora and fauna in an organized tree, starting from the simplest known life and culminating in the most advanced one).
  2. Each generation of evolutionists has been trying to make the representation as accurate as possible. (The first such tree was made by Charles Darwin and his predecessors, and the picture that is shown in most textbooks today was perfected before the 1930s.)
  3. Genetic studies in the last two to three decades have forced a substantial abandonment of the original tree, and a new tree is gradually replacing it. (This arbitrariness was demonstrated repeatedly by the way the tree was rearranged, and also by the absence of established “links” between branches.)

Ian in his response presented three things related to the three points given above. Each of the “Statement” given below should be compared with the point given above:

Statement: The increase from simple to advanced is irrelevant — they are listed in chronological order only. There are simple creatures at the end of the tree as well as complex ones.

Response: you are presenting your viewpoint, not what the evolutionist thinkers affirm. I appreciate that. I have presented what the major proponents of evolution have been saying for the last century and half — that the Phylogenetic Tree  is basically a simple to complex type arrangement. Thus your argument should be directed at those evolutionists who have been making this claim. I only reproduced what they have been claiming, and what I was taught in the science classroom. (Please note,  physics students have to learn a good amount of biology in India).

Statement: To claim this tree has ever been “perfected” is to utterly misunderstand both science and evolution. It is constantly being improved, updated, and refined as we learn more. There is a problem with textbooks using out of date images but that has nothing to do with evolution.

Response: I did not claim that the “tree” was ever perfected. On the contrary, my claim was “the picture that is shown in most textbooks today was perfected before the 1930s”. Your response does show that many textbooks continue to use older  pictures (from the 1930s).

Statement: This is called learning. You will note that each change generally makes the whole tree fit the evidence better and presents a more realistic picture. This is exactly what we would expect from a vibrant scientific area.

Response: Exaclty what you call it is irrelevant. We are not discussing nomanclature. What is important is that the original tree, developed before the era of genetic studies, had to be substantially rejected in the light of the new data. Your statement seems to affirm that.

In summary, in his efforts to refute my article,  Ian

  1. Contradicts the claims of evolutionists that are seen in standard textbooks of biology. It is amazing that to defend the Theory of Evolution he needs to refute statements found in standard textbooks on Evolution.
  2. He made a generalization, and ended up affirming what I said in the original article.
  3. He affirms what I said in the original article, that the Phylogenetic Tree is nowhere the final word as a proof of evolution.

In summary, Ian has only supported the claims I made in the original article, though his affirmations prima facie give the impression that he has contradicted me.

[The author is a physicist, and has worked in the filed of Quantum-Nuclear physics, particularly on the quark structure of protons, neutrons, and deuterium binding energy.]

Answering Objections to the Christian Faith: An Auckland Event

Apologetics: Answering Objections to the Christian Faith
Dr Matthew Flannagan BSocSci, MSocSci (Hons), PhD

In this presentation, Dr Flannagan will speak on the nature of Apologetics and will examine some common objections to the faith such as: Why does God allow evil? Isn’t it arrogant to believe your religion is the only true one? Isn’t faith in God irrational? Dr Flannagan is an adjunct lecturer in Philosophy for Laidlaw College, he works with Thinking Matters and writes for the MandM blog.

When: Sunday 8 March
Time: 6.30 pm

Where: Massey Presbyterian Church – 510 Don Bucks Rd, Massey, West Auckland
Cost: Free

Event Format: Presentation followed by Q&A

It’s open to Christian and non-Christian alike; anyone interested in apologetics, theology and Christian philosophy. It is lay-person friendly, you won’t need a philosophy or a theology degree to be able to follow the talk.