Answering questions about discrimination and information
Published: 9 September 2012 (GMT+10)
Sometimes Christians are accused of being bigoted against other groups of people when they hold to biblical teachings about the definition of marriage. Jesse M., US, wrote in asking:
Hello CMI, and let me say God bless your ministry! I know I have contacted you before, and I appreciate your prompt and thorough responses to feedback. A quick question I have is this. Recently, the gay marriage issue has heated up here in the United States, and us Christians are increasingly being accused of "discriminating" against gays for "excluding" them from marriage. I know that is wrong since by definition, marriage only exists between man and woman, and "sexual orientation" is a choice, not something you are born with. (So it cannot be compared to skin color or sex.) How would you respond if you were accused of "discrimination" for opposing gay marriage?
Lita Cosner replies:
Thanks for writing in. We ‘discriminate’ in all areas of life—and this is generally a good thing. For instance, someone choosing which college to go to would ‘discriminate’ based on the professors, degree programs, and academic reputation. As Christians, we should ‘discriminate’ against false doctrine—it isn’t bigoted for me to refuse to go to a church where the truth of God’s Word isn’t clearly proclaimed from the pulpit, for instance. And someone who needs a major surgery would ‘discriminate’ and get the best surgeon available.
We discriminate in all other areas of life, from things as trivial as what we like to eat for breakfast all the way down the spectrum—any time we make a decision about one thing being better than another. But what about homosexual practices and ‘gay marriage’? Well, for all the other examples, what makes the discrimination ‘good’ is the reasoning behind it. E.g. if I choose to go to a certain university and not another because of its academic reputation, that’s good. If I go there because the statistics say there aren’t many minorities there, that’s bigoted and wrong. So why do we ‘discriminate’ against homosexual practices?
Simply, it’s because we believe that the Word of God is true and it communicates God’s best for mankind in all areas of life, including salvation, our culture, and so on. This includes God’s best for marriage. God forbids all sorts of practices that our sinful natures like. Basically, Jesus says you have two choices: faithfulness in heterosexual monogamous marriage, or complete abstinence from any sexual practice whatsoever (Matthew 19:1–12).
When God forbids something, it isn’t because God is a big meanie in the sky who wants to keep all of us from having any fun; it’s because He loves us and warns us away from things that are physically and spiritually destructive. Much like when parents tell their children not to do drugs, it’s not because they don’t want them to enjoy a party with their friends, but because they don’t want their children to suffer the effects of dependency and addiction. And God’s commands regarding sexual activity and marriage are equally loving for the married couple and for single people—and all single people (regardless of who they’re attracted to) are to abstain.
So we are against homosexual practices and ‘gay marriage’ because we love the people involved in these practices, and want them to be delivered from their sin, just as those of us who converted to Christianity were delivered from ours. We know the tremendous freedom that comes in Christ and desire that for everyone. Indeed, even from a public health standpoint, it is loving to be against homosexual behavior, as it’s proven to shorten the lifespan of its practitioners (especially male) significantly, even when discounting the effect of AIDS.
And please note—throughout this response I’ve spoken about discriminating regarding homosexual practice—not discriminating against homosexual people. There is an important distinction there. Also, see Gay marriage and the consistent outcome of Genesis compromise and the Homosexuality section in our Morality and Ethics Q&A.
Jay M., U.K. wrote in to ask about an information argument:
I’m debating another Evolutionist, and in demonstrating how you cannot get new information into the genome, I usually use the “You cannot get “hi, my name is Jay” from the word “Evolution” because the information isn’t available” analogy. This analogy usually goes down without any problems, but this time it has been challenged in such a way that I don’t know how to respond. Here is the Evolutionist’s response:
“That does not logically follow. You could make any word that uses the letters “e”, “v”, “o”, “l”, “t”, “i” and “n”, just as all genes are made from the same 4 chemicals (hence the ACGT code used to summarize them). Seeing as every living organism uses those 4 chemicals, it is a statistical certainty that the genetic information in a dinosaur used those 4 chemicals, and we know that the genetic information in a chicken uses those same 4 chemicals, so logically, you CAN get a chicken from a dinosaur’s genetic information (which is, essentially, what happened in reality).”
I’m stuck. But I doubt you guys will be.
Thanks for your help so far.
Dr. Robert Carter responds:
How is this for a reply: The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” contains all of the letters in the English language. So does the Encyclopædia Britannica. Based on his example, it is a simple matter to rearrange the letters in the alphabet (or the example sentence) to create something as large, accurate, and dependable as the Encyclopædia Britannica. So, let’s start. There is one condition, however, at each iteration students must be able to use the new word/letter scrambled to pass their final exams. This is a good illustration of some of the problems inherent in origin-of-life scenarios and highlights the origin-of-information conundrum for the evolutionist. The letters are not information. The half-formed products are no good for survival. Natural selection (the final exam) prevents any bad information from getting to the next generation, but without good information, no passing grades are possible.
He says it is “a statistical certainty that the genetic information in a dinosaur used those 4 chemicals”, but this is not correct. It is a logical deduction, not a statistical argument. See From ape to man via genetic meltdown; Can mutations create new information?; and Origin of Life Q&A.
I always viewed the rise of information in the genome from a probability standpoint. Even if we assume that the 4 DNA bases could be re-arranged into every living thing today by a random process, that does not mean that it is reasonable or probable to believe that it happend that way! The Evolutionist bears the burden of proof in demonstrating that their theory is not only possible, but probable! This is a common fallacy among Evolutionists; they think that if evolution is possible, then that means it is an irrefutable fact!
The problem is, it's not! Dr John Sanford laid this out masterfully in his book "Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome". Other's have also done so (Dr Lee Spetner, Dr Richard Sternberg, ect). There is also a paper from 2008 by Durrett and Schmidt in the Journal of Genetics, showing that one may reasonably expect to see two coordinated mutations achieve fixation in the timeframe of around 43.3 million years. This is a laughable mechanism for Evolution!!
I would love for an Evolutionists to explain the math to me, but they can't.
Evolution is impossible. Not enough time to wait for the right mutations, not enough time for beneficial mutations to overtake the population, and the list goes on and on and on. All they have are unsubstantiated claims about the powers of mutation and natural selection.
I would put the burden of proof on them. "It's possible" isn't good enough. Show me why it's probable! Anyone who has read Sanfords book will know that evolution is essentially impossible.
Deriving chicken genetic information encoded using four chemicals from dinosaur genetic information encoded using the same four chemicals by selections and mutations alone is like deriving the program for a digital watch encoded in binary digits from a desktop Windows 7 program encoded in binary digits by selections and mutations alone.
If molecules-to-moral-man-evolution is true NASA should have used selections and mutations methods to produce software for Mars Rover Curiosity.
This is a classic case of confusion between ‘information’ and ‘meaning’. For example, the word ‘creation’ carries both information and meaning. If I alter (mutate) ‘creation’ into ‘reaction’, the word still carries information but the meaning is changed. To apply this analogy to the genome is to assume that there is some ancestral ‘meaning’ that is degraded by mutation. This is clearly not the case. If genes are mutated the only criterion for survival is ‘does the new gene function the same or better than the old gene?’ If yes the gene survives; if no the gene does not. There is no inherent meaning to be degraded. A much better analogy would be a recipe. You can ‘mutate’ the ingredients and the resulting dish may or may not be tastier than the original, but you are not losing information in the process and there is no inherent 'meaning' to be degraded.
Actually, there is no confusion on this topic coming from this end. I know you believe the information rose by trial and error, but, once you have a living organism, you have a starting point where the information has a specific meaning in a specific context. And the recipe analogy is imperfect. The number of modifications and permutations that can be done to the original recipe is large but limited. Thus, in order to cover "recipe space" one needs intelligence to guide the gestalts that led to the development of radical new recipes with completely different sets of ingredients.
I too doubt that mutations can create the kind of genetic information needed to take you from a molecule to a man. But what would you say if someone suggested that if the letters from the sentence were copied enough times over billions of years eventually they could get to the E.B. if the sentence contained all the letters?
Copying words words and sentences generally does not increase accuracy of information. Inn fact, it often often leeds to failing grades. Also, information that is needlessly duplicated is ripe for deletion. Deletion should be a stronger force than addition in any selection scenario. Random duplication and mutation is not going to produce any intelligible string of information in any reasonable amount of time. How, then, can one expect it to create what is required for life?