Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958)
Quantum physicist and Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958) was famous for his spontaneous wit. When shown a bad paper by a young physicist, he quipped, “It is not only not right, it is not even wrong.” That is, at least if a paper is wrong, it says something clear and meaningful enough to be seen to be wrong, and we can learn the truth from its opposite. Pauli’s put-down refers to a claim that’s so obtuse, meaningless, or ambiguous, that it doesn’t really tell us anything, right or wrong. This was very similar to one of the objections to evolution, by Philip Skell (1918–2010), a leading chemist:1
“Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”2
The Bible: not even wrong?
The Bible on the other hand comprises propositional revelation—factual claims about things. These claims contradict uniformitarian geology and evolutionary biology in many areas: short time scale, order of events, direct creation of mankind, and death as the result of sin. So Darwin and his followers declared the Bible to be wrong.
In response, some Christians were intimidated by the long-age philosophy masquerading as science. So instead of challenging the fallacies, they instead re-interpreted the Bible so that it didn’t make claims about history and science. However, this is a case of ‘loving the Bible too much’,3 and the result has been disastrous. It has defended against ‘the Bible is wrong’ by tacitly agreeing to something even worse: ‘the Bible is not even wrong.’
This is the way much of the world treats biblical Christianity today. John Searle (1932– ), philosopher at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote (before the notoriety of the likes of Richard Dawkins):
“Nowadays nobody bothers [to attack religion], and it is considered in slightly bad taste to even raise the question of God’s existence. I believe that something much more radical than a decline in religious faith has taken place. For us, the educated members of society, the world has become demystified … The result of this demystification is that we have gone beyond atheism to a point where the issue no longer matters in the way it did to earlier generations.”4
Christian parents might be relieved that the teachers at their kids’ government schools don’t attack God or the Bible directly. But similarly, what the kids pick up is even worse: that the Bible is ‘not even wrong’—it has no relevance to anything in the real world. Sadly, in many churches, this is not countered: the Bible is treated as just a book of stories.
The Bible is right!
A foundational aim of our ministry and this magazine is to show that the Bible is right, including where it touches on science and history (2 Timothy 3:15–17). For example, the Bible’s teaching about an orderly Creator and divine Lawmaker showed that the universe was orderly. This inspired the pioneers of science that science could work in the first place—most of them were biblical creationists (p. 16). Indeed, many scientist-clergy flourished in the Middle Ages, ignorantly called the ‘Dark Ages’ by modern revisionists (p. 24), and every issue of Creation magazine interviews a highly qualified modern creationist scientist (p. 45 features husband and wife who are both Ph.D. engineers).
The Bible also teaches that God is the Designer of all life, and we constantly see human designers learning from the Master’s designs, e.g. mantis shrimp armour (p. 40) and the human nose (p. 56). The Bible reveals that God judged the world with a globe-covering flood too (Genesis 6–8, Luke 17:26–27). This has left striking features in the rock records, such as huge boulders in New Zealand (p. 20). This Flood was only about 4,500 years ago, and this is supported by soft tissue in marine worms, although evolutionists date them at 551 million years old (p. 22). We are told as well that God saved a remnant in an enormous barge, and we interview a man who has extensively researched its construction (p. 12).
Indeed, the New Testament authors clearly regarded Genesis as history, and expected that their readers had been taught to think the same (p. 52). This is what we need to emulate, and we hope that wide circulation of this magazine will help to do so.
- No two ways about it: Operational vs historical science (Creation Magazine LIVE! 3-17)
- The relationship between faith and science -- Creation Magazine LIVE! (2-08)
References and Notes
- Called ‘the father of carbene chemistry’, e.g. Skell, P.S. and Woodworth, R.C., Structure of Carbene CH2, Journal of the American Chemical Society 78(17):4496–4497 | doi:10.1021/ja01598a087. Return to text.
- Skell, P.S., Why do we invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology, The Scientist 19(16):10, 2005. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Loving the Bible too much?, Update, August 2007. Return to text.
- Searle, J.R., Mind, Language And Society:Philosophy In The Real World, pp. 34–35, Basic Books, 1999. Return to text.
If my understanding is correct a tautology is the opposite of a contradiction? (IIRC) A contradiction always being false, and a tautology always being true, by definition.
But it seems evolution isn’t even a genuine tautology, it’s actually worse, it’s not even wrong, it’s actually a pseudo-tautology. A genuine one I would imagine would go like this;
“I eat something, in order for sustenance.”
But evolution seems to just be defined as a tautology:
“If it’s not divergence it must be convergence, if it's not convergence it must be divergence.”
That is indeed an important meaning of ‘tautology’. Another meaning is a redundancy in expression, e.g. ‘burning fire’, ‘baby lamb’, ‘safe haven’, although to avoid ambiguity, this latter usage should be called pleonasm.
Dear CMI -
Philip Skell, with whom I corresponded both publicly and privately on occasion, was an excellent chemist. However, his knowledge of biology and biological research was quite incomplete and often reflected a serious misunderstand of biological research and the knowledge base that underlies it. In some areas he was indeed "not even wrong," although he provided 'quote miners' with a lot of material.
Thanks for an interesting article!
There are those who have asked how there can be millions of papers and studies on evolution, if evolution is so wrong.
But, indeed, if it can mean everything from a single mutation to the greatest lines of macro-evolution, and be taken to account for anything in nature, all behaviours, all kinds of scenarios and outcomes can (and will) be fitted in, no wonder they (secularist scientists) can put that word—evolution—into millions of papers, never to have the concept, the philosophy, really challenged.
It can mean anything in nature. If we see it, it’s evolution. If it's change, its evolution. If it’s life, it's evolution.
So finding the concept of evolution used in millions of papers, doesn’t say that much.
Or, perhaps it says much about how evolution has come into status of a ‘not-to-be-questioned’ universal ad hoc hypothesis (of origins) when Design/Creation as the more obvious explanation(since life really do appear as having design-features), cannot be tolerated.
I believe—for mostly reasons of the sort belonging to the dimension between the human spiritual nature and The Creator of heaven and earth and all in them.
And what do we see?
I am, if nothing else, not surprised to see how far, and to what great length, the rebellious human nature will go to keep the Words of our Maker at a distance.
‘If God didn't create … (and lets rule that one out as a first thing) well, then creation created itself.’
The celebratory attitude among the strongest proponents of evolution, to a concept of blind meaningless chance—evolution; to me—personally—reveals it all.
If the invisible God of the Bible is an illusion, as atheists posit, then how come their creator god of the universe called ‘big bang and evolution"’ made such a serious error in creating living humans who deluded themselves into believing in the reality of God?
“But first note this: no one can interpret any prophecy of Scripture by himself. For it was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke the words of God.” — 2 Peter 1:20–21
As the Bible says, Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary. Jesus’ first sign to prove that he is God incarnate, was to turn plain old water into high quality wine, with no apparent effort other than speaking the word. Thus Jesus proved by many signs and miracles that he was in fact the long promised Son of God in the Bible, and was in full control of the universe.
“If I am not acting as my Father would, do not believe me. But if I am, accept the evidence of my deeds, even if you do not believe me, so that you may recognise and know that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” — John 10:37–38
Atheism posits there is no life after death. But the resurrection of Jesus falsified this assumption. Which raises the question: Where do atheists say the original life for evolution come from if there is no life after death? The evidence is that only living things beget life. No atheist has ever answered this question.
Alas, atheists cannot accept that their theory has been falsified by the observed physical evidence of God and the Son of God recorded in the Bible.