For his June 2012 Acts & Facts piece James J. S. Johnson talks about the ‘vestigial organs’ subject I last discussed with the That’s a Fact video on the subject. He begins his article, Tonsils, Forensic Science, and the Recent Fabrication Rule, with the following question:
Would God give us a body part that we don’t need?
Already we can see that he’s attacking a straw man. The importance of vestigial organs in evolution is not that they are entirely non-functional, but that they represent examples of organs that have fallen into disuse when it comes to their function in other animals, but are still used (or now used, as the case may be) for another, minor purpose.
He answers his question, after a diversion we will get to shortly, with:
As a matter of logic, a perfect Creator wouldn’t put parts into our bodies that we don’t need.
*There is actually a slight problem with that particular argument. To oversimplify, celebrate priests are generally associated with Catholics, who also happen to believe in free will. To argue that specific point you would really need a celibate priest that believed that they were destined (or commanded by God, that will do) to become so. To confront a non-free will believing, non-celibate protestant creationist with a similar point you need to think of something else that we have but
Now, why not? Is God some kind of supernatural Ebenezer Scrooge? Celibate priests still have, you know…*
Anyway, about those tonsils. Johnson writes:
Frequently, we face creation versus evolution choices in life, even though we are not always fully informed about the scientific facts that support biblical creation. Why? Because many choices in life don’t wait for all the facts.
Consider that years ago surgeons routinely removed tonsils. Many in the medical community viewed tonsils as nothing more than leftover nuisance organs, while parents viewed them as the source of a great deal of pain to their child (and children viewed them as an opportunity to trade for a bonanza of Neopolitan ice cream!). However, the evolution-based trend of elective tonsillectomies was discredited as a tragic fad of bad assumptions leading to bad conclusions—and led to many weakened immune systems. Tonsils and adenoids are not vestigial leftovers from a process of animals morphing into humans. Rather, tonsils and adenoids are valuable members of the human lymphatic (immune) system. Like fingers, you can survive without them. But unless they become dangerously infected—like gangrenous fingers—there is no good medical science reason to “amputate” them.
The fingers line would make a good point if, again, it wasn’t against a straw man. It doesn’t matter that we can “survive without them.” Johnson is correct in saying that tonsils aren’t vestigial – but that’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate examples, like the tailbone (it provides an important function, but it is not necessary for an omnipotent creator to use what is quite obviously the stump of a tail to do it).
As a matter of logic, a perfect Creator wouldn’t put parts into our bodies that we don’t need. Some of those facing tonsillectomies years ago elected to keep their tonsils for that reason—they believed tonsils were helpful body parts, to be appreciated and conserved for life—even before they learned relevant medical science facts about tonsils and adenoids. And later science eventually proved the evolutionist tonsil-bashers wrong.
Tell me, how were these dentists ‘evolutionists’ in this situation? I mean, it’s nice when creationists are claiming something other than eugenics as the logical outcome of evolution, but how is this anything other than a situation where medical professionals believed that the risks outweighed the benefits and acted accordingly? ‘Flawed evolutionary assumptions,’ have nothing to do with it.
We move on to the other topic of this article, the “recent fabrication rule”:
We often face dilemmas that force us to test our creationist thinking, to make practical decisions before we learn the relevant science facts. We are tested by what we know, now, and also by what we should know, based upon our opportunities to learn. If we ignore or suppress the true facts—including what we actually know and what we should know—when we are put to the test, we do so “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
This same kind of testing helps us in critiquing the claims of evolutionists, to test their finite thinking about topics of origins science. Origins science is primarily a type of forensic science—a science of learning and proving true facts about events of the past that are no longer observable. In forensic science, it is often important what people say and do before they learn additional information that influences them to “change their story.”
This is a poor analogy. The idea that a person who changes their story when confronted with new facts is inherently untrustworthy is intuitive and seductive. But it does not apply here: it applies to an eyewitness (people who creationists insist are the most trustworthy of all avenues of evidence, I might add), but not here.
Here the evil evolutionist scientists take the role not of the witness but of the investigator themselves. If they uncover new evidence – a DNA mismatch, a solid alibi – and change their “story” because of it then that’s all for the good. It doesn’t make them untrustworthy, and in fact suggests the opposite: if they then claim whodunit then you know then that they really mean it, and aren’t just insisting on a certain conclusion in spite of the evidence. But then that’s what creationists do, isn’t it?
You can see how Johnson misapplies his analogy with the following:
This forensic principle is routinely recognized in evidence law. Imagine that an out-of-town motorist carefully made a U-turn, only to receive a traffic citation for an “illegal U-turn.” At first he protests that he made a careful U-turn on a solid green light. But he later learns that local law only allows a U-turn on a green arrow, and his “memory” changes. Which story should the judge believe?
Evidence law calls this the “recent fabrication” problem—distinguishing between words spoken before and after a potential influence to fabricate a different report in order to avoid a foreseeable consequence. Why trust the earlier report? Because a potential influence cannot affect behavior occurring before the influence exists. This is a basic law of causality logic: An effect cannot precede its own cause. Later-acquired information cannot be the cause of an earlier action.
Yep. The analogy does not apply, neither to the evolutionary thought as above (as is implied, though not stated), nor to the example Johnson actually gives below:
Who Wrote Genesis?
While Christ refused to accommodate false traditions, He specifically recognized Genesis as a genuine book of Moses. That fact is authoritative enough for Bible-believing Christians. However, we can review one aspect of Genesis’ authenticity to further illustrate the “recent fabrication” evidence principle.
From what I can tell, this ‘recognition’ was hardly ‘specific.’ A footnote states:
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Morris, H. M. 2005. The Long War Against God. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, Inc., 132-133. These pages provide examples of Christ’s reliance upon Moses, as Christ incorporated parts of the books of Moses into His teachings, including Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. See also John 5:39-47, especially 5:46-47.
The John verses certainly don’t fit the bill: there is no ‘specific’ mention of Genesis at all, merely that Moses wrote something, and that something mentioned Jesus in some way or another.
The example Johnson gives for his “principle” is the Documentary hypothesis, one of the more popular theories about the origin of the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament from the Christian perspective). A theory that has fallen a little out of favour of late, but not for the reasons Johnson states:
Apostates who reject Christ’s deity often reject Christ’s knowledge about who wrote Genesis (and the other four books of Moses). Such skeptics include early source critics—Jean Astruc, Karl Graf, and Julius Wellhausen—scholars whose speculations became popularized as the so-called “JEDP” (or “Documentary”) Hypothesis. They imagined that the authorship of Genesis through Deuteronomy was a conspiracy plot of priestly forgers and redacting editors, who fabricated piecemeal texts for backdating and attributed the supposedly illiterate Moses as the author in order to trick Jewish readers into accepting texts as God’s Word. Dressed in fancy academic vocabulary, this sacrilegious scenario tickled many profane ears. But, like science fiction, it had no forensically reliable foundation. Among other problems, the recent fabrication causality principle embarrasses the JEDP Hypothesis.
It’s interesting that Johnson considers the rejection of Christ’s deity to be apostasy, given that Newton (who the ICR so loves) was of that opinion. The idea of a “conspiracy” is made up by Johnson. Now, how does “the recent fabrication causality principle embarrass the JEDP Hypothesis”?
But in contriving this blasphemous authenticity challenge, the skeptics forgot that Samaritans retained and copied the five books of Moses in the ancient preexilic Hebrew script (Ktav Ivri)—centuries before the mutually hateful split between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans’ copy of the books of Moses never bore the later Aramaic (Ktav Ashuri) script. Since the Samaritans themselves were deported in 722 B.C. by Assyrians, their copies of Moses’ books antedate both the Babylonian and Persian periods. The Nablus (or Abisha) Roll copy of the Samaritan Pentateuch, cherished today in Samaria, is written in a form of Ktav Ivri script, thus antedating the postexilic Jewish influence of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Israel during the Persian period (with their Ktav Ashuri Hebrew text).
In other words, JEDP advocates try to date the Hebrew Pentateuch’s text (what the Samaritan Pentateuch is copied from) to be centuries later than the ancient Samaritan copies made from it—an impossible case of an effect preceding its own cause!
Now he’s lost me. While he might be correct in saying that the documentary hypothesis dates elements of the Torah to a much earlier time than is possible, what has it got to do with his analogy?
Why would anyone choose the forensically untenable JEDP theory over Christ’s own view of Genesis? To escape the authoritative authenticity of Genesis.
But Christ is always right—Genesis is authentic, authoritative, and relevant.
Not everyone is faced with a choice of having their tonsils pulled or all-you-can-eat ice cream. However, all of us are confronted with situations that test our personal view of origins—our beliefs about who our Creator is, whom and what He created, why He created, how He created, and when He created—whether or not we really believe that Genesis is true.
How well do you handle being tested on these issues? Don’t be caught “without excuse”—prepare for the test (cf. Hebrews 11:3, 6). Thankfully, life is an open Bible exam.
The point Johnson seems to be driving at is that you should never stop believing else you will look like a fool. To recap, he has first attacked the idea of vestigial, then made some analogy involving illegal driving manoeuvres to establish some kind of irrelevant legal principle, and then attacked a challenge to the Mosaic authorship of the Bible. Quite a disjointed article, but that does seem to be Johnson’s trademark.