The Thief on the Cross 3

            Why is truth important?

            If this universe is purely matter and energy only, then what is even the point of discerning truth from error?  What does it matter in the long-run if there is no purpose or meaning in the universe?

            Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

            If purpose and meaning do exist in the universe, then is matter and energy capable of producing a search for truth?  And why would it do so?

            From the theistic viewpoint, the very existence of an Oxford debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on this particular topic implies subtly that God has buried scientific materialism, because the question of which worldview has buried the other worldview should be illogically incapable of arising out of a purely material universe.

            Scientific materialism dissolves itself by its mere existence as a debatable issue, because by definition this question is too complex for a purely material universe devoid of purpose and meaning.

            But the really dangerous thing today is that scientific materialism is capable of burying science itself, by undermining its credibility.

            From the time of 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, to shortly after DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson, and Fred Hoyle began to study the fine-tuning of carbon resonance inside super-hot stars to create oxygen and carbon…until roughly then science was a safe haven for the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism.

            But where does it get us if scientific materialists discover a purely naturalistic, self-assembling mechanism inside living cells that explains the vast diversity of life?

            Where does it lead if it can be proven by modern science that there exists an all-encompassing theory of everything, that supports a purely material universe without the need for an intelligent designing agent?

            The worldview of naturalistic materialism by definition leads to total annihilation, no other outcome being possible.

            In a purely material universe, the race towards truth in science is a race towards recognizing and codifying oblivion.

            But what if the vote-count from modern science in terms of evidentiary facts tells us that intelligent agency won the election, and a materialistic Mother Nature lost?

            As humans we do not choose to place our faith and trust in the God of the Bible because we want the universe to have purpose and meaning, because we want our lives to likewise have purpose and meaning.

            This would be wishful thinking squared or cubed, based upon nothing factual.

            But if the organized complexity we see everywhere in the natural world tells us intelligent agency won the election, then the next step is to see if we can recognize and differentiate truth beyond the physical universe, within human experience.

            This admittedly is not easy coming from a secular perspective.

            The strange reality in 2022 at the time of the completion of this book, is that discerning and differentiating between genuine truth and fabricated conspiracy theories occupies the central place in both politics and science.

            If we are saying the presidential election in 2020 in America was stolen because we want a different outcome, if after qualified election officials say that this election was one of the most accurate in U.S. history, if we still insist upon our preferred outcome then we have abandoned the validity of evidentiary facts.

            If most of the evidence from modern science today and general appearances in the natural world point towards the existence of intelligently organized complexity, if we still insist on our preferred worldview of atheistic materialism, then we are rejecting the basic tenet of scientific investigation to follow the facts impartially wherever they lead in the larger search for truth.

            Scientific materialists who loudly proclaim their allegiance to the empirical quality of factual evidence on the one hand, yet on the other hand dismiss the design evidence in the natural world that nearly everyone else sees, to argue this design away as a mere illusory artifact of the wishful thinking of our need to imagine a designer god, calls into question the impartiality of humans to adjudicate anything complex towards a near-perfect conclusion.  

The Thief on the Cross 2

            Is the concept of truth supported by factual evidence, now under attack?

            From the enhanced perspective of the current political and cultural reality in 2022, the basic questions of truth, facts, a free-press, accountability, free-and-fair elections, and the reliability of the human faculty to differentiate right from wrong, now illuminates more clearly the basic issues being argued in this 2009 Oxford debate.

            A discussion of the nature of truth in politics and in science should not be swept-under-the-rug at this critical time in human history, as a concession to the otherwise commendable goal of maintaining congeniality.

            One of the takeaways from this 2009 Oxford debate is that when one person is arguing using generalizations, and the opponent is attempting to steer the discussion towards hard facts, that this hopelessly devolves into the classic case of comparing apples with oranges.

            When the losing presidential candidate following an election, asserts that his victory was stolen through the fraudulent counting of ballots, this is an assertion that can empirically be checked through the legal process of first challenging the vote-count, and then going back to perform a re-count.

            But what is incredibly important here, during and after this re-count of the votes in the battleground states that could change the outcome of the election, the detailed mechanics of how the ballots are issued, collected, tallied, and verified should be communicated to the populace to eliminate the continuation of conspiracy theory generalities put forward by the losing candidate.

            If after a re-count of the ballots this shows that there was no widespread fraud during the election process, but the losing candidate is freely allowed to continue to assert that the election was stolen and falsely proclaims himself the winner, then a strange paradox is created in the contest of ideas between general assertions at one level and hard empirical evidence at another level.

            This apples-to-oranges contest within the political arena and within the origin-of-life dilemma can only be resolved by first agreeing upon what is the standard for determining truth…factually unsupported assertions or detailed empirical evidence.

            But at a much deeper and fundamental level the question can be asked of how and why this type of contested issue could and should be a part of the human experience in the first-place…in politics, biology, or anywhere else.

            The old saying that sunlight is the best disinfectant, in this parallel political analogy of confirming or disconfirming the accuracy of the vote-count in a political election, can only be resolved by both a re-count of the ballots and a thoroughly detailed explanation to the general populace of how this process accurately works.

            Like the need to appeal to both the empirical evidentiary facts and a detailed explanation to the general public of the mechanics of the election process, to dispel the assertions of voter fraud by the losing candidate, the defense by Richard Dawkins that science does not need God in the area of biology because evolution already explains everything, in my opinion has devolved down into a data-free conspiracy theory.

            When the layman on the street gets exposed to even an inkling of the detailed mechanics of DNA and the molecular machinery inside a living cell at the level of biochemistry, the immediate inference is to the recognition of design at work.

            Over the last 160-plus years of intensive research into the truth or falsehood of the theory of Darwinian macroevolution, the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information that describe the biology of life inside living cells can now be tested at the level of evidentiary facts rather than generalized assertions.

            The organized complexity operating inside living cells does not support the generalized assertion that Darwinian evolution explains everything in biology.

            At this critical time in human history, when liberal democracy is being challenged by the false claims of a stolen election, “fake-news,” the downplaying of a pandemic that has at this time taken the lives of 850,000 Americans, and the politicizing of vaccinations, the fundamental question arises as to whether claims regarding truth must be backed-up by factual evidence.

            Because the narrative can be spun at the level of generalized assertions, and because humans possess the capacity for intellectual and moral discernment to differentiate the truth or falsity of truth-claims, the question of how we arrive at genuine truth is now front-and-center in our modern age.

Housing Construction Needs Specific Offensive and Defensive Game-Plans Built on Data

            One of the basic problems in housing construction today, in terms of achieving the cost benefits of assembly-line efficiency is that not a large enough number of houses are built at each building site.

            Trial-run debugging that produces the benefits of the traditional mass-production assembly-line…of achieving the lowest cost-per-unit…is based upon the idea of manufacturing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of identical, repetitive products.

            The artistic diversity of architectural designs is a direct result of the housing construction industry realizing long before Henry Ford’s Model-T assembly-line that fully assembled houses are too large in size to be manufactured at a single location then shipped to building sites.

            Once the notion of constructing hundreds of thousands of identical, repetitive, 2,400 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses on a mass-production assembly-line is abandoned…then the artistic diversity of innovative variations in design takes over.

            From an aesthetic viewpoint this reality provides interest and variety to the design and construction of houses.

            But from a manufacturing viewpoint this provides the challenge of discovering, documenting, and disseminating the debugging information that accrues exponentially by this very same innovative diversity of the variety of square-footage size, architectural style, interior finishes, and orientation on unique building sites…of each individual new house being constructed.

            This is what makes perfect housing design and construction a topic of interest in the massive-sized industry of building construction.

            The assembly-line debugging information gleaned from the mass-production manufacturing of tennis rackets does not carry-over to the mass-production manufacturing of a particular model of dining room table.

            But the value of the initial trial-run debugging of the assembly-line for the mass-production of a particular model of tennis racket is found in the large number of identical, repetitive tennis rackets being manufactured.

            Because many of the same building trades practices are used in constructing new houses that are all different in size, style, and price range…this creates one database of debugging information that is common to all new housing construction, and another database of varied debugging information that is specific to each unique building site…scattered all over the countryside.

            But it is the starting reality of the large size of houses that dictates the method of assembly…and produces the reality of assembly-line debugging on housing construction projects that have a limited number of products to build and short time-spans to work with.

            Before moving on…it might be good here to expand upon and summarize the concept presented in the Introduction in this book, of housing construction being different:

            For housing construction projects, after all of the construction problems are resolved…the construction is complete…the house or houses are built…and we move on to a new and different project.

            Problem-solving and debugging are an integral part of every new housing construction project…usually from start to finish…because the same product is not repeated in large enough numbers to “build” upon past experience to the point of assembly-line perfection.

            An assembly-line approach cannot be used because of the practical reality that houses are too large in size to be fully assembled at one location and then transported overland to another. 

            Each new house must be assembled piece by piece at its exact location on the building site…and because houses occupy a lot of space…only so many can fit on each project site.

            Each new housing construction project is therefore a one-time event…limited in time duration by the total number of houses to be built at that site. 

            Each project is separated from other projects by the distance between building sites, the economic competition between rival construction companies, and the lack of motivation or communication channels for sharing debugging information within the industry.

            New housing construction projects have only one opportunity prior to the start of the construction for proactive problem-solving.

            In housing construction, the trial-run phase and the actual construction are one-in-the-same operation. 

            In housing construction there is no trial-run debugging phase, except in production tract housing in the construction of the sales models when problems and issues are supposed to be identified and resolved before the construction of the production units begin.

            But even for large tract housing projects of 200 or 300 units…being the typical maximum size for most “merchant builders”…this mass-production feature still limits the benefits of trial-run debugging to the total number of houses in each project.

            In housing construction, the mass-production of identical, repetitive houses never reaches the number of tens or hundreds of thousands of smaller sized products typically manufactured within a single assembly-line building.

            Builders, subcontractors, superintendents, forepersons, and tradespeople must therefore be prepared to debug the individual peculiarities on a project-by-project basis.

            This requires having both a defensive and offensive game-plan to achieve success. 

            The needed database of debugging information can only be acquired by observation after-the-fact of mistakes and problems that actually occur as unanticipated “bugs” on a large number and wide-range of new housing construction projects.

            This database of debugging information can only reach the broader housing construction industry by becoming part of the back-and-forth communication between designers and builders…breaching the proprietary barriers around this information that historically has provided competitive advantage in terms of experience and expertise.

            Because designers and builders mix and “cross-breed” in their collaborations on housing construction projects…the introduction of quality-control information into the architectural and interior designs in terms of illustrations depicting what not to do…added to the details pages of the design plans…will over time spread throughout the industry.

            When applicable, this information can also be added to the scope-of-work sections of building trades subcontracts, highlighting company-specific and project-specific issues that builders want to bring to the attention of the subcontractors.

The Thief on the Cross 1

            The Bible is based upon historical people and events.  The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is defended on the basis of an appeal to the reliability of factual evidence.

            If truth in the world devolves into the relativism of conspiracy theories and outright lies, if truth is perceived as a malleable reality that can be shaped into whatever narrative we choose to believe despite whatever the factual evidence says, then the Christian’s appeal to an independent, historical standard of universal truth in sharing the gospel message…disappears.

            In the 2009 debate at Oxford between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins on the topic of Has Science Buried God[1], part-way into the discussion Richard Dawkins appeals to the all-purpose generalization that the Darwinian model of genetic mutations and natural selection explains the origin of the complexity of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells.

            Richard Dawkins at this point in the debate regarding the question of how DNA came into being, asserts in the most general terms that Darwinian evolution has already answered this question.

            The problem here is that Darwinian evolution has not answered this question at all.

            Simply stating that it has in the form of an assertion, does not make it so.

            The jump from zero bits of information before the existence of life, to the roughly 3.0 to 3.5 billion bits of information needed to support the architectural body-plan of the first living single-cell bacteria that can both survive and reproduce itself, cannot be explained through small, gradually incremental steps no matter how long science ponders this origin-of-life dilemma.

            From the vantage point of 2022 now looking back in hindsight, the accumulation of factual evidence regarding the phenomena in the natural world has turned the centuries-long science and God debate 180-degrees around.

            The difficulty in arguing for or against Darwinian evolution in 2022, is that mechanics is easily confused with agency.

            On the surface, mechanics appears to be interchangeable with agency.

            For scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins, mechanics is agency.

            There is complex, organized molecular biochemical mechanics in action inside living cells, observed and studied by modern science.

            But for scientific materialists, genetic mutation producing variant physical traits chosen by natural selection for enhanced survival and reproduction, is a naturalistic process of agency that is integral within the mechanics itself, combining mechanics and agency together as one…without the need for any independent source of guiding intelligence.

            We know from logic that the mechanics comprising an airplane cannot be assembled to achieve function while the airplane is in flight.

            The airplane must be filled-up with gasoline or jet-fuel, all of its parts lubricated, and a thorough pre-flight check made before the airplane takes-off and becomes airborne.

            The gradual development of an airplane to become air-worthy does not overlap into a final assembly phase of necessary parts while in flight.

            The logical inconsistency in biology utilizing Darwinian evolution is the question of at what point in development over time is the living organism airborne and in flight.

            Is “flight” achieved gradually lifting-off the ground while microscopic molecular machines and the blueprint information in DNA are crafting different cells-types to create an elephant or a giraffe?  Is embryonic development analogous to the jetliner being assembled pre-flight, piece-by-piece on the assembly-line inside a hangar?

            Or is “flight” defined for living organisms at the moment they are fully assembled to successfully function in the outside world, prepared ahead of time to blend immediately into the fast-lane of predator/prey relationships in their particular biodiverse environment and ecological niche?

            For human beings created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), the process of producing a flight-worthy airplane first occurs on the conceptual drawing-board within the imagination of the aeronautical engineer.

            I can speak from personal experience that a new house is never built on-the-fly, making it up as we go.

            The general assertion that Darwinian evolution can account for the origin of DNA and the molecular machinery inside living cells, and that this can then coordinate to produce the ten-million varied living species on earth, is in essence cutting-out the conceptual thought-process of the aeronautical engineer, and replacing it with the mechanical process of the airplane assembly taking place in the hangar…self-assembly mechanics and agency being one and the same thing.   

            The idea that DNA is needed to produce proteins, and proteins are needed to produce DNA, without the guidance of intelligent agency, is a simultaneous chicken-and-egg, who is the lead dancer in a two-person dance, that would be as nonsensical as assembling an airplane in flight.

            The idea that Darwinian evolution can gradually produce incremental function spread-out over the entire process pre-birth and post-birth is not supported by a logical interpretation of the evidentiary facts, requiring too many sequentially coordinated assemblies.

            But the idea that function is acquired immediately in a moment of time somewhere along the process of development is not allowed in naturalistic materialism, being a single-point of realizing the future defining outcome of the thing being assembled far in advance of that defining outcome being realized…in essence injecting foresight into gradual development having a definite outcome “in mind” before the thing reaches a final outcome.

            The quality of personal oversight that creates a flight-worthy airplane that gradually approaches function part-by-part, occurs step-by-step in the manufacturing assembly-line hangar.

            But real flight is only actualized after the completed and fuel-up airplane is rolled-out onto the runway for take-off.

            The assembly of an airplane is never completed in flight.

            This reality appears to identify clearly differentiated lines between conception, assembly, and actualized flight for an airplane.

            The dilemma for scientific materialism is that it has to identify where and when their version of impersonal agency can be pinpointed in the sequential mechanics of the embryonic development of living organisms that approximate foresight, of when each organism begins to home-in on its uniquely defined and completed essence to be capable of taking-off and becoming “airborne” as an elephant, lion, salmon, or human being.  

            The materialistic process must be chopped-up into small enough individual activities to incorporate some measure of chance-produced self-assembly, but this methodology also chops-up foresight that can get an assembly of body-parts to coalesce into functional body-plans capable of survival and reproduction.

            If I am seeing this rightly, the scientific materialist is saying here that Mother Nature through the mechanics of the process itself is the identifiable agent, that impersonal mechanics, agency, and function are all synonymous.

            This is nonsensical.

            I think this is what Richard Dawkins is inferring in this 2009 debate when he says that Darwinian evolution explains DNA and the molecular machinery inside the living cell…the mechanism of evolution itself being the designing agent.

            A scientific materialist cannot go beyond mechanics to include the foresight of well-aimed trajectories towards preconceived outcomes, because this invokes the need for an extremely intelligent designer in the complex theater of biological life.

            As said previously in another essay, some scientists for decades have been telling us that God is dead, and that science alone is the only reliable path to discover genuine truth.

            But today the strange and counterintuitive realization is surfacing that the mere possession of a mass of raw data alone does not automatically or naturally lead to a true verdict.

            Facts can be manipulated and interpreted into various competing spins containing half-truths that are difficult to conclusively adjudicate.

            If some scientists today are falsely spinning the narrative to fit within a materialistic worldview, then the reliably objective nature of the scientific enterprise has been corrupted to the point of calling into question the capacity of science to discover real truth.

            If scientific materialists are telling us one thing, but the facts-on-the-ground are telling us something else, then we have reached a new fork-in-the-road that I believe was not anticipated at the start of the Scientific Revolution.

            I do not think that scientific materialists in the mid-twentieth century thought that the database of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world could reach the point where the empirical, fact-based character of the scientific enterprise would compellingly point towards the absolute need for intelligent agency as the best explanation for the origin and structure of our universe.

            If the huge advances through scientific research have reached the conclusion that human nature on its own has the proclivity towards the divisions, factions, and schisms of competing ideologies despite a full plate of the facts…I believe this would be an unexpected realization.


[1] Has Science Buried God debate at Oxford 2009 between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, hosted by the Fixed Point Foundation, on You Tube.

Housing Construction Needs Specific Offensive and Defensive Game-Plans Built upon Data

            One of the basic problems in housing construction today, in terms of achieving the cost benefits of assembly-line efficiency is that not a large enough number of houses are built at each building site.

            Trial-run debugging that produces the benefits of the traditional mass-production assembly-line…of achieving the lowest cost-per-unit…is based upon the idea of manufacturing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of identical, repetitive products.

            The artistic diversity of architectural designs is a direct result of the housing construction industry realizing long before Henry Ford’s Model-T assembly-line that fully assembled houses are too large in size to be manufactured at a single location then shipped to building sites.

            Once the notion of constructing hundreds of thousands of identical, repetitive, 2,400 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses on a mass-production assembly-line is abandoned…then the artistic diversity of innovative variations in design takes over.

            From an aesthetic viewpoint this reality provides interest and variety to the design and construction of houses.

            But from a manufacturing viewpoint this provides the challenge of discovering, documenting, and disseminating the debugging information that accrues exponentially by this very same innovative diversity of the variety of square-footage size, architectural style, interior finishes, and orientation on unique building sites…of each individual new house being constructed.

            This is what makes perfect housing design and construction a topic of interest in the massive-sized industry of building construction.

            The assembly-line debugging information gleaned from the mass-production manufacturing of tennis rackets does not carry-over to the mass-production manufacturing of a particular model of dining room table.

            But the value of the initial trial-run debugging of the assembly-line for the mass-production of a particular model of tennis racket is found in the large number of identical, repetitive tennis rackets being manufactured.

            Because many of the same building trades practices are used in constructing new houses that are all different in size, style, and price range…this creates one database of debugging information that is common to all new housing construction, and another database of varied debugging information that is specific to each unique building site…scattered all over the countryside.

            But it is the starting reality of the large size of houses that dictates the method of assembly…and produces the reality of assembly-line debugging on housing construction projects that have a limited number of products to build and short time-spans to work with.

            Before moving on…it might be good here to expand upon and summarize the concept presented in the Introduction in this book, of housing construction being different:

            For housing construction projects, after all of the construction problems are resolved…the construction is complete…the house or houses are built…and we move on to a new and different project.

            Problem-solving and debugging are an integral part of every new housing construction project…usually from start to finish…because the same product is not repeated in large enough numbers to “build” upon past experience to the point of assembly-line perfection.

            An assembly-line approach cannot be used because of the practical reality that houses are too large in size to be fully assembled at one location and then transported overland to another. 

            Each new house must be assembled piece by piece at its exact location on the building site…and because houses occupy a lot of space…only so many can fit on each project site.

            Each new housing construction project is therefore a one-time event…limited in time duration by the total number of houses to be built at that site. 

            Each project is separated from other projects by the distance between building sites, the economic competition between rival construction companies, and the lack of motivation or communication channels for sharing debugging information within the industry.

            New housing construction projects have only one opportunity prior to the start of the construction for proactive problem-solving.

            In housing construction, the trial-run phase and the actual construction are one-in-the-same operation. 

            In housing construction there is no trial-run debugging phase, except in production tract housing in the construction of the sales models when problems and issues are supposed to be identified and resolved before the construction of the production units begin.

            But even for large tract housing projects of 200 or 300 units…being the typical maximum size for most merchant builders, this mass-production feature still limits the benefits of trial-run debugging to the total number of houses in each project.

            In housing construction, the mass-production of identical, repetitive houses never reaches the number of tens or hundreds of thousands of smaller sized products typically manufactured within a single assembly-line building.

            Builders, subcontractors, superintendents, forepersons, and tradespeople must therefore be prepared to debug the individual peculiarities on a project-by-project basis.

            This requires having both a defensive and offensive game-plan to achieve success. 

            The needed database of debugging information can only be acquired by observation after-the-fact of mistakes and problems that actually occur as unanticipated “bugs” on a large number and wide-range of new housing construction projects.

            This database of debugging information can only reach the broader housing construction industry by becoming part of the back-and-forth communication between designers and builders…breaching the proprietary barriers around this information that historically has provided competitive advantage in terms of experience and expertise.

            Because designers and builders mix and “cross-breed” in their collaborations on housing construction projects…the introduction of quality-control information into the architectural and interior designs in terms of illustrations depicting what not to do…added to the details pages of the design plans…will over time spread throughout the industry.

            When applicable, this information can also be added to the scope-of-work sections of building trades subcontracts, highlighting company-specific and project-specific issues that builders want to bring to the attention of the subcontractors.

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