Saturday, October 27, 2018

#2092: Roger Patterson

Roger Patterson is one of the creation “scientists” affiliated with Answers in Genesis. Patterson has no background in science, of course – otherwise he would not have had that job – but he knows how to swamp his writings with Bible quotes, and that is what matters.

Indeed, it is, for Patterson and the AiG, explicitlyall that matters. It is instructive to look at how Patterson and the AiG think critical thinking works. As he states in his writeup of how to do critical thinking, AiG-style: “To really determine what is true and what is false requires that you test everything in light of the only source of ultimate truth – God’s Word.” Indeed, “[w]hen we look to God’s Word as the standard for understanding truth, we have a solid foundtion from which to begin applying critical thinking to claims we hear. Further, God does not leave us alone in this endeavor. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and other believers to support us. Working together with the body of Christ from a biblical framework and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you can discern truth from lies, even in areas where you may not be an expert, by asking the right critical thinking questions.” The questions are:

-      What is this person’s Authority to make such a claim?
-      From what Starting point is this person looking at the world?
-      How do they Know what they claim to know?

And the answer to the questions should be Scripture, of course. To determine whether someone has the relevant authority, look at whether they have a Biblical worldview. And the starting pointshould be the Word of God (“Ultimately, these are the only two options –  you either trust God or you trust man. Although humanistic philosophy must borrow ideas from a Christian worldview in order to make logical arguments, it is very dangerous to make human reasoning the absolute standard.”) As for the how do they know, “the knowledge claim must be compared to the truth of God’s Word. If the truth claim disagrees with a clear meaning of Scripture, it must be rejected.” In short, critical thinking AiG style involves neither criticalnor thinking. But it is probably in this light you should understand creationists’ argument that creationism should be taught in science class alongside evolution to promote critical thinking.

Here is Patterson discussing creationist debate tactics and how you should try to subvert a discussion of science to give you an opportunity to talk about God, essentially by pointing out that science doesn’t yield absolute certainty but God’s word does. With evolution and the origin of the universe, you see, we have no eyewitness testimony, and to Patterson it is incomprehensible how we can know anything without someone observing it directly. In short, he fully and completely reject using scientific methods to figure stuff out and seem unaware of the idea – science – of testing hypotheses about the unobserved by its observable consequences. It’s telling.

Nevertheless, Patterson wrote a Chapter on “What is Science?” for his AiG’s online creationist resource Evolution Exposed – Biology. It is, needless to say, a thoroughly confused document. To write The Evolution Exposed series, Patterson “got copies of the three major biology textbooks used in most public school systems across America,” then “carefully went through each of them and noted every place where there’s a reference to millions of years and evolution, […] researched the evolutionary claims [using AiG-approved resources, presumably], and then read hundreds of articles and contacted experts in their fields [remember, from above, Patterson’s point about authority] to ensure he’d write the best rebuttals possible.” The series is marketed as “your evolution answer-book for the classroom;” that is, the point is that students using any of the most popular textbooks can now go online and get AiG’s responses to the most unbiblical passages. Here is a summary of Chapter 2 on the Big Bang.

Together with one Joseph Paturi, Patterson is also the author of AiG’s guide to World Religions and Cults Volume 2, What Is Hinduism and Hare Krishna?(“they are ultimately pursuing salvation through vain means – denying Jesus as the Savior and only source of salvation for fallen men” – Patterson has a curious fondness for the word “ultimately”), which is typical of their guides to World Religions.

Here is Patterson demonstrating that Earth is approximately 6000 years old, and not billions of years. The point is that using science to get billions of years is hard; using the Bible to get 6000 is easy. Therefore 6000 is correct. Moreover, scientific calculations depend on “assumptions [that are] unreliable and totally disagrees with the Bible. We are talking about thousands versus billions – that’s more than a rounding error.” Indeed it is.

The Roger Patterson in question is presumably not identical to (apparently long deceased) Roger Patterson, one of the originators of the modern Bigfoot myth.

Diagnosis: A very typical example of his ilk, really, and a fine illustration of the standard creationist combo – completely failing to understand the basics of science makes science look to them like a form of witchcraft, which they promptly fear and hate.

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