Plants vs. Zombie: Fossil Record Contradicts Evolution

Darwin SignPopular myths are like zombies.  They invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth II: Fossil Record Contradict Evolution

In Evolution? The Fossils Say No! Duane T. Gish wrote that paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould argued that fossil record “does not produce evidence of the gradual change of one plant or animal form into another”(Gish 1979, 172) Gish pointed out that according to Gould fossil record produced evidence for “each kind appeared abruptly”.

A zombie appeared with the hidden assumption that if phyletic gradualism is wrong then Darwinism¹ must also be wrong. This zombie failed to see the difference between two schools of evolutionary biology.

It is true that Gould and Niles Eldredge contended that “[m]ost species, during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent direction.”(Gould & Eldredge 1977, 115) Punctuated equilibria explains the “overlooked phenomenon of marked stability, responding to a pattern where adaptive evolutionary change seems to be concentrated into (relatively) brief episodes, ‘punctuating’ vastly linger intervals where little or no change is accumulated.”(Eldredge 1989, 174)

According to Gould and Niles, most evolutionary modification is concentrated in rapid proceedings of speciation in small, marginally remote populations (1977, 117). Even if we were to assume that “graualistic tale were true, which it is not” (ibid 116) there is limited fossil date to establish the truthfulness such a tale. What were prima facie treated as gaps in fossil data are actually data, stasis period of species proliferation.

Although Charles Robert Darwin in his later works moved towards gradualism, his early stages works showed that he held saltationist view. On page 130 of his Red Notebook, for example, Darwin argued that were there is no gradual change and one species has changed into another, then “it must be per saltum- or species may perish”.

Darwin encountered what paleontologists  found and noted it as a good objection to his theory (Notebook E, 1838). Since “[o]n the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she[nature] should not; for natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by the shortest and slowest steps.”(Darwin 1964, 194) Darwin resolved this objection by appealing to an incomplete fossil record (1964, 310-11)

Even though paleontologists failed to see gradualism, a slow, steady and gradual change of species in fossil record as the only paradigm of Darwinism, they harmonized that broad-spectrum patterns of evolutionary history displayed in the fossil record with another evolutionary biological paradigm, ‘punctuated equilibria’. It is prima facie contra natura non facit saltum of Darwinian gradualism but Darwinism nonetheless.


Darwin, Charles (1964) On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gish, Duane T. (1979) Evolution: The Fossils Say No! San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers.

Gould, Stephen Jay & Eldredge, Niles (1977) ‘Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered.’ Paleobiology vol. 3: 115-151

Eldredge, Niles (1989) ‘Punctuated equilibra, rates of change and large-scale entities in evolutionary systems.’  Journal of Social and Biological Structures Vol. 12:173-184

Previous Myth: Hume Was An Atheist

[1] I used Darwinianism and Evolution synonymously.

Plants vs. Zombies: Hume Was An Atheist

David Hume

My wife used to love playing a action-strategy game called Plants vs. Zombies. The aim of this game was to arrange and rearrange different types of plants and fungi, as a landowner, around the house to stop a mob of zombies from invading it and eat your brain.

Popular myths are like zombies.  They too, if not stopped, invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth I: David Hume Was An Atheist

In The Presumption of Atheism, Antony Flew’s wrote that David Hume was “the archetypal ancient spokesman for an atheist scientific naturalism”(1976, 52). Reading what some philosophers said about Hume’s Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion, a master piece leveled to refute the classical arguments for existence of God, this zombie ate my brain.

I started planting plants and fungi against this zombie when I began reading  Hume’s original works. I discovered that Hume’s aim was to show that the existence of God, the omnicompetent and wholly good creator is indemonstrable (D 189  cf. 141-2). The whole Dialogues(D) is not whether God exists or not, but if His nature can be known. Both Demea (D 142) and Philo (D 198), Hume’s characters, affirmed God’s existence but diverged on His nature. The problem of evil, for example, was Philo’s case against a benevolent nature of God, not His existence..

Hume’s Natural History of Religion (4:30 & 4:329) reveals that Hume, like Epicurus, was a limited theist. A narrow form of theism, but theism nonetheless.

Next: Myth II: Conflict Between Darwinism and Paleontology

When prejudiced creationists fail to see a zombie-difference between Darwinian gradualism and Darwinian punctuated equilibria.


Flew, Antony (1976) The Presumption of Atheism . London: Pemberton.

Further Reading: Major Writings of David Hume in contemporary English.

Is the Matrix Possible?

Neo MatrixIn questions under the discipline of philosophy, and more so under epistemology (the theory of knowledge) particularly, we often find ourselves having to wrestle with certain beliefs, claims, and scenarios that might affect how we truly know things or whether we know anything at all. For instance,  French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) once wrote:

But what about when I considered something very simple and easy in the areas of arithmetic or geometry, for example that 2 plus 3 make 5, and the like? Did I not intuit them at least clearly enough so as to affirm them as true? To be sure, I did decide later on that I must doubt these things, but that was only because it occurred to me that some God could perhaps have given me a nature such that I might be deceived even about matters that seemed most evident. [1]

How are we to know if we aren’t being deceived by some evil demon about our most basic beliefs? That 2 and 3 make 5, or that triangles have three sides? Although Descartes solved this dilemma along the lines of his cogito (“I think therefore I am”), he still maintained a level of methodological skepticism that functioned for purely intellectual purposes; it is what Gerald Erion calls “a matter of heuristics.” [2] However, a more contemporary discussion on this dilemma of beliefs can be found in Peter Unger’s Ignorance (1975), where instead of an evil demon deceiving us, it is an evilscientist [3]. As Barry Smith explains,

In Unger’s scenario, [ … ] the common belief that there are chairs, books, and other similar objects in the world around is simply an elaborate deception stimulated in our brains by an evil scientist, a super-neurologist who uses a computer to generate electrical impulses that are then transmitted to electrodes fastened to the relevant parts of our central nervous systems. Using these impulses to stimulate our brains, the scientist deceives us into thinking that there are chairs and books, even though there are no such things in the world. [4]

It was Unger’s position that “if skepticism is right, then all is not well with common sense, however useful those beliefs have been as a basis on which science might grow.” [4] Hilary Putnam (1981) [5] moreover argues a stronger thesis that “an evil scientist deceives us not just about rocks, but about everything we think we perceive through the senses” [6].  This scenario runs along the lines to say that we are not merely being deceived by a super-neurologist who uses a computer to generate certain electrical impulses, but rather that we are brains in a vat, surgically placed in brain-nourishing chemicals from which a highly powerful computer sends impulses to our brains and has us belief that our experiences are simply illusions [7].

Now you of course might agree with Daniel Dennett when he says that “[s]ometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over.” [8] Surely this seems to be the case. However, even given these hypotheses and their mere (absurd?) possibilities, what about the idea that we might trapped within a virtual world, and are actually apart of the Matrix, sitting in pink vats of goo being farmed and kept by spider-like robots? What is the possibility that we are in the Matrix now?

The Matrix Possibility 

First, in respect to understanding what is meant by beliefs in epistemological philosophy, it is also important to understand the difference between “warranted” and “justified” beliefs. In his discussion on our faculties of knowledge, Mortimer Adler remarks that beliefs are sometimes understood “to signify that we have some measure of doubt about the opinion we claim to be true on the basis of evidence and reasons” [9]. Furthermore that beliefs can also be otherwise understood “to signify total lack of evidence or reasons for asserting an opinion” [10].

However, beliefs are only properly designated under the correct epistemological context. For instance, we do not say that we believe 2 and 2 make 4, but rather that weknow 2 and 2 makes 4. According to one line of philosophical thinking we do contain a framework of given beliefs that could be rejected if they are without proper justification, while some others do not require that same justification [11].

For now then, let us stick with David Nixon’s proposal known as The Matrix Possibility: “It’s possible that I am (or you are) in the Matrix right now” [12]. However, this proposal is merely saying that it is possible that I am in the Matrix right now, not necessarily that I am in it currently. This is where I believe the distinction (but relationship) between belief and knowledge becomes interesting. One reaction to this proposal might be that

  • (A) If a given belief has the possibility of being false, then it is not one that we can say we really know.

It seems to be the case that the mere possibility of an evil demon deceiving him of even the most simplest truths was enough for Descartes to cast doubt on his having knowledge. However, what about another given reaction to the proposal? Namely, that

  • (B) If a belief is possible and yet we recognize its capability of being false, we may still recognize these kinds of circumstances as having knowledge.

This reaction is far more interesting than the former reaction (A), where (B) is concerned more so with the probability of beliefs rather than the mere possible false-hoods of them.

What Should We Be Left to Think?

If Descartes’ demon or Unger’s mad scientist were in fact true, then we have good reasons to be skeptics in respect to most if not all the beliefs that we hold. However, from the current existential standpoint, we should not be skeptics on the basis of the possibilities of these scenarios. It is not until we are concerned with the probability of those scenarios that we should entertain the truth-hood of their proposals.

Until sufficient probability has been established, the belief that we are in the Matrix is epistemically unreasonable.



  • [1] Rene Descartes, Philosophical Essays and Correspondence, ed. Roger Ariew (Hackett: 2000) p. 113
  • [2] Gerald J. Erion and Barry Smith, “Skepticism, Morality, and the Matrix” in The Matrix and Philosophy, ed. William Irwin (Open Court Publishing: 2002) p. 18
  • [3] Peter Unger, Ignorance: A Case for Skepticism (Clarendon Press: 1979)
  • [4] Ibid., p. 4
  • [5] Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History (Cambridge University Press: 1981)
  • [6] Gerald Erion and Barry Smith (2002), p. 21
  • [7] See Putnam (1981), pp. 5-8
  • [8] Daniel Dennett, “The Unimagined Preposterousness of Zombies” in Journal of Consciousness Studies (vol. 2, no. 4, 1995). See the passage at this link:
  • [9] Mortimer J. Adler, Ten Philosophical Mistakes (Simon and Schuster: 1985) p. 87
  • [10] Ibid.
  • [11] Alvin Plantinga in his book God and Other Minds (1967) argues for instance that belief in the existence of God is properly basic. According to James Beilby on Plantinga’s view: “For Plantinga, beliefs formed by the sensus divinitatis and the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit are both psychologically direct – they are not inferred or accepted on the evidential basis of other beliefs – andepistemically direct – they do not receive their warrant from another belief” (James Beilby, “Plantinga’s Model of Warranted Christian Belief” in Alvin Plantinga, ed. Deane-Peter Baker (Cambridge University Press: 2007) p. 47).
  • [12] David Mitsuo Nixon, “The Matrix Possibility” in The Matrix and Philosophy (2002), p. 28

About Guest Contributor

Steven DunnSteven Dunn is a blogger of Hellenistic Christendom, a blog that is fringed with philosophy and theology. Steven’s critically analyzes philosophical issues with passion and clarity. His desire to explore theological questions with the aim of understanding the centrality of Christ in all marks him as a great Christian philosopher in making.

Steven’s article originally appeared at Hellenistic Christendom.

With All I Am: Against Scorns

Think“Philosophy is hard.” wrote Peter van Inwagen, “Thinking clearly for an extended period is hard. It is easier to pour scorn on those who disagree with you than actually to address their arguments.”(van Inwagen 2006, 61-2)

It is easier to lump opposing views together and dismissed them even without carefully examining the arguments offered. It is also easier to circle the wagons and shout slogans. It is equally easier to discredit an opposing view by attack the character (ad hominem) or the group an individual is associated with (guilt by association) of a person offering it. It is easier to offer ridicules and scorns.

Van Inwagen put it better:

And of all the kinds of scorn that can be poured on someone’s views, moral scorn is the safest and most pleasant (most pleasant to the one doing the pouring). It is the safest kind because, if you want to pour moral scorn on someone’s views, you can be sure that everyone who is predisposed to agree with you will believe that you have made an unanswerable point. And you can be sure that any attempt your opponent in debate makes at an answer will be dismissed by a significant proportion of your audience as a ‘‘rationalization’’ — that great contribution of modern depth psychology to intellectual complacency and laziness. Moral scorn is the most pleasant kind of scorn to deploy against those who disagree with you because a display of self-righteousness—moral posturing—is a pleasant action whatever the circumstances, and it’s nice to have an excuse for it. (ibid, 62)

With All I Am blog believes that ideas matter. Though committed to classical reformed Christian theism, I (Prayson Daniel) believe different views should be fairly presented and discussed out in an open marketplace of other competing ideas with gentleness and civility. I believe atheists and theists, reformed and non-reformed Christians, Protestants and Catholics can be open and tolerate each other, even when we strongly disagree.

With All I Am blog believes we can restore the capacity to dialogue with those holding different and opposing views, by addressing each other’s difficulty but honest critiques in a respectable manner.

With All I Am blog believes you (readers) can present more than your mere personal opinions by concisely comment where you think the authors are uninformed, misinformed, illogical or incomplete.

With All I Am blog believes it is possible to hold strong views on a particular subject yet be open and committed to honestly listening and critically evaluating opposing views.

It is time we listen. It is time we reason together. Think. Reason. Follow

Van Iwagen, Peter (2006) The Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gordon Clark and The Falsity of Science

Test Tube

Dr. Gordon H. Clark (1902-1985) was a notable Christian philosopher from Butler University and was also just as widely known for his presuppositionalist thought in respect to his views on epistemology, education, science, and logic. Some of his books include Thales to Dewey (1989), Logic (1988), Behaviorism and Christianity (1982), The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (1987), Three Types of Religious Philosophy (1989), A Christian Philosophy of Education (1988) and many others. The only work I’m interested in examining here for our discussion is his notable book, The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (1987) [1].

Through the scope of this book, Clark makes the notable statement that “any argument for or against religion, any argument that claims scientific support, depends more on the philosophical implications of science than on bits of detailed information” [2]. Thus, through doing so (in light of this understanding), Clark tries to “sketch a philosophy of science” (xv). However, to what degree do arguments against religion from scientific groundings find serious complications for the theist?

In the Introduction to his book, Clark notes that “[v]arious scientists and several philosophers have used scientific conclusions in an attack against religion” [2]. Of course, this insight is one that Clark recognizes and also uses as a motivator to show that science cannot necessarily say anything regarding religious truths or propositions. I tend to agree on the ground of science’s very definition, but Clark speaks for himself. In the postscript to his book (“The Limits and Uses of Science”), Clark near the end of his essay writes that

[t]his article concerns physics; totally, totally, incompetent, both positively and negatively, to make any metaphysical or theological pronouncement. Science is always false, but often useful. [4]

This surely seems like a bold statement on behalf of Clark’s position. However, it is where we are led once we consider the “useless of science” when it is unleashed and unrestricted to other domains besides its own. As Clark writes,

Finally, to show the uselessness of science outside its own restricted sphere, science cannot determine its own value. No doubt, science enables man o dominate nature. [ … ] The value of science depends on the value of life; but the value of life, when suicide is a possible choice, and therefore, the value of science itself, must be determined by some sort of general philosophy, of which science is neither the whole or the base, but only a subsidiary part. [5]

Analyzing Clark’s Thesis

It should be first understood that although he himself was a presuppositionalist, Clark did not express the same views on science as Van Til did. Cornelius Van Til in his Christian Apologetics (2003) commented that modern philosophy, along with modern science, is inherently phenomenalistic. In other words, “ultimate reality is unknowable by man” [6]. A proper understanding of science, according to Van Til, would namely be to presuppose certain Christian truths in order preform an intelligible discourse in science. For instance, the doctrine of the Trinity, Divine Providence and the Doctrine of Creation contain respective claims where “the very aim and method of science requires these doctrines as their prerequisites” [7].

It is unclear as to how far Gordon Clark would go to agree with Van Til on this point, but I would personally say that he would disagree. Clark being a rationalist, saw science to be more independent from Christianity than Clark did. Though there isn’t necessarily any explicit evidence to show this (none that I know of), the language of Clark however denotes this resulted view  of science as somewhat successful and even separate from Christian truths. For instance, consider this passage from the postscript of Clark’s book:

Every student must choose a life work. The problem is a real one. But Christian students may face the alternative of preaching the Gospel or doing physics. They are not likely to deny that the Bible approves of every method of making a living except those that are sinful. There are many occupations; and not every Christian, however sincere, is obligated to enter the ministry. Science is therefore a legitimate vocation. [8]

There are of course other evidences to draw from Clark’s book, where he says that the “best-known fact about twentieth century physics is its tremendous advance beyond everything that has preceded,” [9] and so on and so forth.

However, as to whether or not I personally agree with Clark’s thesis is another issue. I believe he has some real insight in his presuppositionalism (although I myself am not a presuppositionalist), but the solution he tries to produce is a direction I believe that we (Christians) don’t have to go down in order to say that science cannot make “theological or metaphysical pronouncements.” Nonetheless, considerations and insights can be found throughout this book, although we may or may not disagree with it [10].



  • [1] Gordon H. Clark, The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, 3rd edn. (The Trinity Foundation: 1996)
  • [2] Ibid., p. xv
  • [3] Ibid., xii
  • [4] Ibid., p. 113 – emphasis added.
  • [5] To allow Clark’s clarification: “contemporary confusions” refers to a possible title for his third chapter on contemporary physics. As he writes: “The changes in scientific theory that these experiments initiated proved to be far more revolutionary than at first suspected. Indeed, recent advances have left scientists grasping for breath. Things have become so disorganized and topsy-turvy that one is tempted to entitle the third chapter “Contemporary Confusion.” But in order not to frighten the timid no to prejudice the case before its hearing, we shall be content with the innocuous title, “The Twentieth Century” (xvii).
  • [5] Ibid., p. 95
  • [6] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, 2nd edn. (P&R Publishing: 2003) p. 167
  • [7] Ibid., p. 58
  • [8] Clark (1996), p. 97
  • [9] Ibid., p. 63
  • [10] For further interest in the subject, see George Smith’s critique of Clark’s book at

About Guest Contributor

Steven DunnSteven Dunn is a blogger of Hellenistic Christendom, a blog that is fringed with philosophy and theology. Steven’s critically analyzes philosophical issues with passion and clarity. His desire to explore theological questions with the aim of understanding the centrality of Christ in all  marks him as a great Christian philosopher in making.

Steven’s article originally appeared at Hellenistic Christendom.

Nietzsche and Two Unpleasant Implications of Darwinism


“There was a type of enjoyment in overpowering and interpreting the world in the manner of Plato,” contended Friedrich Nietzsche, “different from the enjoyment offered by today’s physicists, or by the Darwinians and anti-teleologists who work in physiology, with their principle of the ‘smallest possible force’ and greatest possible stupidity”(Nietzsche 2002, 15-16)

Nietzsche’s rejection of Darwinism is scarcely discussed and often ignored in contemporary philosophy of science. This article concisely introduced two unpleasant implications of Darwinian paradigm which played a role in Nietzsche’s early critique of Darwin and his followers.

Order From Disorder: Death of Rationality

If Darwinian premises are true, “how”, asked Nietzsche,  “can something originate in its opposite, for example rationality in irrationality, the sentient in the dead, logic in unlogic, disinterested contemplation in covetous desire, living for others in egoism, truth in error?”(Nietzsche 1996, 1)

Nietzsche’s question also flies over the contours of the horrid doubt that arose in Charles Darwin’s own inward conviction, as penned in his July 3rd 1881 letter to William Graham; “whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

Following Nietzsche, the origin of rationality, sentient, and logic are not accounted for in a naturalistic Darwinism. Darwin’s rhetorical question: “Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” underlines a doubtful reliability of our rationality. (Plantinga 2012, Nagel 2012)

Conceived World of Darwinism: Death of Ethics

The existence of undeniable occurrences of human kindness, compassion, love and self-denial, according to Nietzsche, lacks their ontological foundation in bellum omnium contra omnes, a Darwinistic premises viz.,  “struggle for existence” and “survival of the fittest”. (Nietzsche 1995, 39-40)

Contemporary Darwinian philosophers, E. O. Wilson and Michael Ruse, concurs with Nietzsche that there is no ontological foundation of ethics in Darwinism. Ethics, they argued, “is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes in order to get us to cooperate.”(Ruse & Wilson 1989, 51) An illusion that is biologically advantageous to aid human survival and reproduce.

This  Nietzsche’s early critique of Darwinism applies to those individuals, who he tagged “our ape-genealogists”, who believed in undeniable existence of objective moral values and duties. In my next article on this serie, I visited Nietzsche’s later works, which went head-on against Darwinian evolution.

Next: Nietzsche’s Rejection of Darwinian Evolution


Nagel, Thomas (2012) Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1995) David Struss. Translated by Richard T. Gray in Unfashionable Observations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

______________  (1996) Human, All Too Humane. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

______________(2002) Beyond God and Evil. Translated by Judith Norman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Plantinga, Alvin (2012) Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruse, Michael & Wilson, E. O (1989). The Evolution of Ethics. New Scientist 17, 108-28

Q&A: Is the Problem of Evil a barrier to belief?


How can an individual believe in an omnicompetent God in a world with so much evil? Is not the problem of evil, namely belief in existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God at odd with existence of such evil?

The problem of evil is undoubtedly a serious emotional barrier to a belief in an omnicompetent God, but it is rather weak, as far as I know,  as an intellectual barrier. Whether in deductive form (DE), namely existence of evil is inconsistent with existence of an omnicompetent God, or inductive form (IE), existence of evil makes it improbable that an omnicompetent God exists, problems from evil are a failure as cases against existence of omnicompetent God because they assume notions that are not necessarily true.

DE, for example, assumes that if a being G is able (and knows how) to bring about not-E, willing to bring about not-E and desiring not-E, then not-E would be the case (viz., G would act accordingly to its ability, will and desire). This notion is not necessarily true, because it is possible, not necessarily true, that G has sufficiently moral justifying reason to permit E to be the case (forever or for a given period of time).

If it possibly true that a being that is able, desires and wills to bring about not-E to have morally justifying reason to permit E, then IE also assuming that some evil are seemly [as far as we know] pointless is false because as far as we know G could have sufficiently moral justifying reason to permit E.

Another often assumed notion, in DE, is that if omnipotent God cannot prevent (or eliminate) evil, then God is impotent, which is not necessarily true. A difference between God’s ability, viz., God being able to prevent evil, and God’s capability, God being capable of preventing evil, is often overlooked.

Overlooked difference between ability and capability in B can(not) do X (Morris 1991):

B can be able to but not capable of doing X. Example: I am able to cheat my wife but not capable because I dearly love my wife and also strongly believe it is immoral etc.

B can be capable of but not able to do X. Example: Adam, a mean father, is capable to physically torture her daughter, but not able because Adam is badly handicapped.

With that distinction in place, God could be able, having maximal possible power a being could have, to prevent evil but not capable. Thus God not preventing evil does not necessarily show that God lacked certain power a being could have to prevent evil.