Abductive reasoning & Conspiracy Theories by Ken Samples
On Thursday 22nd September, Dr Kenneth Samples from Reasons to Believe, spoke to RFA on “Abductive reasoning & Conspiracy Theories”.
What does this mean? Reasoning can be deductive, inductive or abductive.
For deductive reasoning, the conclusions are certainly true.
For inductive reasoning, the conclusions are probably true.
For abductive reasoning, the conclusions are plausibly true.
Abductive reasoning is the ‘best’ explanation for a given phenomenon, where the best explanation is the one that is most likely to be true.
A conspiracy theory is a theory that explains an event that is the result of a secret plot by powerful conspirators. Examples are:
the American government were engaged in a plot to kill President Kennedy.
a select group of people who are part of clandestine societies control the world.
getting vaccinated is a bigger risk to their health than getting infected with the coronavirus.
Most conspiracy theories are false, but some are true. Ken described how best to evaluate them. A video of his talk and the ensuing discussion is available on YouTube.
Kenneth Richard Samples earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his M.A. in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. He is a senior research scholar at Reasons To Believe (RTB). He uses his knowledge to help others find the answers to life’s questions and encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges sceptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level.
The origin of life problem remains one of the most challenging scientific questions of all time. Until the 19th century, it was widely believed that life would spontaneously arise from other life. This phenomenon was known as spontaneous generation and was the best explanation of the time when describing the formation of moulds & fungi, as well as maggots, mice, and other such creatures. The theory was finally put to rest following a series of scientific experiments that exposed the existence of bacteria & other such microbes.
The living cell is truly an extraordinary feat that hosts a complex mix of biochemical interactions to sustain even the simplest of lifeforms. Modern-day scientific research on the origin of life is known as Abiogenesis: Life from non-life. There are numerous scientific theories for how life could have come about on a lifeless primordial Earth, whereby specific conditions brought about the first self-replicating molecules essential for chemical evolution. Regardless of the worldview you hold, it is beneficial to know the arguments that both support and oppose your belief, therefore Joshua will be outlining the current scientific theories & discoveries surrounding abiogenesis.
Joshua Meade is a PhD student at the University of South Australia. He is a mechatronic engineer and a member of the RFA committee. He also has an active interest in biochemistry.
Dr Ron Neller (from Creation Ministries International) presented arguments that major landscapes, sediment deposits, and the fossil record is due to Noah’s flood and that this is an alternate explanation of the fossil record, thus undermining evolutionary claims.
Ron holds a B.A. (Hons) and a Ph.D., both in fluvial geomorphology. He has held lecturing and research positions at the University of New England (Australia), Griffith University, the University of Sunshine Coast (Queensland), the University of Queensland, Turku University (Finland), and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (People’s Republic of China).
The human genome is the mapping and sequencing of all genes in the human DNA molecule. The human genome project was started in 1990 and the complete genome was achieved in May 2021. 533
For this talk, Joshua Meade provided an overview of:
Common worldviews on human origins,
Christian demographics on the worldviews,
The Human Genome Project, and
The implications of the Human Genome Project on our understanding of human origins.
Joshua Meade is a PhD student at the University of South Australia. He is a mechatronic engineer and a member of the RFA committee. He also has an active interest in biochemistry. Joshua and Amethyst are currently back in New Zealand, and they have three lovely young girls.
Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)
How does the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth compare to the other sages? How did the Sages view themselves? Were their lives and philosophies really that different? The comparisons are revealing!
Bronwyn Pearse is a primary school teacher who currently works with a number of people from different religious backgrounds. Having grown up in a Christian family she has always enjoyed asking questions and digging deeper into the truth claims of Christianity. In recent years she has been exploring what makes Christianity unique amongst the world religions.
To what degree is the Great Flood and the building of a large ark by Noah based on history? It certainly has many proposals and explanations. Trevor Harris believes that it is historical and will discuss the following questions:
Why are there at least 10 or more sites for the ark’s landing?
What were the logistics for this early start to human settlement?
Is there archaeological evidence for where Noah set up his permanent campsite?
Was Nimrod the main instigator of a rebellion against God?
If there are over 4 locations offered for the Tower of Babel, which one is correct?
Why did the European Union (EU) use it as a symbol on one of their posters?
Mainstream science claims that human origins commenced in Africa, but tradition offers the Middle East. So, is there a reconciling explanation?
DNA gives supporting evidence for our common origins. Can the members of Noah’s extended family be the basis for all nations?
What were the features of the earliest civilization?
Trevor Harris is qualified as an architect and urban and regional planner, which he practiced for 45 years. Twenty years ago, he formed a company dedicated to identifying and researching Bible sites and has conducted extensive field trips to the Middle East.
“Thinking about Evolution takes the reader on an extraordinary tour through contemporary evolutionary theory. The range of issues covered is astounding, from chemical evolution and abiogenesis to the relationship between the genetic codes of chimpanzees and human beings. The depth of the discussion is also impressive. Each chapter explains the latest studies and applies them to the question at hand. Most important is the strong affirmation of the truth-conducive nature of the scientific enterprise. At the same time, important criticisms are developed and applied to many of the common claims made in the name of evolutionary theory.” This is a “must-read book for anyone who has the courage to challenge preconceived ideas about evolution and consider how science, philosophy, and theology intersect.”
Dr Fazale Rana has a PhD in biochemistry. He was brought up in an atheist family, but describes his change of mind as follows:
“As a graduate student studying biochemistry, I was captivated by the cell’s complexity, elegance, and sophistication. The inadequacy of evolutionary scenarios to account for life’s origin compelled me to conclude that life must come from a Creator.”
Dr Hugh Ross spoke on a particular old earth view called Progressive Creationism (in defence of soft concordance). He explained how the book of Nature and the book of Scripture can be integrated to be consistent with one another.
Hugh was an astronomer/astrophysicist at the University of Toronto. He is the founder and president of Reasons to Believe, (www.reasons.org), and is the author of over 17 books including ‘The Creator and the Cosmos’, ‘Why The Universe is The Way it is ‘ and ‘Navigating Genesis.’ Hugh has addressed students and faculty on over 300 campuses in the US and abroad and speaks at various churches and groups on a wide variety of science-faith topics. He is asked to present to government agencies and atheists and leading contemporaries on the powerful evidence for a purpose filled universe.
Dr Ross is a high-profile speaker, and we are privileged to have him present to us. He will be speaking to us between 12 am and 2 am in the morning. It would be great if you could support him by attending the live Zoom meeting and by inviting others.
Christians are a “house divided” on the meaning of the six days in Genesis 1, the age of the earth, and how much truth there is in evolutionary theory. This year, we are paying particular attention to these topics and are allowing speakers to present and argue for their views. On the 26th May, Dr Mark Harwood spoke on astronomical evidence for biblical creation. He provided scientific arguments to support the young earth creationist claim that the ages of the earth and our solar system are less than 10,000 years old. He addressed the following aspects of the origins debate.
• What is the core issue in the creation/evolution debate?
• What is the role of science in discovering the truth about our origins?
• Astronomical evidence consistent with the biblical timelines
• Why does it all matter?
The Gospel connection
Mark Harwood completed his tertiary education at the University of Sydney where he received B.Sc., B.E. (Hons) and Ph.D. degrees. His postgraduate studies were focused on radio telescopes and computer techniques for antenna design and measurement. Dr Harwood is now employed by CMI as a speaker and scientist, and he has oversight of the speaker development program for the Australian and Singaporean ministries.
Both artificial intelligence and genetic engineering have enormous potential benefits for the health and welfare of humanity, but there are also risks. Artificial intelligence is using computers to mimic human thought processes and decision making. The possible threat here is that computers may surpass or even displace humanity. Genetic engineering is editing DNA genes. This can potentially be used to mitigate or eliminate genetic diseases, enhance human athletic or intellectual performance, improve health, or substantially prolong life. Dr Fazale Rana, from Reasons to Believe (RTB), spoke to us on “Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Engineering”. This is based on his book “Humans 2.0: Scientific, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism”. The Kindle edition is available from https://www.amazon.com.au/Humans-2-0-… for $11.99. The initial sections are on gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9, Brain Computer interfaces (BCI) and artificial body parts. These can be used to heal diseases or adverse genetic conditions. A prime example is the Cochlear ear implant, which is now used to enable deaf people to hear. This is great, but these techniques also have the potential capability to enhance human capabilities to create a new super humanity, which is more controversial.
Dr Fazale Rana has a PhD in biochemistry. He was brought up in an atheist family, but describes his conversion as follows:
“As a graduate student studying biochemistry, I was captivated by the cell’s complexity, elegance, and sophistication. The inadequacy of evolutionary scenarios to account for life’s origin compelled me to conclude that life must come from a Creator. Reading through the Sermon on the Mount convinced me that Jesus really was who Christians claimed him to be: Lord and Saviour.”
In 1999 he left his position in research and development to join Reasons to Believe and is now Vice President of Research and Apologetics.