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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
The fact we should all recognise is that our presuppositions do, of course, influence all our thinking, our theology, and even our scientific evaluation.

Agreed. And one of the similarities between the worst of the fundamentalists in both the religious and scientific atheist camps is the inability to recognise that presuppositions are not unchangeable; as a scientist I enter the lab with a theory to test presupposing on the basis of all I know that the theory is right, after a series of experiments that don't work and revisions to the theory I may be forced to start questioning ny underlying presuppositions (I'm now missing the time when I used to do that sort of lab work). What is true of science is true of Christian theology; if I start with a supposition that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God in all details then there are things I could expect (for example: internal consistancy of the Bible, consistancy between the Bible and scientific, historical and archaeological evidence), when problems arise I could refine my theorising (try to harmonize internal inconsistancies or do some un-scientific things with data and call it "Creation Science" for example); when these re-theorizings become to convoluted isn't it time to address the underlying presupposition?

quote:
There is no such thing as neutrality. There is no "pure objectivity" even in the laboratory. It is the myth of modern science that the "evidence speaks for itself." It is the presupposition that speaks through the evidence. And, as Cornielius Van Til demonstrated, this is unavoidable.

The pressuposition that science is "objective falsifiable" is one we addressed on the "An Introduction" thread. There has been a number of other valid philosophies of science, however they often fail to take account of how scientists actually work. Most scientists don't have a thought out philosophy of what we do, we just get on with exmining the physical world trying to be as honest and objective as possible.

quote:
I believe that when the Scriptures are properly exegeted and the natural data are correctly understood the two will be in harmony.

Both Scripture and science look at the work of the same God, albeit from different aspects. Harmony doesn't necessarily imply saying the same thing. Two singers can be in harmony without singing the same words, and in such occasions the whole duet is greater than the sum of the parts. And it isn't just a duet we're looking for, I want to see the harmony in the different views of sciences, historical and literary studies, arts, Church Tradition and Scripture and other sources of knowledge; I want a harmonious choir.

Alan

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Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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# 41

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quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
May I clarify. My initial post merely contrasted the dogmatic evolution-is-unquestionable statements made by some writers in this thread with the evolution-is-highly-questionable statements of some modern non-Christian scientists. It seems that, because I was prepared to question evolution, it was presumed that I would want to scientifically defend a young earth - a proposition which I was told would not be tolerated.

No I think you went into the argument with "shields up". There are people who are Creationiists who aren't Young Earth Creationists. However your initial post was a collection of quotes culminating with some YEC stuff. You didn't make any comment apart from "Hmmmmm....".

quote:

I then pointed out that there was no point presenting any evidence under those circumstances. Then, happily, some of "the board" were ready to consider any evidence for a young earth more openly.

No if you had something new we'd have listened. But the characteristic of so much YEC stuff is that the same arguments are trotted out each time, whether it is about the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Sun shrinking, comets, interplanetary dust, radioactive dating, salt in the ocean, helium in the atmosphere etc etc etc.

We see these arguments scrutinised in microscopic detail and thoroughly refuted by people who live and breathe the subjects concerned, and yet the YEC arguments never get changed. The most they ever do is lift bits hugely out of context.

quote:

As it is, most of the debates are available on the web, and I don't need to fill up this thread copying and pasting them in here. All existing pro-young-earth arguments are already "PRATT" to my objectors, and I don't have any novel new theory of my own to present.

Well it would be interesting to see something new instead of the tired old arguments trotted out by YECs.

quote:

Dogmatic evolutionists who have considered all contradicting evidence as "PRATT" need to recognise that their theory is not conclusive.

It's the nature of "theories" that they aren't ever conclusive. They are postulated explanations for sets of observed facts which are held until some conflicting evidence turns up. If such evidence does turn up, people modify or possibly discard the theory concerned. That is how people move on.

quote:

In other words, the previously "PRATT" evidence is no longer so easily dismissed. I think that a fair evaluation of the scientific evidence in the age of the earth debate also shows that there are difficulties on both sides. Given time, I expect that "PRATT" labels will be thrown around less confidently in this area also.

I think that is total rubbish. Sorry.

quote:

It is certainly demonstrable that Darwin did not so much devise the theory of evolution because of overwhelming evidence as he did devise the theory and then go looking for evidence.

So what? That's the way people do things. You see one set of facts A, B and C, devise your theory, say "well I'd expect to see X, Y and Z if my theory is correct" and then go looking for X, Y and Z.

For example Einstein devised his General Theory of Relativity in 1915 and said if it was right, the sun would deflect starlight passing close to it. People looked for that in 1919 at the solar eclipse then and sure enough there it was.

Darwin postulated his theory of evolution in response to one set of facts (e.g. finches) and then looked for other evidence, such as transitional forms. He may not have found those, but as we know, plenty of transitional forms have turned up.

quote:

And, dare I say, I think the age of the earth issue will eventually come into the same arena.

You can dare say it, but I'm sure you completely wrong.

quote:

If we presuppose a theory or belief about the origin of life, its development, or even the age of the earth, we will want to interpret the data to support our ideas and dismiss all other interpretations as "PRATT." We see these excesses in both the evolutionist and the creationist camps. There is no such thing as neutrality. There is no "pure objectivity" even in the laboratory. It is the myth of modern science that the "evidence speaks for itself." It is the presupposition that speaks through the evidence. And, as Cornielius Van Til demonstrated, this is unavoidable.

I would say it's YECs who bring their predefined dogma and then bodge evidence to fit it who are the ones at fault here.

quote:

This, in my view, is why the special revelation of Scipture is primary and why general revelation, including the natural world which we explore through the sciences, is secondary. If we presuppose the authority of Scripture, then we have a standard to refer to in our scientific pursuits. I am not saying that we ignore those problems in the laboratory that seem to contradict Scripture, but I am saying that we should always accept Scripture as the primary evidence. Our first step in science is exegetical. And even within this framework our human limitations and sinful bias will hinder our work. Nevertheless, I believe that when the Scriptures are properly exegeted and the natural data are correctly understood the two will be in harmony.

Well I don't hold that view of scritpure, and even many of the Christians on this board don't (I think).

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John Collins


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Neil Robbie
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Gentlemen, I'm sorry for interrupting the flow of your debate, but somewhere back on page 2 Glenn asked: 'Do you have any other examples?'

You may have already gathered, Glenn, that I am a bear of very little brain. Starting a discussion along the speculative lines of a world without Darwinism would, I hoped, produce some examples of polluted theology from people with minds far greater than mine. Perhaps I jumped the gun. Perhaps we need to wait until the muddied waters clear before our minds try to grasp the effects of the influence of Darwinism on the church. Perhaps, only with hindsight will we see the errors of today. In the mean time, I'll put my limited cranial capacity to the task of an example, but don't hold your breath.

Perhaps Gill's very first response to this thread is the best conclusion we can draw, when she said 'I suspect it would just result in a revival of smugness in the church!' Smugness will no doubt sadly emerge, but hopefully a renewed confidence in our faith in the resurrected Christ will emerge with an equal boost to work of His church in this world.

Hopefully

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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There has been some mention of Dawkins and I mentioned his book 'Unweaving the Rainbow' at the start of this thread. In his preface he states:

quote:
'I believe that an orderly universe, one indifferent to human preoccupations, in which everything has an explanation even if we still have a long way to go before we find it, is a more beautiful, more wonderful place than a universe tricked out with capricious, ad hoc magic'.

The 'ad hoc magic' he scoffs at is the same 'ad hoc magic' which makes most rational people balk. Horoscope writers, fortune tellers, spiritualists, crystal ball gazers, spoof healers, psychics and so forth.

Dawkins goes on to marvel at the properties of light and the eye, the physics of sound and the ear. He longs for a world excited about the wonders of the universe, for poetry to be inspired by science. As an engineer, I share Dawkins' excitement of the discoveries of science. I share his thrill at the wonder of it all.

Dawkins is not only amazed by the natural world, as I am, but at musical works and poetry, and he rightly applauds the composers and the poets. I find myself agreeing with almost everything Dawkns says.

What struck me as I read it was Dawkins' sense of wonder at the complexity of the universe. Though, sadly unlike his applause for composers and poets, he refuses to applaud the composer, the designer, the engineer of the universe.

I wonder, in his worship of the natural world, so beautifully described in 'Unweaving the Rainbow', if Dawkins has unwittingly exposed the greatest false idol of our time?

Neil

quote:
'Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead. And instead of worshipping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshipped idols'. Romans 1:21-23 (NLT).

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
somewhere back on page 2 Glenn asked: 'Do you have any other examples?'

I took this as asking for more examples of theology "polluted by Darwinianism", the example given being "liberalism". Since I don't think even liberalism is a product of Darwinian philosophy, I'm afraid another example is beyond me.

Besides, what is wrong with theology incorporating good science? Theology dependent on speculative and controversial science (by which I might include, say, the idea of memes - not that I'm aware of any theology based on this) is on shaky ground. But the broad picture of Darwinian evolution is so solidly founded that there is no danger there.

Alan

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Don't really see the link between Darwinism and 'faith in the Resurrected Christ'. Why not pick on quantum mechanics, or oxidation numbers?

Or rather I do, but I think it is bogus. Am I right in thinking that 'Darwinism' allows a chink of doubt about the existence of God? Afraid not - there were atheists long before there were natural explanations for things.

Looking back at the OP, there seems to be some equating of Darwinism with a natural explanation for the origin of life. Oddly enough, Darwin didn't say anything about the origin of life - he tended to see the first organisms as direct creations. What you are referring to is abiogenesis, which is not part of Darwinism or evolution and is a far more debateable area. I will not argue against special creation of the first replicators, because I have no coherent alternative hypothesis, although I suspect for philosophical reasons that there will be a natural explanation, complementing the theological one as per what Alan Cresswell was saying above.

Again special creation of species (or 'kinds', indeed) I would have much to say, because the evidence against this, and for their common descent, is very strong indeed. But mere assertion is meangingless, although much relied on by YE creationists; I would refer the reader to 29 Evidences for Macroevolutionif he wishes for substantiation.

The confusion of evolution and abiogenesis bugs mainstream scientists, because creationists dishonestly transfer doubt about the latter into doubt about the former.

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SteveWal
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I wasn't actually aware that the church had lost its confidence in the resurected Christ. Maybe it's lost its imperialist, judgemental sense of superiority, but it isn't just Darwinism that's done that. Contact with other faiths has helped to knock that one for six, as, I believe, has an increased awareness of its mission to the poor and to the rejected of the world. The Second World War was also an enormous shock to the Christian church, not least when it saw how many Christians so-called could be led into supporting, or turning a blind eye to, Nazism and Fascism.

Not being a scientist, I can't add to any of the arguements in favour of evolution. But I have never seen how the Bible can support such a view as Young Earth Creationism. Apart from the dodgy numbers game you have to play to get the dates to tally, where is the difficulty in seeing the Bible as expressing truth through poetry, symbolism, mythology, analogy, rather than having to be totally literal all the way through?

In any case, it's an awful waste of time to spend trying to argue for a particular interpretation of a few verses in Genesis. What is the YEC theology of creation? What - apart from the "fact" that it happened in six days - difference does it make to their spiritual lives that God is a Creator?

Because in the end, that is what matters. Whether God created the world in six days in 4004BC or over millions of years through evolution is neither here not there. What is the impact of God's creativity on our own lives? On the way we treat the world around us?

Seems to me that YEC's spend an inordinate amount of time avoiding that question.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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and while writing that Neil posted again on Dawkins, so regarding Dawkins. I haven't read much of his more recent stuff (River out of Eden, or Unweaving the Rainbow), which from reviews I gather are repeating his earlier stuff while taking the more speculative and philosophical further. Since I found this material very unconvincing in his earlier books the later ones aren't at the top of my reading list (I'll get round to them eventually).

Dawkins is undoubtedly a very gifted communicator, and an able scientist. And if anyone wants a good non-specialist introduction to genetics and evolution his earlier works (eg the Blind Watchmaker) are a good read. However he then makes a step of faith from a description of science to atheistic philosophy at least as large as the steps of faith he derides others for making; at that point I part company with his ideas.

Alan

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Neil Robbie
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As writing this, Alan and Stevewal have posted.

Alan, I am interested to know how you do not make a link between liberalism and Darwinian philosophy.

My limited understanding is this.

If Darwinian philosophy (neo or otherwise) states that the universe is purposeless and material, then I can see your objection.

However, if the same statement of philosophy is made in a different way: that there is no way for God to operate in time-space, but that God might exist outside time-space and humans can have no way of knowing God's existence, as Darwinism often claims, then is this not the starting point for demythologisation? I understand demythologisation to be the starting point of liberal theology.

I might be wrong. What is your thinking on this?

Neil


BTW...Dawkins bearly scrapes over 'O' level physics in 'Unweaving the rainbow', it doesn't make the read less interesting, but the message is clear...'bow down and worship creation'...or should that be the natural world?


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
that there is no way for God to operate in time-space, but that God might exist outside time-space and humans can have no way of knowing God's existence, as Darwinism often claims,

Darwinism makes no such claims. It claims that species arise by common descent with modification from previous species.

You might want to read Kenneth Miller's Finding Darwin's God which deals with this question in some detail.

In a nutshell, however, if God can be seen working through the contingency of human history, He can also be working in the contingency of natural history, without requiring Him to overrule the natural laws He has set in place.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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The philosophical positions that "the universe is purposeless and material" or "God might exist outside time-space and humans can have no way of knowing God's existence" are older then Darwinian evolutionary theory, and not dependent on it, although some philosophers holding such positions may use (neo-)Darwinian science to support their position. Some people, like Dawkins, support such a philosophical position almost exclusively from Darwinian theory which actually makes their philosophy much weaker; extrapolating from science into philosophy (which is beyond the realms of scientific inquiry) seems to be a strange thing to do when the same position can be reached by philosophical reasoning. Not that I necessarily agree with such philosophical reasoning, but it is at least more honest than Dawkins approach.

Alan

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Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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Stevewal wrote
quote:
'I wasn't actually aware that the church had lost its confidence in the resurected Christ. Maybe it's lost its imperialist, judgemental sense of superiority, but it isn't just Darwinism that's done that.'

Way back in the thread, there was some mention of the church being refined by the challenge of Darwinism. I agree that imperialist and judgmental attitudes may well have been removed by that challenge.

But what about the effect of Darwinism on the church's role in looking after the poor and needy which you mentioned? Is there a link between the crisis in the church last century caused by Darwinian philosophy and the fact that the church lost the will to care?

If the church began the caring professions, why did they end up in the hands of the state in the form of the NHS? If the church was caring for those who could not support themselves, why was removed from the church and put in the hands of the Welfare State? Is there a link? There's certainly an approximate chronological one.

What about mission? Why did churches empty if they did not lose faith in the resurrected Christ? My hometown in Scotland can be no different from most, where 6 full post war churches are now all but dead on their feet.

What else was around last century to cause the crisis of identity if it wasn't the effects of Darwinism? Don't mention the war

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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Alan may have helped answer the question I posed to SteveWal.
quote:
The philosophical positions...are older then Darwinian evolutionary theory, and not dependent on it, although some philosophers holding such positions may use (neo-)Darwinian science to support their position.

Are the 'scientific' supports of philosophical positions not the key to understanding why the church lost its confidence? We know now that the 'scientific' basis of faith in a purposeless universe is shaky, but that's with the benefit of hindsight.

In the 1960's when Darwinism and science at large were in the ascendancy, the church was on the back foot. Instead of being able to take on science for what it really was, educated churchmen were left to squeeze God into the Darwinian framework provided for them as 'fact' and liberalism was the inevitable outcome.

Neil


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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
What else was around last century to cause the crisis of identity if it wasn't the effects of Darwinism? Don't mention the war

Now, where to begin ....

Increasing movement of people and communication increased the awareness of other faith traditions, raising the obvious "is it right to say Christianity is better than these other options?", particularly with the collapse of colonialism removing the "superior British, Christian, society" support for the superiority of the Christian faith. Nothing to do with Darwin.

The perceived (if not actual) link between contemporary Christian teaching and the Enlightenment, coupled to the loss of faith in reason to solve the problems of the world as made patently obvious by the fact that WWI wasn't the "war to end all wars" and the horrors of WWII (sorry, couldn't help but mention the war). With the loss of confidence in the Enlightenment view of the world then the Churchs' teaching was likewise rejected in favour of alternative "spiritualities" (in which I would also include materialism and consumerism as well as religious and atheistic views). Also nothing to do with Darwin.

Just a couple of examples to show that the decline of the western church can not all be blamed on Darwin (or more accurately those who developed philosophical positions on his theory of evolution)

Alan

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Neil - could you define exactly what you mean by 'Darwinism', because I'm not clear we're talking about the same thing.

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Neil Robbie
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Karl

Thank you for asking for clarification, I’m not sure others will agree with the following definitions of Darwinism, but for the sake of debate, perhaps we can use these terms:

Darwinian Philosophy: The prior commitment to ‘natural selection’ as the mechanism for the origin of species (Darwin himself had reservations about his theory proving the origin of life).

Neo-Darwinian Philosophy: The prior commitment to ‘natural selection’ as the mechanism for the origin of species and the origin of life (by the time of the neo-Darwinian synthesis the philosophy had gone much further than Darwin first imagined and theories emerged for the origin of life – see Stanley Miller circa 1960).

Natural Selection. A term used to describe three distinct mechanisms:


  1. ‘variation within a species’ (ie finch beaks and spotted moths – see ‘O’ level biology class)
  2. how single cell microorganisms became fish, then reptiles, then birds, then somewhere along the line, mammals and eventually humans.
  3. how life began from physical and chemical goo.

For the record. I have no problem with A, it has been observed and is fact. I struggle with B, but must say ‘I don’t know’. As for C, it is statistically unlikely and chemically unproven. I believe that God made it beyond our human comprehension. It is too complex and our brains to small to cope.

Again for the record. I believe in the inerrancy of scripture, but view Genesis 1 and 2 in the following way:

The answers in Genesis are:

  • God made the world, the universe and everything in it
  • God made man and woman to be in relationship with God and with each other

Then what are the questions?

  • Who made the world, the universe and everything in it?
  • Why did God make the universe?

On the other hand, science answers these questions:

  • The universe was started 12 billion years ago
  • The universe functions under the laws of physics, chemistry and biology

Then what are these questions?

  • When did the universe begin?
  • How does the universe operate?

Now-Darwinian philosophy as defined above tries to answer the Who and Why questions which is why it directly contradicts Christian theology, which is why I have such a problem with it.

Neil


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Alan Cresswell

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Neil, I don't see the "why" in your definition of (neo-)Darwinism, in either its' scientific or philosophical forms

Alan

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Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
commitment to ‘natural selection’ as the mechanism for the origin of species and the origin of life

Sounds like a 'How' answer to me, not a 'Who' or 'Why'. Consequently I have no problem with it.

However, no. Natural selection has nothing to do with the origin of life. You can't select when you have nothing to select from. You need self-replicators before you can have evolution by natural selection.

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John Collins
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That's all very well but isn't the thread called The Death of Darwinism not
The Death of neo-Darwinism?

I think that the point is well-made that a faith that is rocked by the emergence of any philosophy must be a pretty ropey one.

I do have some sympathy for people who think that taking Gen 1-11 allegorically but not the rest is a bit "Salad-Bar"-ish. But then I don't think any of it is inspired....

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Alan Cresswell

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I've not met anyone who takes Gen 1-11 as non-literal who then doesn't apply the same "is this literal?" question to the rest of Scripture. If such a person exists then I'd agree they appear to be dishonest (unless they can honestly say they believe all Scripture after Gen 11 is literal).

Incidentally, I don't think "allegorical" is a good term to describe Gen. 1-11 (or indeed much of Scripture). Allegorical implies that each piece of the accounts says something significant. I tend to prefer the less well defined "symbolic" when refering to these accounts, but that's just personal preference.

Alan

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gbuchanan
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Further to Neil's uncertainty about variation within a species, do remember that in fact the distinction between species and sub-species is a human construct, prone to change in practice and open to debate. With larger mammals, the distinctions are prone to be clearer, but for instance in the case of certain bird and insect species, the boundaries are forever being reformed.

I'd argue, therefore, that the division is somewhat false and specuous, though a useful practical tool in many circumstances. Therefore, the debate is not useful in either sphere (except for purposes of communication upon subject species).

On the third point, I think that's more certainly a neo-Darwinistic hypothesis (and I believed was described as such), but in that case is sufficiently recent in the public mind (if, indeed it is at all), so has had little if any impact on the public at large.


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Timothy the Obscure

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It seems to me that the greatest effect Darwinism had on Christianity was that it provoked the fundamentalist reaction, bringing a naive literalism into Biblical exegesis that had never before been found among educated Christians.

Talk about disasters...

Regards,

Timothy

--------------------
When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
  - C. P. Snow


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Neil Robbie
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Whilst everyone has been posting, we've been asleep in Singapore! The 'who', 'why' and 'how' stuff will need to wait, I wrote this in response to Alan's post about the war in the taxi on the way to work...

Alan, you can be forgiven for mentioning the war, after all, it's an inevitable part of last century's rejection of God.

I propose that we need to wind the clock back further to understand the effects of Darwinism today. Starting at the Reformation we can look at the paradigm shifts which took place in Western thinking. Jim Packer summarises this neatly in his essay 'The problem of paradigms' (it's difficult to summarise four hundred years succinctly so this quote is lengthy - about 2/3rds of a page - but it is necessary for us to be able to establish a reason for the current domination of Darwinism)

quote:
With regard to God, please note that we stand at the end of four centuries of God-shrinking. In the era of the Reformation the biblical faith in God as one who rules, judges and saves, the source, sustainer and end of all things, took possession of people's minds in a vivid, clear, compelling way. But by the start of the seventeenth century Lutherans and Arminians were already exalting God's human creatures, and were thus dethroning him at a crucial point. By the end of the seventeenth century, deism, the concept of God as the mighty mechanic who, having made the world, now sits back and watches it go without involving himself in any way, was well established, and thus God was in effect being barred from this world. At the end of the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant, the most influential philosopher for the next one hundred years, silenced God by denying all possibility of God communicating with us in words. Inevitably, therefore, with no word from God to check man's thoughts by, nineteenth century thinkers equated God with their own feelings and fancies about God, thus absorbing him into themselves in a way that promoted the atheist Feuerbach to comment that when men talked of God they were really talking about themselves in a loud and solemn voice. It was this God, God-in-the-mind as we may call him, whom Neitzche pronounced dead, and whom Marxists, Darwinists and Freudians decided in due course that they could get on better without

At the end of the 20th century, we have already witnessed the demise of Freud's ponderings and the collapse of Marxism (and its derivatives) so why does Darwinism (and its derivatives) remain so resolute (as proven by this thread)? It is because adherents to neo-Darwinian philosophy tell us (Joe public) that their philosophy is based on irrefutable scientific 'fact'? Do we believe them? Behe et al merely tell us not to take all scientific statements as 'fact'. For exmaple, no one has yet proposed an actual random chemical reaction which could produce life nor actual random mutations which produce cell mechanics, blood clotting and so forth.

Much post-Enlightenment philosophy still subtly rests on the 'facts' of Darwinism. Just listen to evolutionary psychologists and behavioral scientists on the BBC World Service and you'll know what I mean. Modern ethics, morals & law start from the assumption that God is beyond the ken of humans, and God is therefore ignored and left to the subjective realms of individuals and fringe religious groups, like Christians.

Although I did not set out to initially argue this point, this thread has been drawn to debate it. It obviousy needs much more debate and papers by intelligent design scientists to undermine Darwinism. Interestingly, my wife's Bristol Universeity Alumni magazine carries letters and reviews this month about ID vs Darwinsim. It appears even Bristol is waking up to the debate.

I go back to my initial question. To speculate on a future without Darwinism. What will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment philosophy, what will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment theology if the bold claims of the 'facts' of Darwinism turn out to be no more than dreams in the fertile minds of highly imaginative pseudo-scientists?

Discuss

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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Alan wrote
quote:
Neil, I don't see the "why" in your definition of (neo-)Darwinism, in either its' scientific or philosophical forms

Exactly. In his introductory paragraph to the preface of 'Unweaving the Rainbow', Dawkins asserts again the nihilistic philosophy of neo-Darwinism. There is no why, we just are! Why is not even a valid question to a Darwinist…we are purposeless! Which is why it contradicts Christianity. The Bible asserts why we are here…there is a purpose…to know and love the creator.

The problem comes when Dawkins justifies his philosophy from scientific 'fact'. Only, people are beginning to smell something fishy about the 'fact' of science.

Does this fit with your understanding of Darwinian philosophy? If not, why not?

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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Karl wrote
quote:
Sounds like a 'How' answer to me, not a 'Who' or 'Why'. Consequently I have no problem with it.
However, no. Natural selection has nothing to do with the origin of life. You can't select when you have nothing to select from. You need self-replicators before you can have evolution by natural selection.

We're almost at the crux of the problem with your observation Karl. 'Natural selection' is one of those weasel words used to define many aspects of Darwinian theory.

'Natural selection' means survival of the fittest reproductive organisms. To reproduce in larger numbers needs the survival of the number of organisms with the best tools for survival.

(1) On a simple level. It is a 'How' question. How were there more dark coloured moths in industrialised England than light coloured moths? The dark ones were better camouflaged from birds which ate them, that's how (gbuchanan - I have no uncertainty about variation within a species, and said so. This example is variation within a species, by natural selection - this is not a problem to either 'creationists' nor 'evolutionists' it is observed scientific fact).

(2) On a more complex level, 'natural selection' is 'how' single cell organisms become fish, then birds, then monkeys and then humans. This 'how' is under severe objective criticism.

(3) On a more complex level still, the existence of self-replicators is a huge problem to bio-chemists. But 'natural selection' of chemicals, if they were able to form simple proteins or RNA or catalysts or other building blocks of life can not explain, at this time, a random, unguided, purposeless chemical and physical reaction to produce life, biological life forms.

The problem with Darwinism is this: That Darwinists take no (1), the observational scientific fact of variation within a species, and extrapolates the origin of species (2) and the origin of life (3), from a prior commitment to atheism. Take a minute to think about it, it's quite hard to get the mind round.

Do we agree that atheism is contrary to Christianity? If we do then Darwinian philosophy is contrary to Christianity. If Darwinian philosophy is contrary to Christianity, then the biological 'education' (read indoctrination of Darwinian philosophy - religion taught in the biology class) we receive from form 1, through University and which influences all media, law and ethics around us today MUST influence the way we think about God. But how?

Discuss

Neil


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John Collins
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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
......
The problem with Darwinism is this: That Darwinists take no (1), the observational scientific fact of variation within a species, and extrapolates the origin of species (2) and the origin of life (3), from a prior commitment to atheism. Take a minute to think about it, it's quite hard to get the mind round.

However long it takes to get one's mind around, it just isn't true.

It is wrong firstly in that the origin of life ("Abiogenesis") isn't part of the package, only species, and I don't accept that the latter is just an extrapolation. See
this page for example.

It is wrong secondly in the comment about prior commitment to atheism. There are plenty of Christians about who believe in the Theory of Evolution. I don't suppose, on the other hand that there are any atheists who believe in Creationism.

quote:

Do we agree that atheism is contrary to Christianity?

No we don't. It's like saying blue is contrary to green. There is a whole Pantheon of gods that neither Christians nor atheists believe in, like Allah, Hindu gods, Norse Greek and Roman gods etc etc, We just don't believe in your God either.

quote:

If we do then Darwinian philosophy is contrary to Christianity.

This is a false conclusion resting on two false premises (Darwinism => Atheism and Atheism is contrary to Christianity) and a change in terms (Darwinism to "Darwinian Philosophy").

quote:

If Darwinian philosophy is contrary to Christianity, then the biological 'education' (read indoctrination of Darwinian philosophy - religion taught in the biology class) we receive from form 1, through University and which influences all media, law and ethics around us today MUST influence the way we think about God. But how?

Discuss


Your argument is full of holes in my view. Whole swathes of stuff are emerging from a false conclusion drawn from false premises.

--------------------
John Collins


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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There is no prior commitment to atheism - simple as that. Darwin went to lengths to say he was not an atheist.

Kenneth Miller, whom I have 'invoked' before, points out that some of Behe's 'irreducibly complex' systems have been shown to be evolvable in the laboratory. I'll dig up the reference if you like.

Whatever Dawkins may say with his atheist hat on has nothing to do with the status of evolutionary biology, which is as darn near proven as any other scientific model.

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gbuchanan
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Neil - apologies for the error in my last posting - I meant to address your doubt about the diversification of species (i.e. the creation of new species from variants of an earlier one). It's clearly too hot here - my first sentence is obviously misleading - the rest of the post stands, however.
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gbuchanan
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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
At the end of the 20th century, we have already witnessed the demise of Freud's ponderings and the collapse of Marxism (and its derivatives) so why does Darwinism (and its derivatives) remain so resolute (as proven by this thread)?

...erm; because, unlike Marxism (or what is these days termed Marxism), it is not simply an ideology - some use it as such, but then there are people who use "Christianity" in the same manner.

quote:
It is because adherents to neo-Darwinian philosophy tell us (Joe public) that their philosophy is based on irrefutable scientific 'fact'? Do we believe them? Behe et al merely tell us not to take all scientific statements as 'fact'. For exmaple, no one has yet proposed an actual random chemical reaction which could produce life nor actual random mutations which produce cell mechanics, blood clotting and so forth.


...not quite true; basic elements of life have been produced via chemical processes (not, though, "life" itself). Futhermore, the Origin of the Species doesn't posit such a suggestion, so to label the same as Darwinism is demonstrably erroneous.

quote:
Much post-Enlightenment philosophy still subtly rests on the 'facts' of Darwinism. Just listen to evolutionary psychologists and behavioral scientists on the BBC World Service and you'll know what I mean. Modern ethics, morals & law start from the assumption that God is beyond the ken of humans, and God is therefore ignored and left to the subjective realms of individuals and fringe religious groups, like Christians.


...erm, I thought that full knowledge of God is beyond the ken of humans - unless someone here knows otherwise. Many folks who accept Darwin's theories, or theories developed from them, be they Christian or secular folk, don't base their comprehension of ethics or morals upon Darwinist theories, though they may explain the emergence of certain human norms through similar devices.

quote:
Although I did not set out to initially argue this point, this thread has been drawn to debate it. It obviousy needs much more debate and papers by intelligent design scientists to undermine Darwinism.

...erm, and why is evolution so threatening? Any concept of a moral or ethical Darwinism is both inconsistent with Darwin's own writings, so to associate "Darwin" with such ideas is tantamount to misrepresentation of the man himself. That some folks (not Darwin) wish to expedite their own prejudices by identifying their position as a natural, logical, extension of Darwin's work is not to say Darwin himself would have had any truck with them.

quote:
I go back to my initial question. To speculate on a future without Darwinism. What will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment philosophy, what will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment theology if the bold claims of the 'facts' of Darwinism turn out to be no more than dreams in the fertile minds of highly imaginative pseudo-scientists?


I think you need to disentangle further what you mean by Darwinism - it seems much closer to a sort-of Dawkinism or perhaps more accurately and fairly one of Don Cuppitt's more cretinous utterances. I don't think most folks here seem persuaded as to the falsifiable nature of evolution of species As to the origin of life, that's another post.

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caty
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quote:
I go back to my initial question. To speculate on a future without Darwinism. What will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment philosophy, what will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment theology if the bold claims of the 'facts' of Darwinism turn out to be no more than dreams in the fertile minds of highly imaginative pseudo-scientists?

I don't feel that it's a question tho. Or rather it's one of those loaded questions which pre-supposes certain attitudes in those who respond. (ie agreement that Darwinism is on its last legs. Which - as far as mainstream science is concerned - is a nonsense.)

A discussion on whether Darwinism has had any effects on modern theology or modern society could be an interesting one, and there have been a few contributions to this already. If you're determined that the thread should focus on this area, why not re-introduce the topic with a more neutral question?

just a thought
caty


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SteveWal
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The one time that "Darwinism" oversteps its brief is when it is used as controlling metaphor for something that is not biology.

There is far too much evidence in favour of evolution to dismiss it. However, "evolution" has been used to justify certain economic theories, certain racist theories (eg that white people are evolutionarily superior to black people), and has seeped into psychology and other areas where it doesn't have any place.

Usually, though, it picks up on two things which are distortions of evolution, and especially Darwinism. First, there's the supposed "fight for survival" where the "fittest survive and the weak go to the wall." This is not evolutionary theory: which is not about a struggle between competing species, but about adapting to an environment. But from this, came Social Darwinism, and certain fascist and Nazi ideas used evolution in that way.

The second is the idea of progress: not new to evolution, but people tend to think of evolution as progressing upward to "better and better" species. Which isn't true Darwinism (is it Mendelian? I can't remember) but which made people think that they could be the top of the evolutionary ladder (hence scientific racism.) (Evolution is better described as a tree, and there is no "progress" as such, just a continual readaption to changing environments.)

So there have been some unintended philosphical and economic outcomes to evolutionary theory. But these largely come from not understanding the science, or from people with other agendas using it to bolster their own positions. It doesn't make the science (properly understood) wrong. However, science can never be entirely neutral, however much it wants to be. "The Selfish Gene" may be a good model in scientific terms: but when it gets picked up by non-scientists (eg economists), it can become a justification for economic moneterism.

So Neil Robbie does have half a point when he says that evolutionism has pervaded things outside science. But only half a point: the science is still intact. It's just sometimes we have to watch how it gets used.

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The sceptical Atheist
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quote:
The one time that "Darwinism" oversteps its brief is when it is used as controlling metaphor for something that is not biology.

When it is used for a controlling metaphor it is no longer science but philosophy.

As Karl said in a much earlier post, both he and I are veterans of this campaign. Like him, I have retired from that ring (in fact you can blame karl for my prescence. He suggested I might get intelligent answers to all my questions on this page. You ahven't disappointed).

Isaiah said that I am effectively biased and so will not accept things because I will automatically assign them as a PRATT.

I will listen to any evidence, I will listen to anything that Isaiah has to say. What I would expect is a clean debate. If Isaiah is willing to admit when the evidence shows something and will acknowledge it as such I will debate with him. I will obviously be bound by the same criteria.

I have obviously taken this very personally, but as I have said, this is my crusading territory. I know the ground and I am willing to stand up for the Truth on this point.

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"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


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Neil Robbie
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I've evidently shot myself in the foot. Caty, you identified the problem nicely...if we want to speculate on a world without Darwinism, I should never have called this thread what I did. Never mind, I'll save it for another day.

I'm beginning to feel like Job. Is there anyone there who can see the conflict between philosophical naturalism (neo-Darwinism) and Christianity?

Rather than paddle about in secondary and tertiary issues of scientific observation, can we take the discussion up to the primary level of the undergirding philosophy of Darwinism? Richard Dawkins opening paragraph in his preface to 'Unweaving the Rainbow' writes:

quote:
A foreign publisher of my first book confessed that he could not sleep for three nights after reading it, so troubled was he by what he saw as its cold, bleak message. Others have asked me how I can bear to get up in the mornings. A teacher wrote to me reproachfully that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. He advised her not to show the book to any of her friends, for fear of contaminating them with the same nihilistic pessimism...Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos

Where has Dawkins derived this conclusion? He started at the thin edge of the wedge, with variation within a species (which includes non-breeding groups of mice and fish, Alan. The fish are still fish and the mice are still mice) and he has extrapolated a theory by which mice become birds, and because this mechanism of random, chance mutation is purposeless, then there can be no purpose to the universe in Dawkins' mind and therefore no God, which correlates with what Neitzche said 'God is dead'. So, (neo)Darwinism is the 'fact' which supports Neitzche's theory and by doing so it adopts Neitzche as Darwinism's undergirding philosophy as stated by Dawkins in his preface.

But Dawkins belief is 'faith' in the thin edge of the wedge proving, by fanciful extrapolation the thick end.

As many educated friends have pointed out, it all boils down to faith.

  • Either - the objective faith that one day science will provide all the answers and show the purposelessness of life.
  • Or - the objective faith that Jesus Christ rose from the grave and offers eternal life, purpose and hope to all who trust in him.

We can each make our choice.

Neil


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Neil Robbie
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Now, back to a point which I made. Perhaps not theology but the way of the world.

Knowing that Darwinian philosophy has, in reality, plenty to say about God, I quote a letter I wrote to the BBC World Service three weeks ago:

quote:
Sir

I listened with interest to your article on yesterday's 'Focus on Faith' regarding after hours 'religious' clubs in American schools.

The first amendment keeps American schools 'neutral' on matters of theism and faith and the article showed how this was being infringed by the use of school premises out of hours for mainly Christian evangelistic activity.

In a related matter, the U.S. National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) promulgated a statement in 1995 to guide high-school biology teachers. An important part of that statement read:

'The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.'

This raises the following question: how can such a statement be classified as neutral on matters of theism and faith? The NABT's statement contains elements of philosophical belief or religious faith, that life is 'unsupervised' and the product of an 'impersonal' process. How then does this philosophical or religious teaching of biology comply with the first amendment?

The matters surrounding the issue of teaching Darwinian philosophy as 'fact' in the classroom are complex and numerous. For the proper treatment of this subject I commend to you Philip E. Johnson's (Teacher of Law at University of California, Berkley) books 'Darwin on Trial' and 'Objections Sustained'. Johnson's legal treatment of the arguments used by biologists make fascinating reading.

This is an important issue to which I hope your program can devote some research. Your website trailer said 'Also in the programme why civil liberties groups are claiming that after school evangelism is a setback for religious freedom?'

I would be interested to know if you would consider running an article on 'why civil liberties groups are claiming that teaching of Darwinian philosophy in schools is a setback for religious freedom'?

Yours sincerely

Neil Robbie


With the evidence of the above statement of 'faith' (the creed) of American National Association of Biology Teachers, does anyone still disagree that Darwinism and Christianity are in direct conflict?

Neil


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Philosophical naturalism is of course opposed to any form of belief in anything supernatural.

Methodological naturalism, however, which is all that science in general and evolutionary biology included in that makes use of, is merely a tool, and opposed to nothing. It is totally in agreement with Christianity, in fact, inasmuch as it postulates that the universe is ordered and understandable.

Don't confuse the two.

Random and pointless? The problem here is that thou dost complain too much, methinks. On the one hand, you complain (quite rightly) if science starts to try to answer questions of purpose and meaning, and then complain when it fails to produce meaning and purpose. From a scientific viewpoint evolution is indeed a random process. It is the job of Christian philosophers to point out that God can act through the contingency of evolution just as through the contingency of history, rather than to fight a pointless and ultimately unwinnablee battle against the reality of evolution. Moreover, if God did, as I believe, use evolution as the outworking of His creative activity, then by opposing evolution, one is opposing the truth. That way no good can lie. We must find and contend for the truth, whatever it may be, and howsoever much we may wish it were otherwise.

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Neil Robbie
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Karl, I agree with you that God has set in place natural laws which govern life and which God that God can intervene as required.

I am concerned about your use of the word 'evolution', which I have tried to avoid on this thread because of its large semantic or technical range.

You said

quote:
Moreover, if God did, as I believe, use evolution as the outworking of His creative activity

In what sense are you defining 'evolution'? (1), (2) or (3)?

Neil


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gbuchanan
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Mmm...well Neil, let me ask, is there any process which God is forbidden to use, or any process which it beyond God's power to use or set in motion?

If so, as the old saying goes, your God is too small; God could use 1,2 and/or 3 as he so choses - it sort of comes with the peculiarity of being omnipotent.


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I'll be totally clear - short answers rather than multiple choice.

I accept the dating of the origins of the universe to 15-20 billion years ago, give or take.

I accept that the earth is, to the best estimate, 4.6 billion years old.

I accept that current life forms descended from a common ancestral population of self-replicators through the process described as evolution by biologists - descent with modification caused by mutations being subject to natural selection.

Finally, given that nearly every other scientific mystery that people previously ascribed to God working in a supernatural way has turned out not to be so, I suspect strongly that the origin of the first self replicators will also turn out to be explicable in terms of natural processes. Moreover, I have a feeling that an omnipotent God would work that way. It is more impressive to create a universe that has within it the capability of bringing forth life in accordance with His Word, than to have to step in to remedy its shortcomings in this matter. Howard Van Till has some good writings on this - he calls it a gapless universe, IIRC.

As for 'darwinian philosophy' - well, I don't look to science for meaning and purpose, just as I don't try to use musical notation to bake cakes.

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SteveWal
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Neil Robbie, you still seem to be making the same mistake as ever. You're confusing two things. Science has to proceed non-theistically, otherwise it wouldn't explain how anything happened. It couldn't explain evolution or photosynthesis or how electricity works if the moment it came upon a mystery it said, "God did it." This does not mean that God didn't, or isn't in charge of the ongoing creation. For those like yourself and I, that is an important part of our faith: God is the Creator. But God being the Creator does not tell you how he did it. Evolution, as science, is the how, not the why.

Those people who use evolution to justify atheism, or, as they have in the past, their own political or racial ideologies, are overstepping the bounds of science. Then it becomes quasi-science. Which, frankly, is what so-called "Creation Science" is. It selectively uses facts, distorts and invents others in order to justify a theological position that is not warranted by either Christian history or by the Bible.

Evolution is backed up by so much data that it's as solid a fact as you can get. Use of evolution as a kind of trope in philosophy or politics, even in theology, it is possible to question. I think you have a point there. However, the fact remains that the science is pretty unassailable.

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If they give you lined paper to write on, write across the lines. (Russian anarchist saying)


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Neil Robbie
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# 652

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Karl and SteveWal, I hope we find that we pretty much agree. Having only read Dawkins, Behe and Johnson for my 'scientific' knowledge, I realise I am not well qualified to discuss such matters. But I do strongly believe that recent challenges to the 'fact' of Darwinism have a strong grounding. Why else would there be so much debate?

I would still like to avoid the use of the word 'evolution', which you both use liberally. My earlier definitions of 'evolution' can perhaps now be more clearly defined in light of what has been posted since.

  • 1. Micro-evolution - the adaptation of organisms to their environment, including the production of distinct breeding groups.
  • 2. Macro-evolution - the production of new forms of life - fish becoming birds.
  • 3. Origin of life - physical and chemical production of self-replicators.

If we use these three terms, it will help me to understand where you both stand.

Karl wrote (very helpfully):

quote:
I accept the dating of the origins of the universe to 15-20 billion years ago, give or take.

I accept that the earth is, to the best estimate, 4.6 billion years old.

I accept that current life forms descended from a common ancestral population of self-replicators through the process described as evolution by biologists - descent with modification caused by mutations being subject to natural selection.


I'm with you on the first two statements of your creed Karl, but would like to redefine the third this way for clarification of my understanding of the current objective scientific work for the support of 'evolution':

I accept that current life forms adapt to their environment and that this adaptation is known as natural selection (micro-evolution).

I accept that in many proven cases, this adaptation has led to separate breeding groups of the same type (I forget the biological terms for breeding groups and same types of animals). (again micro-evolution).

I believe that no conclusive scientific evidence has yet been found for the mechanism of 'natural selection' to produce new forms such as wings or the eye, that there are problems with fossil evidence to support gradual change, and as such 'natural selection' may not have the capability to produce the diversity of living organisms seen today from a single source. (macro-evolution)

I believe that no conclusive scientific evidence has yet been found for the origin of self-replicating organisms. (origin of life).

Is this a fair summary of scientific evidence?

My problem is that Joe Public believes that deism or atheism is strongly supported by Darwinism, because that is what they are taught at school and read in the newspaper (see NABT statement).

Neil

PS...I'm leaving work now for a long weekend on a tropical island paradise just north of the equator. Snorkelling and sailing. It's a tough life. Speak to you Monday.


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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Neil,

The division of evolution into "micro-" and "macro-" is one very few evolutionary biologists would accept, they are both the same thing seen over different time-scales. It is a useful fiction for Creationists who can't deny observed "micro-evolution".

quote:
there are problems with fossil evidence to support gradual change

did anyone say evolution has to be gradual? Infact if the largest evolutionary changes occured during periods of large & rapid environmental change (which would make sense) then there would have been very few intermediary forms, and hence the chance of finding a fossilised "missing link" very small.

The origins of self-replicating molecules on which natural selection could work is, as has been noted, a different subject from evolution. It's difficult to think of what evidence could be found short of recreating those first molecules in the lab (which would be a very difficult experiment).

Alan

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Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
Shipmate
# 76

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Alan is correct. Nevertheless, I would add that the grossest changes - from fish to amphibian, for example, do happen gradually even when viewed from a geological timescale, where millions of years are the unit of measurement.

A nice collection of such transitionals is at This page.

Conclusive? No, nothing is in science. Strong? You betcha!

As regards the origins of life, my previous post outlines my reasons for believing that there is a naturalistic explanation.

If atheists have been able to imply that evolution supports their position the fault is ours for too often fighting the discoveries of science, from Galileo onwards.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17450 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Nicolemr
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# 28

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quote:
What else was around last century to cause the crisis of identity if
it wasn't the effects of Darwinism?

well stephen j. gould says the first thing to cause a crisis was the concept of "deep time", ie that the world has been around a lot longer than the 6000 or so years recorded in the bible. and this concept predated darwin by a good bit (i forget how long) and has nothing to do with darwinism. except that it provides the span of time neccessary for darwins mechanisms to work.

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!


Posts: 11624 | From: New York City "The City Carries On" | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Carys

Ship's Celticist
# 78

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On micro/macro evolution.

Neil, you say that you accept that that variation occurs within species (a l&aacure; spotted moths, the favourite of GCSE biology) but that you are unsure as to how this could have led to the divergence of new species and development of new organs.

At least that is how I interpret what you have said - correct me if I'm wrong.

On new species, if there is variation within a species then there comes a point where there is such a degree of variation that they are no longer considered to be the same species. Although where this line is drawn is rather hard to say. This problem can also been seen with languages, when does a dialect become a separate language? That's a question that raises a lot of issues and has no definitive answer. It depends on many factors.

As to developing new organs by evolution, Dawkins describes (in 'The Blind Watchmaker' I think) how the eye could have developed. In very small stages - a small degree of light sensitivity which gave that creature a small advantage which enabled it to reproduce, a bit more, colour etc. It's hard to comprehend, it takes place over an unimaginable timescale but I can see how that could work. We tend to see everything as black and white (no eye, complex eye) forgetting all the shades of grey in between.

I don't understand why we should be scared of science. God created this world so studying it tells us something about God. Her creativity, exuberance, risk-takingness. Sara Maitland's book 'A big-enough God' is great on this.

Having said that I completely disagree with Dawkins when it comes to Religion. He uses science to back up his philosophy and fails to differentiate between the two. He accuses opponents of 'The argument from incredulity' - I can't believe it so it can't be like that - eg. over the evolution of the eye, but then does the same himself over the existence of God.

The problem is not with Darwinianism per se, but I would agree that the Church (and possibly particularly fundamentalists) have bought into the Rationalists mindset and have tried - unsuccessfully to fight them on their own ground rather than challenging their presuppositions. That is, we've accepted the reduction of 'reality' to that which can be proved by science and by trying to argue 'scientifically' that the world was created in 6 days we have lost the argument before it has begun. By making accepting creationism fundamental to Christianity (which it isn't) we reinforce the idea that we're stuck in the past, that science has replaced religion and that no rational person can believe in God. Forced to make a choice between evolution and creationism people chose evolution as backed up by evidence. Whereas the fundamental point of Genesis 1-3 is the claim that God made the world, and he made it good, it is NOT a scientific account. If you read it, it assumes that the world is flat - something we now know to be untrue, but as a book I was reading pointed out, what the opening chapters teach is not that God made a Flat world but that the (flat) world was made by God.

Carys

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O Lord, you have searched me and know me
You know when I sit and when I rise


Posts: 6896 | From: Bryste mwy na thebyg | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by nicolemrw:
the world has been around a lot longer than the 6000 or so years recorded in the bible. and this concept predated darwin by a good bit (i forget how long) and has nothing to do with darwinism. except that it provides the span of time neccessary for darwins mechanisms to work.

Quite right. By the 1830's (30 years before Origin of Species) the modern picture of geology was nearly universally accepted, the only difference being they were thinking in terms of millions or tens of millions of years rather than than the 4.6 billion we now know the earth to be. This included the recognition that different aged rocks contained different types of fossils, and that older rocks had fossils that appeared simpler.

quote:
Our amazement at the greatest phenomena is not lessened because we have discovered the manner in which a certain one of the marvels occured.
Basil, Homily I


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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.

Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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# 652

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I couldn’t resist one last post before heading off for the tropical sun, sand and sea. Can I leave these questions to be pondered?

Please note, everyone, that I am not trying to invoke a literal understanding of Genesis. I have already explained my understanding of the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of Genesis and ‘when’ and ‘how’ of science. Everyone seems to be labeling me as a young-earth creationist, I am not! I find science fascinating and am frustrated that scientists have a prior commitment to everything boiling down to natural systems and never contemplate our Almighty and Sovereign Lord when then evidence suggests that only natural mechanisms exist.

Karl already said that God made the Laws of physics, chemistry and biology but that God can intervene as and when God feels like it. So why could God not intervene to kick start life? Why could God not intervene in genetics to form humans? Why must science have a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism?

To illustrate the point, can someone please give me the scientific facts of how the following came to be? I don’t expect theories or guesses or hypotheses, which dominate all the previous answers. I am looking for solid physical, chemical, scientific fact. No extrapolation, no mathematical models or observations of how they work. I would like to know the chemical step-by-step development of the following bio-mechanical mechanisms.


  1. How did ‘self-replicators’ appear in the prebiotic soup and develop step-by-step?
  2. How did the mammalian blood clotting mechanism develop step-by-step?
  3. How did the photosynthetic reaction center develop step-by-step?
  4. How did cholesterol biosynthesis begin or develop step-by-step?
  5. How did intermolecular transport start or develop step-by-step?
  6. How did retinal become involved in vision, step-by-step?
  7. How did phosphoprotein signaling proteins pathways develop step-by-step?

There are two more questions:

How is genetic information formed? As I understand it, our genes are like a pack of 52 playing cards which get shuffled about from generation to generation. What mechanism exists to make 53 playing cards? Has the formation of extra genetic information been observed?

My last question is perhaps the most brain-stretching. If DNA is the code for which living features are formed, and scientists talk about genetic blue-print (engineering drawing in modern language), or genetic language, how did it come into existence, step-by-step?

Information is what we read in the pages of a book or in this thread. DNA proteins and amino acids are to DNA what paper is to a book or semi-conductors are to a computer. But information is the words themselves on the paper and on the computer screen. Information is different from matter.

Each human cell contains the same amount of information (letters and words not paper) as all 30 volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica and there are 300 million million cells in the body. How did this information come into existence?

These questions fascinate me. Does anyone know the answer? I am not pointing to young earth or creationism in that sense, I just want to know if (neo)Darwinian or (neo-neo Darwinian – chance, random events) theory can explain all these things.

Neil


PS See you Monday


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Neil, you're asking the impossible. Perhaps one of the most frustrating characteristics of evolution's detractors is that they castigate scientists from drawing what are in fact well supported, solid inferences, then require them to make far less well supported ones.

To give the exact sequence of developmental steps in each of those pathways is impossible, because we have no way of knowing the cascade reaction sequence in the trilobyte. Do you know how difficult it is to ascertain these sequences in living animals? The procedures would be impossible in a fossil of the hard parts alone! The answers you seek can never be found. Moreover, "theories or guesses or hypotheses" are all science has! The orbit of the earth is only a theory. As is atomic theory, relativity theory, et al. Why is theory good enough in these fields but not in origins sciences? The irony of your question is that the pathways you refer to are theoretical, from inspired guesswork and testable hypothesis. You might as well claim you don't think there's good evidence for them!

I would recommened, by the by, again, that you read Kenneth Miller's Finding Darwin's God. He devotes some time to Behe and you may find it illuminating.

This one I can answer:

quote:
What mechanism exists to make 53 playing cards?

Gene duplication

quote:
Has the formation of extra genetic information been observed?

Yes

As regards the origins of genetic material, that is not my field but I will endeavour to find out for you.

quote:
Why must science have a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism?

It doesn't. It has a prior commitment to methodological naturalism.

quote:
So why could God not intervene to kick start life? Why could God not intervene in genetics to form humans?

He could have done. But that is not a scientific hypothesis. Perhaps He did. You are free to accept that. Personally, I believe that God does all His general work through natural forces, for reasons outlined in earlier posts.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17450 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I find science fascinating and am frustrated that scientists have a prior commitment to everything boiling down to natural systems and never contemplate our Almighty and Sovereign Lord when then evidence suggests that only natural mechanisms exist.

Karl already said that God made the Laws of physics, chemistry and biology but that God can intervene as and when God feels like it. So why could God not intervene to kick start life? Why could God not intervene in genetics to form humans? Why must science have a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism?


Karl also drew the distinction between philosophical and methodological naturalism. The pursuit of science is methodological. Each scientist's beliefs about the resulting knowledge pertain to the philosophical. We only know of the philosophy of a few highly visible scientists like Dawkins, etc. You seem to be lumping all scientists into this overarching philosophy when only the results of their methodology is known.

Kenneth R. Miller in the early chapters of his book, "Finding Darwin's God," has pondered the very same issue. I've only just started the book but it looks thought-provoking.

As for scientific research itself, what would you change? How would you draw the line for research between natural process that we don't yet understand and processes that were a direct intervention by God? Who will say (and who do you trust to say), "We understand this. We don't yet understand that but research will clear up the confusion. And God clearly was involved in this step so we don't need to spend research time or money on it."

How will we know that a particular unkown is a direct work of God? Will we be able to formulate a working hypothesis and will God be amenable to testing? Will we allow the Church to say "This was a result of divine intervention. No research is to be done or published in this area." Galileo had a similar experience. Or will the committees who decide on grant funding make those decisions?

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Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I find science fascinating and am frustrated that scientists have a prior commitment to everything boiling down to natural systems and never contemplate our Almighty and Sovereign Lord when then evidence suggests that only natural mechanisms exist.

Science is the study of natural systems, the study of other systems is the realm of philosophy and theology. Now I welcome scientists contributing to these fields, but far too often it is more a naive blundering about in something they don't actually understand expecting (and often getting) a hearing because of their scientific authority. A good scientific reputation can not give someone authority outside their own field of study; I'm more than happy to accept Dawkins ideas about the science of evolution, but he's no more an authority in philosphy than he is in quantum physics until philosphers recognise the value in what he contributes to their field of study.

Many scientists do have a religious faith (including an atheistic faith), and a contribution to make to philosophy and theology. But it is a mistake to hold the views of scientists as any more informed in these fields than the views of any other amateur philosopher or theologian.

quote:
Karl already said that God made the Laws of physics, chemistry and biology but that God can intervene as and when God feels like it. So why could God not intervene to kick start life? Why could God not intervene in genetics to form humans? Why must science have a prior commitment to philosophical naturalism?

I don't think any Christian would deny that God could have intervened to kick start life or direct evolution. The questions are did he in fact intervene, and would he intervene? Now until science conclusively proves there are or aren't any steps in the start of life or evolution that correspond to the work of God the first of these is unanswerable. But we can reasonably speculate whether it is in the character of God to intervene in his creation in such a manner.

My personal opinion is that such intervention is unlikely. I've noticed that God does tend to work through natural processes in a manner that is only discernable by the eye of faith. It is by faith I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and so when I look at the stars or study the processes within the atom I believe I am watching God at work. If God works through and within natural processes now, what reason have I to expect him to have done something different in the past?

There are still, however, very good scientific materialistic explanations of those same things in which I see God at work which don't rely on the hand of God directing things. As Karl has said on several occasions, science is methodologically materialistic. There is no other way for science to work. If we say of a phenomena that "God is at work here, so there won't be a materialistic explanation" then there is no further question or investigation possible. If, on the other hand, we look at the same phenomena and say "something is happening here I don't understand" then there are questions to ask and things to be investigated; science thrives on answering difficult questions and explaining the unexplained.

Sorry for a fairly long post. Neil, I hope you enjoy your long weekend in a tropical paradise. I'm not jealous, honest

Alan

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Don't Brexit if you haven't a scooby how to fix it.


Posts: 31970 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bob R
Apprentice
# 322

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Newboss says

quote:
Natural selection is about as close to a scientific fact as it's possible to get, so the basic theory of evolution is not under immediate threat.

I would like to point out that natural selection is not evolution. Natural selection (that species develop different attributes) is an established and observable fact. Evolution on the other hand suggests, without a single shred of evidence, that one species turns into another.

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I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

Oliver Cromwell in a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 3 Aug 1650


Posts: 43 | From: Greenock | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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