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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Glenn Oldham
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# 47

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Neil,
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
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?

I know it can be a bit exhausting to have loads of books recommended to you but can I suggest a good one to start on this question would be The Wisdom of the Genes: new pathways in evolution by Christopher Wills (1989)Basic Books/Oxford university press paperback).

Wills discusses ways in which natural selection can be expected to favour organisms that have genomes (their genetic material) which have features that make them able to evolve more rapidly.

quote:
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?

To quote Wills:

quote:
Each species [including humans] no matter how simple or complex has a history of three and a half billion years ... the ones that are left are, for the most part, a superbly fit set of survivors.

So bags of time for variation plus natural selection to accumulate all that information. (If you were to count off those three and a half billion years aloud at the rate of one a second at it would take you, with 8 hours sleep a day, one hundred and sixty five years to do so.)

Wills also talks about staggering variety amongst the eight hundred different species of fruit flies on the Hawaiian islands which have all evolved from very few or possibly even one original(fertilised female)fly to fill the many niches in the ecology that are available because of the absence of most other types of insect. A far better example than the good old Peppered Moth.

When i left university in 1977 after a biology degree the evidence for evolution overwhelmed my fundamentalistic leanings. In the 24 years since the evidence has just got more and more compelling (from geology, from molecular biology, developmental genetics, paleontology, and so on, many independent areas of research (thus minimising circular reasoning)).

Glenn

--------------------
This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Bob R:
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.

Actually natural selection is the mechanism by which variations within a species that provide an advantage for survival and reproduction are preferentially transmitted to later generations.

Evolution is simply the observation that naturally selected variations result in changes in physiology and/or behaviour over time. While it may be reasonable to consider slight varients to be the same species, larger variation results in an inability to inter-breed naturally and so a new species evolves. Any evidence for evolution within species over time is also evidence for evolution from one species to another, for it is the sme process.

Alan

--------------------
All I want for Christmas is EU


Posts: 32183 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Bob R:
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.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I come to the Ship to get away from creationist nonsense like this. Not a shred of evidence indeed - rhetorical baldersash. If this thread were in Hell I could tell you what I really think of that statement.

But since we're in Purgatory, a few of links will have to do:

29 Evidences of Macroevolution

Observed instances of speciation

Transitional Vertebrate Fossils

Enough evidence to be going on with for now?

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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# 41

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My sympathies to Karl on his frustration with "creationist nonsense".

My overwhelming feeling with Creationists is similar to that I have with some of the people who pontificate over end time prophecies (especially to the point of not worrying about pollution etc because it's all going to be over next week when the final whistle gets blown).

As JB Phillips (I think) put it "Your God is too small".

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


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Neil Robbie
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# 652

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My wife and I arrived back last night from our tropical weekend having sailed a Dart 18' (sports catamaran) accompanied for a few minutes by half a dozen dolphins. It was the most spectacular sailing of my life!

I am sad that the thread is degenerating into a 'evolutionists' verses 'fundamentalist creationist' ding dong. Can we try an move beyond this level of discussion to New Labour territory, the 'third way'? For the benefit of all, evolutionists and creationists, here's a bit of an example of evolution from my snorkelling at the weekend.

As I emerged from the sea, snorkel and fins and all, I saw on the rocks what I think must be 'lung fish'. The biggest of these were about 2 inches long, eyes on top of their head, basking in the sun on the rocks. When I got close, they shot off across the surface of the water, like 'skimming' or 'skiffing' stones, or like swimmers who hate getting their hair wet. They used their lateral fins to move over the rocks and the surface of the water.

I went looking for them again on my last day. While snorkeling in the shallows, I saw similar fish, underwater, again using their lateral fins to move over the surface of the rocks. These fish were about the same size and shape (eyes were not as pronounced) as the other fish on the rocks above the water.

It doesn’t take much imagination to link the two and say that the 'lung' fish had 'evolved' from the similar looking fish underwater. A creationist might argue that that's just the way God made them.

But I would like to take the middle way and say whilst 'evolution' is evident, 'evolution' is not evident. What do I mean?

I do not have any problem with the theory the fish could be related and that one, by the scientific fact of natural selection, has developed the ability to live out of water. I'd be interested to know if any zoologists know of this particular species of fish and the way that they breathe. It appeared to me that they took great gulps of water every time the water sloshed over them, so perhaps their gills are internalised. So, step-by-step, one fish might have crawled out of the sea and now lives only surrounded by air, with the occasional soaking from the sea.

It's like the example Glenn gave regarding the fruit flies on Hawaii.

I have no problem with this theory as micro-evolution explaining this speciation. However, anything beyond the observed micro-evolution examples described above is speculation. To say that one day these fish will develop legs and lungs and hair and warm blood - (macro)evolution - has no current scientific basis, especially in the fossil record. The fish are still fish and the fruit flies are still fruit flies, and the peppered moths are still peppered moths. So I am an evolutionists, in the sense of living creatures develping distinct features, but I am not an evolutionist if someone tells me that the 'lung fish' will one day turn into a rabbit.

And, as for their origin from pre-biotic soup…

I think I need a new post

Neil


Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Neil Robbie
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# 652

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Glenn, you show that there has been 'bags of time', for life to emerge from the pre-biotic soup. I agree that the unibverse is 15-20 billion years old (revised from my previous 12 billion).

But, have you read Michael Behe's book, 'Dawrin's Black Box'? He points out that it doesn't matter how much time has been available, bio-chemists must now find a series of chemical reactions which could have produced life with the available chemical material. Chemists already have a pretty good idea of the material which was around before life began. (BTW, I will purchase Kenneth Miller's book 'Finding Darwin's God', as a number of people have recommended…and I assume you have all read Behe's book (though sometimes I wonder), if not I commend it to you as Miller's criticism will no doubt focus on selected parts and not the whole - and read 'Darwin on Trial' too).

Karl, we know that the theories of the universe have been measured, if not we could not predict the movement of the planets and we could not send space probes to Jupiter. These measurements give us great confidence in the theories of relativity and theoretical orbit of the earth. In the closing chapters of 'Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe points out the efforts made last century to escape the 'big bang' theory as Hubble's measurements began to show an expanding universe with a beginning in time, because it supported a Judeo-Christian (not young earth) understanding of the universe. Are (neo)Darwinists doing the same today?

We can not compare the physical theories of the universe with the bio-chemical theories of the origin of life and macro-evolution. Physical measurement supports physics, but bio-chemical models can not be formed to match the theories. If we know which chemicals exist in the basic building blocks of life, why has no scientist been able to provide us with a chain of chemical reactions which could have led to the development of these basic building blocks?

I notice that no-one posted responses on the issue of information as separate from matter Is this something that no-one wants to talk about? If you have read Philip Johnson's book 'The Wedge of Truth', you'll know what I'm talking about.

With no chemical support for origin of life theories, I think we must now return to the 'how' question of science? willyburger said:

quote:
How would you draw the line for research between natural process that we don't yet understand and processes that were the direct intervention by God?

Willyburger, your explanation of methodological naturalism has to be broken down into two 'how' questions to be able to answer this question:

  • How do biological mechanisms work (methodologicalism)?
  • How did biological mechanisms come into existence without invoking the supernatural (naturalism)?

I used to own a 1984 Vauxhall Cavalier (no comments please). I used to dismantle the brakes, change the timing belt and think I knew pretty well how it worked. The methodologicalism of biology is just the same…working out 'how' it all works.

My tinkering with the car did not invoke the question 'I wonder who designed this car?' Science doesn’t need to answer that question of biology, unless you are a philosophical naturalist opposed to the idea of a designer or a creationist in favour of finding evidence of a creator.

Surely the job of science is to focus on the pursuit of the how everything works (methodologicalism) question.

Research of this sort is deserving of public and private funding. How else will medicine and our understanding of the physical world advance? This is real science with a worthwhile product.

But surely, only philosophical naturalists will pursue the 'how did it come into existence without invoking the supernatural' question. Let philosophical naturalists fund this research, but don't use public money.

In the USA, 90% of the population believes that 'God' had some part to play in creation. Why should Joe Public fund the research of philosophical naturalists who in their research pursue the evidence of a purposeless, random, material universe?

It is by confusing the two 'how' questions that science and scientists are able to misuse the funds available.

Keep funding to methodologicalism, and use the money to find out how life works for the benefit of medicine. I hope you share this view that we can not support the squandering public money on the private pursuit of philosophical justification.

Neil


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

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I have no problem with this theory as micro-evolution explaining this speciation. However, anything beyond the observed micro-evolution examples described above is speculation. To say that one day these fish will develop legs and lungs and hair and warm blood - (macro)evolution - has no current scientific basis, especially in the fossil record. The fish are still fish and the fruit flies are still fruit flies, and the peppered moths are still peppered moths. So I am an evolutionists, in the sense of living creatures develping distinct features, but I am not an evolutionist if someone tells me that the 'lung fish' will one day turn into a rabbit.

I still find it surprising that the fiction of "micro" and "macro" evolution is still so common; it is an invention of Young Earth Creationist (as I recall to support the idea that the Ark held a pair of each "kind" to repopulate the earth after the Flood from which each species within that kind evolved, because otherwise the Ark would have been far too small. Which incidently requires a rate of evolution far greater than that required by the scientific view).

Why is it so hard to grasp the idea that if a fish can breathe out of water by having a "lung" full of water that over sufficient time that water filled lung couldn't become a mucus filled lung that doesn't require constant refilling with oxygenated water? Evolution works in small steps, the lung fish you observed out of water are a small step from similar fish still living in the water, and another species which has developed a way of reoxygenating the water held in its lung from the air so can spend longer between a fresh intake of water is another small step further on. Whether that particular species will evolve further depends on circumstances; it is adapted to its current environment, and so will presumably only evolve further if the environment changes or a new environmental niche opens up which isn't occupied by a "fitter" species.

BTW, as far evolution of legs is concerned. The fossil evidence, or at least the way it's interpreted, is that legs evolved in fully aquatic fish first to allow ease of movement among thick water vegetation. Presumably such vegetation being on the land/water margin the migration to land from there would be a relatively small step to search for new food sources or to avoid predators.

quote:
And, as for their origin from pre-biotic soup…

As noted, the origins of the earliest life forms are beyond the realms of evolutionary biology, which requires life to exist, and rather biochemistry.

Alan

PS After the account of your weekend, I'm now definitely jealous

--------------------
All I want for Christmas is EU


Posts: 32183 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
SteveWal
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# 307

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Neil Robbie -

I think you're still missing the point about methodological naturalism.

It does not exclude God from the processes in order to justify a "Godless" world. It excludes a "supernatural" event because to include it would be to prevent rather than aid discovery of the processes of evolution.

I see no contradiction with evolution in my own faith: God has created and is creating the world through natural processes. And if someone discovers the exact formula for creating life biochemically, that would not make any difference to my faith. It would still mean that God is working in the world: but through natural processes, not some form of David Copperfield magic wand system: "Shazzam! Look, life!" In fact, the idea that God sometimes intervenes to chivvy the process along, assumes that for the most part He keeps away, then comes in, points His finger and Bang! Dinosaurs become birds or something. I've always believed that God was involved in the process right from the beginning, in the natural processes themselves, not just sitting on some mountain throwing magic thunderbolts every now and then.

Belief in a creating God is pretty essential to Christian faith: but that is perfectly consistent with methodological naturalism, in whatever form you put it. "How" questions are not theological questions.

I think you're looking for some kind of certainty that it is God, not just an accident, but I'm afraid that scinece can't, and shouldn't, provide it. There will always be the possibility that we are all the product of a series of "accidents", and that we are all mere products of the natural world. There is also the other possibility: that we were and are created by a loving God who wants a relationship with us.

We can't look to science to answer that dilemma, though; we have to look to faith, and maybe to those experiences of the numinous that sustain us. Faith is not about certainty; it's about trust.

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


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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Those fish sound like mudskippers to me. Interesting fish. But your illustration adds up to no more than argument from incredulity.

The big problem with the micro-/macro- division is that anything you show the creationist can be dismissed as being only 'micro-'. But how many micros add up to a macro?

And why do giraffes and cows have the same viral DNA insertions in the same place in their genomes if they do not share a common ancestor? Why does cytochrome C similarity data match the phylogeny derived from the fossil record so well, if not from common descent with modification? Methinks that denying common descent poses more questions than it answers, and I'm unimpressed with 'goddiditthatway' answers I've had in the past.

I don't know why folk are banging on about Behe - he accepts common descent - fish to rabbits - and is so damned near to theistic evolution it's hard to slide a card in the crack.

And how many times do we have to reiterate that science is not philosophically naturalistic, but only methodologically so? Science does not say that natural explanations are all that exist, just that they are all it is concerned with.

--------------------
Might as well ask the bloody cat.


Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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# 41

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I notice that no-one posted responses on the issue of information as separate from matter Is this something that no-one wants to talk about? If you have read Philip Johnson's book 'The Wedge of Truth', you'll know what I'm talking about.

I think I can answer this point completely as it is in the area of things I think I know something about.

The question of "information" comes up in this kind of discussion because the word "entropy" is used both in Thermodynamics and in Information Theory. However it doesn't mean the same thing in each case, although there are a few parallels.

In Thermodynamics it indeed represents the "degree of disorder". On the "macro" scale things all at different temperatures are said to have less entropy than the same group of things at some averaged-out temperature. On the "micro" scale, molecules of things move around fast if they're hot and slower if they're cold. As heat flows they get all mixed up and disordered in the sense that where they reach the same temperature, the hot fast-moving molecules get all mixed up with the slow-moving ones, so to speak.

Entropy in the physical sense is a measurable physical quantity with units - Joules/degree Kelvin. The second law says that in a closed system it is constantly increasing - in other words put a collection of things of different temperatures together with nothing allowed in or out and they'll assume an average temperature. The important point is the words "closed system" and with the sun spewing oodles of energy in our direction the system of the biosphere isn't closed.

Now in information theory entropy means the degree of unreliability or uncertainty of a set of data. You might decide that you believe 90% of what Karl says and only 75% of what I say. This would mean that what comes out of my mouth has a higher information theoretic entropy than what emerges from Karls in your opinion. It doesn't refer to "disorder" at all in the sense of being mixed up.

Entropy in Information Theory is a unitless amount. The second law of Thermodynamics has no bearing on it, and no one has devised a relationship between the two quantities both called entropy. I don't think there is one.

Unfortunately a lot of Creationists have latched onto the word Entropy and use the two meanings interchangeably. The result is probably an increase in both kinds of entropy. I'm sure Mr Shannon (pioneer of Information Theory) whould have used a different word if he'd known how much it was going to be abused.

Hope that helps.

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


Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
In the USA, 90% of the population believes that 'God' had some part to play in creation. Why should Joe Public fund the research of philosophical naturalists who in their research pursue the evidence of a purposeless, random, material universe?

It is by confusing the two 'how' questions that science and scientists are able to misuse the funds available.

Keep funding to methodologicalism, and use the money to find out how life works for the benefit of medicine. I hope you share this view that we can not support the squandering public money on the private pursuit of philosophical justification.


Okay, now you're finally talking about something I can understand!

I think you're sadly mistaken if you think scientists investigate the detailed workings of biology in order to justify their philosophical stance. If I were one of them, I'd be offended at the implication of intellectual dishonesty and dealing in bad faith in your post.

I'm appalled at the suggestion that the allocation of public money for scientific research should be influenced by what "Joe Public" thinks. The average American also thinks flying is more dangerous than driving, is more innumerate than I am (scary fact), and reads his horoscope in the morning to find out if it's going to be a good day.


Posts: 24428 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
John Collins
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# 41

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One thing I should have added in my previous post is that Information Theoretic entropy can be reduced. To take the example of what I say being 75% reliable, you could carefully verify my statements and confirm them or correct them where they were wrong and end up with something you were up to 100% confident in. You would then have reduced the entropy.

In summary the whole issue of "information" raised by creationists is a huge red herring in my view.

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


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Willyburger

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# 658

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Willyburger, your explanation of methodological naturalism has to be broken down into two 'how' questions to be able to answer this question:

[LIST]

  • How do biological mechanisms work (methodologicalism)?

  • How did biological mechanisms come into existence without invoking the supernatural (naturalism)?
    /LIST]
    I used to own a 1984 Vauxhall Cavalier (no comments please). I used to dismantle the brakes, change the timing belt and think I knew pretty well how it worked. The methodologicalism of biology is just the same…working out 'how' it all works.

    My tinkering with the car did not invoke the question 'I wonder who designed this car?' Science doesn’t need to answer that question of biology, unless you are a philosophical naturalist opposed to the idea of a designer or a creationist in favour of finding evidence of a creator.

    The two questions, "How did biological mechanisms come into existence without invoking the supernatural?" and "I wonder who designed this car?" are not equivalent. The first is still a 'how.' The second is a 'who.' Instead, in the process of taking the car apart, are they not valid questions to ask, 'how was the car designed?' and 'how was it assembled?' in the process of understanding how it works?

    And shouldn't you be as suspicious of a Creationist Scientist 'in favour of finding evidence of a creator' as you are of the philosophical naturalist who is opposed to the idea of a designer?

    Surely the job of science is to focus on the pursuit of the how everything works (methodologicalism) question.

    I have to question that assumption. I propose that the job of science is knowledge, wherever it may be.

    Both of your questions at the top of this post are 'how' questions, yet you wish only to allow one of them to be asked. It seems to me that you are trying to maintain belief in a creator by preventing the other question from being asked at all. (Did that break any commandments?)

    Research of this sort is deserving of public and private funding. How else will medicine and our understanding of the physical world advance? This is real science with a worthwhile product.

    'Science' is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The 'worthwhile product' is merely technology. Whether that technology (cloning, nuclear weapons) should be used lies in the realm of ethics. Why things are the way they are and Who, if anyone, is responsible for our existence, are in the realms of philosophy and theology.

    But surely, only philosophical naturalists will pursue the 'how did it come into existence without invoking the supernatural' question.

    I'm afraid I have to question that assumption as well. There are plenty of theists who see no conflict between studying the mechanisms of evolution and their faith. Many see this world with the mechanisms *predesigned* to play out in a natural way. In the end, your argument opposes theistic evolutionists as well as philosophical naturalists.

    In the USA, 90% of the population believes that 'God' had some part to play in creation.

    What my esteemed countrymen know about science in general leaves much to be desired. After all, surveys show that less than half of them know that the Earth revolves around the Sun or that the Sun is a star. (CNN)

    But in all seriousness, don't theistic evolutionists by definition believe that God has/had some part to play in creation?

    Why should Joe Public fund the research of philosophical naturalists who in their research pursue the evidence of a purposeless, random, material universe?

    Im sorry, but that begs the question. Most researchers go where the science takes them. How they answer the 'who' and 'why' questions are best left to their own conscience. The few outspoken philisophical naturalists like Dawkins are already publishing through the private sector, are they not?

    I hope you share this view that we can not support the squandering public money on the private pursuit of philosophical justification.

    'Fraid not. I think that any increase in knowledge in general is a good thing. Would theistic evolutionists think the money is misused or squandered? You appear to keep drawing a theist/atheist line in the sand over the issue of evolution.

    God exists; God doesn't exist. Research in evolution will never prove one over the other.

    I share your sentiment that this thread not degenerate into a creationist vs. evolutionist slugfest.

    Willy

    --------------------
    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
  • Willyburger

    Ship's barber
    # 658

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    Italicized lines in my previous posts are quotes from Neil Robbie. Sorry for the omission.

    --------------------
    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
    Neil Robbie
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    # 652

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    I am very sorry, Ruth, for upsetting you with my last post. I'll try to be more careful when I write.

    willyburger, you concluded the debate on scientific evidence nicely when you implied that we'll never know God by looking at the results of research into life.

    Speculating on this matter from the perspective of the cross, perhaps God doesn't want us to know about God from science. If our faith depends on the cross alone (simply to the cross I cling), it wouldn't do for us to say "I cling to the cross and the evidence of God in science".

    Ruth & willyb, I am interested in the straw men you invented when referring to 'Joe Public' America. Apart from horoscope believing, driving is safer than flying believing bods and the unscientific young earth creationists, there are a number of people, scientists among them, who are rational and can still smell a rat.

    I lived in Cambridge for a number of years. Some friends at church were fellows at various colleges. Among them were theoretical physicists and chemists. They each had a firm faith in Christ and an 'old earth' understanding of the universe.

    When asked about their faith in Christ and their science, they would say that the more they knew about the way things worked, the more they were amazed at the way God had designed it - a simple observation of scientific fact in the light of faith in Christ.

    We often commented at that time on the fact that there were very few Christian biologists. Why was that, when there were so many Christian physicists and chemists?

    Is it because biologists are committed to methodological naturalism as the basis for research? Back to the Vauxhall Cavalier. I disagree with you willyburger about the 'who' question of biology. Asking 'how could this car work without invoking the supernatural' is the positive way of saying 'there is no designer, so how can I prove that it isn't designed (the blind watchmaker - there is no 'who' only an apparent 'who')?'

    I propose that there are few Christian biologists because of the effect of Darwinian philosophy which has prevented biologists being wowed by the way God has designed life. If a biologist dares to say 'wow, look at the way God designed this', it is contrary to the philosophical naturalism of Darwinism, just look at the theistic evolutionists' response to Michael Behe et al.

    Why don't theists spot this? Is it because we are so immersed in Darwinian philosophy that we can't see the woods for the trees, or rather we can't see the designer for the bio-chemical mechanisms?

    Neil


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

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    What do you suggest? That biologists should abandon the natural conclusion of their evidence - evolution - in favour of ID, not because it is true, but because of the 'wow' factor.

    No.

    I believe in intelligent design from a philosophical viewpoint. I do not, however, expect to find scientific evidence of design. It is seen with the eye of faith.

    If atheism has dominated biology, this is because we have allowed it to do so, and it has been through disavowing mainstream biology, not by embracing it, that Christianity has done so.

    Our witness must be that God can create through the contingency of the evolutionary process, not that God is an alternative hypothesis.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.


    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Willyburger

    Ship's barber
    # 658

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    Neil Robbie:
    willyburger, you concluded the debate on scientific evidence nicely when you implied that we'll never know God by looking at the results of research into life.

    Thank you. I meant it as much more than an implication. Please note the opposite proposition is also true. You will never prove the non-existence of God by such research either.

    Neil Robbie:
    Speculating on this matter from the perspective of the cross, perhaps God doesn't want us to know about God from science.

    That is certainly possible. Science and theology have different goals. You may find that they complement each other if each is left to their respective business without the insistence that one dictate terms to the other.

    Neil Robbie:
    Ruth & willyb, I am interested in the straw men you invented when referring to 'Joe Public' America. Apart from horoscope believing, driving is safer than flying believing bods and the unscientific young earth creationists, there are a number of people, scientists among them, who are rational and can still smell a rat.

    Could you restate this? I'm simply confused.

    Neil Robbie:
    I lived in Cambridge for a number of years. Some friends at church were fellows at various colleges. Among them were theoretical physicists and chemists. They each had a firm faith in Christ and an 'old earth' understanding of the universe.

    When asked about their faith in Christ and their science, they would say that the more they knew about the way things worked, the more they were amazed at the way God had designed it - a simple observation of scientific fact in the light of faith in Christ.

    We often commented at that time on the fact that there were very few Christian biologists. Why was that, when there were so many Christian physicists and chemists?

    Is it because biologists are committed to methodological naturalism as the basis for research?

    If your physicist and chemist friends were practicing good science, they would be as committed to methodological naturalism as any biologist.

    Neil Robbie:
    Back to the Vauxhall Cavalier. I disagree with you willyburger about the 'who' question of biology. Asking 'how could this car work without invoking the supernatural' is the positive way of saying 'there is no designer, so how can I prove that it isn't designed (the blind watchmaker - there is no 'who' only an apparent 'who')?'

    Then we must disagree. Formal logic (which was a long time ago for me) demonstrates that you can't prove a negative. You will never prove by evidence the universal non-existence of anything, especially God. You will also never prove the non-existence of the metaphysical (God) through empirical (physical) means.

    You are also drawing a false conclusion. Just because one is convinced that the world developed and runs by natural means doesn't necessarily mean that one believes that there is no design, which necessitates a designer.

    Neil Robbie:
    I propose that there are few Christian biologists because of the effect of Darwinian philosophy which has prevented biologists being wowed by the way God has designed life. If a biologist dares to say 'wow, look at the way God designed this', it is contrary to the philosophical naturalism of Darwinism, just look at the theistic evolutionists' response to Michael Behe et al.

    Did your physicist friends express their belief and wonder among fellow believers? Or did they also consciously shape their research because of it and write it into their published research? There's a proper context for everything.

    BTW, are you accusing theistic evolutionists of philosophical naturalism because they disagree with Behe? Is his theory so sacrosanct that you can paint with so broad a brush?

    Neil Robbie:
    Why don't theists spot this? Is it because we are so immersed in Darwinian philosophy that we can't see the woods for the trees, or rather we can't see the designer for the bio-chemical mechanisms?

    Or maybe they have given it much thought and disagree with those conclusions....

    All the best,

    Willy

    --------------------
    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
    RuthW

    liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
    # 13

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    I am very sorry, Ruth, for upsetting you with my last post. I'll try to be more careful when I write.

    I wasn't upset. I was appalled. Not the same thing at all.

    I notice that you haven't tried to show how what you said does not amount to accusing literally thousands of people of wholesale intellectual dishonesty.

    quote:
    Ruth & willyb, I am interested in the straw men you invented when referring to 'Joe Public' America. Apart from horoscope believing, driving is safer than flying believing bods and the unscientific young earth creationists, there are a number of people, scientists among them, who are rational and can still smell a rat.

    Most Americans don't know thing one about basic science. They think their stomachs actually shrink if they eat less food and grow if they eat more. They don't know why bread dough rises. They don't know why soap and water gets clothes cleaner than just water.

    This is not a straw man. The scientific education of most Americans is woefully inadequate, and therefore what most Americans think or believe is a poor basis for deciding how to spend money on scientific research.

    quote:

    I propose that there are few Christian biologists because of the effect of Darwinian philosophy which has prevented biologists being wowed by the way God has designed life.

    I don't see that your not knowing Christian biologists at Cambridge is evidence that biology as a science is somehow leading people away from God. Hardly a statistically significant sample!

    There's already been plenty of discussion about whether state-of-the-art evolution theory can be properly characterized as Darwinian. And I don't see why you continue to insist that biologists have a Darwinian philosophy. And when I was reading Stephen Jay Gould, I thought he seemed pretty wowed by the mechanisms he was investigating.


    Posts: 24428 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Neil Robbie
    Shipmate
    # 652

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    SteveWal, thank you for being so clear in defending your on position on methodological naturalism and Christian faith, I can see the point of your argument. You said
    quote:
    "how" questions are not theological questions"
    . Your personal conviction is not what I'm trying to highlight or attack. It is the public perception of science giving the 'how without God' answer which I am concerned about.

    RuthW, I'm very glad you're talking straw men. I wrote this post offline and have just read yours, which ties in nicely to what I wrote.

    The straw men which both SteveWaland you have drawn our attention to, the unscientific horoscope believing, 'driving is safer than flying', tummies shrinking when you don't eat Joe Public and the unscientific young earth creationists are, IMHO, not what make up the majority of the general public.

    I don't know what kind of company you keep, but the Joe Public I know are rational, well educated, professionals who will not consider faith in Christ because their minds have been filled with philosophical naturalism from primary 6 (11 years old) at school. The biology lessons are supported by David Attenbourgh's 'Life on Earth' and TV programs of the sort, and the mainstream media.

    What is taught in the classroom as biology, and the theories speculated about in popular TV programs do not reflect the ongoing scientific (not theistic) concerns about fossil records, irreducibility or the creation of information or so on, much of which we have discussed on this thread.

    Our education system does not train the mind to think about the scientific discoveries in an open light. Darwinian theory (and the philosophy which accompany it) are taught as dogmatic 'fact'.

    How do we want our children to grow up? Being taught dogma or being encouraged to think laterally and openly about science?

    I am not a young earth creationist, but I want my children to be able to think for themselves, not to regurgitate Darwinian dogma.

    I also want my friends and family to share in the love of Christ, and I know that Darwinian philosophy is a deeply ingrained barrier to that goal.

    What matters to me, as a Christian, is honesty. Scientists are free to chase whichever philosophical goal they like, they can conclude what they like from the findings of science, but they must be honest about the current evidence. Joe Public deserves to be told the truth.

    And the truth is, as Karl said

    quote:
    to give the exact sequence of developmental steps in each of those pathways is impossible
    . That's the truthful, honest answer. We don't know about 'how' intermolecular transport systems developed step-by-step. We don’t know about 'how' information as distinct to matter came to be. We don't know 'how' self-replicators first developed in the prebiotic soup.

    The biology classroom in the US is being defended by 'civil liberties' groups from 'creationists', the NABT do not want Darwinism questioned. But history has shown, as it did for the church in the sixteenth century, that humans will not stand for dogma. If Darwinism, and all its derivatives, are not allowed to be subject to criticism, the tide of public opinion will go against it and people will leave the cult of Darwinism in droves, searching for the honest answer.

    Science should say to Joe Public, now, that 'we don't know 'how' it came into exisitence'. If science stands by the statement that 'we are sure we can prove what we believe', the battle is already lost. The problem is, the public still see only the latter statement.

    I think in this light, I should rename this thread - 'Questioning Darwinism - a civil liberty' Then, back to the original question, how will our theology, or application of scripture change in light of the questioning of Darwinism? Perhaps we need to wait until the day!

    Neil


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

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    You're entitled to question 'Darwinism', and much ink has been spilt doing so. We are giving our reasons why evolution is science, not philosophy, and why it should be the model taught in school - because, like all scientific models, from the earth being a sphere upwards, it is the best supported model we have. Nothing is proved in science.

    If folk think that evolutionary science stands in contrast to faith, then it is because the creationists have told them so. It is our task to point out that it is not so. There is an unholy alliance between creationists and atheists at work here, spreading this lie. Whoever would have seen Dawkins and Hovind in bed together?

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.


    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Karl: Liberal Backslider
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    # 76

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    And another thing...

    quote:
    Science should say to Joe Public, now, that 'we don't know 'how' it came into exisitence'.

    That is exactly what it says. I think it is your science teachers and text books who may have it wrong, not the scientists.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.


    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    John Collins
    Shipmate
    # 41

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    Neil Robbie says:

    quote:
    We don?t know about 'how' information as distinct to matter came to be.

    I desperately don't want to start a fight here or sound put out (all though I am a bit) but I did try very hard to explain why discussion of "information" is a red herring and one fished for by Young Earth Creationists.

    You say that you're not one and yet you pick up arguments and recommend books written by them (for example Philip Johnson, a law professor).

    I don't actually see religion in conflict with science. As someone else put it, which is more powerful a tiger or a great white shark? The answer depends on the domain.

    Personally I think the conflict is really between religion and science on the one side and people who couldn't care less about anything on the other.

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    gbuchanan
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    # 415

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    I don't think "Joe Public" in the U.K. is overall much different to the U.S. when it comes to scientific knowledge, but that's bye-the-bye.

    Like Neil, I've heard some professional, degree-level educated folks in the U.K. reject Christianity because of their (mis-) understanding of Science, but my view is woolly and dumb thinking (and whatever one's religious views, scientifically speaking it is dumb thinking) are problems for Christianity, Hinduism, the Conservative Party (U.K.), business leaders, union leaders, etc. etc.

    I think that the problem comes from many people, starting with contemporaries of Darwin and even earlier (let's be honest here - there's a lot of history to want to forget) with Gallileo, that Christianity is at odds with Science. In the Church we've got a lot of ground to make up to be able to get across that having half a brain and questioning the world is not incompatible with Christianity. Whether we like it or not, high-placed folks in the Church have implicitly and explicitly been sending that message out for years.

    I could blow off about the problems of getting most clergy in the CoE to take science seriously - but that's a personal diatribe I'll do off line!

    So, unlike you Neil, my view is it's our problem, not a Darwin problem. People like Dawkins or (worse) Don Cuppitt confuse the two disciplines, or perhaps more accurately, the three disciplines - the third being philosophy - in an awfully misleading manner to themselves and others. That doesn't mean we should reject the theories of evolution - that's just putting our head in a different patch of sand.


    Posts: 683 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Glenn Oldham
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    # 47

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Willyburger, your explanation of methodological naturalism has to be broken down into two 'how' questions to be able to answer this question:
    • How do biological mechanisms work (methodologicalism)?
    • How did biological mechanisms come into existence without invoking the supernatural (naturalism)?
    [...]
    Surely the job of science is to focus on the pursuit of the how everything works (methodologicalism) question.

    Research of this sort is deserving of public and private funding. [...] But surely, only philosophical naturalists will pursue the 'how did it come into existence without invoking the supernatural' question. Let philosophical naturalists fund this research, but don't use public money.
    [...]
    It is by confusing the two 'how' questions that science and scientists are able to misuse the funds available.
    Neil


    Neil,
    If there are limits to naturalistic explanation of life and the universe, if there is no explanation of how life came out of the pre-biotic soup, then the only way we are going to know that is by intensive research into trying to find natural mechanisms whereby these things might happen and failing.

    If you are saying that you know the limits to biological investigation in advance (by divine revelation?) and that on that basis you wish to prevent research then you are back with the church against Galileo!

    If there are limits then they will eventually be found, and even then the duty of scientists will be to try again to see if they may have missed something.

    And none of this excludes the world being God's world, brought about by him by astonishing and discoverable mechanisms.

    If you will insist that theism is only possible if we declare now that science can't explain origins then we will never know if theism is possible because none of us will live to see science reach its limits!

    If you believe that Behe is right to say that certain biochemical systems are irreducibly complex and cannot be evolved but must therefore be designed, then your best method of supporting Behe is to encourage research to try and prove him wrong. If they fail to do so then his theory looks more plausible. If on the other hand you wish to prohibit such research you are declaring yourself beyond science and beyond the challenge of your peers.

    quote:
    But surely, only philosophical naturalists will pursue the 'how did it come into existence without invoking the supernatural' question.

    Are you saying that a Christian biologist who wishes to try and find out whether mechanisms existed whereby life could naturally arise from the pre-biotic soup is denying God? Nonsense! She/He is just trying to find out HOW it might have happened. This still leaves open the question of the whole significance and purpose of the universe.

    Glenn

    --------------------
    This entire doctrine is worthless except as a subject of dispute. (G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799 Aphorism 60 in notebook J of The Waste Books)


    Posts: 910 | From: London, England | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    RuthW

    liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
    # 13

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    The straw men which both SteveWaland you have drawn our attention to, the unscientific horoscope believing, 'driving is safer than flying', tummies shrinking when you don't eat Joe Public and the unscientific young earth creationists are, IMHO, not what make up the majority of the general public.

    I don't know what kind of company you keep, but the Joe Public I know are rational, well educated, professionals who will not consider faith in Christ because their minds have been filled with philosophical naturalism from primary 6 (11 years old) at school. The biology lessons are supported by David Attenbourgh's 'Life on Earth' and TV programs of the sort, and the mainstream media.


    The general public as a rule are not well-educated professionals. And most well-educated professionals are actually quite ignorant of basic science. I am well-educated and I used to be a professional (English professor). My colleagues in the school of humanities were bright people, yes, but most of them knew very little about science. Like me, they took the undergraduate science courses they needed to fulfill their general ed requirements and then promptly forgot most of what they had learned. I'd bet the rent that at least half of them couldn't explain how electricity works. I sure never learned that in school, and only know now because I got my brother the rocket scientist to explain it to me.

    I'm not saying most people are bone dumb (although on not so good days I tend to think that) -- I'm saying most people don't know much about science (and don't care, either).

    I sincerely doubt that most well-educated professionals aren't interested in Christ because their minds are full of philosophical naturalism. I suspect it's because they have not seen how Christ is relevant to their lives. Well-educated professionals are among the most difficult people to evangelize, IMO, unless you catch them at a crisis point. After all, they usually have satisfying careers that pay them relatively well, some degree of prestige, stimulating co-workers, and unless their private lives are disastrous, it's hard to show them that anything could be missing or awry.

    It's not philosophical naturalism that's keeping them away from God -- it's that they see nothing wrong with their lives.


    Posts: 24428 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Neil Robbie
    Shipmate
    # 652

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    Thank you everyone for your patience with me. I realise that I have not read widely enough to understand the complex relationships between science, philosophy and Christianity. I'm beginning to see things more clearly now, but forgive me if I still show signs of ignorance.

    Glenn, you said:

    quote:
    If you are saying that you know the limits to biological investigation in advance (by divine revelation?) and that on that basis you wish to prevent research then you are back with the church against Galileo!

    If there are limits then they will eventually be found, and even then the duty of scientists will be to try again to see if they may have missed something.


    I realise that my posts have given the impression that I may have a prior commitment to 'divine revelation', but that is not what I meant. I agree with you Glenn that we must seek for the truth and that only thorough scientific research can unveil that truth. I was led by reading 'Darwin's Black Box' that bio-chemists have dug their way down into the finite limits of biological mechanisms and have already concluded that they are designed. According to Behe there is a total lack of serious explanations to the step-by-step development of the irreducible systems he highlights. The book was written in 1998 and I know there are responses to the challenges Behe put before the scientific community, but what I have read on the internet recently does not give rise to any confidence that irreducibility is a problem which will be easily solved.

    Which brings me to what Karl wrote:

    quote:
    We are giving our reasons why evolution is science, not philosophy, and why it should be the model taught in school - because, like all scientific models, from the earth being a sphere upwards, it is the best supported model we have.

    I can not argue with your point about the best supported model, Karl. But, if the truth is to be taught, school children should be presented with the facts, and the facts include the current problems outlined above.

    John, I am sorry for not responding to your interesting post on information theory. To be honest, I've re-read it and don’t quite understand it. I am a Civil Engineer and have a good grounding in all three sciences (Physics to 2nd year undergraduate and the other two to final year high school), but your stuff on entropy was a bit beyond me. I see the principle of genetic information which shapes our bodily functions and shapes in an engineer's light. The information must be separate to the matter on which it is stored (DNA - amino acids and proteins) like the information on this post being stored on a hard drive server somewhere. I don't understand how entropy influences the difference between matter and the information needed to communicate something.

    If you read Philip Johnson, you will find that, like me, he recognises the value of all science and does not have a young earth understanding of the world. But by applying his legal mind to the arguments of Dawkins et al, he can see the lack of evidence for their atheistic philosophy…that's all he concludes. The problem as Philip Johnson sees it, again as a lawyer, is that that the atheistic or deistic philosophy which results from their science supports much of today's law and ethics.

    RuthW, it appears we do keep different company. Sadly, most of my friends are engineers, architects and medics (mostly dentists), I think I know two English grads. My engineering and medical friends have a strong scientific background and are generally reluctant to consider the God of the Old Testament who parted the Red Sea and raised Christ from the grave, because Darwinism has 'proved' that God is dead, or at best doesn’t get involved in the world.

    Let me finish with a quote from an article in the Guardian newspaper recently. There was an article on the evolution of the tribes on the Andaman Islands. Throughout the Prof Singh stated that his research contradicted other theories, especially 'Out of Africa', but that in general he remained confused and that further research was required. The article concluded with the following quote from Prof Singh:

    quote:
    "These people have been able to survive by natural selection without any interference from modern medicine for thousands of years," he said. "Their genes are living proof of the survival of the fittest."

    That statement was at best misleading and at worst untruthful. No doubt, the Andaman people have survived 60,000 years isolated from the mainland and they must have been fit to do it. But, in the context of the article, which was trying to provide answers for the origin of man, it implies that 'evolution' (step-by-step development from apes) is a fact (living proof) which needs no further proof.

    What would be the truthful conclusion to the article? I fully support the search for the missing link (the proof) and empirical evidence to evolutionary theories, but Joe Public (including Guardian readers) deserve more than to be convinced that the theory has already been proved. That is not good science.

    Neil

    PS…I must force myself to checkout for the next ten days. I've got a sermon to prepare on Pslam 81 and need to focus myself to the task. Thanks again for your patience with me, sorry for all the long posts, perhaps we can pick up the thread the week after next.


    Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    John Collins
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    # 41

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    quote:
    I am sorry for not responding to your interesting post on information theory. To be honest, I've re-read it and don?t quite understand it. I am a Civil Engineer and have a good grounding in all three sciences (Physics to 2nd year undergraduate and the other two to final year high school), but your stuff on entropy was a bit beyond me. I see the principle of genetic information which shapes our bodily functions and shapes in an engineer's light. The information must be separate to the matter on which it is stored (DNA - amino acids and proteins) like the information on this post being stored on a hard drive server somewhere. I don't understand how entropy influences the difference between matter and the information needed to communicate something.

    Neither does anyone else. It's not the same meaning of the word "entropy". For example "right" can mean the opposite of "left" or it can mean "correct" or it can mean "entitlement". That is what I was trying to explain about "entropy". The confusion and lack of understanding has arisen because some YECs have (deliberately in my view) confused the two meanings of the word so that the Second Law of Thermodynamics can have for them something to say about information. It hasn't.

    quote:
    If you read Philip Johnson, you will find that, like me, he recognises the value of all science and does not have a young earth understanding of the world. But by applying his legal mind to the arguments of Dawkins et al, he can see the lack of evidence for their atheistic philosophy?that's all he concludes. The problem as Philip Johnson sees it, again as a lawyer, is that that the atheistic or deistic philosophy which results from their science supports much of today's law and ethics.

    Philip Johnson seems to me to have a very limited understanding of what science is about but that doesn't stop him from talking about it as if it was the ultimate enemy.

    Richard Dawkins seems to me to have a very limited understanding of what science isn't about but that doesn't stop him from talking about it as if it were a religion.

    I don't think that many scientists or atheists agree with him particularly and they certainly don't see him as a philosopher of merit. To tar all scientists or even all biologists with the same brush as him is unfair.

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Karl: Liberal Backslider
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    # 76

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    Very much so.

    I don't have an awful lot to add, and we don't seem to be getting very far. Neil seems to remain convinced that evolution, or 'Darwinism' as he prefers, carries an atheistic philosophy. It does no such thing.

    One thing remains seriously outstanding. If evolution is not 'the best supported model', could I please be informed what is? I have posted links to articles that scratch the surface of the massive support for it; I expect the same of any rival model.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.


    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Neil Robbie
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    # 652

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    I have printed the '29 Evidences for Macroevolution' and note that Douglas Theobald lists only 4 references, 'The Origin of Species', 'The Blind Watchmaker', 'One long Argument' and 'Gradualism, punctuated equilibria, and the origin of species'.

    I wonder which side of the philosophical fence he sits on!

    John and Karl, it is not to provide a rival theory to Darwinism but to point out that the burden of proof currently rests with the theory to prove how the irreducible can be reduced.

    And my point is not, now, to 'disprove' Darwinism, but for the media and schools to be honest about the problems with the theory.

    'These are the observed facts of science…some of them cause great problems for Darwin's theories'.

    Simple and honest

    Which side are Christians on? A commitment to Darwinism or a commitment to truth?

    Neil


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

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    'These are the observed facts of science…some of them cause great problems for Darwin's theories'.

    Simple, honest, and wrong. They do not create great problems. Great problems would be observations that are inconsistent with the theory, not observations that merely point out things we don't know.

    What we do know is that if the neo-Darwinian model is incorrect, the truth must look very close to it. And in that evolution is no different to any other scientific theory.

    The following would constitute 'great problems':

    • an animal outside the twin-nested hierarchy
    • DNA similarity measurements that contradict fossil phylogeny
    • and so forth...


    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.

    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    John Collins
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    # 41

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    I have printed the '29 Evidences for Macroevolution' and note that Douglas Theobald lists only 4 references, 'The Origin of Species', 'The Blind Watchmaker', 'One long Argument' and 'Gradualism, punctuated equilibria, and the origin of species'.

    I wonder which side of the philosophical fence he sits on!


    Maybe none? Maybe he's just quoting things he thinks are relevant. Surely you don't expect someone talking about planetary orbits to have to quote works by Geocentrists and Flat Earthers?

    quote:

    John and Karl, it is not to provide a rival theory to Darwinism but to point out that the burden of proof currently rests with the theory to prove how the irreducible can be reduced.

    Why? Who says? And why should anyone need "proof"? Theories of course cannot be "proved" only disproved.

    quote:

    And my point is not, now, to 'disprove' Darwinism, but for the media and schools to be honest about the problems with the theory.

    Maybe they are being, but you've just bought the ideas of someone with an axe to grind in my view.

    quote:

    'These are the observed facts of science?some of them cause great problems for Darwin's theories'.

    Examples?

    But Karl has answered the rest better than I could.

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Astro
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    # 84

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    Why are all the arguements on the internet between darwinists and the Jewish account of creation? Are there any arguements against the Hindi churning of the Seas or the Aboriginal Dreamtime for example? Or are Darwinists closet anti-sematists?

    Astro

    --------------------
    if you look around the world today – whether you're an atheist or a believer – and think that the greatest problem facing us is other people's theologies, you are yourself part of the problem. - Andrew Brown (The Guardian)


    Posts: 2723 | From: Chiltern Hills | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Karl: Liberal Backslider
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    # 76

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    No - it's just that it's always the literal believers in the Hebrew myth who attack us.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.

    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Alan Cresswell

    Mad Scientist 先生
    # 31

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Astro:
    Are there any arguements against the Hindi churning of the Seas or the Aboriginal Dreamtime for example? Or are Darwinists closet anti-sematists?

    I'd also add that my impression is that the followers of religions with their own creation myths recognise symbolic language when they see it, and aren't idiotic enough to try to force a symbolical description teaching theological truths into a literal historico-scientific straight jacket when it was never intended to be such a literature type.

    Alan

    --------------------
    All I want for Christmas is EU


    Posts: 32183 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Neil Robbie
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    # 652

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    I had a few minutes in my lunch hour to put togther my initial thoughts on the '29 evidences for macroevolution'

    I have taken a step back from individual issues and look at the big picture. What has struck me is this:

    When reading a single author, Gould, Theobald, Behe, Johnson or whoever, each presents a coherent arguement which seems to be well established in selected observational evidence.

    But what happens when we start to compare theories? Do we find a unified conclusion? Here's a simple example.

    Douglas Theobald in '29 evidences for macroevolution' says:

    quote:
    The oldest rocks we find on the earth are about 4100 Mya, and they are devoid of any life. For the next 2000 million years, rocks from the Archean have no multicellular life at all, just prokaryotes. Then, 2100 Mya, appear the first fossils of eukaryotes (single-celled organisms with a nucleus). For another 1000 million years, there is still no evidence of multicellular life. The first hints of the existence of multicellular organisms comes from trace fossils of tiny worm burrows, found in sandstone dating at 1100 Mya.

    Near the Precambrian/Cambrian transition, only 580 Mya, in the Ediacaran and Burgess shale faunas we finally find the first fossils of multicellular animals. However, they are very unusual, small, soft-bodied metazoans, and most are superficially unlike anything found today. Precisely as we would expect from the standard phylogenetic tree, the earliest fossils of multi-cellular life are very simple sponges and sea anemone-like organisms (sea anemones and jellyfish are both cnidarians). Around 20 million years later, we find the first evidence of simple mollusks, worms, and echinoderms (organisms similar to starfish and sea cucumbers). Another ~15 million years later, the very first vertebrates appear, though most people would strain to recognize them as such. They are small worm-like and primitive fish-like organisms, without bones, jaws, or fins (excepting a single dorsal fin).


    It all founds fair enough, a logical progression from single cell prokaryotes to multi-cell organisms to vertebrates. Theobald gives the distinct impression of a gradual change with 'bags of time'.

    But then we read Gould on the same matter:

    quote:
    Two different kinds of explanations for the absence of Precambrian ancestors have been debated for more than a century: the artifact theory (they did exist, but the fossil record hasn't preserved them), and the fast-transition theory (really they didn't exist, at least as complex invertebrates easily linked to their descendants, and the evolution of modern anatomical plans occurred with a rapidity that threatens our usual ideas about the stately pace of evolutionary change)…If evolution could produce ten new Cambrian phyla and then wipe them out just as quickly, then what about the surviving Cambrian groups? Why should they have had a long and honorable Precambrian pedigree? Why should they not have originated just before the Cambrian, as the fossil record, read literally, seems to indicate, and as the fast-transition theory proposes.

    Here we have two scientists, one stating that life evolved slowly and the other saying it must have evolved quickly then entered a long period of stasis.

    Which one is speaking the truth? They both can't be right!

    That is an example of contradicatory theories from the same field of science, but the picture becomes much more complex when different fields contradict or question each other.

    So, is there a unified theory for all (neo)Darwinism (inclusive of all theories)?

    The truth is that there is much confusion over the theories in the field of biology. But that is not the impression Joe Public is given by the media.

    My next question is this: is Joe Public given a balanced report of what goes on behind the doors of our universities and laboratories? We see science as unified in the media, but it is apparently divided on many issues.

    Has the fear of invoking the hand of a creator in the creation account of Darwinism driven science into the same mistake as the church when it tried (and sadly still tries) to defend the creation account in Genesis?

    Is the literal understanding of (neo)Darwinism undisputed truth or philosophical dogma for 'the best theory we've got'?

    Neil


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    Karl: Liberal Backslider
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    # 76

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    Neil - I'd check the date of the Gould quote - I suspect that will contain a clue to the enigma. A lot of late pre-Cambrian fossils have been found very recently; specifically in the Burgess shales and Ediacaran deposits, which bear out the previously untestable hypothesis that the Cambrian fauna evolved from unknown but existing primitive metazoans, and them from unicellular organisms.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.

    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    John Collins
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    # 41

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    quote:

    Here we have two scientists, one stating that life evolved slowly and the other saying it must have evolved quickly then entered a long period of stasis.

    Yes but they both say it evolved don't they? They are just arguing over some of the details.

    I've met Christians who have different, indeed radically opposed views, on certain doctrinal points. Surely you're not saying it invalidates the whole thing are you?

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    gbuchanan
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    # 415

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    John and Karl, it is not to provide a rival theory to Darwinism but to point out that the burden of proof currently rests with the theory to prove how the irreducible can be reduced.

    And my point is not, now, to 'disprove' Darwinism, but for the media and schools to be honest about the problems with the theory.


    ...some of the problems you have posited are unrelated to the theory of evolution, aka the Origin of Species, except in sofar as you seem to tenaciously cling to the fallacious and illusory micro-/macro- evolution divide. Most of the problems are "origin of life" problems, within which in the latter stages Darwin-type theories play a role, but only, frankly, in terms of diversifiction, which is clearly species-related in fact.

    Even neo-Darwinism has only the most loose of finger-holds on the origin of life, and is frankly somewhat conjectural at best, until we have a better variety of data.

    As Karl has observed, some early material is now available in much better abundance than previously. However, on a macro-level we cannot be entirely sure of its perfect acuity.

    For instance, any naval archaeologist can tell you that the preservation of carbon-based life forms post-mortem in deep-sea environments is essentially nil*, thus whatever period of the development of life one is at, many forms of life will not be preserved, or rather very poorly represented in the preserved profile, due to their environment of existence.

    quote:

    Which side are Christians on? A commitment to Darwinism or a commitment to truth?

    This presupposes strong evidence that Darwins theories are fraudulent and/or grossly inaccurate - 100 years+ of research have only served to strengthen the fossil evidence in favour of the big picture originally layed out. Therefore, the presupposition is at best very weak; reiterating opposition to Darwin (which you continue to do. Despite your attack being in fact on philosophical Neo-Darwinism - which is in as closely related to Darwinism as political Darwinism is - i.e. only superficially and from completely different motivations).

    As a Christian and a scientist, I see Christianity as a search for truth and science as a search for truth; Darwin's theories have proven highly robust indeed, and neither prove nor disprove God's lordship over the earth, not his role as the cause and shaper of it's creation.

    In other words, I see no contradication and hence no question whatsoever.


    Posts: 683 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    gbuchanan
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    # 415

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    Forgot a note to the previous posting:

    * most deep-sea/oceanic shipwrecks for instance contain no discernable human remains, though clothes may survive in a form suggesting the previous existence of a corpse in them; the bodies generally just dissolve away.


    Posts: 683 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Neil Robbie
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    # 652

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    Okay…I'm beginning to get the drift. I apologise for my hopelessly inadequate understanding, and unintentional misappropriation, of the terms used in discussion of things Darwinian.

    I realise my understanding of the science is weak and the arguments I employ regarding neo-Darwinian philosophy weaker.

    Can I just ask one question?

    From the evidence to date, can the National Association of Biology Teachers in the USA make the following statement legitimately?

    quote:
    '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.'

    gbuchanan you said:

    quote:
    As a Christian and a scientist, I see Christianity as a search for truth and science as a search for truth; Darwin's theories have proven highly robust indeed, and neither prove nor disprove God's lordship over the earth, not (sic - nor?) his role as the cause and shaper of it's creation.

    If this is the case, if the theories of life are robust, insofar as they show they way life adapting to its environment, and if God is neither proved nor disproved, why does modern liberal humanism, which has its roots in evolutionary science, have such a strong hold on modern ethics and law? If the basis of their (pseudo)science is evolution, and the theory of evolution neither proves nor disproves absolute morality, why do they have the only voice?

    I am referring to popular media coverage such as

    • A recent BBC World Service interview with an 'evolutionary behavioral scientist' who stated that beautiful women are the product of evolution because men are attracted to beauty.
    • Then there is the media coverage of Dr. Craig T. Palmer, an anthropology instructor at the University of Colorado and co-author of the new book, "A Natural History Of Rape: Biological Bases Of Sexual Coercion", who has argued that the gene for rape has survived because of natural selection.

    Does this pseudo science of blaming the gene, which is clearly contrary to Christian theology of personal responsibility and free will choice for our actions, find a basis in Darwinism?

    Why is there so little debate in the main stream media? Has Christian theology been sidelined in these cases by the 'fact' of evolution, which in turn supports neo-Darwinian philosophy (like the NABT statement I quoted above) which in turn supports the kind of behavioral science I mentioned?

    I hope I have used the terms correctly. Surely, if Christians show the world that the theory of evolution does not extend to the proof or otherwise of God, then we should have a louder voice in matters of behavioral science.

    Neil


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

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    A 'rape gene', if it exists, does not contradict Christianity. We still have free will as to whether we follow the promptings of that gene.

    The statement about evolution being unsupervise and unpredictable is correct, from a scientific viewpoint, and that is all it means. I have no problem with it. History is the same - contingent, but by faith we believe God works His will through it. Evolution is the same, but this is not part of the science.

    As regards beauty in women being selected for evolutionarily, I'd be surprised if there was not a selection pressure of this type.

    --------------------
    Might as well ask the bloody cat.


    Posts: 17698 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Russ
    Old salt
    # 120

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    quote:
    posted by Neil Robbie:
    I realise my understanding of the science is weak...

    Can the National Association of Biology Teachers in the USA make the following statement legitimately...

    (oops, looks like the software can't cope with a quote within a quote...)


    Neil,

    Don't worry about the science, worry about the philosophy.

    My understanding is that science is methodologically incapable of concluding that the universe is purposeful or purposeless, designed or random.

    The step of reasoning from random process in nature to purposeless universe was always philosophically flawed, thus in the unlikely event that a totally different scientific theory of origins becomes accepted in science, it should make no difference to the church.

    Imagine you're watching a play, and one of the characters on stage rolls some dice, and says "double 6! I win!" and this goes on to be a significant element in the plot of the play. Within the context of the play, this is a random event. But the play had a writer and director and the outcome was fully intended by them. Science can't tell us about the off-stage writer and director; it only tells us about the little universe we find ourselves in. All the world's a stage...

    If by "unsupervised" NABT are saying that any biological theory proves an absence of divine intervention, they've made a philosophical error. If they mean that it is not necessary to postulate divine intervention in order to understand biology, then seems to me they're right.

    You've raised an important question. I think you're right in suggesting that lots of non-believers have gained the impression that science has somehow disproven Christianity, and that this is a serious issue for the Church.

    But the answer is not to try to improve the science in the belief that a better theory will necessarily give a pro-Christian outcome.

    Still less to engage in dogmatic creationist pseudo-science.

    The answer is to tackle the fundamentalists. Those within the church who bring Christianity into disrepute by linking it with historic ideas of this world - that we now know to be untrue - do far more harm to Christianity than does the outright opposition of honest atheists.

    The Church needs to ensure that its house is not built on the sand. That spiritual truth isn't being justified by questionable cosmology.

    Christ and evolution are not in conflict. Science and a fundamentalist attitude to truth will always be in conflict. Whether in religion or politics (compare the Nazis' rejection of "jewish physics").

    Russ

    --------------------
    Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas


    Posts: 3060 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    John Collins
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    # 41

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    If this is the case, if the theories of life are robust, insofar as they show they way life adapting to its environment, and if God is neither proved nor disproved, why does modern liberal humanism, which has its roots in evolutionary science, have such a strong hold on modern ethics and law?

    I strongly dispute that "modern liberal humanism ... has its roots in evolutionary science". And I don't agree that it has a strong hold. And I don't agree that if it had it would be a bad thing. Not everyone, in fact not even a majority or anything like it, are Christians. The ethics and law should in my opinion reflect the views of a representative cross-section not some small minority with a loud voice.

    But even ignoring all that, it isn't a reason to attack the theory of evolution. It's just a tool in the scientific armoury so to speak. Like any other tool it can be abused. Would you want to ban hammers because people could go around whacking people over the head with them?

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Wulfstan
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    # 558

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    Neil, I think you are leaping around several areas here and I agree with what Russ has said in response.
    1:There are deep disagreements within the scientific community about the mechanisms/speed etc of evolution. This, to my mind, tends to put it in the realm of theory, NOT because there are any remotely plausible alternatives but because we still are sorely lacking in a full empirically supported explanation of it. This would also cover a lot of scientific research, but I'm a great believer in the idea that all scientific knowledge is provisional i.e. we accept it only until something better comes along and that sooner or later it probably will.
    2: Faliure to accept this leads IMO to bad science. I remember some grotesque drivel being produced about girls having a "sociability" gene. The evidence of this was not the isolation of the gene itself but the result of possibly the worst questionnaire in history being given to a pitifully small and ill-defined sample frame producing results that were far from conclusive anyway. The fact that the media did not pick this up straight away was not due to the sidelining of Christian views but on a lack of adequate scientific understanding that allows a select band of charlatans to get publicity without proper scrutiny. More widespread understanding of proper scientific methodology would probably be of more use to your cause than anything else since poorly justified claims like this don't tend to stand up to proper scientific scrutiny for more than 30 seconds.
    3:You say
    quote:
    why does modern liberal humanism, which has its roots in evolutionary science, have such a strong hold on modern ethics and law?

    I really don't see that it does. In Britain legislation goes through the House of Lords which has a proportion of bishops in it. Both the current P.M. and the Chancellor profess religious convictions which are the basis for their political views (apparently!)Furthermore British law is based on precedents that go back all too often to principles in medieval law which was certainly not based on evolution. Similarly the religious right in the States has considerable influence over legislation and the media.
    I strongly agree with your concerns about bad science but I would view it as just that and not blame Darwin for it.

    Posts: 418 | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Willyburger

    Ship's barber
    # 658

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    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl:
    A 'rape gene', if it exists, does not contradict Christianity. We still have free will as to whether we follow the promptings of that gene.

    <....>

    As regards beauty in women being selected for evolutionarily, I'd be surprised if there was not a selection pressure of this type.


    These theories are not strictly evolutionary but are extrapolations made by anthropologists to explain behavior. That doesn't make them wrong necessarily, but it doesn't make them right either. They are also prone to muddy this discussion because they are controversies of the nature-nurture variety. How much of behavior is inherited and how much is influenced by environment? This is by no means a settled issue. Selection pressure for beautiful women? I have no problem that male sexual response is hard-wired for a set of common general characteristics, but the fine points of beauty are clearly influenced by society. We can see that the shift of what is considered beautiful happened several times in the last century alone. The controversy happens because theorists wish to draw the line in different places.

    Neil, you might consider that this is why we have theories. The advance of science results from the testing of competing theories, a kind of 'natural selection' that produces a working paradigm. (not a philosophical one)

    Going back to banging on Behe for a moment, his theory of irrreducible complexity is published. It doesn't fit the present paradigm. He may be seen as a nut. If his theory actually has merit, some other scientist will find something that doesn't fit the ruling paradigm. He may publish and/or will find Behe's work from a literature search. Eventually, if that happens enough, people will reconsider his ideas and the paradigm will change.

    But I expect Behe to have a hard pull simply because he is trying to assert and prove a negative. He is trying to say that we can't and we will never be able to explain the evolutionary steps necessary to get to certain complex systems. This is a logical negative, which I was taught is unprovable.

    I really think you are grabbing the wrong end of the stick by arguing particulars instead of going back to the primary disagreement: God or no God.

    As Russ said:

    quote:
    Don't worry about the science, worry about the philosophy.

    My understanding is that science is methodologically incapable of concluding that the universe is purposeful or purposeless, designed or random.


    The way I like to put it, and was going on about in another thread, is either/or:

    • The Universe is an uncaused entity.
    • God is an uncaused entity.

    That is the disagreement to settle. All else is detail.

    All the best,

    Willy

    --------------------
    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
    Willyburger

    Ship's barber
    # 658

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    For a different take on evolution.

    --------------------
    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
    Neil Robbie
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    # 652

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    Karl, you said
    quote:
    A 'rape gene', if it exists, does not contradict Christianity. We still have free will as to whether we follow the promptings of that gene.

    It will surely not be long now until genetic research gives us the true answer to this hypothesis. Let’s say for now that geneticists find a rape gene, then what you state is true, but only if we see it from a theistic perspective of responsibility. If, however, the science of evolution leads people to conclude that we are only ‘living’ matter, purposeless and without supervision, then we have a problem.

    We have a similar problem in our church in Singapore. That is…no one wants to take responsibility for his or her actions. The only way people see of taking responsibility and of avoiding judgement is to use that phrase of childhood when we’re caught doing something naughty; “it wasn’t me, Mum” and pointing the finger at someone else we say, “he made me do it”. In our church, people say “it wasn’t me, God, the devil made me do it…I have been possessed by evil spirits”. Atheists will say “It wasn’t me, society, my genes made me do it…I am possessed by the natural process of evolution”.

    If a gene is discovered for rape or theft or greed or jealousy, will we deduce that we have moral responsibility? If evolution of humans from cosmic dust is unsupervised, random and material rather than supervised, planned and made in the image of a Righteous God, then we can blame the process and literally get away with murder, or rape (because it’s survival of the fittest). And I respect anyone who states that because it is truthful adherence to the theory of evolution.

    Russ, you said

    quote:
    The step of reasoning from random process in nature to purposeless universe was always philosophically flawed, thus in the unlikely event that a totally different scientific theory of origins becomes accepted in science, it should make no difference to the church.

    Can you explain how your statement fits with what I pointed out above?

    You also said

    quote:
    I think you're right in suggesting that lots of non-believers have gained the impression that science has somehow disproven Christianity

    My wife and I went to see the film ‘evolution’ last night (her choice). It was a great Saturday night, switch of your brain and laugh affair (has anyone seen it?). What I found disturbing is the subtle reinforcement of the ‘life came from outer space’ theory and the single cell, mutiple cell, flat worm, dinosaur, Neanderthal progression (in 4 weeks not 2 billion years) both of are yet unproven theories. However, Joe Public will have a lasting impression from the film that both theories are true…Ruth, here’s your Straw Men.

    Then you said

    quote:
    The answer is to tackle the fundamentalists. Those within the church who bring Christianity into disrepute by linking it with historic ideas of this world

    I agree, and this is exactly what Johnson and Behe were doing. Neither of them holds a historical ‘Genesis’ view of the world.

    I get the distinct impression from everyone’s post that there is no one who has actually read Philip Johnson’s work. Please prove me wrong. Please list which of the following books you have read…’Darwin on Trial’, ‘Reason in the Balance’, ‘Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds’, ‘Objections Sustained – subversive essays on evolution, law and culture’ or ‘The Wedge of Truth’. I will assume that silence from any member means that you have read none of the above. (BTW, I went looking for Kenneth Miller and Wills in Borders last night…they don’t stock either, I’ll have to order them).

    John, I will not neglect what you said,

    quote:
    I strongly dispute that "modern liberal humanism ... has its roots in evolutionary science". And I don't agree that it has a strong hold.
    but it needs a post of it’s own.

    Onto Wulfstan, you said

    quote:
    I'm a great believer in the idea that all scientific knowledge is provisional i.e. we accept it only until something better comes along

    Correct, this is real science. Now, I do not want to imply a ‘God of the gaps’ theory, but with an open mind to God, theistic scientists will see the laws of nature which God put in place and which go on working day after day. But they will also see the times (like irreducibly) when science can not find an answer and which required intervention by the creator to move biology to the next level.

    Willy, I get the gist of Behe’s logical negative, but if science can’t prove it then the negative must be true. It seems the lack of probability of irreducibly eliminates the possibility of chance, no matter how many billions of years that chance has had to happen, but it will never be provable.

    Walfstan, I realise that I leapt about a bit in my previous posts, sorry. Remember that I had hoped that we could discuss the life of the church without the influence of the matters discussed in the thread above. We’ve had to go back a few steps and I am relieved that someone agrees that

    quote:
    There are deep disagreements within the scientific community about the mechanisms/speed etc of evolution.
    Surely, it would not be human if we all agreed (just look at the state of the church).

    You said

    quote:
    Failure to accept this leads IMO to bad science. I remember some grotesque drivel being produced about girls having a "sociability" gene.
    Sadly, I’ve noticed that this sort of drivel appears on the BBC World Service with startling regularity. The BBC is almost evangelistic in its efforts to get people to believe that our behaviour is due to our genes (as discussed above).

    I would like to ask you about what you said about law and political leaders in the UK:

    quote:
    In Britain legislation goes through the House of Lords which has a proportion of bishops in it. Both the current P.M. and the Chancellor profess religious convictions which are the basis for their political views

    Going back to my original question on this thread, do you think the Bishops of the CoE have a theology which is untainted by last century’s scientific revelation and the philosophy which accompanied it? I am an Anglican, but I believe that most liberal theology is not a product of pure, clear, unconfused Christian thinking (I don’t mean YEC, I mean the nature of God, the nature of man, the fact of sin, the resurrection of Christ etc). Liberal theologians were honest men making efforts in the latter half of the twentieth century to reinterpret the Bible in the light of what science was stating very boldly about God and God’s role (or lack of it) in the origin of life and man. Most Bishops hold this theology and so struggle with the ‘authority’ of liberal humanism, which stems from Darwinian philosophy (I’ll come back to this John). Let’s say that (neo)Darwinian philosophy is undermined by open and honest doubts of the scientific theory’s ability to explain the origin of life and species by a totally naturalistic means, our theology will adjust (if we allowed the philosophy to pollute or theology in the first place…and I think we all, including conservatives, suffered philosophical pollution to some degree (see previous posts).

    As for Tony and Gordon, the former is alleged to see himself as a modern messianic figure on a crusade to put right the excesses of materialism.

    Behavioural scientists are gaining a strong position at the media microphone (BBC World Service). We are beginning to ‘blame the cavemen’ for our behaviour. Does society need to have yet another means of escaping personal responsibility…’It wasn’t me God, my genes made me do it’?

    Neil


    Posts: 228 | From: Wolverhampton | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
    Willyburger

    Ship's barber
    # 658

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    quote:
    I get the distinct impression from everyone’s post that there is no one who has actually read Philip Johnson’s work. Please prove me wrong. Please list which of the following books you have read…’Darwin on Trial’, ‘Reason in the Balance’, ‘Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds’, ‘Objections Sustained – subversive essays on evolution, law and culture’ or ‘The Wedge of Truth’. I will assume that silence from any member means that you have read none of the above.

    You may assume as you like.

    quote:
    Willy, I get the gist of Behe’s logical negative, but if science can’t prove it then the negative must be true. It seems the lack of probability of irreducibly eliminates the possibility of chance, no matter how many billions of years that chance has had to happen, but it will never be provable.

    Your statement demonstrates that you don't "get the gist."


    Willy

    --------------------
    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
    John Collins
    Shipmate
    # 41

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    quote:
    I get the distinct impression from everyone?s post that there is no one who has actually read Philip Johnson?s work. Please prove me wrong. Please list which of the following books you have read...

    None. However he is not short of words to say, and what he has to say does appear in places such as
    this debate with Kenneth Miller which he totally loses in my view.

    As far as I can see, if I don't accept what he says in these "executive summaries" for the web or the blurb "on the back cover", why should I waste time reading the whole thing?

    Time isn't limitless, it is plain to me that he has an axe to grind, a very limited understanding of the subject he's talking about and a propensity not to let that stop him churning out books attacking what amount to strawmen. I'm sure we can all think of authors we have opinions of that we don't feel we need to read the books to verify. Erich von Daniken comes to mind. I'm sure Philip Johnson is a higher level than him, but I'm sure he's still wrong. Dangerously so, in my view, as people take him seriously.

    Turning to Behe a moment, where his argument (and I have read it, not his book) to me breaks down is the whole issue of "chance".

    The real point here is that if a thing is possible, however improbable, then he has lost the argument. If life is like a game in which you have to throw a double-six to start, but you have any amount of throws and no time limit, you will get started eventually.

    If life is so improbable that you need trillions of planets to try it out on and billions of years to do it, fine, the universe offers that and we're the "winners". We might feel unique, like a lottery winner might feel unique, but we just won, that's all. The "losers", as it were by definition, aren't around to argue the point.

    But then again, I don't accept that "Liberal Humanism" has a relationship to "Darwinism", that it has a hold, or it would be a bad thing if it did.

    In two other (quite disjoint) BB's (I somehow find time to subscribe to) of a rather different nature to this one, I see that people are more concerned that the "religious right" are setting about a new wave of "book-burning" and that science will be the first casualty. I'd be more concerned about that myself.

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


    Posts: 179 | From: Welwyn Garden City, Herts | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
    The sceptical Atheist
    Shipmate
    # 379

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    I like the point about Johnson and Dawkins, Alan.

    Dawkins is too extreme evebn for me, but one memorable phrase stands out about not being able to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist before Darwin.

    Johnson, as you say misunderstands science, but he should be read by anyone hoping to popularise Evolution. He points out the pitfalls in language use that many fall into.

    The problems in Evolution should not be taught before at least 'GCSE' level, and preferably at 'A' level.

    There are known problems in number theory (search for Omega numbers on the net). Should we teach pupils learning maths about the doubts some have about its validity?

    If we examine the Holocaust there are some Historians that have trouble accepting that, does that mean we should teach revisionism in schools? They actually use The same techniques as Creationists.

    Moslems also attack evolution, see here: Evolution Deceit. I have writeen a partial rebuttal to a couple of the chapters in this book.

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


    Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged



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