Thread: The Death of Darwinism Board: Dead Horses / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Has anyone else on Ship Board been following the unfolding ‘battle of the sciences’ between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide…philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

If you have, you will know that Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a means for explaining the origin of life and the origin of new species is coming under increasingly objective scientific criticism.

In addition, Richard Dawkins, in his book, ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’, has crossed the line in the sand between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ and boldly asserts the atheistic philosophy which supports his view of the universe. On the other hand, Michael Behe is undermining Dawkin’s authority on such matters by pointing out the ‘irreducible complexity’ of bio-mechanical systems such as blood clotting and cell mechanics, which could not have developed step-by-step as Darwin predicted.

The arguments are numerous and complex and I do not which us to go into them on this thread (perhaps another thread can cover each side of the battle). What we need to discuss are the implications of the potential result for the life church.

Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?

How will our theology be effected? How our new theology effect the issues surrounding the church in the late twentieth century? What will be the new issues?

Discuss

Neil Robbie
 


Posted by Gill (# 102) on :
 
Really interesting thoughts. I suspect it would just result in a revival of Smugness in the church!

There would be huge discussions on the nature of Intelligence, and a resurgence of interest in Erich von Daniken (the guy who led me to Christianity with his ridiculous - to me - theories!).

The Rosewell Conspiracy Theory people would enjoy new respect - at least amongst themselves...

And there might be even MORE money poured into Space research at the expense of the sick and hungry here on Earth.
 


Posted by rewboss (# 566) on :
 
I don't think the whole of Darwinism is going to die. I think it may be modified, like most scientific theories are, as we discover more and more.

Natural selection is about as close to a scientific fact as it's possible to get, so the basic theory of evolution is not under immediate threat. And Darwin himself didn't think of his theories as a replacement for God. God is in charge of evolution, so what's the bg deal?
 


Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
I got this in an email from the Vice President of Christians in Science:

quote:

To use God as a basis for specific scientific phenomena seems to me to degrade him to the level of mere explanation in the narrowest sense, and to open the door to his being expelled when some alternative explanation presents itself. That is why I agree with the sentiment (apocryphally attributed to Laplace) that, for cosmology, “we have no need of THAT hypothesis”. The use of “God-in-the gaps” is philosophically dangerous and theologically unjustified. I’d say that a much more Christian/Biblical position is to argue that God is the “explanation” (cause) of ALL phenomena, whether we think we can understand them or not. That is why I cannot agree with the creationists who seem unable to see the trap into which they routinely fall. Make “God” an alternative to “evolution” (say) and if and when the particular case of evolution is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, then where is God?


 
Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
BTW,

Darwinism died in the 1940's. It is a case of Darwinism is dead, long live Neo-Darwinsim.

Darwin knew nothing about genetics. The main failure of The Origin is its description of heredity. When Mendels work was rediscovered, in the early 20th century there was a crisis when it was seen as an alternative to Darwinism. It was Biologists like R A Fisher that showed they actually supported each other.

So, Darwinism is a failed theory. Evolution is not. It is a very strong, powerful and well supported theory with no serious detractors.

The hypotheses about how life began on Earth is not so strong. This is not part of the Theory of Evolution, though. The ToE starts when their is something to replicate.
 


Posted by Stephen (# 40) on :
 
Two points

(1) I'm a bit surprised to find Gould linked with Atkins.In "Rocks of Ages" Gould regards himself as a (Jewish) agnostic....and he is a lot more eirenic than Atkins by a lnog, long way

(2)Thank you Sceptical Atheist for forwarding the E-mail to us.I would be extremely wary of using a scientific model as evidence of God' existence.....hence my reservations in a different thread re the "God" particle.At the moment I think that Evolution is the most likely theory ....like all scientific models this has to be tested against observational evidence of course.
It may surprise you but I have actually a lot of sympathy for Laplace here.As Galileo said in his Letter to the Grand-Duchess Christina ,both the Bible and the "book of nature" are both sources of truth;and Galileo warns against using certain scriptural passages as argument against Copernicanism,arguing instead that Moses accomodated himself to the common person in his use of language.This was also Calvin's argument....
 


Posted by soupdragon (# 552) on :
 
It's good to distinguish between those who want to uphold young-earth creationism, and those Christians who believe in evolution but as controlled or established by God as the supreme designer, rather than as a purely random process.

I took a course in this stuff last semester, it was fascinating to see all the different approaches and this is a v trendy area just now. However, Gould isn't much of philosopher - see Rocks of Ages (or don't!) - and Behe's argument has been attacked by many. Al Plantinga (Christian philosopher) has an interesting argument that it's irrational to believe in evolutionary theory if you're *not* a theist, the idea being that it's hugely improbable otherwise. Stephen Stich (not a Christian) argues that there is no good reason for thinking that we would have evolved a reliable reasoning process, given what the evolutionary theory tells us (i.e. one that tells us the truth, as opposed to enabling us just to survive by whatever means). And as Sceptical Atheist says, evolutionary theory has nothing at all to say about how life began.

This could all be good for the church, but (in the US at least) people tend not to be aware of these arguments. Rather, they are either fundamentalist, young-earth types, or naturalists who think that random evolution is 'fact'. I hope this changes...

Sorry if this has been a boring post! I can get some good references on this stuff if anyone is interested though.
 


Posted by Wulfstan (# 558) on :
 
I'm not sure that this will affect theology that much, as I never saw theology and evolution to be inimical except with regard to the creationists. What I hope it will do is take the wind out of evangelical atheists like Dawkins who I find somewhat aggressive and uncompromising with regards to any kind of religion at all. The actual empirical evidence for human evolution is pretty small and is subject to regular revisions, such as the new info on carbon dating and its accuracy. This doesn't mean it's wrong, but that a certain amount of faith is required to go along with it! If this results in a lessening of dogmatism on all sides then so much the better.
 
Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
I have to say that I don't accept the initial premise of this thread:

quote:
Has anyone else on Ship Board been llowing the unfolding ?battle of the sciences? between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide?philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

If you have, you will know that Darwin?s theory of natural selection as a means for explaining the origin of life and the origin of new species is coming under increasingly objective scientific criticism.


I don't think anyone in mainstream science has any more doubts about natural selection than they do about Newton's laws.

There is, alas, a ghetto-like mentality in some Christian circles, thinking that creationism (usually of the "Young-Earth" variety) has to be defended come what may.

I think Behe and his Intelligent Design ideas is just another more palatable manifestation of the same thing.

People who talk about evolution in terms of "random processes" or "chance" don't understand it. Natural selection means that the dice get rolled until you get the "right" result. We wouldn't be here to tell the tale if the rolls didn't come right in the end on some planet somewhere and this is the planet.
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Posts on this thread regarding the philosophy of Darwinism, neo or otherwise, as a ‘fact’ of science, not a theory are interesting, but these answers are missing the point of this thread. Can we leave them for another thread, please?

Let's start to think outside the box.

Let’s just say that Behe is right, and a step-by-step development of cell mechanic can not be proven scientifically.

Just say, what Stephen said in his thread: “At the moment I think that Evolution is the most likely theory ...like all scientific models this has to be tested against observational evidence of course” is shown up by to be no more than wishful thinking on the part of philosophical atheists. What then will be the outcome for the church?

If God is no longer confined to pre-time and subjectivity. If God is active in the universe, what then happens to our theology?

The church suffered a huge identity crisis in the 20th century because of Darwinism. Demythologisation became the dominant theology as Christians tried to shoe horn the Bible into a Darwinian understanding of life. Doubt over the virgin birth and resurrection were the inevitable conclusions of this new theology, because how could Jesus be resurrected by a God with no power in the Universe?

Can we put our prophetic minds together and imagine, at least for a minute, what our theology will be like without Darwinism? (I’m not talking about creationism, young earth or old earth). Or are we so entrenched in a Darwinian worldview that we can not stretch our minds that far?

When we are no longer told that God can not act in space-time, what will the outcome be for the church?

If theistic smugness is the most obvious result, then God please have mercy on us ;-)

Neil
 


Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
quote:

The actual empirical evidence for human evolution is pretty small and is subject to regular revisions, such as the new info on carbon dating and its accuracy.


I would take issue with this. The evidence for human evolution in general is large and strong.
What is unclear is the actual path it took. We do not have DNA from Lucy so it is controversial whether she is a direct descendant or a cousin. She is someone in our family tree, though. We can be sure of that.

Carbon dating is subject to revision, but if we use it carefully it is accurate. Just this week, there was this BBC News Story which shows that Carbon dating is accurate back 16,000 years and is becoming morew accurate before that.

[link fixed (I think, it was a mess)]

[ 01 July 2001: Message edited by: Erin ]
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
Further to the point on Carbon dating....

The new evidence would suggest that things are older than previously thought, which is bad news for Creationists.

But of course Carbon dating is not relevant here as it is applicable over thousands of years only, people use other radioactive decay chains to date back older stuff.

Whatever the errors in dating methods may or may not be, they are not of the order which Young Earth Creationists would require - a factor of nearly a million!
 


Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
 
It is always dangerous to inject religion into any type of scientific inquiry. One of the main reasons for this is that God is an inherently unscientific premise. Which is to say that it is impossible to test most people's conception of God under laboratory conditions. In other words, it is impossible to confine the deity to a beaker. What the assumption of God DOES do, though, is to stifle or kill off other lines of inquiry. Not by Inquisitorial censorship, but because the actions of God are typically assumed to be beyond the realm of science. (i.e. non-replicatable and outside the laws of nature.) For example, if you assume that disease is caused by the wrath of God, there's not much you can do about it, as it is God's will, and thus no progress is made in medical research along those lines. On the other hand, if you assume that diseases have worldly causes, you become naturally inclined to study and research this phenomenon in order to discover some remedy.
 
Posted by Wulfstan (# 558) on :
 
Neil, sorry if I'm staying from the point you wanted to focus on but I think it's relevant. The pre-Darwinist theological model already incorporated much Deism as a result of Newtonian influence: God as the "Divine Watchmaker". Creationism was accepted all too readily and became the standard theological paradigm that no-one thought much about. Darwinism gave the church an enormous kick up the backside and forced them to adapt to changes in knowledge. It did not however, as far as I can see establish deism as the norm. What was established in the 20th century was an equally sloppy idea that science had all the answers and theology should be relegated to the sidelines to which science had relegated it. Much of this so-called science was sloppily thought out and unproved : to whit, eugenics etc.
Various disasters, better science and really freaky dicoveries like quantum theory suggest that we can be nearly as sure about our understanding of the universe as we thought. The hominid fossil collction would fit on to a billiard table and the gaps in the evolutionary record are immense. It's been described as like trying to understand the plot of War and Peace from seven words chosen at random. Saying we know it happened but we don't know how seems to be a contradiction in terms.
I don't buy it that science proved God couldn't act in space time. That's just the feeble argument of a few scientific fundies. If you can't prove He/She/It is there or not scientifically, how can you prove how He operates ("My ways are not your ways"). Consequently, unless you are a creationist, Darwinism should never have bothered you that much in the first place.
Incidently, in Islam this is pretty much a non-issue. Science has traditionally been seen as a form of worship: understanding the creation helps you to understand the greatness of the creator. Could we not learn something here?
 
Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
The Hominid evidence would need much more than a billiard table. Just check out the photo's in Donald Johansens "Lucy: The Beginning of humankind." They have a picture of a very long table full of fossil hominids just from the one site that they were working at. The famous Leakeys were finding just as many if not more and there were plenty others doing the same. That was in the 1970's!
 
Posted by rewboss (# 566) on :
 
Well, I hear on the radio that some scientists are having serious doubts about the evidence from mytowhateverit'scalled DNA. If their doubts can be shown to be well-founded, this would make the "out-of-Africa" hypothesis and the idea of a "super-Eve" much less likely.

Is that good or bad news for creationists?
 


Posted by Isaiah (# 647) on :
 
Rewboss wrote:

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

-----

The sceptical Atheist wrote:

"So, Darwinism is a failed theory. Evolution is not. It is a very strong, powerful and well supported theory with no serious detractors."

-----

John Collins wrote:

"I don't think anyone in mainstream science has any more doubts about natural selection than they do about Newton's laws."

-----

Wulfstan wrote:

I'm not sure that this will affect theology that much, as I never saw theology and evolution to be inimical except with regard to the creationists.

-----

Hmmm...

-----

"Scientists who utterly reject Evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities... Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science."

Larry Hatfield
"Educators Against Darwin"
Science Digest Special, Winter 1979, pp. 94-96

-----

"In a certain sense, the debate transcends the confrontation between evolutionists and creationists. We now have a debate within the scientific community itself; it is a confrontation between scientific objectivity and ingrained prejudice - between logic and emotion - between fact and fiction. " (pp. 6-7)

"...In the final analysis, objective scientific logic has to prevail - no matter what the final result is - no matter how many time-honored idols have to be discarded in the process." (p. 8)

"... After all, it is not the duty of science to defend the theory of evolution, and stick by it to the bitter end - no matter what illogical and unsupported conclusions it offers.... If in the process of impartial scientific logic, they find that creation by outside superintelligence is the solution to our quandary, then let's cut the umbilical cord that tied us down to Darwin for such a long time. It is choking us and holding us back." (pp. 214-215)

"... every single concept advanced by the theory of evolution (and amended thereafter) is imaginary as it is not supported by the scientifically established facts of microbiology, fossils, and mathematical probability concepts. Darwin was wrong." (p. 209)

"... The theory of evolution may be the worst mistake made in science." (p. 210)

I. L. Cohen, Mathematician, Researcher, Author,
Member New York Academy of Sciences
Officer of the Archaeological Institute of America
Darwin Was Wrong - A Study in Probabilities
New Research Publications, Inc., 1984.

-----

"The twentieth century would be incomprehensible without the Darwinian revolution. The social and political currents which have swept the world in the past eighty years would have been impossible without its intellectual sanction. ... The influence of the evolutionary theory on fields far removed from biology is one of the most spectacular examples in history of how a highly speculative idea for which there is no really hard scientific evidence can come to fashion the thinking of a whole society and dominate the outlook of an age. Considering its historic significance and the social and moral transformation it caused in western thought, one might have hoped that Darwinian theory ... a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth."

Michael Denton, Molecular Biologist
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Adler and Adler, 1985, p. 358
 


Posted by Wulfstan (# 558) on :
 
Sceptical Atheist; it was actually the eighties and okay you probably need an extra table or two now, but for a period spanning several millions of years that's still pretty inadequate.
Isaiah; interesting quotes but what's your point? Evolution may not be the clear cut irrefutable truth that some people thought it was, but I don't see a more plausible alternative at present. It's a theory that is subject to dispute, revision and questioning and that has been badly applied by some serious whackos over the years (not unlike religion)but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Can't we just accept a bit of uncertainty here?
 
Posted by Isaiah (# 647) on :
 
My point is that I believe there is abundant evidence for the relevance of Niel Robbie's initial post, despite other contributors to this thread contradicting him.

quote:

Niel Robbie wrote:

"...Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?..."


I think this is a very important question which should not be dismissed so easily.
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
I think Isaiah is still clinging to the idea that Evolution (or rather as he and the people he quotes define it) and "Darwinism" is the root of every evil in the past century.

The reality is that there are lots of facts in the universe that aren't pleasant or agreeable, but are still true and quoting lots of people with axes to grind like Denton doesn't make them less true. Neither does it help to extend the whole idea of "Evolution" to areas where it doesn't actually belong like cosmology.

I think people have to come to terms with the fact that evolution is about as solid a fact as you can get. Attaching all sorts of connotations to it and attacking it for those supposed reasons is just an example of a strawman argument.

There is nothing wrong with the notion (if you believe in God) that God guided evolution along. It isn't necessary, but it is a respectable belief.

What is wrong is attaching all sorts of stupid philosophical ideas to evolution and making out that people like Hitler based their ideas on it. That is what these Creationist people do - however they lie and misquote freely in the process. How they can do that escapes me - perhaps it belongs in the "Taking God's name in vain" thread.
 


Posted by Gill (# 102) on :
 
"...Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

...If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?..."

Well I must have totally missed the point of the last century's theology (quite possibly!).
Um... I've always believed in an intelligent agent behind it all and have never noticed that conflicting with my faith. Hence I jumped to the conclusion that you were asking what the outcome would be for how the church saw itself having been proved right. However as I read the thread again, you are asking how it will affect how we see ourselves and our faith...

Well it won't change a lot for me personally.

As for the church, it SHOULD mean that we are more confident and feel affirmed in our previous declarations, surely? Which I still think will lead to smugness!

If you are saying that we aill be moving from an assumption that gradual change and improvement should underpin our lives, I don't know the answer. As an individual it won't change my view, I don't think - at least, not more than it's changing anyway. I have never accepted 'Evolution' (N.B. as it is in its popularized form) as an unchallengable theory - nor does the possibility that it might be, destroy my faith.

I just find it fascinating to learn about all the things we have the ability to question, whether or not they are provable! Wouldn't it be great if the effect on the church was that people began top worry less about proving their own point?!
 


Posted by Isaiah (# 647) on :
 
Is Mr Collins actually answering the question or getting a little "Hellish" in his attitude?

It's a big statement to call all creationists liars and misquoters. I take exception. I am a creationist who takes a serious interest in science and quoting all scientists fairly. I have never fibbed about it either.

If Mr Collins disagrees with the question itself, then perhaps he could say so more graciously. I had hoped we could all be such jolly good friends.
 


Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
Isaiah,

Do you accept the universe is over 6,000 years old?

If you do, then do you think there is scientific evidence to back up the claim?

If you do, then you are misrepresenting science.

If you belive on faith that the Earth is 6,000 years old or don't try to use science to support the view then I have no problem. The soon you try and use science to support your claim I will be sent to hell or kicked off for crusading.
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
Is Mr Collins actually answering the question or getting a little "Hellish" in his attitude?

It's a big statement to call all creationists liars and misquoters. I take exception. I am a creationist who takes a serious interest in science and quoting all scientists fairly. I have never fibbed about it either.

If Mr Collins disagrees with the question itself, then perhaps he could say so more graciously. I had hoped we could all be such jolly good friends.


What a load of nonsense! You quoted some creationists. I referred to them saying "These Creationists" and commented that they were liars and misquoters, a view I am unrepentant about subscribing too. You have extrapolated that, put the words "all creationists are liars" into my mouth and taken offence at that.

I don't see how anyone can look at some of these Creationist web sites etc (for example "Answers in Genesis" and "Institute for Creation Research") without rapidly coming to the conclusion that Young-Earth Creationists turn lying and misquotation, not to mention extreme rudeness to people who disagree with them, including other Christians, into an art form.

If you subscribe to their views, I'm sorry for you, I'm sure you're sadly deceived, but it doesn't make you a liar or misquoter as such.

I see no reason why this discussion should not be a friendly one if people trouble to read posts properly and not over-react to things people didn't say.
 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Neil,

I will try to answer your question as you posed it.

quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
Much of the theology of last century was shaped by the ‘scientific’ Darwinian view of the origin of life. If Darwinism proves false, much of last century’s theology will be confined to the dustbin and a refined theology will emerge.

In light of this, I have this question to put to the Board.

If biologists show that life could not have just appeared by chance, if a theory develops requiring an intelligent agent behind the original of life, what will be the outcome for the church?


Not a lot would change at all.

Firstly even if it is (somehow!) established that certain biochemical systems or structures could not have evolved but must have been designed then the identity of the designer(s) becomes a question. Who or what designed these things?

Might an advanced lifeform of a very different sort from us have evolved elsewhere in the galaxy and designed these structures and systems and then seeded our planet with lifeforms that then evolved into us?

Let us suppose that Behe has a watertight argument against this too. Well then perhaps it was God, or a god (one of many poytheism is not ruled out) or some other form of life beyond our knowledge?

Suppose we assume it was the One God then what does all this tell us about him/her/it? Well we would have to do careful research to identify those structures and systems to make sure we understand the possible mechanisms of evolution in order to be sure that we had an instance of design. All that would show us is that he/she/it intervened in some way at some time in the world to produce these structures. But in itself that would not tell us much about this being's motives (perhaps it is a cosmic sadist that wanted to produce life to torment it).

Other theologians might regard 'God's' inability to design a universe that was able to evolve such structures as Behe talks of as not being up to much!

There would, in short be as much controversy as there is now because even if Behe's argument is correct it still leaves much about God in darkness.

Nor would it prove anything about the status of the Bible, either.

As a penultimate point, I think you overestimate Darwinism's centrality for theology about God's action in the world. The argument from design for Gods existence has had many challenges for a long time (from David Hume in the 18th century for example). Similarly issues such as the problem of Evil, questions of free will and determinism, morality, all play a major part in conceptualising whether or not and how God acts in the universe and have been around a heck of a lot longer than Darwinism. These issues have shaped theology too.

Finally I must say that Behe's arguments are not convincing and have been well answered (for a very good reply see Tower of Babel: the case against the new creationism by the quaker Robert T. Pennock (MIT Press) much the best book around on this area.

Glenn
 


Posted by Isaiah (# 647) on :
 
Thank you for your clarification, Mr Collins. I apologise for my misunderstanding.

As for Mr Atheist, how can I debate with someone who has already given the final word? I cannot present any evidence for a young earth - even by a non-Christian - without being unscientific. So what's a guy to do?
 


Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
I apologise. You are right, I should be open minded. If you have any evidence for a young earth then I will listen.

If it is a PRATT of an idea (Pointed refuted a thousand times) then forgive me if I am not convinced.
 


Posted by Angel (# 60) on :
 
No more acronyms!!!!!!!!!

please!!!!

Love
Angel
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
I'd like to join Sceptical Atheist in hearing the evidence for a Young Earth - likewise if it's/they're not PRATTs.

Perhaps while you do this you could explain why you think it is necessary to believe it?
 


Posted by Wulfstan (# 558) on :
 
Apologies if I've seemed dismissive but I was trying to look at the question from something other than a Creationist perspective and as such it seemed a little baffling. I did say that Darwinism did pose a problem to Creationists but I wasn't sure if this was what Neil was initially referring to. If this thread was ultimately about creationism could this not have been made clear from the start? It might have saved a bit of confusion.
 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
In Neils opening post he refered to
quote:
the unfolding ‘battle of the sciences’ between biologists on both side of the philosophical divide…philosophical atheists Dawkins/Gould et al on one side and philosophical theists Behe/Schroeder et al on the other?

Just to add confusion to the situation, you might be interested in "The Darwin Wars" by Andrew Brown (ISBN 0-684-85145-8) which details the sometimes very bitter disputes between "Dawkensians" and "Gouldians" about different aspects of neo-Darwinianism. Both camps agree with the broad picture of neo-Darwinianism; evolution of organism by selection of genetic variants.

The views of Behe et al are very contentious, and make some very big assumptions. There has yet to be a single irrefutable example of a biochemical pathway which could not possibly have developed gradually from pre-existing pathways. Without such evidence these views are scientifically very weak.

As such I find the views of "Design Theorists" (see for example the Origins website) scientifically weak. I hve several other reservations about this idea which I have outlined on this page of my website.

Alan
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Much of this thread has reinforced the conclusion I was already being drawn to having read Dawkins, Behe and co. That is that scientific support for a materialist, purposeless universe on one hand or a universe as the product of an intelligent agent on the other hand is beyond the current investigative capabilities of human intelligence. A simple 'we don't know' neatly summarises the current results of scientific investigation to the origin of life.

So, back to my original question. Darwinian philosophy (as distinct from Darwinian theory) has affected or infected almost every aspect of our theology over the last century. Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.

Wulfstan's observation that 'Dawrinism gave the church an enormous kick up the backside' is apparent and indeed the emergence of Darwinism has had many beneficial spin-offs for the church. However, his later argument that 'unless you are a creationist, Darwinism should never have bothered you that much in the first place' IMHO is like saying that when you spill the contents of an oil tanker in the sea off Alaska, it only affects the water quality. What about the oil that seeps into the sand, kills the fish, gets into the throats of otters, strips the natural oils of the feathers of birds and depletes microorganisms in the sea?

Darwinian philosophy is to Christian theology what oil slicks are to the environment. 'Liberalism' is the most obvious by-product of a theology polluted by Darwinism. What about the Conservatives, Fundamentalists, Catholics (Roman and Anglican), Charismatics and Pentecostals? Are we not all affected too? Should we not all go back over what we have come to believe is true and check if Darwinian theory (a purposeless, material, Godless universe) got its foot in the door of our theology? Let's check our feathers and clean off the unwanted oil which seeped into our understanding. Be purified, perhaps in the way God intended when Darwinian theory first emerged.

I was asked this question recently by a Christian minister: 'when did sin enter the world if man 'evolved' step-by-step?'

Taking the step-by-step 'evolution' of man, it is impossible to apply a date to the start of human rebellion against God. It is equally difficult to identify a biological, physiological or philosophical mechanism by which humans turned from God to reliance on our own abilities if change was minutely gradual. But the question assumes a prior commitment to the assumption that humans developed step-by-step from some other living organism. This is the sort of example of the pollution of theology by Darwinian philosophy I am referring to. There must be more subtle, clever affects from this worldview on our understanding of God.

I hope this clarifies my question. Can we think outside the box and see what else is suffering from this prior commitment to Darwinian philosophy?

Neil
 


Posted by Timothy (# 292) on :
 
Darwin, of course, did not invent the idea of evolution--he simply came up with the most plausible explanation yet for how it happened. Nor do I think evolution created any new problems for theology--though it did give the Deists and other skeptics a bit more ammunition (Copernicus had already given them a fair amount). In truth, science is only a problem for those Christians who believe that if the Bible is not literally, historically, scientifically accurate, the whole spiritual message comes crashing down. This brings to mind C.S. Lewis's comment about skeptics who don't believe in Heaven because the description in Revelation is a bit over the top: "If they're going to be take that attitude, they shouldn't be reading books that are written for grownups" (misquoted from memory).

Who needs a date for the Fall? As someone once said, history is what happened one time, myth is what happens all the time. The world is always falling and always being redeemed. And yes, in a historical sense (according to the flesh, as Paul might say)there was the historical fact of the resurrection; but in a more important sense, Christ is always being crucified and resurrected in us (I don't mean this in a trivial symbolic sense, either).

Evolution (Darwinian or otherwise) has never been a problem for sound theology, and if it turns out that there is some other scientific explanation for the development of modern organisms over the course of the history of the Earth, that won't be a problem either.

Regards,

Timothy
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Thought the battle-axe would be needed here, but actually have little to add to what the good Mr Cresswell has said.

Except that some of Behe's 'irrecducible complexity' examples are refuted by Kenneth Miller (Finding Darwnin's God) which also makes an excellent read on scientific and philosophical levels.

Really, ID is just the old God of the Gaps married to the Argument from Design, the first of which is philosophically dangerous, and the latter long ago refuted.

I subscribe to Gould's approach of Non-overlapping magesteria.
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Oh - and Isaiah - feel free to present any young earth evidence. Best run it through Talk Origins first to make sure it isn't a PRATT.
 
Posted by caty (# 85) on :
 
quote:
In truth, science is only a problem for those Christians who believe that if the Bible is not literally, historically, scientifically accurate, the whole spiritual message comes crashing down.

THe problem is, people really believe this.
I had a LONG debate last night with my fundie flatmate (chick tracts left around the living room, that kind of thing...!)

And in the end, it came down to "If the first three chapters of Genesis can't be relied on, then none of the bible can be relied on". I was clearly on very dangerous ground suggesting otherwise.

HOW ON EARTH do you convince someone that you can be a bit more open minded about Genesis without being a "raving liberal"??? Particularly if that person doesn't have a scientific background and is suspicious of science?

(I'm sure she's off now to pray that the Lord will reveal to me the error of my humanistic thinking. Particularly as I also informed her that I didn't think the Catholic church was the Anti-Christ... Aaaaarrrrgh )

Any thoughts????
Yours, gradually calming down,
caty
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
You have little chance.

You can visit Talk Origins (link above) and my site for a lot of material that shows that the science is bollocks, but that won't get round the philosphical problems.

(Actually, the Chick Tract Big Daddy is a hoot - at least one major scientific misunderstanding or misrepresentation per frame)

There is no logical link between 'Genesis 1 is literally true' and 'the Gospel of Luke is a historically reliable account', but folk make it.

My feeling is that if the belief that Jesus is alive needs bolstering with the idea that every word in the collection of books surrounding the subject is literally true, then the whole construct should fall.

Jesus was raised from death because He is alive now in His church and people, not because some old text says He is.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
An alternative approach could be to point out the size of the membership of an organisation such as Christians in Science (currently in excess of 600) which has a declaration of belief (signed by all members) including
quote:
I declare my belief in the triune God as creator and sustainer of the universe, and my faith in Jesus as Saviour, Lord of all and God.

and
I acknowledge the Bible as the Word of God and its final
authority in matters of faith and conduct.



It does beg the question that since the vast majority (if not all) CiS members do not accept the hyper-literal reading of Gen.1 how do they honestly sign the declaration, especially with the second clause I quoted.

The answer of course is that the young earth creation position is a modern invention (ie: basically post-war, initially proposed by Seventh Day Adventists to support their claim that the 7th day, Saturday, should be the day of worship rather than Sunday) that creates more theological and doctrinal problems than it purports to solve, and treats Scripture with a great deal of disrespect by elevating a superficial "plain reading" to a point where it teaches something the original authors (and I include God as one of those authors) didn't consider to the neglect of what those authors wanted to say.

Alan

[fixed UBB code]

[ 02 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by caty (# 85) on :
 
Alan, did try that one...

She didn't even accept that my position was mainstream Christianity! (the early church would have taken it literally, so Augustine & co were clearly wrong. After all, they were catholics too, so obviously beyond the pale.)

The only bit of my argument that seemed to get through was when I asked her to "suspend belief" and imagine that she was shown totally convincing evidence for evolution. Would she reject the whole of the bible, or reinterpret the Genesis account?

She agreed that she would have to re-interpret it (RESULT!!!) but couldn't imagine that there would ever be convincing proof.

I did then try to explain that I thought the evidence *was* convincing, but she obviously didn't buy it.

What frightened me was that she perceived any questioning as a threat: ie, you've got to be so wary of "clever" ideas because they're subtle traps of Satan.
The idea of engaging with secular ideas from a christian perspective was totally alien to her.

I've never thought of myself as a Liberal before...!
caty
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Try finding out which of the two creation accounts she actually believes literally...
 
Posted by caty (# 85) on :
 
Both
 
Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
So God created all the fish and birds, then the animals and mankind (both genders), then...erm....created the man, then the animals and then the woman.

It really sounds like two accounts to me.

Whilst she's at it, if the Bible is literal, who caused David to take a census of Israel?

quote:
2 Samuel 24

1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah".


Or

quote:
1 Chronicles 21

1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.


There are lots of problems for literalists.

Your problem is for her to understand how the Bible is not literally true in every word without damaging her faith, which is, in the end, more important.

[UBB fixed]

[ 02 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
And of course, if some nice purg host peeps could fix my UBB code from attempting to use HTML....


 


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
Neil, you said:
quote:
So, back to my original question. Darwinian philosophy (as distinct from Darwinian theory) has affected or infected almost every aspect of our theology over the last century. Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.
[...]
Darwinian philosophy is to Christian theology what oil slicks are to the environment. 'Liberalism' is the most obvious by-product of a theology polluted by Darwinism. ... Should we not all go back over what we have come to believe is true and check if Darwinian theory (a purposeless, material, Godless universe) got its foot in the door of our theology?

Can we think outside the box and see what else is suffering from this prior commitment to Darwinian philosophy?


You are right to distinguish the theory from the philosophy (though you confusingly refer to Darwinian theory as meaning that the universe is ultimately 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe' which is a mistaken inference. I assume you meant 'philosophy' not 'theory').

Science seeks to understand how the universe works and is necessarily non-theistic (not atheistic) in its methodology. It looks for the natural laws and patterns present in the world. It does not invoke God in its explanations because if it did so science would either grind to a halt or else it would have to investigate things further anyway to make sure there was not a natural rather than supernatural explanation after all. But to mistake a non-theistic methodology for a claim that the world really is without a God is a mistake. Some evolutionists do claim this but not all.

Those of us who accept the broad outline of evolutionary theory would not see it as polluting theology. Not all philosophies arising from Darwinism are atheistic.

You say 'Such a dominant worldview could not have failed to seep into every nook and cranny of the church's life.' This is an enormous claim which i find unbelievable. Where in the theology or life of christianity does 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe' figure so pervasively? You mention liberalism but the vast majority of liberal Christians do not believe in 'a purposeless, material, Godless universe.'

Do you have any other examples?

Glenn
 


Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
 
Reading an article by Dawkins about the recent Darwinism conference, by the time I got half way through the thought that was in my mind was "This is fundamentalism". Yes it seemed that the fundie label should not just be thrown at religious people but the likes of Dawkins is getting close to being an evolutionary fundie.

I later read an article in the Guardian (a liberal british daily newspaper) which objected to the theories being put up at the Dawinist conference, and although they did not use the fundie label their objections seemed similar to mine.

I am not writing this to support 7 day creationism, but rather to wonder where the debate is going. To mind mind it is heading towards somewhere like the end of Animal Farm
They looked at the Bible fundamentalists and the Darwin fundamentalists and could not tell the difference between them

Astro
 


Posted by Gill (# 102) on :
 
Caty - they still do Chick Tracts? Wow! NOW I feel old! lol
Seriously, as for your flatmate, I would summon up a prophetic glint in my eye (well it'd appear, I'm afraid) and ask her what issue she is trying to avoid by concentrating on an unprovable red herring. Undoubtedly there will be one, though she may not know that herself yet. Reason won't work - I know that, cos I used to believe exactly the same and drive MY flatmates to distraction!

Liberalism ain't Godless. I seem to be moving towards some ever more liberal point at the momnet, and i can honestly say that letting go of my evangelicalism has been the most profoundly Christian experience I've had in 26 years of belief. Cos it's frightening, unknown, and therefore uncontrollable (he's not a TAME lion). I have to trust god that H'ell get me through this and either out the other end or into the Place Where He Wants me.

But Godless? I have never been as free to love others as i am now I have lost so many of my old prejudices (which really all sprang from fear of taint by association).

Don't knock it till you've tried it!
 


Posted by Gill (# 102) on :
 
Sorry about the typos - read capital 'G' for God and He'll for Hell!

Couldn't we use Abram's journey as a paradigm here?
 


Posted by doug (# 474) on :
 
Hi all,

as a proto biologist ( ie an undergrad at the same unoversity that dawkins is based at, im going to take an evolution course next year, and from what i've heard, dawkins makes rather a small appearance. he's not the only or most influential "evolutionist" ( why does that word always set alarm bells ringing in my head ). Just because he's very vocal in his atheism doesn't mean that just because he uses darwinian philosophies (rather than darwinian theory) to justify his atheism, doesn't mean he's wrong about the biology of the process (although that is a whole other kettle of fish...)

while dawkins accuses believers of using a "skyhook" like God to support our worldview, he simaltaneously invokes the skyhook of free will to support his ( or so it seems to me.

a really interesting essay by Theodosius Dobzhansky ( influential evolutionary theorist and devout christian ) is here

i think i might chuck in a few quotes because, quite frankly, he's a lot more eloquent than me

young earth ?

quote:
One can suppose that the Creator saw fit to play deceitful tricks on geologists and biologists. He carefully arranged to have various rocks provided with isotope ratios just right to mislead us into thinking that certain rocks are 2 billion years old, others 2 million, which in fact they are only some 6,000 years old. This kind of pseudo-explanation is not very new. One of the early antievolutionists, P. H. Gosse, published a book entitled Omphalos ("the Navel"). The gist of this amazing book is that Adam, though he had no mother, was created with a navel, and that fossils were placed by the Creator where we find them now ? a deliberate act on His part, to give the appearance of great antiquity and geologic upheaveals. It is easy to see the fatal flaw in all such notions. They are blasphemies, accusing God of absurd deceitfulness. This is as revolting as it is uncalled for.

quote:
organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God?s, or Nature?s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.

apologies for the huge amounts of quotation, but its a long essay with lots of good bits.

yours,

doug
 


Posted by Isaiah (# 647) on :
 
May I clarify. My initial post merely contrasted the dogmatic evolution-is-unquestionable statements made by some writers in this thread with the evolution-is-highly-questionable statements of some modern non-Christian scientists. It seems that, because I was prepared to question evolution, it was presumed that I would want to scientifically defend a young earth - a proposition which I was told would not be tolerated. I then pointed out that there was no point presenting any evidence under those circumstances. Then, happily, some of "the board" were ready to consider any evidence for a young earth more openly.

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

Dogmatic evolutionists who have considered all contradicting evidence as "PRATT" need to recognise that their theory is not conclusive. In other words, the previously "PRATT" evidence is no longer so easily dismissed. I think that a fair evaluation of the scientific evidence in the age of the earth debate also shows that there are difficulties on both sides. Given time, I expect that "PRATT" labels will be thrown around less confidently in this area also.

This said, I believe that the very nature of our discussion here reflects the relevance of Mr Robbie's initial question. The fact we should all recognise is that our presuppositions do, of course, influence all our thinking, our theology, and even our scientific evaluation.

It is certainly demonstrable that Darwin did not so much devise the theory of evolution because of overwhelming evidence as he did devise the theory and then go looking for evidence. As we all know, he admitted that the lack of evidence was his biggest obstacle. Over the past 20-30 years the Neo-Darwinists have had to face a growing problem of the same nature. And, dare I say, I think the age of the earth issue will eventually come into the same arena.

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

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

If we are to do justice to Mr Robbie's question, then I think we need to debate this area of presuppositionalism and epistemology.
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Isaiah - speaking of presuppositions, perhaps some explanations are in order.

SA and I are both veterans of the web debates on this issue - I have recently 'resigned' as it were from debating on the OCW's debate board because of the pathetic insult based 'debating' technique of some of the YECs there, but also for another reason, and it's tied up with the acronym PRATT.

You will recall it stands (pace Pasco) for 'Point Refuted A Thousand Times', and the reason we coined it was that we were fed up with answering the same points, that have indeed been refuted many times, but which uninformed creationists still raise as objections to mainstream science.

Such might include:

* No transitional fossils
* Speed of light slowing down
* Speed of stalactite growth
* Mt St Helens creating mini 'Grand Canyon'
* Earth-Moon regression
* Second Law of Thermodynamics

for starters. For a complete list, my web site has a consideration of a particularly rich collection of PRATTs on this page.

It is not that we are saying that any Young Earth evidence is automatically a PRATT. What we are saying is don't bother using any PRATT evidence because it'll be pumped overboard with the rest of the bilge.
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
The fact we should all recognise is that our presuppositions do, of course, influence all our thinking, our theology, and even our scientific evaluation.

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

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

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

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

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

Alan
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah:
May I clarify. My initial post merely contrasted the dogmatic evolution-is-unquestionable statements made by some writers in this thread with the evolution-is-highly-questionable statements of some modern non-Christian scientists. It seems that, because I was prepared to question evolution, it was presumed that I would want to scientifically defend a young earth - a proposition which I was told would not be tolerated.

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

quote:

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

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

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

quote:

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

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

quote:

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

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

quote:

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

I think that is total rubbish. Sorry.

quote:

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

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

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

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

quote:

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

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

quote:

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

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

quote:

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

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


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Gentlemen, I'm sorry for interrupting the flow of your debate, but somewhere back on page 2 Glenn asked: 'Do you have any other examples?'

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

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

Hopefully

Neil
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
There has been some mention of Dawkins and I mentioned his book 'Unweaving the Rainbow' at the start of this thread. In his preface he states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil

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

 
Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
somewhere back on page 2 Glenn asked: 'Do you have any other examples?'

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

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

Alan
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Don't really see the link between Darwinism and 'faith in the Resurrected Christ'. Why not pick on quantum mechanics, or oxidation numbers?

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

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

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

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


Posted by SteveWal (# 307) on :
 
I wasn't actually aware that the church had lost its confidence in the resurected Christ. Maybe it's lost its imperialist, judgemental sense of superiority, but it isn't just Darwinism that's done that. Contact with other faiths has helped to knock that one for six, as, I believe, has an increased awareness of its mission to the poor and to the rejected of the world. The Second World War was also an enormous shock to the Christian church, not least when it saw how many Christians so-called could be led into supporting, or turning a blind eye to, Nazism and Fascism.

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

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

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

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


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
and while writing that Neil posted again on Dawkins, so regarding Dawkins. I haven't read much of his more recent stuff (River out of Eden, or Unweaving the Rainbow), which from reviews I gather are repeating his earlier stuff while taking the more speculative and philosophical further. Since I found this material very unconvincing in his earlier books the later ones aren't at the top of my reading list (I'll get round to them eventually).

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

Alan
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
As writing this, Alan and Stevewal have posted.

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

My limited understanding is this.

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

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

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

Neil


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


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
quote:
that there is no way for God to operate in time-space, but that God might exist outside time-space and humans can have no way of knowing God's existence, as Darwinism often claims,

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

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

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


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
The philosophical positions that "the universe is purposeless and material" or "God might exist outside time-space and humans can have no way of knowing God's existence" are older then Darwinian evolutionary theory, and not dependent on it, although some philosophers holding such positions may use (neo-)Darwinian science to support their position. Some people, like Dawkins, support such a philosophical position almost exclusively from Darwinian theory which actually makes their philosophy much weaker; extrapolating from science into philosophy (which is beyond the realms of scientific inquiry) seems to be a strange thing to do when the same position can be reached by philosophical reasoning. Not that I necessarily agree with such philosophical reasoning, but it is at least more honest than Dawkins approach.

Alan
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Stevewal wrote
quote:
'I wasn't actually aware that the church had lost its confidence in the resurected Christ. Maybe it's lost its imperialist, judgemental sense of superiority, but it isn't just Darwinism that's done that.'

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

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

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

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

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

Neil
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Alan may have helped answer the question I posed to SteveWal.
quote:
The philosophical positions...are older then Darwinian evolutionary theory, and not dependent on it, although some philosophers holding such positions may use (neo-)Darwinian science to support their position.

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

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

Neil
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
What else was around last century to cause the crisis of identity if it wasn't the effects of Darwinism? Don't mention the war

Now, where to begin ....

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

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

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

Alan
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Neil - could you define exactly what you mean by 'Darwinism', because I'm not clear we're talking about the same thing.
 
Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Karl

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The answers in Genesis are:

Then what are the questions?

On the other hand, science answers these questions:

Then what are these questions?

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

Neil
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
Neil, I don't see the "why" in your definition of (neo-)Darwinism, in either its' scientific or philosophical forms

Alan
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
quote:
commitment to ‘natural selection’ as the mechanism for the origin of species and the origin of life

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

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


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
That's all very well but isn't the thread called The Death of Darwinism not
The Death of neo-Darwinism?

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

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


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
I've not met anyone who takes Gen 1-11 as non-literal who then doesn't apply the same "is this literal?" question to the rest of Scripture. If such a person exists then I'd agree they appear to be dishonest (unless they can honestly say they believe all Scripture after Gen 11 is literal).

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

Alan
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
Further to Neil's uncertainty about variation within a species, do remember that in fact the distinction between species and sub-species is a human construct, prone to change in practice and open to debate. With larger mammals, the distinctions are prone to be clearer, but for instance in the case of certain bird and insect species, the boundaries are forever being reformed.

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

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


Posted by Timothy (# 292) on :
 
It seems to me that the greatest effect Darwinism had on Christianity was that it provoked the fundamentalist reaction, bringing a naive literalism into Biblical exegesis that had never before been found among educated Christians.

Talk about disasters...

Regards,

Timothy
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Whilst everyone has been posting, we've been asleep in Singapore! The 'who', 'why' and 'how' stuff will need to wait, I wrote this in response to Alan's post about the war in the taxi on the way to work...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss

Neil
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Alan wrote
quote:
Neil, I don't see the "why" in your definition of (neo-)Darwinism, in either its' scientific or philosophical forms

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

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

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

Neil
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Karl wrote
quote:
Sounds like a 'How' answer to me, not a 'Who' or 'Why'. Consequently I have no problem with it.
However, no. Natural selection has nothing to do with the origin of life. You can't select when you have nothing to select from. You need self-replicators before you can have evolution by natural selection.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss

Neil
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
......
The problem with Darwinism is this: That Darwinists take no (1), the observational scientific fact of variation within a species, and extrapolates the origin of species (2) and the origin of life (3), from a prior commitment to atheism. Take a minute to think about it, it's quite hard to get the mind round.

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

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

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

quote:

Do we agree that atheism is contrary to Christianity?

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

quote:

If we do then Darwinian philosophy is contrary to Christianity.

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

quote:

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

Discuss


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


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
There is no prior commitment to atheism - simple as that. Darwin went to lengths to say he was not an atheist.

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

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


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
Neil - apologies for the error in my last posting - I meant to address your doubt about the diversification of species (i.e. the creation of new species from variants of an earlier one). It's clearly too hot here - my first sentence is obviously misleading - the rest of the post stands, however.
 
Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
At the end of the 20th century, we have already witnessed the demise of Freud's ponderings and the collapse of Marxism (and its derivatives) so why does Darwinism (and its derivatives) remain so resolute (as proven by this thread)?

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


I think you need to disentangle further what you mean by Darwinism - it seems much closer to a sort-of Dawkinism or perhaps more accurately and fairly one of Don Cuppitt's more cretinous utterances. I don't think most folks here seem persuaded as to the falsifiable nature of evolution of species As to the origin of life, that's another post.
 
Posted by caty (# 85) on :
 
quote:
I go back to my initial question. To speculate on a future without Darwinism. What will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment philosophy, what will be the effect on all post-Enlightenment theology if the bold claims of the 'facts' of Darwinism turn out to be no more than dreams in the fertile minds of highly imaginative pseudo-scientists?

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

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

just a thought
caty
 


Posted by SteveWal (# 307) on :
 
The one time that "Darwinism" oversteps its brief is when it is used as controlling metaphor for something that is not biology.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
 
quote:
The one time that "Darwinism" oversteps its brief is when it is used as controlling metaphor for something that is not biology.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
I've evidently shot myself in the foot. Caty, you identified the problem nicely...if we want to speculate on a world without Darwinism, I should never have called this thread what I did. Never mind, I'll save it for another day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can each make our choice.

Neil
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Now, back to a point which I made. Perhaps not theology but the way of the world.

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

quote:
Sir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely

Neil Robbie


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

Neil
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Philosophical naturalism is of course opposed to any form of belief in anything supernatural.

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

Don't confuse the two.

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


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Karl, I agree with you that God has set in place natural laws which govern life and which God that God can intervene as required.

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

You said

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

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

Neil
 


Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
 
Mmm...well Neil, let me ask, is there any process which God is forbidden to use, or any process which it beyond God's power to use or set in motion?

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


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
I'll be totally clear - short answers rather than multiple choice.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by SteveWal (# 307) on :
 
Neil Robbie, you still seem to be making the same mistake as ever. You're confusing two things. Science has to proceed non-theistically, otherwise it wouldn't explain how anything happened. It couldn't explain evolution or photosynthesis or how electricity works if the moment it came upon a mystery it said, "God did it." This does not mean that God didn't, or isn't in charge of the ongoing creation. For those like yourself and I, that is an important part of our faith: God is the Creator. But God being the Creator does not tell you how he did it. Evolution, as science, is the how, not the why.

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

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


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
Karl and SteveWal, I hope we find that we pretty much agree. Having only read Dawkins, Behe and Johnson for my 'scientific' knowledge, I realise I am not well qualified to discuss such matters. But I do strongly believe that recent challenges to the 'fact' of Darwinism have a strong grounding. Why else would there be so much debate?

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

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

Karl wrote (very helpfully):

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Is this a fair summary of scientific evidence?

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

Neil

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


 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
Neil,

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

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

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

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

Alan
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Alan is correct. Nevertheless, I would add that the grossest changes - from fish to amphibian, for example, do happen gradually even when viewed from a geological timescale, where millions of years are the unit of measurement.

A nice collection of such transitionals is at This page.

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

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

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


Posted by nicolemrw (# 28) on :
 
quote:
What else was around last century to cause the crisis of identity if
it wasn't the effects of Darwinism?

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


Posted by Carys (# 78) on :
 
On micro/macro evolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carys
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by nicolemrw:
the world has been around a lot longer than the 6000 or so years recorded in the bible. and this concept predated darwin by a good bit (i forget how long) and has nothing to do with darwinism. except that it provides the span of time neccessary for darwins mechanisms to work.

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

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

 
Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
I couldn’t resist one last post before heading off for the tropical sun, sand and sea. Can I leave these questions to be pondered?

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

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

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


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

There are two more questions:

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

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

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

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

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

Neil


PS See you Monday
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
Neil, you're asking the impossible. Perhaps one of the most frustrating characteristics of evolution's detractors is that they castigate scientists from drawing what are in fact well supported, solid inferences, then require them to make far less well supported ones.

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

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

This one I can answer:

quote:
What mechanism exists to make 53 playing cards?

Gene duplication

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

Yes

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I find science fascinating and am frustrated that scientists have a prior commitment to everything boiling down to natural systems and never contemplate our Almighty and Sovereign Lord when then evidence suggests that only natural mechanisms exist.

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


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

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

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

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


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
I find science fascinating and am frustrated that scientists have a prior commitment to everything boiling down to natural systems and never contemplate our Almighty and Sovereign Lord when then evidence suggests that only natural mechanisms exist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan
 


Posted by Bob R (# 322) on :
 
Newboss says

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

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


Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
 
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
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
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
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
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?
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
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".
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
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
 


Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
 
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:

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
 


Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
 
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
 


Posted by SteveWal (# 307) on :
 
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.
 


Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
 
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.
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
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.
 


Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
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.
 


Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
 
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.
 


Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
 
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
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    Italicized lines in my previous posts are quotes from Neil Robbie. Sorry for the omission.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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?
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    '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':


     
    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    No - it's just that it's always the literal believers in the Hebrew myth who attack us.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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.
     
    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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?
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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

    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
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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?
     


    Posted by Wulfstan (# 558) on :
     
    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.
     
    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    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:

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

    All the best,

    Willy
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    For a different take on evolution.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    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
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
     
    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.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    Since you seem to be so impressed by Behe’s argument I recommend that you read this review article by Allen Orr which demolishes it.

    http://www-polisci.mit.edu/bostonreview/BR21.6/orr.html

    Orr’s key point, amongst others, is that:

    quote:
    An irreducibly complex system can be built gradually by adding parts that, while initially just advantageous, become-because of later changes-essential. The logic is very simple. Some part (A) initially does some job (and not very well, perhaps). Another part (B) later gets added because it helps A. This new part isn't essential, it merely improves things. But later on, A (or something else) may change in such a way that B now becomes indispensable. This process continues as further parts get folded into the system. And at the end of the day, many parts may all be required.

    Behe's argument fails. Even if irreducibly complex systems exist that does not prove that they could not have evolved, indeed one would expect to find many such systems in existence.

    Your insistence that we believe Behe until scientists can provide the individual steps by which say, the clotting system evolved is asking for the moon. Such steps may now be irrecoverably obscured by the process of evolution.

    Orr deals with several other points and all in all it is an excellent article.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
     
    I have not read much about Behe, but I am struck when looking at pictures of Flagella how much like Centrioles they are.

    Is there a connection? We should be told!
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn, you said
    quote:
    Since you seem to be so impressed by Behe’s argument I recommend that you read this review article by Allen Orr which demolishes it.

    I've read it. Having read the book, unlike anyone else on the thread, I note that Orr has summarised Behe's observations well, though Behe actually spends 200 out of 300 pages (that’s 60% not 30% of the book - but perhaps Orr isn't very good at Maths) describing five irreducibly complex bio-systems. It is fair for Orr to say that Behe draws no conclusion about the designer, only that he thinks cellular mechanisms look like they have been designed and it is now the job of bio-chemists to prove that there is no designer. That's a great challenge which good scientists will relish.

    I respected Orr's observation that Behe, like me, is disturbed by the ill will between science and theology (though I think we will soon come to this matter on this thread, but not yet). If Behe is seen as a creationist, Orr points out, it is because YECs and Evangelical Christians have been quick to associate with him. But Behe is not a creationist, he's not even an Evangelical. Orr points out that Behe is the 'real thing', unlike creationists. Behe is simply a very well informed (Roman Catholic) Scientist who happens to pose a particularly difficult question for step-by-step random development of molecular mechanisms. End of chat.

    I gather, that no one on this thread has read Behe, and John I appreciate that our time is a limiting factor, but it is not an excuse. If something is important, we should prioritise it. May I humbly suggest that the only way we can form educated opinion about a theory is to read the book for ourselves before reading a potted account and coloured criticism? Everyone, will you please stop telling me to read this or that, I'm getting sick of being patronised…go away and read 'Darwin's Black Box' for yourselves, it is not creationist clap-trap but is a serious challenge to the scientific community. And when you've read it come back with your own opinions.

    Glenn, if you had bothered to read it before condemning it as creationist clap-trap (which it isn't), you would you would know that Orr's main argument (which you proudly quoted) is discussed in the book and Behe demands a more scientific approach. The A's and B's of Orr's theory, says Behe, are scientifically insufficient. We need hard facts, not fairy tales.

    Orr either ignored or misunderstood Behe's argument (either he is wicked or stupid) knowing that scientists are unlikely, as John pointed out, to bother to read the book for themselves. So Orr was free to quote part of Behe's disproof back to us as proof that systems are not irreducible. I'd quote you part of the book, but I think it better you read the whole. Then you'll see that Orr's mistake (or deliberate deception) does not demolish Behe's argument, and that the scientific work still needs to be done.

    I'll say it again for everyone's benefit, I have no issue with the methodological work of science. There should be no ill will between science and theology, but sadly there is and this thread should avoid it.

    Has anyone ever wondered why it gets so heated between scientists and theologians?

    Before I post my next thread, can anyone offer me the scientific credentials of Richard Lewontin? I am reading some of his stuff now, and would like to move the debate up a few levels.

    Neil
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    (snip)
    I gather, that no one on this thread has read Behe, and John I appreciate that our time is a limiting factor, but it is not an excuse. If something is important, we should prioritise it. May I humbly suggest that the only way we can form educated opinion about a theory is to read the book for ourselves before reading a potted account and coloured criticism? Everyone, will you please stop telling me to read this or that, I'm getting sick of being patronised?go away and read 'Darwin's Black Box' for yourselves, it is not creationist clap-trap but is a serious challenge to the scientific community. And when you've read it come back with your own opinions.(snip)

    The operative words here are "if something is important" and I disagree with you about whether it is.

    Other people on this thread have said that their faith is unaffected by the theory of evolution. I don't have faith, neither do I work in biology, but from what I gather from those who do evolution is an extremely well-founded theory.

    Why should I waste time, as I see it, reading a book which won't make any difference to what I think or spend my time on and that people who know anything about the subject matter discussed and whose opinions I have reason to respect say is wrong? Even that won't cover all the subject matter you've brought up either.

    I don't think it's been patronising - you've admitted ignorance or lack of understanding of various issues and yet you're still plugging the assertion (inter alia), unsupported by any evidence, that "Darwinist Philosophy" is "the root of liberal humanism", which I disagree with for one thing and am not convinced is a bad thing for another. Where does Behe discuss such things?

    The tone of comments about "getting sick of being patronised" and "go away and read (Behe)" sound dangerously like the petulant responses of someone who has lost the argument to me.
     


    Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
     
    It is not necessary to read somebody that trys to include anything supernatural into science.

    It is flawed to begin with.

    Behe's only argument "is I don't know, so God must have done it." Many do know, their was a lot of published work on these subjects that Behe ignored. But even if there wasn't this is an "argument from personal incredulity"
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    I don't think that I have ever used the word creationist in respect of Behe. If I have I apologise.

    It seems to me important to distinguish carefully between two different arguments that Behe may be making:

    1) The first is the greater claim that irreducibly complex systems cannot in principle be evolved by natural selection. This argument fails, and Orr's argument shows why. Orr's As and Bs in his argument are perfectly legitimate since the argument is, in effect that all irreducibly complex systems cannot in principle be evolved. Orr need only show that natural selection can in principle explain some.

    2) The second is the lesser claim that some particular irreducibly complex system cannot have been evolved by natural selection. Here the jury is out because it is hard to see how Behe could prove this beyond reasonable doubt, and proving him wrong by constructing a step by step explanation of a particular case is likely to be exceptionally difficult even if it is actually an evolved system.

    Given that the evidence for evolution is so widespread and compelling and that there are mechanisms which can in principle bring about irreducible complexity many of us feel that the chances of Behe being right about 2 are small. His is a challenge to the theory, certainly, but not such as to throw the theory into crisis at the present time.

    His view also has odd theological consequences - given that God, in Behe's view has allowed evolution to operate, why couldn't God let evolution take care of all cases of irreducible complexity too?

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Moreover, Behe postulates (IIRC) that the genetic coding for these 'irreducibly complex' systems was placed into the genome of the original population of ancestral organisms, and left turned off until required millions of years later.

    There is a problem here. Non-functional DNA mutates freely, because there is no selection pressure against deleterious mutations. The DNA would for the blood clotting cascade would not work by the time it was required.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn, I'll need to take your word for it that some irreducible systems have been shown to have developed step-by-step. Karl, I didn't mean to support Behe's theories, only to back up his challenge to science. Someone needs to answer his questions. Glenn says they have (Orr has not), it has been almost 4 years since Behe wrote his book so it is possible that some science has shown the chemical steps to some irreducible systems. Perhaps someone on the thread might wish to highlight some.

    John, I'm sorry for sounding petulant. I was quite frustrated, because I know what I've read and so can see that many arguments are covered in the books. I wouldn't have to argue the points if you had all read the same books.

    You helpfully pointed out previously, John, that Philip Johnson is not a scientist but a lawyer. I'll get to get to the science supports liberal humanism and vice versa once this argument is concluded. Please bear with me.

    Regarding Johnson, we can ask, what right can a lawyer have to question science? None, right? Scientists are best qualified to question science.

    But, if you would have an open enough mind to prioritise the reading of Johnson's books (I am a Christian and read Dawkins and Lewontin without it affecting my faith and you should have the same confidence to do the same) you'd see that whilst Johnson sites simple scientific examples (examples even a lawyer or an engineer can understand), Johnson's primary concern is not with the science but with unraveling the complex arguments philosophical materialists use to defend their 'science'. Johnson shows, with his lawyer's mind, how defenders of 'evolution' use complex rebuttal techniques which mask the underlying science.

    Allen Orr is a classic case in hand. The formula for rebuttal is classic.

    'Demolition' job done!

    Not at all, says Johnson. The main criticism has been left unanswered. In the case of Allen Orr, Behe asked in his book for scientists to replace A+B=C with the real scientific chemical names and reactions. Can you see the weakness of Orr's response to Behe? It is not that he might be right and Behe wrong, it is that Orr has not given a solid answer as demanded by Behe in 'Darwin's Black Box'. A+B=C is not a valid scientific answer. A+B=C is a fairy story based on a prior commitment to materialism. Read the book.

    Johnson has exposed many more rebuttal examples that are similar and all he is doing (like me but much better - he's a lawyer used to spotting flaws in arguments, I'm an engineer used to designing steel structures) is exposing the argument techniques of philosophical materialists committed to keeping the supernatural out of modern thought. Can you see the difference? When people begin to understand the way scientists argue, the debate will be much more open and, more importantly, honest

    Neil
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    Neil,

    Let me see if I've got this right. You seem to believe that:

    a) It's only a dishonest pre-commitment to a materialistic philosophy which keeps scientists from treating God as a major factor in their theories about how the world came to be.

    b) Honest scientists should be able to draw a distinction between those matters which future scientists may somehow be able to explain, and those things that science will never be able to explain.

    c) Having identified a list of inherently inexplicable phenomena, all scientists should automatically accept a supernatural explanation for these.

    d) That once their false scientific backing has been removed, various unspecified liberal philosphies will collapse, leaving the world a more conservative evangelical and thus better place.

    I have to say that I don't find any of this in the slightest bit plausible.

    I'd really prefer that scientists didn't go on about God. Hawking may think that his research gives him insight into the mind of God, or it may just be a way of boosting sales of his books, but the "how" of creation, however fascinating, doesn't really say anything about the "why are we here?" religious question.

    Perhaps all the "heat" arises because our language isn't very good at distinguishing the empirical and spiritual realms, so that what sounds like a scientific question is actually a philosophical question, or vice versa ?

    Russ
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Russ

    The closing question of your post is indeed part of the complex and unnecessarily 'heated' relationship between science and theology. You said

    quote:
    perhaps...our language isn't very good at distinguishing the empirical and spiritual realms..

    Language is certainly one factor amongst many which contribute to the 'heat' between theologians and scientists. I will clarify this later, rather than jump around the matter.

    Before investigating the relationship between science, philosophy or ideology and theology, can we further consider the rebuttal methods adopted by opponents to creationism?

    In relation to the rest of what you said, you demonstrated a number of the flawed techniques used by Darwinists to rebut scientific challenges which have been outlined by Johnson. Can we use your response an example of the flaws of these arguments? This is not a personal attack, your post merely demonstrates our learned behaviour in light of the evolution/creation debate. And note, that creationists are guilty in many cases of using the same erroneous rebuttal techniques.

    In the context of recent posts, your four point summary refers to the issue of irreduciblity.

    Christians of all persuasions need to unlearn this conditioned response. With clear thinking we will see that it is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to YECs from what we believe is the only alternative.

    But it is not the only alternative. One technique a omitted from my original list was 'contorting the conclusions'. I didn't say scientists have 'a dishonest pre-commitment to a materialistic philosophy'. I said that scientists have an honest commitment to a materialistic philosophy, it is their coloured responses that are dishonest.

    The honest response to Behe is not to demolish his scientific challenge using the flawed rebuttal methods outlined by Johnson but to acknowledge Behe's challenge and set off to the lab to do some experiments to prove Behe wrong. As Behe said, A+B=C is not science it is a fair story used to mislead Joe Public.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Has anyone read Richard Lewontin's 'The Doctrine of DNA - biology as ideology' (Penguin books £6.99)?

    The Independent described it as 'the most subversive book to be published in English this year (1993)'

    Stephen Jay Gould said of the book:

    quote:
    'The very best in genetics, combined with a powerful political and moral vision of how science, properly interpreted and used to empower all the people, might truly help us to be free'

    Wake up Christendom! 'Science' has not just claimed but already assumed the moral authority for western culture. Can the Christians on this thread see what has happened? While we've backed science verses YEC, science has stabbed us in the back and buried Christianity with philosophical materialism and liberal humanism.

    The honest position for all involved (scientists, Christains and aetheists) in the debate is scientific agnosticism. A simple statement of 'science is neutral' (which we have already agreed) would be enough to re-establish the possibility of the Almighty in the minds of Joe Public. Christians do not need to be hostile to methodologicalism, science and theology can live at peace. But as soon as science made the claims of Lewontin, and assumed moral legitimacy and as long as science keeps Christians on side against YEC, then science has won the moral high ground, and Lewontin knows it.

    Clear scientific agnosticism is called for. A third postion in the evolution/creationism debate. Sit on the fence, say we can't tell, I'm not saying that we need to give serious consideration to YEC, but to the cretaor. Whatever theistic position we hold, do not agree with the evolutionists who have claimed moral authority through the 'fact' that science proves God is dead.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Neil - science did not make the claims; Lewontin did!

    I think both sides here are trying to confuse science and philosophy. In Lewontin and Dawkins' case the confusion is obvious. It is the Intelligent Design people whose confusion is not so clear.

    Intelligent Design says (reduced perhaps a little too far, but for the purposes of explanation) 'X looks designed, therefore it is'. But that is a philosophical question. Science does not ask whether the blood cascade reaction is designed, but how the design was realised in the natural world. I agree with ID as philosophy, but not as science.

    As regards refuting Behe in the lab, this has been done and Miller refers to some lab experiments that do just this, so I'll leave that until you've read his book. Besides, my father in law currently has my copy...

    Turning finally to combatting atheist philosophy from the likes of Dawkins and Lewontin - the solution, surely, is to accept the findings of science (and even Behe considers that to reject common descent is ridiculous given the evidence) but to point out how, philosophically, this does not actually have any bearing on the existence or nature of God.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl - sorry, I thought Lewontin's job title 'Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.', meant he was a scientist. I note that some of his published papers include:

    I may be stating the obvious to you, but you're a scientist (at least I think you are…what is your field?). You sit on the inside of the impenetrable world of science, at least that's the way it seems to Joe Public.

    In the eyes of Joe Public, the common man, Lewontin's scientific pedigree makes him a legitimacy voice on the matter of science and the world. And Lewontin knows it.

    Here is an abridged version of Lewontin's preface and first chapter 'The Doctrine of DNA - biology as ideology'. It makes interesting reading.

    quote:
    Western society has become more secular and more rationalist, and the chief sources for social theory have become the professional intellectuals, the scientists, economists, political theorists, and philosophers who work largely in universities. These intellectuals are aware of the power they have to mould public consciousness, and they constantly seek ways in which they can publish their ideas.

    For almost the entire history of European society...the chief institution of social legitimacy was the Christian church. It was by the grace of God that each person had an appointed place in society...Even the most revolutionary of religious leaders pressed the claims of legitimacy for the sake of order...

    For an institution to explain the world so as to make the world legitimate, it must possess several features. First, the institution as a whole must appear to derive from sources outside of ordinary human social struggle. It must not seem to be the creation of political, economic, or social forces, but to descend into society from a supra-human source. Second, the ideas, pronouncements, rules, and results of the institution's activity must have a validity and a transcendent truth that goes beyond any possibility of human compromise or human error. Its explanations and pronouncements must seem to be true in an absolute sense to derive somehow from an absolute source. They must be true for all time and all place. And finally, the institution must have a certain mystical and veiled quality so that it its innermost operation is not completely transparent to everyone. It must have esoteric language, which needs to be explained to the ordinary person by those who are especially knowledgeable and who can intervene between everyday life and mysterious sources of understanding and knowledge.

    The Christian Church or indeed any revealed religion fits these requirements perfectly...but this description also fits science and has made it possible for science to replace religion as the chief legitimating force in modern society...

    Not only the methods and institutions of science are said to be above ordinary human relations but, of course, the product of science is claimed to be a kind of universal truth...

    Despite its claims to be above society, science, like the Church before it, is a supremely social institution, reflecting and reinforcing the dominant values and views of society...The most famous case is Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection...Most of the ideological influence from society that permeates science is a great deal more subtle...

    Our genes and the DNA molecules that make them up are the modern form of grace, and in this view we will understand what we are when we know what our genes are made of...we will know what it is to be human.


    I found the above statement refreshingly honest. Lewontin has stated the truth clearly and concisely…God is dead…science rules ethics, morality, culture, purpose and meaning.

    Joe Public has no way of questioning Lewontin's philosophy because, as Lewontin pointed out, no one understands his science.

    My questions are these?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    The fact that Lewontin is a scientist does not mean that everything he says is science. When folk start talking about philosophy, even if they think it is informed by their science, they are not talking with their scientist hats on.

    I am not a scientist; I'm a computer engineer. I have science A levels and a scientific degree, but that's as far as it goes.

    As to your questions:

    What gives science this legitimacy?

    It doesn't have it. If people look to science for ultimate meaning that is very foolish of them. The fact that so few look to the church reflects the vacuosity of much Christian output.

    What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?

    You need to be specific what you mean here, because I'm not sure. Darwin proposed a scientific model and didn't relate it to philosophy, so I don't know what his philosophy was. I understand he was a theist.

    How will the church counter this legitimacy?

    See my last post. Certainly it doesn't happen by finding gaps in current scientific knowledge and saying 'Ha! Goddidit!'

    [edited for typo and to add bit I forgot because I can]

    [ 17 July 2001: Message edited by: Karl ]
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, Lewontin is clearly an expert in his field of science, and as such within that field (and probably closely related fields) his views are clearly important and deserve careful consideration. That, however, does not mean that what he was to say in the fields of philosophy or theology (which are outside his field field of expertise) has any greater value than any other amateur philosopher or theologian. I think I said much the same earlier in relation to Dawkins et al.

    I think the quote you gave is actually a fairly accurate description of the way things are (not, of course, how they should be). The general public do tend to give a greater credance to the views of scientists, who have effectively replaced the Church as the source of truth. Now that may be great for the ego of individual scientists, it is not good for society since it results in an implicit rejection of other sources of truth (in art for example) that are not capable of being investigated with the tools of science. As a scientist I am worried by this over emphasis on science; I would be horrified if my thoughts on areas outside environmental radioactivity or physics were considered more worthy of consideration because I'm a practising scientist.

    I'll have a stab at answering your three questions in a later post.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    Many thanks for your response, I re-read your last post on the way back from work in the taxi (the joy of Palm computing...I write most of my posts in the taxi too).

    I realised, once I'd re-read past the first line of your post that I agree with everything you said and I agree with everything on your response to my slight rant. Sorry.

    Whew...I am pleased that the science and philosophy, including the philosophy of ID, are now clear in my mind), thank you.

    May I summarise so that you can make sure I agree with you:

    Methodologicalism is science…plain investigation into the way things work. It is by definition natural and requires no philosophical commitment.

    Philosophical naturalism, or materialism are fancy ways of saying that a scientist is committed to finding natural ways to explain everything, due to a prior philosophical commitment to atheism.

    Intelligent Design is a way of saying that a scientist holds a philosophically theistic understanding of the universe, due to faith in a creator God, but without trying to invoke a literal understanding of Genesis 1 & 2.

    Creationism is a way of saying that a scientist is committed to finding scientific ways to explain the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2, due to a prior philosophical commitment to theism.

    Remember, I’m a bear of very little brain. Are these definitions accurate?

    You said

    quote:
    The fact that so few look to the church reflects the vacuosity of much Christian output.

    I couldn’t agree more. I think this is what I was asking in the very first post. Has the church become a subset of the Lewontin view of the world? Is it time we evaluate the theology and presentation of the gospel to a world which demands objective reality?

    My next question was meant to open up some thinking about the complex relationships between science, the media, the public, government and so on. What systems exist which support liberal humanism and the ‘scientific’ philosophy of the West?

    I must go for dinner.

    Talk tomorrow

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    This is a bit long, but a response to Neils three questions.

    quote:
    What gives science this legitimacy?

    I would say apparent legitimacy. A general misunderstanding in the general public that sees scientific truth to be in conflict with other expressions of truth, especially theology. Part of this is a result of the way science is taught in schools, as providing definite and reliable answers, which give a false impression of the power of science to reveal all truth, which is then supported by the ability of science and technology to provide solutions to real life problems. It is also partly due to the impression that science and faith are somehow in conflict; through media misrepresentations of how science and faith interact (the conflict model makes good TV) and also the vociferous attack on science from a small minority of Christians who accept a hyper-literal reading of Scripture.

    Interestingly it seems that things are changing. The image of science to be able to solve problems is badly marred by the problems of pollution and climate change brought about by technological advances, as well as concerns about GM food, nuclear power, emerging diseases etc. There is a move within the general public away from science as the only (or primary) source of truth, hence the growth in "New Age" spiritualities, alternative medicines and the like. The challenge to the Church is to gain a hearing as being a genuine source of truth.

    quote:
    What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?

    I'll talk about philosophical materialism, ie the extension of the methodological materialism of science to the philosophy of Scientism that says the material is all there is and science is the only way of determining the truth of the way the material works, rather than "Darwin's philosophy" because it is a more accurate term. As Karl has said, Darwin didn't extend his theory to a philosophy, although many people have included evolution within philosophical materialism.

    This, of course, relates to the comments above. While science is seen as the preferred (or only) source of truth then philosophical materialism is a fairly natural extension of that idea. This means that scientists who hold such a philosophical viewpoint have a ready audience in the general public, because as a scientific expert the impression is they have authority to speak as philosophers. As I've said this is incorrect, but the perception is there nonetheless. Of course, it doesn't help when emminent scientists who recognise that they have no expertise in philosophy, and hence no authority to get involved in philosophical discussion, therefore keep quiet on such issues.

    quote:
    How will the church counter this legitimacy?

    Again, apparent legitimacy. It is not solely the task of the Church to counter this, scientists (whether Christian, Muslim, Atheist, agnostic, whatever) who recognise that philosophy is outside the legitimate bounds of science also need to do their part. The debate has to be conducted in the relevant discipline; countering philosophical materialism by questioning methodological materialism will only alienate the scientific community. Hence, although Behe may have legitimate scientific questions to be answered by the scientific community to use those questions to try and undermine philosophical materialism is counter productive (the same could be said for any attempts to undermine the science from which some people make philosophical statements).

    On a practicle level this means the Church needs people sufficiently versed in science and philosophy with the communication skills of the likes of Dawkins to be able to get Christian views of science into the public consciousness. This means trying to get TV in particular to show things which don't depict some form of conflict between science and faith, and to debunk some of the more persistant myths which support the view that science and faith have always been in conflict. It also means we've got to find ways of supressing those within the church who, through some prior commitment to the nonsense of YEC for example, do see science as the enemy.

    Sorry for the length,

    Alan
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    Neil,

    Sorry, I take "conservative" to be the opposite of "liberal", and therefore tend to assume that if you're against the one you're in favour of the other. No offence or straw man intended. If you're not intending to put a conservative argument, you might consider whether the word "liberal" adds anything to what you're saying? Is it simply humanism that you're against ?

    Perhaps we should treat the philosophy of scientists as we treat the political convictions of pop musicians. Each individual has a right to their own view on philosophical and political issues. (But this isn't a licence to ignore empirical findings).

    Can anyone ever be said to speak "for science" ? Not if they're spouting philosophy. Perhaps if they're talking about the method of science and the conclusions drawn from the application of that method...

    I'm happy to leave science to the scientists. It doesn't threaten genuine faith in God (although I think that those who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis correctly perceive that such a belief is contradicted by "scientific" knowledge). I feel no obligation to agree with (or even to read) books of the philosophies held by particular scientists just because they are scientists.

    So I'm not sure there's anything to get worked up about...

    Is it perhaps the case that most Christians today do not believe that the existence of God can be proved, whereas most Christians in medieval times did think that ? So that we believe in God in a different way than our medieval ancestors did ? Is God now a private conviction rather than a publicly acknowledged fact ?

    If you're saying that the rise of science and increasing knowledge of the natural world has something to do with this philosophical change (has the argument from design joined the argument of the first cause in the philosophical dustbin ?) then I wouldn't argue with you.

    But to suggest that the change is reversible through any particular scientific finding seems to me a misunderstanding.

    Is this where the liberal/conservative thing comes in - are liberals happier with modern pluralism while conservatives hark back to the days of crusades against the infidel ?

    Or am I going round in circles ?

    Russ
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Is it perhaps the case that most Christians today do not believe that the existence of God can be proved, whereas most Christians in medieval times did think that ? So that we believe in God in a different way than our medieval ancestors did ? Is God now a private conviction rather than a publicly acknowledged fact >

    As a tangent, I think this is the past that the YECs are hankering for. Because if the earth was created in 7 days it needs God.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    In defence of Lewontin

    Various comments have been made about R. C. Lewontin which may have mislead readers of this thread about what his views actually are. Neil quoted/paraphrased a bit from the first chapter of his book The Doctrine of DNA Biology as Ideology as:

    quote:
    Our genes and the DNA molecules that make them up are the modern form of grace, and in this view we will understand what we are when we know what our genes are made of...we will know what it is to be human.

    But this is Lewontin stating the view of biology that the rest of his book seeks to attack and show to be false.

    Neil then said:

    quote:
    I found the above statement refreshingly honest. Lewontin has stated the truth clearly and concisely…God is dead…science rules ethics, morality, culture, purpose and meaning.

    But for Lewontin such reductionism is what he argues against. On page 16 he says that he seeks to

    quote:
    acquaint the reader with the truth about science as a social activity and to promote a reasonable skepticism about the sweeping claims that modern science makes to an understanding of human existence.

    Lewontin has co-authored various articles and books with Stephen Gould and also with Steven Rose, and the three of them have much in common with Neil Robbie in that they are very critical of much of Evolutionary Psychology and the way biology is applied to ethics. (see for example the collection
    Alas, Poor Darwin: arguments against evolutionary psychology edited by Hilary and Steven Rose).

    These people are scientists who dislike the way biological ideas are sometimes improperly applied to people, and naturally get passionate in their protests about it. Bravo, for their part in the debate!

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Fascinating. And highly illustrative of the disingenuous way in which quotations can be used.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn, thank you for your clarification...that will teach me not to quote from a book I've not finished reading. I bought it on Saturday and only got as far as the end of chapter one (I'm currently juggling 'Unweaving the Rainbow, the third Harry Potter, Gerard Schroder, Preaching the Living Word and Lewontin').

    Karl, you said

    quote:
    Fascinating. And highly illustrative of the disingenuous way in which quotations can be used.

    Sorry, I wasn't being disingenous, merely quoting without reading the whole...which is, as you say, highly illustrative of why we should read the whole and not just the quotes from criticisms…I'll do you a deal…I'll buy and read Kenneth Miller if you buy and read Michael Behe ;-)

    Regardless of whether Lewontin agrees with us or not, his quotes make a valid and honest point. Science is the current legitimating force in western society.

    Karl, I agreed with you that the church needs to put it's house in order to attract scientists who see Christianity as an empty shell. To be fair, the church has been defending itself against philosophical attack over the last 100 years by trying to adapt to the powerful message of science, but the adapted Christian message has little relevance to everyday life, and Christianity of that ilk has, sadly, become a subset of humanism.

    If this process is to be reversed, perhaps we must not only revert to the original message of the gospel, but at the same time undermine the authority of science to claim legitimacy in the realms of the meaning and purpose of life.

    I've been thinking about my question regarding the systems which keep humanism (liberalism - call it what we will) in place.

    Below is a slightly tongue-in-cheek description of the beliefs, people and institutions of the cult of humanism and the part (neo)Darwinism plays in the cult (what's happened to John Collins? This is what he wanted to discuss)

    Perhaps, if Christians understand the interaction between science and humanism, it may help us establish how theistic scientists can aid the recovery of the role of the church in shaping Western culture.

    Here goes, if anyone wishes to expand or amend these initial definitions, feel free.

    Beliefs

    People

    Institutions & Buildings

    I've been thinking about the role of Galileo et al in the undermining of the dogmatism of the church. Science disproved many dogmatically held beliefs of the church and the church lost credibility and confidence in the process.

    Just as no one within the church questioned its legitimacy in the days of Galileo, are scientists now unwilling to question the legitimacy of science today?

    Please remember that we do not want to advocate a YEC approach to science. But can scientists, like Behe, be part of the dismantling of humanism (liberalism)? If theistic scientists break rank with the established church of science, openly questioning the philosophical assumptions of many scientists (like Lewontin is reported by Glenn to have done…my appetite is whetted again for his book), if theistic scientists publicly announce that science is neutral on the questions of God, how will it effect the (Joe) public perception and authority of humanism?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    You say that:
    quote:
    Gould said 'science, properly interpreted and used to empower all the people, might truly help us to be free (from God)'

    from God is your addition surely?

    quote:
    'Grace' - genes which determine our position in society (this is Richard Lewontin's limited definition of grace in his book 'The Doctrine of DNA.

    Again, this is the deterministic position Lewontin is arguing against. It is not a definition he believes in.

    As a liberal christian humanist (if that makes any sense to you) when I hear other Christians protest about humanism I wonder what it is about it that they are objecting to -what is it that they think of when they hear the word 'humanism'? I am deeply suspicious of the authoritarian aspects of some styles of Christianity and I get alarmed that they might wish to impose some drastic limits on free speech (that's my knee jerk private nightmare). I would be interested to know what you see as the alternative to the humanism you seem so opposed to.

    By the way, I did not think you were being disingenuous with your earlier Lewontin quote. Enjoy Harry Potter, (I’m on No. 4).

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Should add - I was thinking generally not specifically when I referred to disingenuous quote mining. It happens, believe me, it happens. It wasn't happening here.
     
    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Below is a slightly tongue-in-cheek description of the beliefs, people and institutions of the cult of humanism and the part (neo)Darwinism plays in the cult (what's happened to John Collins? This is what he wanted to discuss)

    I hadn't gone away I just occasionally remember to shut up if I can't think of anything useful to say.

    Besides which I thought this belonged on another thread.

    I don't really know what planet you live on but all this stuff seems quite unconnected with any philosophy I recognise in the context in the UK of having the most religious PM since Gladstone and in the US (oh well better shut up).

    Why "liberal humanism", whether or not that is a fair definition of its philosophy, is the ultimate enemy in the face of rampant Islam etc escapes me. But then I don't agree with much else you've said.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    I'm sligtly disappointed that I didn't read Harry Potter 3 when my wife read it...before no 4! 3 loses something of its suspense when you know Harry lives for no 4. Never mind, it's still very well written.

    You're right, Gould didn't write (from God) I added it as I thought it was implied, sorry for that.

    I realise humanism has numerous definitions, I use it in the modern sense as given in Chambers dictionary:

    quote:
    Humanism (n) literary culture; classical studies; any system which puts human interests and the mind of man paramount, rejecting the supernatural, belief in a god, etc; pragmatism (philos); a critical application of the logical method of pragmatism to all the sciences.

    I realise Christian Humanism is an oxymoron in this sense and that you must therefore mean that your theology is post-Renaissance but pre-Reformation (are you interested in any particular aspect of humanism? Northern European, Swiss, French or English?).

    If your theology includes Christianismus renascens, from a modern perspective, then our faith as Christians is probably similar.

    But, now that you have described your theological position, may I ask how adopting the various adjectives which are used to describe different branches of Christianity help in this context? The context being the unifying of theism in science. John Collins mentioned Islam as the common enemy of the West, but when it comes to science, Islamic scientists share a common understanding of the world as a product of an intelligent design. (Mr Collins your response was illustrative of the type of arguement highlighted by Philip Johnson - attack the person and produce a straw man. Your arguement will hold more water if you stick to the issues).

    Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

    In its simplest form, intellgent design as a philosophy (if it grows in public perception) will at least turn people to consider the creator. God will lead people to the truth and, I believe, that the ressurected Christ is the only objective truth which will satisfy the minds of people who have trained to seek objectivity. Liberal Christian Humanism will be one of many branches of theism which will benefit.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Gurdur (# 857) on :
     
    hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.
    Neil, I started another thread a day ago which took up some of the issues you are discussing [Irreducible complexity: a funny story].
    To recap and expand:
    Science is basically about discovering primary causes. To posit "Intelligent Design" is often simply discarded as being uninteresting since it obviates interesting research into primary causes.
    There are other good reasons (theological ones too) for discarding it; but I don't want to get side-tracked.
    Scientists, on the other hand, are also human. Plus they like anyone else want fame, security and fortune; and much of that lies behind the debates surrounding evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theorists are often guilty of sloppy thinking and sensationalism, which makes them much akin to theists on those counts. But it does not disprove the central basis of evolutionary theory (you can also say the same for theism).
    A very good book on the controversies within evolutionary theory (more properly the controversies surronding sociobiology) is "Defenders of The Truth" by Ullica Segerstrale.

    You also wrote:

    quote:
    God will lead people to the truth and, I believe, that the ressurected Christ is the only objective truth which will satisfy the minds of people who have trained to seek objectivity.

    Um, why? I can't see that, sorry.

    You also wrote:

    quote:
    Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

    Please forgive me if I advance my opinion that this has been tried before in history? Unfortunately, theological thought is too important not to lead to schisms.

    Finally, one of the reasons why I like this place so much is its atmosphere of cordiality between practioners of extremely different schools of thought. If I may be so presumptious, I find it sad on that basis that you have evolved one attitude from "John" to "Mr.Collins" in your reply here; John may be somewhat abrasive, but I think he has raised some points which need more answering, and in any case I don't think he's abrasive enough to warrant the response you gave just above.

    In any case, in a lighthearted manner, let me observe that there are now at least two people on this thread who have atually read Behe.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Welcome on board Gurdur. I will respond to the points you raised later, but wish to post an apology to you and John Collins first. I am guilty of both ungraciously bating John for a comment and then posting the response to which I deserved your rebuke.

    Please accept my apologies gentlemen.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Of course, you'll know I meant 'baiting', rather than hitting John over the head with a large stick...those missing vowels.

    Neil

    PS. It's great to know someone else has read Behe!
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Can I ask, Glenn and Karl, is it possible for theisists of every shade and colour stop the petty infighting over our understanding of God and unite under the banner of Intellgent Design as a philosophy?

    Perfectly. But the leaders of the ID movement don't want that. They want us to unite under ID as a scientific alternative to evolution by natural selection. That is, of course, not an option for those of us who accept the case for the latter.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    I'm not entirely convinced by the Intelligent Design brigade; as Karl does, I'm pretty sure that they are too taken by knocking Darwin.

    Also, I.D. tends to be a very particular take in how God was involved in the creation process, and I'm not convinced at all that it is certainly correct theologically or scientifically - indeed personally I think it's pretty unconvincing both ways - or rather it is easily assailed by what I might term "hard evolutionists". It seems rather close to a house built on sand...
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Philip Johnson's weekly letter on the arn.org webpage makes interesting reading for this thread. Johnson talks about his correspondence with Dawkins.

    Philip Johnson on Dawkins - 9th July 2001

    quote:
    My point is not that his statement is arrogant, but that it is just so much empty rant.

    Reading the article, Johnson gets unwittingly drawn into putting his cards on the table by Dawkins regarding his position on common ancestry.

    However, I've never read Johnson scientifically, the bloke's a lawyer, he should stick to exposing the fallacious arguments of Dawkins statements on philosophy.

    The way I read the article is that Johnson accuses Dawkins, as graciously as he can, of a grossly one-sided philosophical view of the empirical scientific evidence.

    Now, I agree that mixing philosophy with science is a dangerous business and that science should be left to its methodologicalism, but I would like to relate this argument to my own experience to state my view on why theists should unite under an 'intelligent design' banner.

    I was converted from a position of philosophical materialism, secular humanism, call it what you like, by faith in the resurrected Christ (which I believe is objective truth) to philosophical theism. With my conversion came the almost instantaneous view that the world was designed.

    As a simple example. I see that animals consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide and that plants reverse that process, maintaining the atmospheric balance. Philosophically, I saw this, ten years ago, as intelligent design. There is no way we can prove, using science, that the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle is a product of intelligence or evolution. We can theorise about it, speculate and hypothesise, but we'll never prove it.

    Is this a valid position all theistic scientists can hold? If it is, why don't theistic scientists hold this philosophy more strongly?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    John

    Getting back to liberal or secular humanism. I commend to you the reading of the Council for Secular Humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration

    Let me quote some parts of the declaration, to give you the gist of why philosophical materialism is the enemy of Christian, and all other monotheistic, faith:

    quote:
    Secular humanism is a vital force in the contemporary world. It is now under unwarranted and intemperate attack from various quarters. This declaration defends only that form of secular humanism which is explicitly committed to democracy. It is opposed to all varieties of belief that seek supernatural sanction for their values.

    We reject the divinity of Jesus, the divine mission of Moses, Mohammed, and other latter day prophets and saints of the various sects and denominations.

    We believe the scientific method, though imperfect, is still the most reliable way of understanding the world. Hence, we look to the natural, biological, social, and behavioral sciences for knowledge of the universe and man's place within it.


    If you visit the webpage, you'll find that Richard Dawkins is a chief contributor. What does he contribute? Scientific observations and philosophical derivations.

    Before saying anything else, I agree with Dawkins revulsion of totalitarian and sectarian regimes. I am perhaps more patient, but no less horrified in the rise of superstition and subjective spiritualism in the West. We only disagree on where our efforts for education should be focused. I agree that we should each be free, but I do not agree that the freedom Dawkins espouses is real freedom. Jesus said 'know the truth and the truth will set you free, and this brings us closer to the real issue and motivation behind secular humanism.

    Now, back to Philip Johnson who is the secular humanist's chief antagonist, but why is Dawkins finding Johnson's attack 'unwarranted'? On what basis does Dawkins argue that the attack is unwarranted? He can not argue on the basis of philosophy, because it is subjective, so he turns to his 'objective' science as the undergirding evidence for secular humanism. Philip Johson replies, your science is objective but your subjective interpretation is one-sided and misleading.

    That's how the two are linked. And that's why undermining philosophical materialism as an interpretation of scientific empirical evidence is one key to re-establishing public confidence in theism.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Is this a valid position all theistic scientists can hold?

    Yes

    quote:
    If it is, why don't theistic scientists hold this philosophy more strongly?

    This is not the banner the ID people want us to unite under. They want ID as science, as an alternative to mainstream science. That's the problem.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    As they say in Singapore...ah-yoh, lah! Can not like that one.

    This may be your first Singlish lesson, it means 'I see the problem. We can not argue like that, can we?'

    I agree with you Karl, we can not abandon methodological naturalism. From your post, I think I may be beginning to see the reason for the scientific community's reaction to ID.

    It seems the scientific establishment has labled ID as anti-scientific. But, I have not detected the abandonment of methodological naturalism in any of the books I've read by Behe or Johnson. In Johnson's letter to Dawkins, (which has a hyperlink above) Johnson states that he will accept the age of the earth from any valid scientific source (currently 4.6 billion or more if science changes its mind). Methodologicalism is not his issue for Johnson.

    What is an issue is the adherence to philosophical materialism with the claim that the philosophy has solid empirical grounds. It doesn't, we've agreed that on this thread.

    Turning to Behe, the observations of irreduciblity are simply more complex examples of the carbon-dioxide/oxygen cycle. His view is that empirical science may never prove that irreducible systems occurred by chance or by design, but that philosophically and perhaps statistically, ID scientists see the design in the empiricism.

    May I postulate that the adverse reaction by theistic scientists is because YECs have been quick to adopt Behe and Johnson as their own, when Behe and Johnson couldn't dream of anything worse.

    Can we separate the wheat from the chaff, and see ID as distinct from YEC?

    ID is committed to methodologicalism. It just sees the empirical results with different eyes of faith.

    Methodologically speaking, ID is behind science all the way. There's no twisting science to suit a Genesis account of creation.

    But, philosophically, there is a spectrum, with Dawkins et al at one extreme and YEC at the other. Neither philosophy has irrefutable scientific support, although Dawkins has the support of the massive majority, but not all, of empirical evidence. ID fits somewhere on the spectrum. I'd say if Dawkins is the red end of the visible spectrum and YEC the violet, then ID may be the yellow or green philosophically, with blurring at both edges, depending on the individual eyes of faith.

    Where would other board members fit on the philosophical spectrum? I like the colour green.

    Neil
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    Neil, speaking from myself, I wouldn't see YEC and ID as been in the same camp.

    As you may surmise from my previous postings, I'd think that the problem space is not one-dimensional as in a spectrum; there are several debates which lead on from on to another; philosophical neo-Darwinism moves on from, but is not the same as, the scientific principle of evolution - to portray it as parallel to and continuous from Darwinism is exactly the sleight of hand philosophical neo-Darwinists themselves play; a more accurate representation would be for it to diverge at right angles to the line of evolution vs. creationism at the end point of hard evolutionism.

    I believe that in portraying the path as continuous, you are both supporting the interpretation of the problem space favoured by the neo-Darwinists for their own reasons, which I'd argue that we should all challenge and refute; and that secondly this sets up a tension between faith and evolution which is unnecessary (and further supports the neo-Darwinist philosophers).

    Thus, I can't place myself on the spectrum - though I'm probably close to the intersection of the two lines.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    gbuchanan

    Many thanks. The perpendicular lines are an interesting and helpful concept. Philosophical position on one line and I think you say the interpretation of the empirical evidence on the other.

    Taking the 3D nature of the problem a step further, perhaps we should view the empirical results of methodologicalism as an object to be viewed like a sphere.

    We orbit the sphere philosophically and our philosophical position is geostationery until we have a philosophical shift of orbit.

    Let’s say Dawkins views the sphere with a geostationary position directly above the North Pole. And YECs view it fixed above the South Pole. Both view allows a very restricted view of the empirical evidence, and neither can see the way the other person views the sphere.

    To move laterally from North to South is to shift one’s philosophical position from atheism through agnosticism through theism to YECism, based on interpretation of the empirical, statistical, scientific evidence.

    To move around the sphere at the equator is to consider all the aspects of the argument with an open mind, seeing both the North Pole and the South Pole. Dawkins and YECs are geostationery, the rest of us can consider new empirical evidence by moving longitudinally around the sphere viewing all empirical evidence with a more open philosophy. Perhaps, as we see new empirical facts, our philosophical orbit will shift in the process.

    I’m orbiting around the sphere, looking at the empirical evidence and slowly shifting from a northern hemisphere scientific agnosticism to an equator or just 2deg south scientific theism.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    I could not unite under an Intelligent Design banner as described by Behe, because he appears to think that there must be non-evolved biological systems for God to be credited with designing the universe.

    But suppose that all the complexity present in our world, including the irreducibly complex systems Behe talks about evolved. Would that make God any the less amazing or any the less a designer of the universe? He still created a universe capable of evolving such complexity. (Is that not a greater feat?)

    Glenn
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    Just to clear up some old business, vent my spleen and whatever:

    Neil, I decided to stay off this thread for a bit when it deadlocked over the scientific method as it relates to Behe. I disagree with your logic on this but I offer my apologies for any patronizing on my part.

    Now for the venting: The attitude and assumptions behind the idea that "if you'll just read this list of books, I won't have to explain it" is itself patronizing. People don't need to read Behe, et. al, when multiple critiques of them point out the same flaws in their logic, method, evidence and assumptions. Though I *have* read a fair range of the authors in question, I am not going to submit to a 'required reading list.'

    OK, I feel better.....

    For a few days, this thread struck me as a little 'crusade-ish' between "Wake up, Christendom!," to the analysis and breakdown of the "Humanist Religion" to the call to unite under the Banner of ID. Since the subject is about competing philosophies, I suppose that can't completely be avoided.

    However, it struck me, as an outsider looking in, that the idea of uniting under the Banner of ID is very close to the mindset of the YEC. The only difference is where you draw the line on what evidence you accept and into which theoretical framework you fit your evidence. For example, the YEC feel that any scientific evidence that contravenes their literalist interpretation of Genisis is deception and make that part of their doctrinal purity test. It appears to me that ID sets up irreducible complexity as its touchstone doctrine and insists that only particular analyses of phenomena (e.g. clotting factors) be allowed and that such be placed beyond the reach of scientific investigation.

    quote:
    Glenn Oldham:
    But suppose that all the complexity present in our world, including the irreducibly complex systems Behe talks about evolved. Would that make God any the less amazing or any the less a designer of the universe?

    From a theistic point of view, I would say no. After all, what good is omnipotence if you can't use it? The universe could have been designed with all these details and factors built in from 'before' the Big Bang. If that were so, all of the astrophysical, geological and biological data would point to the natural formation of our universe, the Sun and Earth and the evolution of life. Of course, that leads back to the question, "Why is there anything?" (I forget who said that)


    Willy
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Willy,

    Nicely put.

    It seems to me part of the tortures of purgatory to find oneself bombarded with many book recommendations!

    You say,

    quote:
    Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

    When I joined my secondary school in 1967 they had just scrapped compulsory Latin. Could you provide a translation!

    Glenn
     


    Posted by willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    Translation: "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Or that's what I'm told it says.

    Willy
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn and Willy

    I think we all know where we all stand philosophically with regards our view of science. None of us are North Pole philosophical materialists (except perhaps John Collins) and none of us are South Pole YECs (except perhaps Bobr).

    So, how can we be labeled philosophically? Can we be united just north and south of the equator? All those between the two tropics losely unite under a 'design banner'.

    Given that materialists are divided, Gould and Lewontin think Dawkins is an extremist, a fundamentalist, and they more liberal. But Dawkins says in response,

    quote:
    ‘at least he (Gould) is on our side against the creationists’

    Is there a way that theists can united, under a broad banner, even though we have slight philosophical differences (different orbits around the sphere) we can say ‘although we differ slightly philosophically, at least Glenn or Willy or Neil or Karl or whoever is on our side against the creationists and against the materialists’?

    Neil

    BTW, Glenn, as your school cancelled Latin, you’ll remember that I asked if your theology included ‘Christianismus renascens’ which means ‘Christianity being born again’, which was the call of the Northern European Humanists and, as you know, their prayers pre-dated the Reformation. I am praying for ‘Christianismus renascens’. How it is born again will be up to God, it is God's church after all.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    This thread seems to have come to its natural conclusion without answering my initial question. I asked, in light of the increasing uncertainty of science to provide all the answers (especially the most important answers) how our theology or practice of the Christian faith would change?

    I find it encouraging finding an increasing and healthy skepticism regarding the ability of science to provide all the answers, especially as secular humanism rests heavily on science to support its creed.

    Way back in the thread, there was a summary of how humans have engaged in God shrinking since the Reformation. From seventeenth century Lutherans and Arminians exalting God's human creatures to deism and then Immanuel Kant who silenced God. The atheist philosophy of Feuerbach and then to Neitzche who pronounced God dead, and whom Marxists, Darwinists and Freudians decided in due course that they could get on better without

    The process has undoubtedly been reversed since science began to draw a blank, even point toward a creator (I am now reading Gerard Schroder's 'The Hidden Face of God - How science reveals the ultimate truth' which is enlightening).

    When Marxism collapsed a decade ago, the west smugly commented that Marx had taken no account in his ideology of human greed. Christians refer to human greed as part of the very unfashionable concept of sin (rejection of God).

    As Darwinism and the secular humanism it supports collapse (and die) we will look back and comment, 'secular humanism took no account in its ideology of sin'.

    I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

    Neil
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    Neil - clearly you've been reading a different thread to me - I think the overall tone here has been that the construct of evolution may need refining, but it the accepted model by most, and doesn't seem to be "dead".

    Yet once more you continue on the track of Darwinism is undetachably connected to Dawkins et al, which most people don't believe.

    Yet once more you compare Darwinism with Marxism, which is a bit like comparing my car to your fruit bowl.
     


    Posted by doug (# 474) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    (rejection of God).

    As Darwinism and the secular humanism it supports collapse (and die) we will look back and comment, 'secular humanism took no account in its ideology of sin'.

    I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

    Neil


    darwinism is ideologically neutral - people
    using it to justify a particular worldview
    doesn't mean that darwinism ( whatever you mean by that - can i assume the neo darwinist
    synthesis ) *is* that worldview.

    i don't think many people think that the death of darwinism is imminent - most people
    in the field would say that its stronger than ever.

    d.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Many thanks. The perpendicular lines are an interesting and helpful concept. Philosophical position on one line and I think you say the interpretation of the empirical evidence on the other.

    Taking the 3D nature of the problem a step further, perhaps we should view the empirical results of methodologicalism as an object to be viewed like a sphere.


    ...erm - what is the "third dimension"?

    quote:

    Let’s say Dawkins views the sphere with a geostationary position directly above the North Pole. And YECs view it fixed above the South Pole. Both view allows a very restricted view of the empirical evidence, and neither can see the way the other person views the sphere.


    ...thus far the metaphor works well;

    quote:

    To move laterally from North to South is to shift one’s philosophical position from atheism through agnosticism through theism to YECism, based on interpretation of the empirical, statistical, scientific evidence.


    ...erm, but you are again confounding the theistic and philosophical points, returning to your continuing line (the axis 'twixt the poles) which then does Dawkins->"Modernist theist"->YEC; I don't agree with that continuum at all.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    I am looking forward to the next ten years. The philosophical landscape is about to change significantly following the death of Darwinism.

    The philosophical landscape is changing (I doubt it was ever static to start with), but that change is unrelated to the so-called "death of Darwinism". I would say the biggest influence on the changing philosophical situation is the shift from "modern" to "post modern" ways of thinking.

    To "modern" thinkers the idea that there is but one truth lends credence to the extension of truth determined in one field (eg: biological evolution) into another (eg: philosophy or theology). Whereas the gradual erosion of the concept of absolute truth will probably make such claims (that science can lead directly to philosophy) harder to justify.

    Post modernity offers new challenges and opportunities for the interface between science and faith. The erosion of absolute truth in favour of contextualised truths could result in further comparmentalisation of scientific and religious truth claims into unrelated fields, conversely the situation could develop where the different truth claims of science and religion are seen as having equal validity as complementary explanations of the same reality from different perspectives. I hope for the second possibility.

    Alan
     


    Posted by doug (# 474) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by gbuchanan:
    ...erm - what is the "third dimension"?

    ...erm, but you are again confounding the theistic and philosophical points, returning to your continuing line (the axis 'twixt the poles) which then does Dawkins->"Modernist theist"->YEC; I don't agree with that continuum at all.


    indeedly. i'd say the yecs need a whole separate planet

    d.
     


    Posted by Al Classic (# 881) on :
     
    "Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to your height?" (Jesus Christ)

    I wish some of the people who think so highly of themselves and their ideas can recognize the humility of Einstein.

    EINSTEIN

    Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 18:54:42
    Subject: Einstein's Concepts

    Dear Bruce,

    I'm reproducing the following & sending it to you because
    the best place I have to file it is in my Bruce S. E-mail
    file.

    My immediate answer to anyone about who are my science or
    engineering heroes is Newton & Einstein. Newton's laws of motion
    & gravitation, because they always worked for me for any occasion
    in day to day engineering for anything having to do with motion,
    force, velocity or mass, and I was aware of the accuracy of their
    derivations.

    Einstein, my hero because his deductions based on the
    observed fact that the velocity of light is constant allowed him
    to predict celestial and other facts not previously noticed. In
    particular, in 1905, when asked how he could prove any of his
    theories, he replied that if astronomers knew of any double stars
    that revolved around a common center, if his theories were
    correct they would find that the light spectrum from the star
    moving away from the earth would be shifted to longer wave
    lengths than the spectrum of the star moving towards the earth,
    i.e. the so called "red shift". Sure enough, the astronomers
    looked, and for the first time became aware that this prediction
    was true. Of course, one of his other conclusions was that E =
    mc^2 (m-c squared), where c is the constant speed of light. Of
    course, this, too, was found to be correct and the basis for
    nuclear bombs and nuclear energy.

    Many years ago, I began collecting several booklets of a
    series, Science Study Series" with the best of intentions of
    reading them right away. Most of them I didn't, but now I have
    time, so I am. About the same time, I picked up "The Universe
    and Dr. Einstein, by Lincoln Barnett. The best book I ever read
    on Einstein was "Einstein, His Life and Times, by Phillip Frank,
    1947.

    Anyway, in "The Universe and--------" at pages i , 36, 108 &
    109, I discovered the following quotes from Einstein:

    "My religion," he says, "consists of a humble admiration of
    the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight
    details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
    That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior
    reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible
    universe, forms my idea of God." (Quoting Einstein)

    "Einstein more than once expressed the hope that the
    statistical method of Quantum physics would prove a temporary
    expedient. (Quoting Einstein "I cannot believe," he wrote,
    "that God plays dice with the world." "

    "The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can
    experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of
    all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can
    no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To
    know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting
    itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which
    our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive
    forms---this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true
    religiousness." (Quote of Einstein)

    (Frontispiece) "Frequently called an atheist by those who
    have failed to grasp the meaning of his philosophy, Einstein
    himself was strongly convinced of the creation of the universe by
    a Supreme Intelligence."

    Anyway, whoever may assume scientists and engineers are all
    atheists may be incorrect as regards some of the BEST scientists
    & engineers.

    Sincerely, Al Mar. 22 Mon. 6:50 PM CST
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Gbuchanan, we're going to go round in circles until we each read Behe and Miller. I find it hard to follow the line of reasoning which says "I've read the critics, so I don't need to read the original".

    If I said to you, "I've read Philip Johnson so I don't need to read Dawkins 'the selfish gene' or Gould '8 little piggies", would you say "good for you, Neil, there's no need to read Dawkins or Gould, you've read the critics."?

    Now, here's an expansion of the 3D model of the link between philosophy and empirical science:

    At the poles are the extreme philosophies of atheism and creationism. In between are agnosticism and theism. Dawkins and YECs are 'poles apart'.

    Let's say that the second dimension (longitudinal) is scientific specialty or a narrow field of science. Starting at the Greenwich meridian there are, say, paleontologists. Move to +1GMT there are zoologists. At +8GMT we have embryologists. +12GMT molecular scientists, bio-chemists and so on.

    Scientists in any one field orbit very close to the sphere, seeing great detail of the locality of the empirical evidence and relying at the same time on other scientists to inform them of findings on other parts of the sphere. This is the way science interacts and maintains the 'purposeless, meaningless, material and random' process of 'evolution'.

    Now, the third dimension is the distance we orbit from the sphere of empirical science. Research scientists orbit somewhere just above the ground. Science educated graduates might orbit at the cruising height of commercial aircraft, seeing the empirical evidence and understanding the principles in general. Somewhere with the satellites are the people who think their stomachs shrink when they eat less food, they can see the sphere but have no idea about the details or principles of empiricism.

    The fact is that those who orbit closer to the sphere have always had philosophical authority. Those of us in the outer orbits trust the scientists on statements of philosophy derived from empirical evidence (popularised by Dawkins et al, but scientists can be no less philosophical in organs such as Nature)

    Now, the problem today for the philosophical materialists is that some scientists on the inner orbit (near the ground) are looking at the sphere of empirical evidence and are shifting from 'random, purposeless, material universe' to 'a designed universe' as their observed philosophy, and scientists with a materialist philosophy find this conclusion repugnant and are furious.

    Scientists on the board will no doubt have heard of Thomas Kuhn, who proposed the system by which scientific theories are tested and revised. To summarise the system goes something like this:

    quote:
    Experimental research produces data, and a scientific theory is an interpretation of that data which ties everything together in a coherent system. As more data comes to light, or the original data is scrutinised more carefully, old theories are discarded and new theories take shape. But the time between theories is characterised by bitter controversy

    'Purposeless, material and random' is a theory which supports and is supported by a philosophy.

    A theory of 'design' supports a different philosophy.
    Hence, we have a bitter controversy.

    Are in the beginning of the bitter controversy stage of a shift in the theory of the origin of life and the origin of species? Only time will tell.

    You said,

    quote:
    Yet once more you compare Darwinism with Marxism, which is a bit like comparing my car to your fruit bowl.

    I've already said that Darwin and Marx started at the same point, under the fashionable philosophy of Neitzche (God is Dead). Their products are indeed like my fruit bowl and your car, but their philosophies were closely linked by the fashion of their time. The only difference is this; it was easy for the West to see the problems of the derivatives of Marxism from the outside. Seeing the problems with the derivatives of Darwinism from the inside are proving much more difficult.

    It was dramatic and exhilarating when the people of East Germany were freed from the tyranny of Communism (the godless derivative of a godless Marxism). The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the start of a freedom for the oppressed masses. It will be more dramatic still when the masses are freed as the wall of godless Darwinian dogma crumbles and falls and with it, its greatest derivative, secular humanism.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    I've already said that Darwin and Marx started at the same point, under the fashionable philosophy of Neitzche (God is Dead).

    And we've already pointed out that you were wrong. Darwin proposed that "The Creator" put the first organisms on the earth. He was never an atheist, although he became agnostic in his later years. 'Origin' is a purely scientific work.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    quote:

    Scientists on the board will no doubt have heard of Thomas Kuhn, who proposed the system by which scientific theories are tested and revised. To summarise the system goes something like this: I've already said that Darwin and Marx started at the same point, under the fashionable philosophy of Neitzche (God is Dead).

    Which is UTTER RUBBISH and furthermore an OUTRIGHT LIE - firstly, Origin of Species was published when Neitzche was 15 years old - so how on earth could Darwinism have emerged from Neitzche's philosophy? Marx was already an established academic at this date as well - okay, it was 8 years before Captial was published, but his theories were already well developed.

    I don't know what "references" you expect me to read and frankly given your fixation with a few contemporary secondary sources I don't really much care - I have degrees in both Science and History, and the latter rather disapproves of depending upon secondary sources.

    If your sources have articulated to a dependency upon Nietzche from Marx and Darwin, they are categorically and unquestionably being deliberately misleading.

    Yes, I am sick and tired of going around in circles - perhaps if you read the original texts of Darwin et al rather than relying upon some else's hearsay, we all might get somewhere.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    Just to be clear, and before it does get taken the wrong way, Neil, I'm not accusing you of lying - just that anyone who is producing statements to the effect that Nietzche influenced Darwin/Marx in their key works in demonstrably generating an untruth, and such a grave one I doubt anyone can trust their integrity.

    P.S. not everyone agrees with Kuhn's take on science - not by a long chalk, though it is clearly influential.
     


    Posted by doug (# 474) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by gbuchanan:

    Marx was already an established academic at this date as well - okay, it was 8 years before Captial was published, but his theories were already well developed.

    Although Marx was a great admirer of Darwins rather fearsome intellect, and its fair to say that some of his thinking was influenced by evolutionary theory. He sent him a copy of Das Kapital as a token of his esteem.

    Which was found, pages uncut, amongst Darwins effects after his death.

    d.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Fields of study of like economics or politics deal with human subjects, and as such the conclusions of their various practitioners are somewhat maleable, assuming that people can be convinced in some manner to change their behavior or beliefs. This is not true of physical sciences (e.g. physics, biology, chemistry, etc.). What many of the arguments against Darwinism or evolution (which are not the same, despite a habit people have of lumping them togeter) have in common is the sentiment that they should be rejected because the conclusions drawn are unpalatable or undesirable from a certain philosophical perspective. While forcing fact to fit theory may make for good theology, it makes for very poor science.

    Or, to put it more bluntly, it doesn't matter if Darwin never heard of Neitzche or if he, Neitzche, and Marx got together every weekend for a twisted S&M threeway. The value of a scientific theory is how close it descibes the Universe, not how closely it mirrors your own philosophical prejudices.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by doug:
    Although Marx was a great admirer of Darwins rather fearsome intellect, and its fair to say that some of his thinking was influenced by evolutionary theory. He sent him a copy of Das Kapital as a token of his esteem.

    ...an interesting sidenote - but I was referring to the postulation that Marx and Darwin were both influenced by Nietzche - not Darwin and Marx's influence on each other (to clarify).
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    I'm afraid that this is another large post, in response to a number of posts, please forgive me.

    I also apologise for the misappropriation of the phrase 'Darwinian' theory in my last post. I acknowledge Darwin's own stated philosophy and when I use the term 'Darwinian' theory, it is in its broad sense as material, purposeless and random, not as Darwin's individual philosophy. What term should we use for such a theory? Neo-'Darwinian' synthesis?

    Glenn said that philosophical paradigms have never been static. This thread is a discussion of just such a paradigm shift. It is not secondary or tertiary issues, but the primary issue of the governing western paradigm.

    Whether or not Marx, Darwin & Neitzche ever met or corresponded, or Neitzche post-dated Marx and Darwin by a couple of decades, the fact remains that they lived under the same philosophical paradigm, which Neitzche neatly summarised. Marx and Darwin were too busy employing their significant intellect in ways that were more practical.

    Glenn pointed out that post modernism is the current western paradigm. Reading the Council for Secular Humanism's statement of belief, we find that post-modernism is a sub-set of secular humanism, because 'religion' is only for weak people who can not face a material world boldly and honestly. What is the basis for secular humanism? According to their Article 8...it's science.

    But science is being 'attacked' by Behe et al, which in turn is undermining the authority of secular humanism.

    The question in relation to science and secular humanism then is this:

    Much of the scientific objection is being made by Dawkins et al who see this as 'unwarranted attack', but on what basis? The scientific challenges are real and empirical. The problem with Dawkins, Orr, Miller et al is that they are arguing philosophically from a philosophically static position.

    Behe et al are not regarded by any of the scientific establishment as making unreasonable or untruthful statements about the complexity of molecular systems. Irreducible complexity is a fact of science.

    I don't believe Behe et al have a strong prior commitment, unlike the creationists, to discredit neo-Darwinian synthesis from a prior commitment to theism. Their conclusion seems to have been drawn, quite naturally, from what the empirical evidence suggests to them, and so their vague theistic philosophy has been reinforced at best.

    This reinforcement of a theistic philosophy is the start of a paradigm shift, given the monolithic commitment of the scientific establishment to materialism before the mid nineteen nineties, any scientists who say life might be the product of intelligence risk ridicule and termination of contract.

    ID philosophy stems simply from the fact that scientists are beginning to see evidence of design. The theory of intelligent design stems from a philosophical paradigm shift from material, purposeless and random to the product of intelligence.

    This is why I make extravagant claims about the death of Darwinism (neo-Darwinian synthesis). It is not because empiricism has ceased, nor will it cease, but that the empirical results are beginning to be viewed from a shifting philosophical paradigm. This paradigm shift is in its infancy. It is barely a decade old. As the paradigm shifts, it will (as all paradigms do) effect law, morals, ethics and theology. The next 10 or 20 years may see this shift accelerate. In the mean time, there will be bitter controversy, because what is at stake is more than just a precious scientific theory, it is a whole way of thinking for society.

    I find that thought exciting and refreshing.

    Neil

    BTW, I have Darwin's 'Origin of Species'.
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    What term should we use for such a theory?

    What me, Alan, Glenn and so on have been calling it all along - philosophical materialism.

    Irreducible complexity is not a fact of science, and much ink has been spilt showing how Behe's systems are not unevolvable.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil, You summarise Kuhn and say:
    quote:
    But the time between theories is characterised by bitter controversy ... A theory of 'design' supports a different philosophy. Hence, we have a bitter controversy.
    Are [we] in the beginning of the bitter controversy stage of a shift in the theory of the origin of life and the origin of species? Only time will tell.

    As you say 'Only time will tell'. As I understand Kuhn what presages the paradigm shift is an accumulation of problems which the existing theory is, after repeated attempts, unable to explain, and which tell against the theory. We have a long way to go before that stage is reached. I think it unlikely that it will be.

    Bitter controversy is no guarantee of paradigm shift (astrologers are in bitter controversy with science about their theory but there is no chance that astrology will end up mainstream science).


    Glenn
    P.S. In your last post you credit me with a number of excellent comments which I think are actually from Alan Cresswell.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    quote:
    what is at stake is more than just a precious scientific theory, it is a whole way of thinking for society

    The above quote illustrates what is probably one of the worst ways to pursue scientific inquiry. While social "sciences", such as economics or psychology, may concern themselves with the "way of thinking for society", such considerations are (or at least should be) far outside the realm of the physical sciences. And biology, including evolution falls under the heading of physical science.

    I think part of the negative reaction to evolution as a scientific proposition is our own sense of vanity. I have never heard anyone object to either the Special or General Theories of Relativity because they were formed under the "philosophical paradigm" (to borrow Neil's phrase) of Moral Relativism. To cite another example, Einstein himself admitted that his objections to Quantum Mechanics were probably the worst scientific mistake of his life. This objection spawned his oft quoted (and rarely understood) statement that "God does not play dice with the Universe". In essence, Einstein's objections were based on the philosophical unpalatablity (to him, at least) of a probabilistic, chaotic, and (potentially) non-causative Universe rather than any particular physical and scientific reason. Of course, Einstein was at least scientist enough to admit his error when he recognized it.

    At any rate, the reason so many people object to Evolution while there is little hue and cry about Relativity or Q-Mech is that neither of these assault our own ego the way that Evolution does. Both of these theories present radically non-Christian themes, but they don't deal with humanity itself. It wounds our self-image to be taken down from our pedestal as something special and separate from the rest of the Universe, whereas we don't really care about the "moral degradation" of electrons or the current malaise of spacetime.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Only time will tell…

    Does this mean you all agree that we are witnessing the start of a potential paradigm shift?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Croesos,
    quote:
    The above quote illustrates what is probably one of the worst ways to pursue scientific inquiry.

    Philip Johnson agrees with you on that.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    You also said
    quote:
    At any rate, the reason so many people object to Evolution while there is little hue and cry about Relativity or Q-Mech is that neither of these assault our own ego the way that Evolution does.

    Arguing human ego from the biblical side of the coin, evolution is perhaps the product of an oversized human ego. The Hebrew word groups describing worship include 'homage to', 'service of' and 'respect of' God.

    By rejecting God, and appealing to materialism as the mechanism driving 'evolution' man's ego swells beyond humble homage, service and respect.

    As I postulated earlier, the west saw how Marx neglected human greed. Perhaps we'll look back in years to come and see how philosophical materialism neglected the unfashionable concept of rejection of God.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    BTW, how do you get the 'o' and the 'e' to stick together?
     
    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    Several loose points - okay, so people without God can tend to egoise, well so can those who believe that they are God's special messenger, and in between. Much as I may agree with your general drift, Neil, I don't think that the only outcome is a boosting of the ego of humans.

    For example, many coming from the position which you are assaulting believe that, as humans are no more than advanced animals, we should not expect to be able to control the fate of other animals through farming, meat-eating etc. They probably see traditional Christian teaching as egoist.

    Certainly philosophical naturalism does have an impact on the way morals are being shaped in our society, but I do not believe that it really provides a sufficient framework to provide a useful philosophical or ethical baseline - indeed one can argue that Marxism and Fascism were philosophically inspired by the concept of the "survival of the fittest", though in differing directions. I don't think anyone will contest the Origin of Species is a weak baseline for ethics, and most secular philosophers I've heard of would agree - remember that for instance Dawkins is primarily a scientist and scientific philosopher, not a social one, so he is far from being dominant in that other sphere. What many philosophers mean when they use the same label is significantly different, btw.

    It is interesting that you are attacking the moral impact of philosophical naturalism through the science which underpins it. Firstly, ID for example is not science by any means, and I can't see it currying favour before it moves towards something that is testable rather than rhetorical.

    Secondly, the connection between science or even the philosophy of science which emerges from scientific conclusions, has a very poor record indeed in surviving long term or contributing to the general patina of philosophy. Clearly many scientific discoveries and practices, e.g. innoculation, genetic modification, the nuclear weapon, have profound impacts upon moral philosophy and the philosophy and morals of scientific practice, but this is quite a a different phenomenon. Your attack would be much better based upon the inadequacies, well proven, of the route folks like Dawkins are walking.

    Many moral dilemmas and ethics will be impacted by scientific discoveries in the physical and biological sciences, but that's also a different matter.

    P.S. I've actually had to read Behe in the last two days (hooray for a historians' reading speed!) for a tutorial I was assisting in leading on scientific methodology. Oh dear, it is generally bad science - Karl et al were all too generous.
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Cr?sos:
    (snip)
    At any rate, the reason so many people object to Evolution while there is little hue and cry about Relativity or Q-Mech is that neither of these assault our own ego the way that Evolution does. Both of these theories present radically non-Christian themes, (snip)

    What are you talking about? What is non-Christian about relativity or quantum mechanics?

    You are staring at a monitor attached to a computer which relies almost entirely for its operation on the "tunnel effect" - a quantum
    mechanical notion.

    If you think that you'd better log out now
    and get rid of your computer.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    John,
    Looking at the full text of Croesus's posting I think he is only making the point that whilst the theory of evolution does not make reference to the concept of God in its explanations, neither do Quantum theory or General relativity. Yet christians get up in arms about evolution but not Quantum theory or relativity.

    He suggests that this is because, as to the the theory of evolution

    quote:
    It wounds our self-image to be taken down from our pedestal as something special and separate from the rest of the Universe

    I think that this is correct. In a few hundred years we (in the christian west) have gone from seeing ousrselves as at the centre of a small, young universe, to being on a small planet in an immensely big and old universe. The theory of evolution is seen by some as denting even further our reasons for feeling special. Hence the resistance to the theory.

    Of course being special is possible still even if, as I believe, the theory of evolutionn is correct.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    I'd have to say that isn't how it came over to me, but obviously I could have misread it.

    However I should have thought that relativity and QM would be helpful to the argument (against some Darwinist philosophy).

    Relativity - the speed of light is an absolute barrier that cannot be exceeded. Here's something we can't do. Only geocentrists need complain.

    Uncertainty principle in QM - the more you know about one aspect of something the less you can know about another. We can't know everything.

    So if God is omnipresent and omnipotent he's not bound by relativity and if he's omniscient he's not bound by QM. Surely there's food for a good few sermons out of that?
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    That was my point only in part, Glenn. Certainly someone who rejects Evolution for its absence of God and its appeal to materialis in its theorization must do the same for Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (and Plate Tectonics and Genetics and Optics and . . . ). All these are Godless, materialistic scientific theories.

    As far as Neil's question about what is non-Christian about Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, allow me to clarify.

    Relativity presents us with a Universe where space and even time are relative, dependent upon one's frame of reference. If A happened before B in one reference frame, it is possible for B to happen before A in another, posing all kinds of problems for cause-effect order. Time itself is malleable and can shrink down or expand out. A length of time which is six days long in one frame of reference may be 14 billion years long in another. The Relativisitic Universe is a Universe which denies absolutes and everything is a matter of perspective. This is very different than the Christian Universe which contains an absolute God who deals out absolute truth and perspective is irrelevant. Considering the number of times I've heard various Christians decry "moral relativism", the analogy to physical Relativity doesn't seem so much of a stretch, and I'm surprised it hasn't suggested itself to more Christians before this.

    As far as Quantum Mechanics goes, it presents us with a probabilistic Universe, one driven by chance and chaos. This is a radically different Universe than the Christian Universe, in which God has a Divine Plan, which is deterministic, immutable, has even the smallest details worked out in advance, and cannot be thwarted or changed in any way. The philosophical gulf between these world-views is a question of Schroëdinger's cat versus God's falling sparrow.

    These and other questions might be better addressed if more time was spent considering Darwinist science (or any other science for that matter) and less time worrying about "Darwinist philosophy" [from John Collins post of 28 July 2001 09:57].

    And as for how I get the 'o' and the 'e' to stick together, I exist in a frame of reference where space is contracted enough that some letters actually touch. Besides, it has been established that vowels are not Fermions, and are thus not bound by the Pauli Exclusion Principle.
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    What a frightening prospect Cr?sos offers us, one where neutral scientific observations and theories, the consequences of some of which he relies on, are determined by an arbiter of compatibility with Christian doctrine, not whether they reflect reality or not.

    Dark ages II here we come....
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Sorry to interjecting and digressing from the current issue, I've just clarfied my arguement in my own mind.

    I have been accused of attacking science, and believing bad science. I am probably guilty of both, I don't know. Perhaps my misappropriation of the myriad of terms used in this field has led to that impression and my confusion. The reason I have been so persistent is I know that my argument is true, I just need to be clearer about what I'm arguing.

    This morning, the good old BBC World Service provided an example which will clarify my argument. The article shows that I am not attacking good science, but I am attacking philosophical materialism dressed up as science. On the BBC this morning, scientist Heather Cooper provided a perfect example of what I have been attacking as 'science'.

    Cooper was describing the work of the 'Genesis' space probe, which will sample particles from the solar wind and bring them back to earth for analysis. The mission will take two years, so we can expect results of this research in perhaps 4 to 5 years time at the earliest. So far, so good science.

    But then Cooper said this

    quote:
    'What I find incredibly exciting is that 'Genesis' will explain our origins. We will know where we come from and how we got here.'

    My point throughout this thread, though not put clearly, is that that is not good science!

    It is at best hopeful speculation that the particles of solar wind will provide one of the many hundreds of missing pieces in the 'origin of life by natural process' puzzle.

    But worse than that, Cooper's statement is of a prior commitment to philosophical materialism. She states boldly that it is just a matter of time before scientists find and place all the hundreds of missing pieces of the puzzle, proving the natural causes, and disproving God. Is Cooper's prophetic statement based on scientific fact or faith? I say faith.

    Lastly, Cooper's confident, bubbly, cheerful and excited delivery (which I can not replicate in the quote) gave the listener hope that what she said would come to be. She practically adopted the style and techniques of a TV evangelist. Indeed, naming the probe 'Genesis' has to be one of the most barefaced statements of how science will provide our new creation account, without God.

    But, there was no science in her statement, just faith and hope in philosophical materialism. If I wasn't skeptical, I might have believed her. My concern is that millions of World Service listeners will have swallowed her 'scientific' statement and will go on believing that God does not exist.

    Collecting particles from the solar wind is good science, I have never intended to argue otherwise. The rest of Cooper's statement is just wishful thinking, faith and hope in material causes.

    Heather Cooper, like every other philosophical materialist, does not wish to consider the prospect of moral accountability to a creator God. I don't have a problem if that is her choice of religion, she is free to chose her faith. I do have a problem that she is given free reign to proselytise and evangelise freely under the label of 'science' when she is clearing talking about matters of her religion.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    One of the things that makes materialism so easy to have confidence in is the fact that it produces results, verifiably and unambiguously. In the few centuries that materialism has been ascendant, science, a materialist process, has learned to launch heavy metal planes into the air, and just as easily it can rain missiles down on cities. It can prevent polio, and it can destroy whole cities in a single atomic blast. It can allow millions of people all over the globe to exchange information with the touch of a few buttons, and it can just as easily spy out our secrets. Whether applied for good or for ill, materialism gets RESULTS! I'm not sure that something whose effectiveness has been borne out time and again can really be called "faith". (At least not in the religious sense of the word.) And to examine a competing world-view, all that religious faith has to show for its millenia of effort is an assortment of burnt heretics and holy wars.

    Now as for the specific statements of Ms. (Dr.?) Cooper, many scientists, particularly those involved with particle physics and/or space exploration, do tend to get caught up in grandiose language. I can't speak for her specifically, but I suspect that it has something to do with repeatedly trying to explain very abstract concepts to laymen (in the scientific, not ecclesiastical, sense). I've also noticed that this tendency tends to be directly proportional to the attention of the media, though this last seems to be true not just of particle physicists but of people in general.

    At any rate, materialism seems to be emminently suited to the study of material objects and phenomena, which includes solar particles and biological organisms. I have yet to hear either an argument in favor of the wholesale abandonment of scientific inquiry or a suggestion for a suitable replacement for materialism in the scientific process. Perhaps Neil could suggest one, since this issue seems to be of particular significance to him.
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    I don't take that statement that way at all! All she is talking about is our physical origins, the way in which life came to this planet. This is perfectly good science; whether or not the probe will tell us this is another matter.

    Neil, you still seem to be wed to the idea that if it is shown that the entire Universe, and us included, can be explained in scientific terms, without invoking God as an explanation, then God will be disproved. This is a load of rubbish. If the Genesis probe does explain our origin, then great, another piece in the puzzle of how God made us is found.

    Why do you require unexplained scientific questions for God to exist? This seems to be 'God of the Gaps'ism of the first degree.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Cr?sos

    There is no need for me to suggest an alternative to the study of material objects, I have never meant to propose one. The study of material objects is a good and healthy pursuit. What is not good and health is atheists claiming that the study of material objects disproves God. This thread has already agreed that the study of material objects is neutral on that question.

    Regarding your own response to my example of Heather Cooper, you can not seriously mean that the Boeing 747, telephones and vaccines disprove the existence of God. You also used a classic 'religious' straw man of holy wars and burnt heretics as the alternative. May I humbly suggest you read the outline of fallacious argument techniques I outlined earlier in this thread before posting such thoughts, they do not address the issue.

    Scientifically, I am as excited as Heather Cooper at the prospect of collecting particles of solar wind using a space probe, it is an amazing result of science. I am as excited as you that science has advanced to the stage that we can send probes into space, and that I can write this post on a Palm device whist eating lunch. The products of the investigation of the material world are exciting and useful.

    However, with reasonable skepticism, something we should all posses in large quantities, I can see through Heather Cooper's science to her probable underlying philosophy. She appears to believe that there is no God. That's fine, I don't have a problem if that's what she believes, it's her choice.

    But when she speculates that the 'Genesis' probe will provide the final pieces of the materialist creation story, my skepticism tells me she's no longer in the realms of science but philosophy, day dreaming, thinking wishfully, postulating, putting an atheist spin on it, proselytising the public, evangelising her belief that God does not exist.

    She's entitled to do that, but she needs to be honest that that is what she is doing. She should clarify that this is her belief (if that is what she believes). She should say that she hopes that the probe will provide some clues, because that will support her alleged philosophical belief that God does not exist. To say that the probe will tell us the origin of life it not a true statement. How many scientists believe that the only piece of the puzzle which it missing are particles of solar wind?

    My problem is this: that Heather Cooper is typical of philosophical materialists (if that is how she would label herself) who evangelise their atheism or deism, illegitimately, under the banner of science. Saying 'solar particles are the last piece in the puzzle of the origin of life', is not good science it is bad philosophy.

    All I propose is that we learn to distinguish between the times when scientists are talking about material objects and the other times they are proselytising their materialist atheist faith.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    The answer is quite simple. I don't believe the universe is the product of a random, material, purposeless process.

    I believe, as I pointed out with the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle, that the universe displays evidence of specified complexity.

    Specified complexity is displayed by any object or event that has an extremely low probability of occurring by chance, and matches a discernable pattern. According to contemporary design theory, the presence of highly specified complexity is an indicator of an intelligent cause.

    As a simple illustration, I am a structural engineer...no jokes about engineers being simple please. As an intelligent designer, I must specify the grade of steel, size of weld, diameter of bolt, length of beam, depth of concrete and so on to make a building stand up. Any school child can draw a house, but it takes intelligent specification to give the right combination of materials and sizes to make the house stand up.

    Engineers who design manufacturing processes have a much greater complexity to their specification to get the process to produce the right goods at the end of a process (anyone who knows anything about the production of semi-conductors will know what I mean).

    I believe that the results of objective study of material objects display this specified complexity. This is a purely philosophical view as someone else looking at the same results might see them as the product of a purposeless and random material process.

    It is a simple distinction. It is not God of the gaps, because everything is specified.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    She states boldly that it is just a matter of time before scientists find and place all the hundreds of missing pieces of the puzzle,

    I think she's probably correct.

    quote:
    proving the natural causes, and disproving God.

    Non-sequitur. Why do you relate these two? Does a full understanding of embryology mean God didn't make me?

    quote:
    Is Cooper's prophetic statement based on scientific fact or faith? I say faith.

    It's based on the historical fact that science has, indeed, gradually explained more and more of the universe. That we may get a fully understanding of abiogenesis is a reasonable extrapolation.

    As for 'specified design' - well, yes. Of course. But this is not an alternative to naturalistic explanations, but complementary to them.

    How did I come to be? Human reproduction, sex, gametes, chiasmata, embrylogy, diploidy - lots of things come in to it.

    Why did I come to be? God so deigned it.

    Who caused me to come to be? God on one level, my parents on another.

    See - lots of complementary explanations. Only the first one of those is in the realm of science. The others are not, and for the same reasons, nor is ID.
     


    Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
     
    quote:
    The answer is quite simple. I don't believe the universe is the product of a random, material, purposeless process.

    Nor do I!

    [UBB fixed]

    [ 30 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    SA, now that really, really surprises me. I would have expected you to agree that the universe is a product of material processes. What do you believe the universe is a product of then?

    Alan
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    I wonder how many people listening would consider Heather Cooper to be intending any such atheistic message at all. If she is proselytising then those comments of yours I italicise below show she isn't doing a good job!

    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    ... I can see through Heather Cooper's science to her probable underlying philosophy. She appears to believe that there is no God. ...

    ... she's ... putting an atheist spin on it, proselytising the public, evangelising her belief that God does not exist.

    ... she needs to be honest that that is what she is doing. She should clarify that this is her belief (if that is what she believes).

    ... Heather Cooper is typical of philosophical materialists (if that is how she would label herself) who evangelise their atheism or deism, illegitimately, under the banner of science.


    Atheist? deist? Even a theist could talk (rather incompletely of course)as she does on the level of science if she rejected the need of a God of the gaps idea for theism to be correct.

    I have ordered Behe's book, by the way.
    Glenn

    [UBB fixed]

    [ 30 July 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    I agree with SA that it wasn't random and purposeless for a reason I gave earlier on this thread.

    An overall process isn't random if "failures" are eliminated, which is exactly what natural selection does.

    To take a bizarre illustration, if everyone who did the lottery and didn't win the jackpot were instantly shot dead, then everyone in the country who had played the lottery would be a winner. If someone then said that these lottery winners "couldn't have got there by the random process of the lottery" they'd be right.

    In the lottery of being here, the penalty for losing is - not being here.

    If the odds against being here are 1 in (however many planets there are in the universe) over (the age of the universe) and that one planet is the one we're sitting on we may feel very special, but we're not. None of the other planets have got signs up saying "congrats Earth, we didn't make it" because there is no one to put them up.
     


    Posted by The sceptical Atheist (# 379) on :
     
    I couldn't have put it better myself, John.

    Life on Earth is not random. Natural selection is not a random process.

    It may still have no purpose though!
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    I'll quote myself first:

    quote:
    I believe that the results of objective study of material objects display this specified complexity. This is a purely philosophical view as someone else looking at the same results might see them as the product of a purposeless and random material process.

    It is a simple distinction. It is not God of the gaps, because everything is specified.


    Now you:

    quote:
    As for 'specified design' - well, yes. Of course. But this is not an alternative to naturalistic explanations, but complementary to them....lots of complementary explanations. Only the first one of those is in the realm of science. The others are not, and for the same reasons, nor is ID.

    This means we agree, doesn't it? ID is a philosophy. ID is not science, but a way of viewing the results of methodical science into the way material objects function.

    Just to make sure. Please explain what you mean by naturalistic explanations

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    quote:
    you can not seriously mean that the Boeing 747, telephones and vaccines disprove the existence of God

    No, I don't mean that and I didn't say anything even remotely like that. What I indicated was that these are examples of the validity of materialist examination when dealing with material phenomena, the validity of which you, Neil, called into question with your posting of 30 July 2001 02:05.

    Which begs the question that if there is a dividing line between what material phenomena can be investigated rationally and those which are "Not Meant for Man to Know", where is that dividing line and how do you determine where it is?

    As far as the question of specified complexity goes, it is only significant if it can be demonstrated that other combinations of events have a significantly higher probability of occurring. For an American example, last year's professional baseball season had an extremely low probability of working out the way it did, hit for hit, strike for strike, and run for run. And given the fact that baseball follows a structure of rules it can definitely be said to have a "discernable patter". However, the fact that there was a baseball season last year and that it worked out in such an improbable manner does not mean that it was divinely ordained, or even that some human agent fixed all the games in advance to work out the way that they did.

    What troubles me most is Neil's statment that

    quote:
    I believe that the results of objective study of material objects display this specified complexity. This is a purely philosophical view as someone else looking at the same results might see them as the product of a purposeless and random material process.

    If it is a "purely philosophical" view, then how is it an "objective study of material objects"? If you're going to be injecting your own "philosophical view", your study can hardly be described as "objective".
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Intellegent Design (ID):
    quote:
    "a way of viewing the results of methodical science into the way material objects function" Neil Robbie, 31 July 2001 00:13

    Does it really matter what your view is? For example, if the "results of methodological science" indicates that the mass of an electron is 9.1×10¯³¹, does the electron "function" any different because of your "way of viewing"?
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    naturalistic explanations

    Exactly what it says.

    Explanations that make no mention of, nor make any reference to, nor ascribe anything to, God, a god or gods. Or anything else supernatural.

    i.e. scientific explanations.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Cro?sos, you said:
    quote:
    If it is a "purely philosophical" view, then how is it an "objective study of material objects"? If you're going to be injecting your own "philosophical view", your study can hardly be described as "objective".

    Thank you, that is exactly my point. If you are a philosophical materialist, you look at the results of science as purposeless, random, impersonal, undirected, meaningless or in other words, godless. A philosophically materialist conclusion is not objective. It is philosophical.

    Karl, you and I do not agree after all. If all deductions from the scientific observations are that the process are

    quote:
    Explanations that make no mention of, nor make any reference to, nor ascribe anything to, God, a god or gods. Or anything else supernatural.
    , then there is a subtle difference to the way we view material objects. You seem to say you think things are specified, but then disagree that God could have specified them.

    Let me give an example from mutation-selection.

    Here's a quote from Elliot Sober's, Philosophy of Biology.

    quote:
    The fact that the mutation-selection process has two parts…is brought out vividly by Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker. Imagine a device that is something like a combination lock. It is composed of a series of disks placed side by side. On the edge of each disk, the twenty-six letters of the alphabet appear. The disks can be spun separately so that different sequences of letters may appear in the viewing window.

    How many different combinations of letters may appear in the window? There are 26 possibilities of each disk and 19 disks in all. So there are 26 times 10 to the power of 19 different possible sequences. One of these is METHINKSITSAWEASEL…the probability that METHINKSITSAWEASEL will appear after all the disks are spun is 1/2,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, which is a very small number indeed…

    But now imagine that a disk is frozen if it happens to put a letter in the viewing window that matches the one in the target message. The remaining disks that do not match the target then are spun at random, and the process is repeated. What is the chance that the disks will display the message METHINKSITSAWEASEL after say, fifty repetitions?

    The answer is that the message can be expected to appear after a surprisingly small number of generations of the process…

    Variation is generated at random, but selection among variants is non-random


    Now, Scientifically, we have observed that DNA sequences are not random but contain codes, or language. So, Dawkins has proposed that DNA sequences form a bit like the words in 'The Wheel of Fortune' or 'Hangman', where once a letter is in the right slot it slicks. Perhaps he was thinking of a one arm bandit with a hold feature, which allows the player to freeze a wheel.

    Can you see the flaw(s) in this argument?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Can you see the flaw(s) in this argument?


    No. From a scientific view it is an entirely reasonable illustration (admittedly, like all illustrations, it isn't complete). Are you trying to imply that non-random is equivalent to designed?

    Alan
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Neil, you misunderstand the limited scope of science.

    quote:
    You seem to say you think things are specified,

    With the eye of faith. This is not a scientific deduction, but a philosophical one. It is outside the realm of science.

    quote:
    but then disagree that God could have specified them.

    No I don't. I just say that talk of specification and so on are not part of science. With my scientist hat on, I do not talk about them.
     


    Posted by gbuchanan (# 415) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    This means we agree, doesn't it? ID is a philosophy. ID is not science, but a way of viewing the results of methodical science into the way material objects function.

    ...erm, what do you mean by "viewing... inthe the way material objects function" - sounds like a philosophical view of a mechanistic process - is this what you intend?
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    Let's make Elliott Sober's argument clearer by adding what he says immediately following the part you quote (p38):

    quote:
    Although the analogy between this process and the mutation-selection process is not perfect in every respect, it does serve to illustrate an important feature of how evolution by natural selection proceeds. Variation is generated regardless of whether it "matches the target" (i.e. is advantageous to the organism). But retention(selection among the variants that arise) is another matter. Some variants have greater staying power than others.

    ... Variation is generated at random, but selection among variants is non-random.


    This makes it clear that the common feature between the discs making METHINKITISAWEASEL and DNA in this analogy is random generation plus non-random selection, not some other feature.

    Hence I cannot see a flaw in Sober's argument. What flaw(s) do you see?

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    I'll try to deal with each question I was asked in response to my question 'can you see the flaw(s) in the argument', before asking further questions.

    Gbuchanan, you asked

    quote:
    sounds like a philosophical view of a mechanistic process - is this what you intended?

    That is exactly what I intended, and have been trying to say all along - that we can all view the results of mechanistic processes through one of two philosophical eyes - either atheist or theist, unless you can propose a third way of considering mechanistic objects philosophically.

    Karl, you have helpfully stated that you wear two hats, a scientific hat and a Christian hat. Well I wear two hats, an engineering hat and a Christian hat. I hope my engineering hat will help you see the way specifications fit into the picture, just as you and other scientists on this thread have helped sort out much of my messy thinking about science.

    But first, let me start by asking you this question. Richard Dawkins famously said of Paley's watch something like (this is my paraphrase)

    quote:
    biological organisms give the appearance of being designed, without having been designed

    How does that statement differ from what you said that science is finding

    quote:
    Explanations that make no mention of, nor make any reference to, nor ascribe anything to, God, a god or gods. Or anything else supernatural.

    Is there a philosophical difference? I can't see one?

    Glenn and Alan, can I come back to your questions about the flaw(s) in Sober's argument once we have clarification on the question I have asked Karl?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    My point is this - the issue of design is not part of science, and so questions about 'was this designed' are not part of science.

    The thing is, Dawkins' statement there is philosophical, because it addresses a 'how' question. My statement was about the nature of science. That is the difference - they are addressing different questions.

    Let's cut to the chase. The difference is that you seem to think that 'there was an intelligent designer' is a valid scientific position, I think it is in the realms of philosophy.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    I think that the point is a tricky one.

    The question of an object having been designed by an intelligence rather than being the result of non-intelligent processes is a legitimate scientific question. In the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence we have to think of ways to try to determine if certain radio and other emissions from space might show features of design. An archaeologist looks at an artefact or site and tries to determine if regularities in its features indicate any element of construction by an intelligence rather than by non-intelligent natural forces alone. Suppose too, that humans went extinct and another intelligent life form evolved in a few hundred million years time. Their scientists would have to assess whether artefacts preserved from our time were naturally evolved or intelligently designed.

    In these cases we (or the future scientists) can compare the artefact or emission with our ideas of how we might design things, or, for the archaeologist with examples of similar artefacts known to have been made by other cultures.

    Behe’s claim that certain biological systems are designed is thus not one that can be ruled out as unscientific. However, the only means for assessing his claim is to pursue research into whether natural unintelligent processes could have evolved the systems in question i.e. carry on sciense as normal. He believes he has shown natural explanations of these systems to be impossible, others disagree and think that his arguments are flawed. There is no reason in principle why natural selection cannot evolve irreducibly complex systems, but at the moment our knowledge of biochemistry is insufficiently sophisticated to ascertain the steps involved in his example cases.

    There is a bigger issue behind Behe’s views and that is the question of whether there should be a theistic science, one which has an explicit place for God’s direct actions in its explanations. The problem with this is how to determine when God’s action needs to be invoked. Do we defer to some persons interpretation of scripture or other alleged revelation from God? Surely not, how do we know he/she is correct? One way we would have to try to test such claims is by trying to see if an explanation can be constructed that does not rely on God’s intervention. In other words we would do what scientists already do, operate using a non-theistic methodology. Science is thus necessarily non-theistic, but since this is only true of its methods it need not be a worry to anyone.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    I see that Robert Pennock says in his book Tower of Babel that Behe criticises Sober's argument about the METHINKSITISAWEASEL letter discs by pointing out that an intelligence is doing the selecting of which letters are fixed in position after each spin.

    But this is to miss the point pretty thoroughly. The analogy, as I explained in my earlier posting, is about random generation plus non-random selection i.e. it is about the power of cumulative selection. Both Sober and Dawkins make this clear in their discussion of METHINKSITISAWEASEL. Any system which replicates itself reasonably faithfully but with some variation will evolve if there is non-random selection of the different variants amongst the offspring regardless of whether the selection is done by intelligent or non-intelligent processes.

    Pennock is excellent on this whole topic and once again I thoroughly recommend his book which also critiques Phillip Johnson.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn, your post which carefully considered the distinction between the way we view the evidence for intelligent design or non-intelligent process was quite brilliant, and as you say, methodological science continues unaffected.

    The vision of ID is to allow scientists the freedom to consider whether material objects display intelligence in their design or whether they are products of pure naturalistic forces. Therefore, from an ID perspective, the natural vs. supernatural distinction is irrelevant. The real contrast is not between natural laws and miracles, but between undirected natural causes and intelligent ones.

    BTW, I’ll add Robert Pennock to my reading list, thank you.

    Before going on to Karl’s post, I would like to say that all bets are off. Yesterday I was given conclusive proof that intelligence and wisdom are behind the beauty of the universe. Ship Board has a new baby, I am now a father. My wife gave birth to a beautiful girl at 5:00pm yesterday afternoon, Singapore time. I was not going to post anything for a few days, but it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep because I’m still buzzing from the birth, so what else can I do?

    Karl, let’s go back to specification. You said

    quote:
    As for 'specified design' - well, yes. Of course.

    In light of what Glenn wrote and focusing on the concept of a specified universe, can you answer two questions for me?

    I’ll try to keep posting, but my frequency may decrease proportionately with my expected forthcoming lack of sleep.

    All the best

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, before I start on the serious stuff, congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your daughter.

    Now back to the scheduled programme ...

    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    The vision of ID is to allow scientists the freedom to consider whether material objects display intelligence in their design or whether they are products of pure naturalistic forces

    As a purely philosophical view I've no objection to that, but then that isn't different from other forms of theism which believes in design and uses the "design" within the material world in support of a philosophical position. However, if that philosophy position results in changes in science then I start getting worried. Those comments could just as readily be applied to philosophical materialistic atheism.

    Of course the philosophy of the scientist must affect the work done by individual scientists and the scientific community, but there are limits on how much philosophy affects the practice of science before the science itself is adversely affected. For example, I currently work in a branch of environmental science and my philosophical view that the evironment is the creation of God means I view what I do as being of greater importance and value than I might do if I was an atheist (not that I'm claiming atheists don't care about the environment, just that their reasons to care for it may be different from mine). Other scientists, because of philosophical views, may choose not to participate in experiments that involve animal testing; many nuclear scientists were actively involved in campaigning against nuclear weapons on the philosophical ground that they saw no reason they would ever be used.

    These are examples of how philosophical views of scientists affect why/what science they do. I happen to believe that ID, as I've heard it expressed as an alternative to methodological materialism, puts science into too tight a strait-jacket such that the resulting science isn't as good as methodological materialism.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    I've been away for a couple of days, and this thread has slipped to the second page of Purgatory for the first time!!!

    Karl, you’ve not answered my question about what you understand by the term ‘specified’, so I’ll attempt to do it for you.

    Firstly, however, we need to clear up the difference now between methodological science and the philosophy drawn from that science.

    When you said

    quote:
    Explanations that make no mention of, nor make any reference to, nor ascribe anything to, God, a god or gods. Or anything else supernatural.
    your statement was not clear as to whether the ‘explanations’ referred to functionality or origin.

    To clarify the difference between functionality and origin, let's take Behe’s examples of bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA). The functionality of each of these examples is now understood, so the job of science is done in that regard. Having understood how these biological mechanisms work, science can now work on understanding diseases where these mechanisms are found to be involved.

    Can I assume that everyone agrees that understanding functionality and using that knowledge for the benefit of mankind is good science?

    Now, philosophically, there are two views of how bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA) came into existence, philosophical materialism and philosophical theism. One says the bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA) are products of a random, purposeless, material process, the other says that they are the product of intelligence.

    Is this still science? No, it is interpreting the results of science philosophically.

    Agreed?

    So, now we come to that word, ‘specified’ which you agreed with Karl. You see the universe as specified.

    I am an engineer, involved in building tall office buildings from steel. When we tender contracts, the consulting engineer supplies the information required in two forms

    So, specification is information. My Chambers Dictionary defines to specify as ‘to mention particularly, to make specific, to set down as required’.

    Now, we agree that the universe was specified, but you believe that explanations for good science

    quote:
    make no mention of, nor make any reference to, nor ascribe anything to, God, a god or gods. Or anything else supernatural

    As I outlined, working out how bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA) function and applying that knowledge to practical applications is good science. Questions of God or the supernatural are not involved in this work of science.

    But, using science to justify a philosophical viewpoint is philosophy not science. Saying something is ‘specified’, and yet only subject to natural forces can be a philosophical viewpoint. But there is a flaw in this argument (if that is what you mean by specified but natural).

    This takes us back to Elliott Sober's METHINKITISAWEASEL and the flaw(s) in his argument.

    According to the theory of step-by-step development, DNA or AMP must have developed randomly and when a function develops which benefits the organism, the organism is able to reproduce more effectively and so the function is retained in the population. But, DNA sequencing is specific and without the full sequence of METHINKITISAWEASEL, we have no functionality. Even if only one letter was wrong in the sequence, it doesn’t function. If the sequence read METHINKITISAWABBIT, the functionality is completely different. If the sequence was MWTFIGKHTASDWQAVEM, every second letter is correct but it is meaningless and has no function.

    But, let’s say for this argument’s sake that somehow the genes did not require functionality as they assembled the correct sequence. Sober may well be right in his analogy that as the letters in the sequence stick in position, the genetic sequence could be assembled in 50 or 60 non-random attempts rather than being of negligible probability. The flaw is this, how do the letters know that they must stick in position? If they have no functionality, why don’t they just re-shuffle?

    Sober’s analogy concludes as Glenn pointed out

    quote:
    Although the analogy between this process and the mutation-selection process is not perfect in every respect, it does serve to illustrate an important feature of how evolution by natural selection proceeds. Variation is generated regardless of whether it "matches the target" (i.e. is advantageous to the organism). But retention (selection among the variants that arise) is another matter. Some variants have greater staying power than others.

    ... Variation is generated at random, but selection among variants is non-random.
    is really an analogy of specification.


    How do variants have ‘greater staying power’? How can selection among variants be non-random? How does a variant know when to stick and when to twist?

    Sober is in effect stating that variants show the properties of being specified. His flaw, from a philosophical materialist’s perspective is that there must be intelligence behind the specification.

    Neil

    PS Cro?sos you asked

    quote:
    Does it really matter what your view is? For example, if the "results of methodological science" indicates that the mass of an electron is 9.1×10¯³¹, does the electron "function" any different because of your "way of viewing"?

    Do you mean, “does it matter if you believe God exists?”
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan,

    You said

    quote:
    I happen to believe that ID, as I've heard it expressed as an alternative to methodological materialism, puts science into too tight a strait-jacket such that the resulting science isn't as good as methodological materialism.

    Given what I clarified above about the distinction between to methodological materialism and ID (that ID is not an alternative, as the former is involved in functionality and the latter origin), the following ID statement shows how ID differs from creationism. In what way do you think the ID tenent is ‘too tight’?

    quote:

    Although intelligent design is compatible with many "creationist" perspectives, including scientific creationism, it is a distinct theoretical position. This can be seen by comparing the basic tenets of each view.
    Legally, scientific creationism is defined by the following six tenets:
    • The universe, energy and life were created from nothing.
    • Mutations and natural selection cannot bring about the development of all living things from a single organism.
    • "Created kinds" of plants and organism can vary only within fixed limits
    • Humans and apes have different ancestries.
    • Earth’s geology can be explained by catastrophism, primarily a worldwide flood
    • The earth is young—in the range of 10,000 years or so.

    Intelligent design, on the other hand, involves two basic assumptions:

    • Intelligent causes exist.
    • These causes can be empirically detected (by looking for specified complexity).

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Neil, you're making this far more complicated than I have time to go into. But, in brief...

    The simple fact is that both the origins you propose are in fact true:

    quote:
    Now, philosophically, there are two views of how bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA) came into existence, philosophical materialism and philosophical theism. One says the bacterial flagellum, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade or the biosynthesis of AMP (the first building block of DNA) are products of a random, purposeless, material process, the other says that they are the product of intelligence.

    No! You persist in reading 'random, purposeless...' as a philosophical statement. It is not. It is a description of the process with respect to a scientific frame of reference. There is no purpose or direction within the sphere of science..

    So the first explanation is not philosophical, it is scientific. The two explanations are complementary.

    On to Sober's model - you are wrong in an important point. A protein can still be functional with a range of different sequences. A protein with one functionality can have other functions as a by-product, albeit inefficiently. This is enough for NS to work on. This has been demonstrated in the lab, and I will find the ref. for you if you want to see it.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    ID is not an alternative [to methodological materialism], as the former is involved in functionality and the latter origin

    As I understand it, ID says that there are instances of mechanisms where the "scientific" explanation of their origin is that they are designed by an external intelligence. If I am correct in this understanding then ID is an alternative to to methodological materialism which explains the origins of these as variation on pre-existing mechanisms (which by definition had different functionality). When I say ID puts science in a tight strait jacket it is because if ID explains the origin of a mechanism that limits the investigation of what precurser mechanisms may have existed (since ID says they didn't exist). This in turn limits the scope of scientists to understand these mechanisms which could have implications for such things as drug design.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - More accurately, I mean "does it matter if the electron believes in God?" Or alternatively "Does it matter to the electron if YOU believe in God?" In either case, does the observer's theistic or atheistic belief have any effect whatsoever on the mass (or other physical properties) of the electron? I would say "no", that the believer and the infidel inhabit the same physical Universe with the same physical properties. A Christian doesn't have to make sure to buy their computer from the "theists only" section of the store for fear that the electrons will behave differently when they take it home. Idle speculation on hypotheses which cannot by their nature be tested experimentally fall outside the realm of legitimate science and are more akin to mediæval discussions about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

    Sorry, that was unfair. Mediæval philosophers didn't actually debate about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. They worried about more important matters, like whether or not angels defecated.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan, I empathise with your fear that
    quote:
    ID puts science in a tight strait jacket it is because if ID explains the origin of a mechanism that limits the investigation of what precurser mechanisms may have existed (since ID says they didn't exist).

    But ID has not set out to limit the investigative nature of science. If a scientist is demotivated by ID, we need to ask why? Is it because, philosophically they were motivated by trying to justify a philosophical materialist's view of the world?

    If you would like a better clarification of this matter of motivation, you could try theAccess Research Network Webpage which has a helpful ID FAQ page (and an open discussion forum for those who like debating this sort of stuff with real scientists – which reminds me, we need to get back to the original point of this thread, which was the effect of all this on our theology or Christian practice).

    Karl, you said

    quote:
    No! You persist in reading 'random, purposeless...' as a philosophical statement. It is not

    But you said earlier

    quote:
    As for 'specified design' - well, yes. Of course.

    As an engineer, I see this as a philosophical oxymoron. Random, purposeless is a philosphical position. To keep it simple, here’s why.

    I’ve already defined specification. Some scientists refer to genetic blueprints, others now say they see specified complexity in organisms.

    If you believe, Karl, that the universe is specified good and well. If you believe that science is then restricted to random and purposeless, it contradicts the belief that the universe is specified.

    Let’s follow a simple example of a house. Once an architect and engineer draw the plans and specify the materials, how does the house get built?

    If it is random, material purposeless, the house will build itself from from the mud and straw it finds in the field where the house is to be built, the finished house will be nothing like the specification of the architect and engineer, because it is random and does not follow the specification.

    If, however, the house is built to the drawings, blueprints and specifications, the house will display evidence of intelligence and reflect the specifier’s requirements.

    As with all analogies, this has it’s weaknesses. I do not want to invoke the idea that there is a builder involved in the development of life (although there is a serious question about where the energy comes from which allows material to organise itself into living organisms), I merely want to illustrate that the process can not be random, material and purposeless if we believe that the information for life was specified. Belief in specification and a random process is an oxymoron.

    Neil

    PS Cro?sos. Thanks for the clarification, we are all part of the same material universe. I was concerned you though it wasn’t important to consider the creator, which is in effect another aspect of our lives which is common to all.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    you say that:
    quote:
    I merely want to illustrate that the process can not be random, material and purposeless if we believe that the information for life was specified. Belief in specification and a random process is an oxymoron.

    But talking in such a way excludes a priori the possibility that God created the universe in such a way that life would naturally evolve. If he did so then by your definition we would have to say something like 'God intended us but did not design us.' Which given traditional ideas of the nature of God's foreknowledge is not necessarily a wrkable distinction.

    quote:
    Belief in specification and a random process is an oxymoron.

    No it is not, unless specification is defined so as to include design. Kenneth Miller in his book Finding Darwins God describes experiments by Barry Hall where Hall deleted the gene for a particular enzyme from a bacterium and then put it in conditions that would favour the survival of bacteria that evolved to have the missing enzyme again. Some did just that. It is of course possible to specify the structure and sequence of the gene and enzyme, but that is no indication that they specification was designed intelligently.
    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    You said

    quote:
    But talking in such a way excludes a priori the possibility that God created the universe in such a way that life would naturally evolve.

    Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. I didn’t want to speculate on how matter organised itself into living organisms, nor how long it took, but that the universe and everything in it displays the evidence of specification (everything from the precise constants of physics which allow the universe to exist, through the logic of all matter being the product of chemical reactions between 92 elements, to the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle, to the functionality of complex organisms – there is evidence of engineering specification).

    I'm saying that, in broad terms, Paley was right and Dawkins is wrong. The watch has the appearance of being designed because it was designed.

    Put it this way, Dawkins and Paley express two alternative, diametrically opposed views:

    What you proposed was different to both those positions. Can you explain the logic by which you think

    quote:
    'God intended us but did not design us.'
    ? You seem to have excluded specification, in favour of random development, and in so doing you have excluded God.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    If "randomness and purposelessness" are a philosophical position, does that mean that quantum mechanics (as well as most of twentieth century thermodynamics) is an inherently unscientific field of study? Q-mech depends wholly on random, probabilistic behavior. Given the arguments about randomness presented here, I can only conclude that the theory of Intelligent Design must dismiss Q-mech as both unscientific and unGodly.

    Which brings me to my other point. The best, and indeed only, arguments I've seen presented thus far for ID are somewhat vague analogies. (Watchmaker, house, bridge, etc.) While analogies can be useful in clarifying or illustrating certain concepts, "reasoning by analogy" is almost an open invitation for fallacious conclusions. Is there any actual experimental evidence or direct observation or theorization involved here? If not, it falls outside the realm of science.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Crœsos, "randomness" can be used scientifically (in, say the decay of radioactive elements) or philosophically (say, "the universe is a chance event"). As has been said several times on this thread about a range of things, the fact that randomness is a scientific term doesn't automatically mean the philosophical use of the term follows. Purpose (or otherwise) must surely be entirely philosophical.

    As far as ID is concerned my understanding (from the ARN website Neil mentioned earlier and the Origins website) is that ID stipulates there are a number of things (for example certain bio-chemical pathways) that are irreducibly complex, ie: if you remove any part of the mechanism it ceases to function. ID goes on to say that such mechanisms could not have developed gradually (at which point most scientists disagree, to say you can't go back is very different from not getting there in the first place) and therefore must have been formed by an intelligent designer. I view it as a philosophical position, and a weak one at that. I think I posted this link near the beginning of the thread, but I've given my views on ID on my website, and nothing in this thread has given me reason to re-evaluate those views.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Glenn ... Can you explain the logic by which you think 'God intended us but did not design us.'? You seem to have excluded specification, in favour of random development, and in so doing you have excluded God.

    This is just one possible view but it goes like this: Suppose that God wished to create intelligent life and the method God chose to do this was to create a universe that naturally, and spontaneously, by evolutionary means resulted in life and eventually self conscious intelligent life.
    In such a case one could say that all God has specified are some basic fundamental laws of nature from which everything unfolds. It could be that there is genuine randomness involved in the process so that say it could have been a reptilian (or other) species that evoloved self consciousness or intelligence rather than a mammalian one. So in this scenario, by only specifying the initial conditions God left it to chance and natural selection to come up with us. Some people might then say that God intended self conscious intelligent life but did not design it. (The reason that I hesitate to affirm that distinction is that traditional views that God is omniscient make it difficult to say that his intention and his design are distinguishable. He would have known what would result in advance.)

    So in stating this view I have not excluded specification entirely but yes, chance plays a part. I have not thereby excluded God. However one result of this view would be that it would be impossible to demonstrate the existence of intelligently designed elements in biology.

    Your position in contrast would seem to be either that
    1) the existence of intelligently designed elements in biology is demonstrable; or
    2)that if God exists intelligently designed elements in biology
    must be demonstrable.

    I'm not sure which you hold, but I know of no convincing argument for (2).

    Glenn
    P.S. Behe's book Darwin's Black Box arrived yesterday and I am now reading it!

    [UBB fixed to remove nested quotes]

    [ 06 August 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Cro?sos

    For your benefit, here's a little example for you to ponder from a philosophical materialist perspective.

    Miachel Behe asks the following question of philosophical materialism regarding the development of AMP:

    quote:
    The fact is that no one ever puts real chemical names on any of the mythical letters in the A-B-C-D story. In the textbooks mentioned above, the cartoon explanations are not developed any further, even though the books are used to teach PhD student who could easily follow detailed explanations. It is certainly no trouble to imagine that the primordial soup might have some C floating around which could easily be converted to D; Calvin and Hobbes could imagine that without any difficulty whatsoever. It is, however, much more difficult to believe there was much adenylosuccinate (intermediate XIII) to be converted to AMP. And it is even harder to believe that carboxyaminoimidazole ribotide (intermediate VIII) was sitting around waiting to be converted to 5-aminoimidazole-4-(N-succinylocarboxamide) ribotide (Intermediate IX). It is difficult to believe because, when you put real names on the chemicals, then you have to come up with a real chemical reaction that could make them. No one has done that.

    And please don't try top tell me that Allan Orr answered that question, because he didn't.

    As for QM, I've been following the other thread where this is discussed and am out of my depth. But let me ask you this? Could the laws of QM and thermo-dynamics have been specified?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    This might frustrate you and others on the thread, firstly because this is a bit of a moster post (sorry) and secondly because my philosophcial position has shifted in the process of this debate. I have found my philosophical attitude of any observable material phenomena is now neutral. You asked if my position was,

    quote:
    1) (that) the existence of intelligently designed elements in biology is demonstrable; or
    2)that if God exists intelligently designed elements in biology must be demonstrable.

    I have postulated the following position earlier on the thread, and now I am more convinced of the validity of this position. The position is not formed from the philosophical observation of scientific discoveries, like the AMP assembly described by Behe, the position is formed from a perspective of Biblical Theology. I believe that the application of Biblical Theology means that the results of scientific enquiry should not be used as evidence for any philosophical conclusion (atheistic or theistic).

    This view, I believe, will also help silence unscientific fundamentalists who insist on YECism. I have already discussed it in person with two YEC Christians in Singapore, who seemed to agree with this position.

    The position is this:that the existence or absence of intelligence is not demonstrable from elements in biology, and that this was the intentional position of God.

    We need to understand this position from a Biblical Theology of the cross of Christ and of faith in Christ. In Hebrews 11:1&2 the writer states this

    quote:
    'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.'

    In spite of the objectivity of the natural material phenomena observed by science, faith is what philosophical materialist (atheistic) scientists exercise when they postulate a universe without God, random and purposeless. They have not seen what they hope for (a universe without a God). They trust that God is not there by faith.

    But back to the letter to the Hebrews, the writer goes on to say

    quote:
    Hebrews 11:3 'By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible'.

    And so, likewise, scientists holding a philosophical theism (either ID or YECism) see natural material phenomena observed by science in their own philosophical light, and do so by faith.

    Out of context, those two quotes seem a very weak argument for my strongly held position, but taken in the context of the letter to the Hebrews, we can see the wisdom of this position.

    This is where YECism and Philosophical materialism (naturalism, atheism) come unstuck, and the YECs I mentioned agree.

    The letter to the Hebrews was written to a community of Jewish Christians who were losing sight of Jesus and drifting back to Old Covenant Temple worship, Jewish tradition and law. So, the writer was re-establishing Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish law. The faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:3 is not blind faith or wishful thinking but faith in the resurrected Christ.

    quote:
    Hebrews 13:20 'the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus
    .

    God's intention is for us to place our faith in Christ and in Christ alone.

    Observable material phenomena, whether biological systems, QM or thermo-dynamics are supposed to be a philosophical puzzle we can not solve, from a biblical perspective . YECism, in light of the cross is a distraction from faith in Christ. From a perspective of Biblical Theology, we will never be able to discern or disprove the existence of intelligently designed elements in biology or find demonstrable evidence for God in elements in biology, because God always wanted us to trust in Christ alone.

    Taking Galatians 2:15-16 slightly out of context (as it talks about justification by faith and not works) and inserting observation or material phenomena, we see that

    quote:
    "We…know that a man is not justified by observing the law (nor observing material phenomena by scientific enquiry), but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law (nor observing material phenomena by scientific enquiry), because by observing the law no one will be justified.

    It might not be the most mind blowing conclusion, it might even appear foolish to conclude the philosophical debate over the observable phenomena of nature from the cross, but I believe that the Bible is clear on this matter, that we are to have faith in Christ alone and we are not to have faith in Christ and the observable phenomena of material objects as the result of scientific enquiry.

    1 Corinthians 1:17-19

    quote:
    to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Thanks for your response Neil, that clarifies things very well.
    Glenn
     
    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - I think you are confusing an indifference to the existence of God with the assertion of the non-existence of God. Science is heavily materialist in that it only concerns itself with phenomena that can be tested and experimented upon. As such, most people's definition of God falls outside the realm of science. What science does postulate is functional non-existence. In other words, the scientific position is that if something has no discernable influence on the experiment in question, its existence can be ignored. To provide you with an example, if it could be determined that atoms in a Universe with God would behave one way and that atoms in a Universe with no God would behave another, then the existence of God would be relevant to scientific inquiry. If, on the other hand, there is no "God constant" in atomic behavior, then the existence or non-existence of any sort of Deity is irrelevant as far as atomic science is concerned.

    Which brings us back to your position, which is that "that the existence or absence of intelligence is not demonstrable from elements in biology, and that this was the intentional position of God." If that is the case then your formulation of Intelligent Design is inherently unscientific (meaning "outside the realm of science"), unless you are postulating that ID is demonstrable through some scientific field of inquiry other than biology. Given this, it seems somewhat presumptuous for you to decry a scientific theory on what you seem to be admitting are unscientific grounds. The last time this sort of world-view prevailed was the Inquisition vs. Galileo.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Cro?sos

    I'm still interested to know your thoughts on Michael Behe's comment on the development of AMP, but for now, I'll go on to your post.

    You clarified the work of science clearly with your definition of Functional non-existence. I think can offer another example, which I referred to earlier in this thread, the mammalian blood coagulation cascade. When mammalian skin is cut, it bleeds but the mammal is prevented from bleeding to death by the blood coagulation cascade. When we observe the healing of a wound, we witness functional non-existence. That is that God is not required in the event of blood coagulation because natural causes do the healing. The same can be said for a broken bone. God does not need to heal it miraculously, because natural causes do the healing.

    Now, taking your example of the atom and my example of the mammalian blood coagulation sequence or the broken bone, of course, we can observe, using scientific methods, the functionality of the objects and deduce that they work naturally, without need of supernatural intervention. As far as this, I agree with you.

    Now, l need to clarify your last paragraph. When you said,

    quote:
    If that is the case then your formulation of Intelligent Design is inherently unscientific (meaning "outside the realm of science").
    Yes, this is what I have been trying to say, that anything beyond functionality is into the realms of philosophy (atheist or theist).

    ID is not science, if science is described as observing the functionality of material objects. ID is a philosophy which states that material objects, in all fields of science, display 'specified complexity' as opposed to 'non-specified random complexity' and that some biological functions display 'irreducible complexity', like the AMP development sequence. This view is philosophical and can not be deduced by scientific measurement, experiment nor any other empirical means. But there again, the philosophical view that the universe and life is the product of a purposeless, random, material process can not be deduced by scientific measurement, experiment nor any other empirical means.

    And so I have concluded that, even with the brightest minds of the scientific community being applied to the philosophical question for almost 200 years, that the philosophical question of origin remains out of reach for mankind. From a perspective of Biblical Theology, this is the way God must have ordained it, because biblically, our faith in God is to be established in Christ alone. From a biblical perspective, God wishes the natural world to be silent on the matter of objective faith, because the objectivity for our faith is found in Christ's birth, life, teaching, fulfillment of OT law and prophecy, death, resurrection and ascension.

    In a way, you are right to say that

    quote:
    the last time this world view prevailed was the Inquisition vs Galileo
    At that time, Christian faith was dogmatic and fearful of science. However, another aspect of Biblical Theology is that God is always refining His church, and I believe that the issue of science has provided just such a refinement. The church is unlikely to ever burn scientific dissenters at the stake again, or behead them.

    But let's drag the argument out of the past and put aside the mistakes of the medieval church, let's look at the governing philosophy of the present day. On which side is the dogmatic fear today? Which cherished philosophical view is dominant today? It is the view that 'science' has proved that God is dead. Philosophical materialism (naturalism) has held dogmatically for the last 100 years to the claim that 'science' shows that everything we see around us it the product of a purposeless, impersonal, random, material process. Anyone who dares question this philosophical statement by attacking 'science' is seen as a heretic, a dissenter and is dealt with severely, chastised and persecuted, not with fire but a lashing of the tongue.

    The paradigm shift has started to swing against philosophical materialism and the result will be the dismantling secular humanism and all the systems which support it. If 'science' does not support an atheist philosophy then the morals, ethics and laws of relativism have no basis and should not be taught exclusively in schools nor be practiced exclusively in courts of law or government. The 'culture wars' are about to get interesting.

    Neil

    [UBB fixed]

    [ 07 August 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    I am tempted to conclude that there is no coincidence between your new thread
    'picking and choosing scripture - why not - it's scriptural!' and my post regarding a Biblical Theology of the cross in response to your question about demonstrable evidence in science.

    Are there any grounds to my suspicion?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    Actually no, it's a post I have been brooding on for some time since reading Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles in parallel with each other. However I would not be at all surprised if there is a posting in this thread of yours that says we can't pick and choose scripture which finally triggered it off!

    I am now half way through Behe's Darwin's Black box and am reading Miller's Finding Darwin's God too plus Mark Ridley's Mendel's Demon. Will let you know my responses shortly. This thread of yours has cost me an arm and a leg in book purchasing.

    Glenn
    PS.My hard drive is hiccuping so if I disappear for a while that's why.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - As you may have guessed, my background is in physics, so my critique of your Behe quote is proceding slowly due to the need for some refresher research. It's been years since I had to deal with biochem. But rest assured I will eventually post a response.

    The rest of your post seems convoluted and self-contradictory. For starters, your definition of science is only partially complete. A more complete definition would be that science is described as observing the functionality of material objects and drawing conclusions from those observations. A very simple, and relatively famous, example involving the previously mentioned Galileo would be his experiments with gravity. Galileo observed that the variously sized and weighted balls he used in his experiments fell at the same rate. The observations are that "these specific balls fall at the same rate when subjected to gravity". The conclusion drawn was "all objects are moved in the same manner by gravity, regardless of weight". The drawing of conclusions, the formulation of the general case from the specific instances, is probably the most critical step in the scientific process.

    Which brings us to the contradiction. You stated that

    quote:
    ID is a philosophy which states that material objects, in all fields of science, display 'specified complexity' as opposed to 'non-specified random complexity' and that some biological functions display irreducible complexity', like the AMP development sequence.

    In other words, you are observing "material objects" ("in all fields of science", no less!) and then drawing conclusions. This means your definition of ID falls withing the purview of science, and should then be subjected to examination, experimentation, and confirmation or disproof. But then in the very next sentence you state that

    quote:
    This view is philosophical and can not be deduced by scientific measurement, experiment nor any other empirical means.

    Given your assertion that this philosophy cannot apparently be deduced or in any way measured materially, I have to wonder how this conclusion, which seens to deal exclusively with material phenomena, was reached. Your argument in favor of it, minus the material arguments you admit are irrelevant and unconvincing, seems to amount to "it must be true because I believe it".

    As far as science "chastising and persecuting" dissenters, another important characteristic of the scientific process is the debate between various alternative theories. These debates can be quite vigorous, and since science is a materialist pursuit, theories which "can not be deduced by scientific measurement, experiment nor any other empirical means" are soundly and rightly "chastised" as unscientific. Quite frankly, I'm not sure that verbal criticism of one's position can really qualify as "persecution".
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    As far as the question of whether the laws of Quantum Mechanics or Statistical Thermodynamics could have been specified, I don't really see a way it could be done without postulating some sort of supernatural factor, and as previously stated the supernatural falls outside the purview of science. From a scientific perspective, such formulations fall within the "Angels and Pinheads" speculation mentioned above. In order for an hypothesis to be considered by science, some method of testing its validity must be available, something more concrete than simply saying, "Well, it might be true."
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    Okay, let's take your wider definition of science, which is

    quote:
    science is described as observing the functionality of material objects and drawing conclusions from those observations

    Your example of Galileo's gravity acting on objects, which was famously demonstrated with a hammer and feather on the moon, is a good example of your continued confusion between material scientific conclusions and philosophical scientific conclusions.

    So let's use this example to separate science from philosophy.

    Galileo concluded that all objects move in the same manner by gravity, regardless of weight. That is a scientific conclusion.

    Galileo is not only famous for his scientific experiments and scientific conclusions. When Galileo declared the Copernican doctrine as scientific truth (which Copernicus had already established), he was found guilty of blasphemy by a mediaeval church which held a theologised version of the unscientific Ptolemaic theory of the universe as a core doctrine.

    Galileo's confirmation that Copernicus was right is a scientific conclusion, and the church was wrong to hold dogmatically to an earlier and erroneous scientific theory.

    In 1898 Andrew Dickson White, who was Professor of History at Cornell University wrote a two volume tome called 'A History of the warfare between science and theology in Christendom' in his concluding chapter he writes:

    quote:
    If, then, modern science in general has acted powerfully to dissolve away the theories and dogmas of the older theologic interpretation, it has also been active in a reconstruction and recrystallization of truth; and very powerful in this reconstruction have been the evolution doctrines which have grown out of the thought and work of men like Darwin and Spencer.

    And that is what we have all, a century later, come to take as the truth, that science has disproved theology. But it has not. It has disproved 'theologic interpretation' of erroneous scientific theories.

    Concluding that gravity effects all objects in the same manner and that the world spins around the sun says nothing about God. God could have specified gravity and planetary motion (and QM and the laws of thermodynamics). However, most people today disregard God, the Bible, Christ and His Church because they think that the doctrine and theology of Christendom had something to say about gravity of the rotation of the earth (loosely seen as the Genesis account of creation) and because it was wrong everything in the Bible must be wrong. But, we need to make the distinction between what the church believed and what the Bible said. The unscientific Ptolemaic theory of the universe is not in the Bible even though some theologians, even Luther, found scriptural reasons to believe this 'scientific' conclusion. This is bad theology, as well as bad science.

    As I said near the start of this thread, the Genesis account of creation answers the who made it and why was it made questions, not the when was it made and how does it work.

    Just as it was wrong for the church to adopt the Ptolemaic theory as scriptural, it is wrong for scripture to be applied to any scientific theories, because, as I said, we are all to trust in Christ alone and not Christ and observations of material objects. YECism, ID and philosophical materialism fall down as belief or faith systems on this simple Biblical truth.

    But is it equally wrong to think that the discoveries of the action of gravity and the fact that the sun moves around the sun, or any other observations of science disprove God. This muddled thinking dominates western culture today, because no distinction is made between your example of 'scientific conclusion' and 'philosophical conclusion derived from a scientific conclusion'. There is no distinction made because one word is used to describe both kinds of conclusion. That word is 'science'.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Hooray...the 'o' and 'e' have stuck together. This evolution disproves God.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, a word of caution not to put to much credence in the history presented by Andrew Dickson White. The title of his work says it all, he had a pet theory about theology being at odds with science and went out of his way to find examples of theology objecting to scientific discoveries totally ignoring anything that disagreed with his view. It is, put simply, a very bad piece of historical research.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Ah.

    Many thanks Alan…I'll try to check the background to my references in the future.

    Regardless of Dickson White's philosophical bias or his biased historical account, the point remains that 'scientific conclusions' must be categorised as either functional or philosophical conclusions.

    Crœsos used a functional conclusion to challenge a philosophical conclusion, but the two conclusions are mutually exclusive.

    Would you agree?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, just trying to understand where the problem arises.

    Crœsos uses Galileos' experiment with dropping different mass spheres to demonstrate the way science works, at no point is the conclusion ("all objects are moved in the same manner by gravity, regardless of weight") philosophical. Except, science has, naturally, a philosophical basis - that the universe behaves in an orderly, predictable and comprehensible manner; one consequence of which is that it is reasonable to say that on the basis of a set of observations predictions about the behaviour of the physical universe can be made whether or not specific measurements are made.

    Where ID and YEC differ from science is that underlying philosophical underpinning; both assume there may have been discontinuities in the orderly and predictable nature of the universe when God acted outside those bounds in a miraculous way, and that it is reasonable to assume that "science" will be able to observe the consequencies of such intervention. (I happen to believe that God has performed miraculous acts, but I don't expect there to be scientifically observable consequencies of such miracles)

    I agree that reading "science" from Scripture is bad theology. I agree with your last 2 sentences too, with one amendment, I would say "There is no distinction made because one word is mistakenly used to describe both kinds of conclusion. That word is 'science'." That mistake is made by two different groups of people, the general public who generally don't recognise the distinction and a small group of scientific atheists who recognising the confusion in the thinking of the general public cynically use that to their own ends (ie: "science disproves God").

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    I gather from what you said

    quote:
    Where ID and YEC differ from science is that underlying philosophical underpinning; both assume there may have been discontinuities in the orderly and predictable nature of the universe when God acted outside those bounds in a miraculous way, and that it is reasonable to assume that "science" will be able to observe the consequencies of such intervention.
    that you understand ID to involve miracles.

    When you use the word science, it has the dual meaning we discussed. You have used it in the sense of empirical research into material function. I have tried to identify that role of science as a stand-alone activity.

    That then leaves us with the other activity of philosophical conclusions which are drawn from science.

    I, like you, believe that God has performed miraculously, the greatest miracle being Christ’s resurrection. But I do not wish to confuse occasional miracles with the question of origin.

    The ID philosophy given on the Access Research Network Webpage states this quite clearly.

    quote:
    From an ID perspective, the natural vs. supernatural distinction is irrelevant. The real contrast is not between natural laws and miracles, but between undirected natural causes and intelligent ones.

    The big picture difference between philosophical conclusions drawn for material conclusions is that ‘science’ in it’s philosophical sense, says that there is no intelligence behind the universe, whereas ID says that there is intelligence.

    In short, ID says:

     Intelligent causes exist.
     These causes can be empirically detected (by looking for specified complexity).

    And philosophical materialism says:

     No intelligent causes exist, that everything is random and purposeless.
     That material causes can be implied because God is beyond the knowledge of materialism.

    Now, this has huge implications for post modernism, because modernism starts with the latter philosophical conclusion and permits subjective religious experience as a product of materialism (ie that God is a product of human imagination).

    Challenging the philosophical materialist conclusions of science, not the scientific conclusions themselves, is to challenge the very foundation of post modernism and western culture.

    Going back to the blood coagulation cascade, ID does not challenge the scientific conclusion, the functionality is plain for all to see. ID challenges the philosophical conclusion that blood coagulation is the product of non-intelligent causes. ID does this by postulating that intelligent causes produced the design and specification, the blueprints and process diagrams.

    How material was assembled to fit this specification does not end with the answer, ‘it was a miracle’, it ends with the answer ‘the materials were always going to assemble this way, because that is the way they were designed’.

    This theory does not postulate 'discontinuities in the orderly and predictable nature of the universe' (miracles) rather that the universe is orderly and predictable in nature because it comes under the unified theory of specification, design.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, I'd forgotten that the ID sites I know of all insist they're not saying God acted in a miraculous way (it often seems to be part of their response to "ID is YEC" claims). However, the impression I have from my reading (perhaps if I get some time I might read Behe), mostly websites, and what you just posted is that ID claims that there are instances of irreducible specified complexity which science will show could not have been formed by purely material processes; well in my book anything not the result of purely natural processes is a miracle.

    quote:
    This theory does not postulate 'discontinuities in the orderly and predictable nature of the universe' (miracles) rather that the universe is orderly and predictable in nature because it comes under the unified theory of specification, design.

    hmm, a bit stronger on the design than I would go personally. I would say that the orderly, predictable nature of the universe is a result of the nature of the Creator (which is one point where theism is simpler than atheism). I'm not sure about a specified design though.

    Have you ever come across Polkinhornes' concept of free process? He postulates that God gave the physical universe the freedom to develop through God given process however it "wishes" (not that the universe has a consciousness to wish anything) while still being under the sovereign will of God. It is a variation on the free will/sovereignty of God dialectic.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Alan - The idea that the Universe behaves in an orderly, predictable, and comprehensible manner has been borne out repeatedly by our experience and experiments. I went into considerable length about some of the results of materialist inquiry way back on page in my posting of 30 July 2001 02:50. Given the overwhelming success of inquiries founded on this premise, I expect you to come up with something truly spectacular to refute it.

    Neil - You seem to want to have it both ways.

    quote:
    • Intelligent causes exist.
    • These causes can be empirically detected (by looking for specified complexity).

    It's your second postulate that gets you into trouble. By stating that "these causes can be empirically detected", you have placed your theory of Intelligent Design within the realm of science, not philosophy. As a parallel example, I could state that:

    • Electrons exist.
    • Electrons can be empirically detected.

    Does that mean that electrons are beyond the understanding of science and are instead philosophical constructs? Obviously not. Anything which can be empirically observed can be examined by a scientific, materialist process. It's somewhat frustrating to me that you keep making this apparently fallacious assertion, that I keep pointing it out, and that you don't seem to take any effort to resolve this apparent paradox.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Crœsos:
    The idea that the Universe behaves in an orderly, predictable, and comprehensible manner has been borne out repeatedly by our experience and experiments ..... Given the overwhelming success of inquiries founded on this premise, I expect you to come up with something truly spectacular to refute it.

    I'm not going to refute it, in fact it's a premise I've always accepted (and if I've given the impression that I don't I'm sorry if I've confused anyone). My point is that it is a premise, and no amount of data in support of it is actually a formal scientific proof of the premise. My other point was that it is a premise that could be expected from a theist philosophy.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Alan - Every time we demonstrate that the Universe behaves in thus-and-such a manner, it is one more piece of evidence in favor of an orderly Universe. For example, if we determine the way gravity behaves, that is one type of order. If we demostrate that the atom has a certain structure to it, that is another type of order. Both of these, and countless others, constitute a large data set in favor of the orderly Universe proposition. I'm not sure exactly what you would consider a "formal scientific proof" of this proposition. In other words, if we can comprehend that the Universe behave in an orderly fashion which can be predicted by science, does this not mean that the Universe behaves in an "orderly, predictable, and comprehensible manner"?
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Crœsos, what I'm trying to say is that the orderliness of the universe is axiomatic for science to function. That scientists constantly add to the body of knowledge built on that axiom doesn't mean it's no longer axiomatic. Scientists set out assuming that things are ordered and predictable, and when they don't seem to be go back and reanalyse the data or reformulate theories until things are orderly and predictable. To say that having done that the order and predictablity of the universe is proved by the order and predictability of the body of scientific knowledge is a circular argument. Which is why I say it can't be proved by formal scientific means.

    Is this making sense?

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    We are caught in the ‘scientific’ word puzzle again, sorry for causing you frustration, please continue to bear with me as we work this one through, and thank you for your patience.

    I do not see my statement

    quote:
    These causes can be empirically detected
    as material ‘scientific conclusions’ but as philosophical conclusions drawn from empirical scientific conclusions.

    The important word is not empirical, but detected.

    Taking your electron example.

    I find it helpful to remember in this example that it is people who do the detecting, scientists are material detectives. It is their individual and corporate philosophy through which they look at the empirical conclusions and draw their own philosophical conclusions.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Alan - I'm afraid that doesn't make a lot of sense, at least to me. What you seem to be indicating is that any order or organization within the Universe is a philosophical construct and not a physical reality. Let's say I take hold of a pen on my desk, lift it, and drop it to the floor. I notice that it fall down. I repeat the experiment. And again. I do this fifty times and each time the pen plummets to the floor. Is it unreasonable to conclude that on the fifty-first time the pen will also fall to the floor? Or would it be more reasonable to state, as you seem to suggest, that nothing about the pen's actions when dropped can be anticipated in advance since that would imply some sort of predictable order in the Universe? If being able to demonstrate an orderly pattern in at least some portions of the Universe is not an indication that the Universe is at least in some way orderly and predictable, the what would you consider to be suitable proof?

    Neil - You seem to be either unfamiliar with the word "empirical" or are simply regretting using it. "Empirical" means relying on experimentation or sensory data rather than theoretical or systematic knowledge. Thus, when you say that something can be "empirically detected", it is natural for me (or anyone else who knows what "empirical" means) to conclude that you mean that there are some sorts of physical measurements or material data which support your formulation of Intelligent Design. Further, I'm not even sure you're that clear on the meaning of the word "detected", which is usually applied to the discernment of physical phenomena. "Detected" is usually also taken to imply that the thing being detected has some sort of existence independent of the detector, something which is not at all apparent about philosophical conclusions. Most philosophies are said to be "deduced", not "detected". Of course, "deduced" is probably too strong a word to use in this instance, since most deductions, in the typical sense of the word, are the result of reasoning and evidence which lends a comfortable degree of certitude that the conclusion reached is the correct one. When there is insufficient, unclear, or even contradictory evidence so that multiple contradictory conclusions can be reached, the proper term is "speculate", not "deduce" or "detect".
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Crœsos, I'm not saying that the order in the universe is a philosophical construct, I believe it is a genuine feature of physical reality which is why science has been so successful by assuming this. What I am saying is that the expectation of orderliness is a philosophical construct which IMO is best explained by theism; I can't think of any explanation from pure materialistic philosophies except that it simply is orderly and predictable, more scientific data demonstrating the orderliness of the universe does nothing to explain why it's orderly.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    You have managed to avoid the point I am trying to make by turning the argument against ID for implying that intelligent causes can be 'empirically detected' and you say that this claim is unscientific.

    As you are aware, I am more interested in attacking the philosophical legitimacy of 'science', for the reasons I explained from a Biblical Theology of the Cross of Christ. So, please allow me to ask you this question. You said

    quote:
    Most philosophies are said to be "deduced", not "detected". Of course, "deduced" is probably too strong a word to use in this instance, since most deductions, in the typical sense of the word, are the result of reasoning and evidence which lends a comfortable degree of certitude that the conclusion reached is the correct one.

    I say that from a perspective of sound Biblical Theology and well informed scientific reason, it is legitimate to adopt the philosophy that the universe is indeed the product of intelligence.

    Accepting your interpretation of the words 'empirical' and 'detected' (which I see as a semantic difference and which does not detract from my point - that 'science' can make no legitimate philosophical claims), can you tell me, using your definitions of these words, on what basis science can legitimately make the philosophical claim that the universe just is…that there is no intelligence behind the orderliness of creation?

    Neil
     


    Posted by St Rumwald (# 964) on :
     
    My apologies for crashing in so late on this thread- a little later than I would have wished as I actually read the whole thing from start to here, so my post is full of disembodied bits and pieces that occurred to me while reading the interesting debate. Please forgive me if I'm offering simplistic comments.

    1) First up, this quote:

    "Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. I didn’t want to speculate on how matter organised itself into living organisms, nor how long it took, but that the universe and everything in it displays the evidence of specification (everything from the precise constants of physics which allow the universe to exist, through the logic of all matter being the product of chemical reactions between 92 elements, to the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle, to the functionality of complex organisms – there is evidence of engineering specification)."

    Surely only points to a way of percieving the world, i.e. one sees the specification where it may or may not be there because of one's own pre-existent expectations and paradigms, taken to its silly extreme, rather like the incidences of Jesus' face appearing on a tortilla etc.


    2) Lots of suggestions that philosophy and science are mutually exclusive. I was always under the impression that philosophy
    was the original and purest form of science.


    3) The assumption that 'Darwinism' has led to a loss in belief which in turn has lead to a decline in Christianity implies very much that the belief was there in the first place even when 'active' Christian numbers were much bigger and I would dispute that on a variety of historical grounds, such as a) dropping Christian activity prior to Darwin and b) a steady decline in the 20th century rather than a preciptous drop.

    4) There was a mention of evolution theorists being 'split' into gradualists and 'crisi' types. I see no reason for the two schools to be mutually exclusive as clearly they are not.

    5) The idea that God can be proved OR disproved by scientific method is patently silly, as He is outside the created order. This goes for both the more fundamentalist Christians and the more fundamentalist scientists.

    6) Young Earthers. Oh dear. I didn't realise quite how silly things are getting over in Fundamentalist land.

    First it appears that the Creationist method is to 'disprove' evolution. Even if this were possible, the question would be- and? Disproving the 'evolutionist' account obviously does not prove the 'creationist' one. We are, however, from all evidence as far away as it is possible to be from Creationists offering any worthwile evidence so no worries there.

    But more importantly, surely, seeking to 'prove' the scientific validity of the Genesis account is missing the point big time, in the same way as 'biblical archaeology' or all those ingenious arguments designed to show how, for example, the plagues could have occurred through volcanoes etc. God does not need proof. If the entire Old Testament were shown to be non-historical and scientifically impossible it would make no difference.

    Just my two penneth worth
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Welcome St Rumwald

    Your contribution is welcome at any time, and it is refreshing to have a new voice in this discussion.

    I would like to pick up on a few things you said.

    In broad terms, this thread is not about creationism. It is not about justifying the Genesis 1-2 account of creation (I believe that the world is 4.6 billion years old, because science has observed it). Primarily, the thread is about the effect of a shifting philosophy of the observed world on theology, but at present we are still debating whether that philosophical shift is taking place.

    To help me clarify this, you said:

    quote:
    Surely [ID] only points to a way of perceiving the world, i.e. one sees the specification where it may or may not be there because of one's own pre-existent expectations and paradigms

    Yes, indeed. In fact every since humans started investigating the world around them (detailed astronomical observation was recorded by ancient Babylonians and the ancient Greeks had theories on the structure of matter) we have been matching those observations to our pre-existent expectations and philosophical paradigms.

    This was the mistake of the medieval Church, it adopted erroneous observations of the world as doctrine. It is also, surprisingly, true of YECism, which does the process in reverse by adopting erroneous observations of the world (I am reading ‘The Early Earth’ by John C Whitcomb which is scientific tish-and-pish) because of their prior commitment to a literal reading of Scripture.

    From a Christian perspective, one of a Biblical Theology of Salvation by Christ alone, I have pointed out that Christians do well do avoid adopting a strong belief of the how and when questions regarding God’s created the world.

    But at present on this thread, my issue is to help atheists and agnostics see that their observations of the world around them can not be detected in science but are deduced from their own pre-existent expectations and paradigms.

    The only logical answer Crœsos can give to my question is that is it a pre-existent expectation and naturalistic paradigm which states that the world just is…that it is not the product of intelligence but that the universe just exists because it just exists…and that the empirical conclusions of science are interpreted under this paradigm (I know, because I lived under this paradigm until 1993)

    Francis Bacon was instrumental in freeing science from medieval superstition and philosophy, but science is now bound by an equally dogmatic philosophy which emerged at the Enlightenment and reached its natural conclusion when Neitzche pronounced that ‘God is dead’ towards the end of the nineteenth century.

    So, science is never independent of philosophical paradigms, humans will always try to understand the world in light of their own pre-existent expectations and paradigms. I am speculating that we are now moving from post-modernism to a new paradigm. The modernism or philosophical naturalism of the mid-twentieth century gave way to post-modernism when people began to hunger for spirituality. That spirituality has left people hungering for something more than a subjective experience of religion, as the paradigm shifts, people are beginning to view the world around them as designed. If empirical conclusions support a ‘design’ philosophy then the paradigm shift will gain momentum.

    The ID movement says that empirical conclusions can support philosophical conclusions of design.

    I am excited by this potential paradigm shift, because the philosophical landscape will be much different in ten years time and we don’t know what it will look like yet. I still hope we can discuss, on this thread, the potential outcome for theology.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Alan - I would argue that scientific inquiry does not blindly or arbitrarily assume or expect order, but is rather the logical outgrowth of the observation that certain physical phenomena behave in an orderly fashion. If science behaved as you seem to suggest by pre-assuming order or pattern, it would be unable to determine when a theory is fallacious and no pattern exists. For example, astrology claims to represent an ordered, predictive system, and yet mainstrean science has rejected its legitimacy. How is that possible for a system that pre-assumes the validity of order?

    Neil - I never said that your claims of empirically detectable intelligent design were "unscientific". On the contrary, I have repeatedly pointed out that any claims of an empirical nature fall within the realm of scientific inquiry. What I have objected to is your statement that this is a philosophical position not subject to material verification, which would make your position unscientific. These are contradictory positions and cannot BOTH be correct. And though your claim of intelligent design is indeed of a scientific nature, your repeated failure to posit a possible test of this hypothesis leads to the conclusion that you don't have the data to back up your assertion. Perhaps you can clear this up once and for all. Is Intelligent Design verifiable through scientific measurement?

    As for claims "that there is no intelligence behind the orderliness of creation", I have never advanced such a claim. As for how science in general can make such a claim, science is not so definitive about the matter and doesn't state things so strongly. The strongest statement of this nature goes back to the premise of functional non-existence, referred to in my post of 06 August 2001 23:22 back on page 11. If you can't pony up some evidence to back your hypothesis or conceive of a way in which its truth or falsity could affect scientific measurements, then for the purposes of science whatever it is you are postulating might as well be non-existent.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Crœsos, I'm afraid I've been using "ordered" as a shorthand for things like order, predictability, comprehensibility, mutual compatability (discoveries in one field of science not contradicting, often complimenting, other fields) and internal consistancy. There are probably other things we could add to that list. Because I'm not typing that lot every time, take it as read that I'm using that shorthand in refering to order in the universe.

    Many early scientists studied such things as astrology and alchemy; however they were eventually shown to not be as ordered as astronomy and chemistry, and were relegated first to pseudo-science and later superstition on the basis that they didn't work.

    I would say again, science works because the universe is ordered. It is also very likely that the reason modern science developed in Christian (and to a lesser extent Islamic) societies is that theism results in an expectation of order. If you were in a society which, say, put everything down to the actions of a pantheon of capricious gods then the incentive to go and look for order in the way things work wouldn't be there since you wouldn't expect there to be any order.

    My point is that in moving away from theistic to atheistic philosophies the basis for a belief that the universe is ordered is lost, to be replaced by what is essentially mere pragmatism (assuming the universe is ordered works).

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    Let me try to capture both my understanding of scientific investigation and the philosophy which derives from it by quoting from Kirsten Birkett’s (BSc, PhD) book, ‘Unnatural Enemies, an introduction to science and Christianity’.

    quote:
    Naturalism is a belief (my emphasis added) that only natural laws and forces work in the world…Since the eighteenth century, this view has grown in popularity…The public assumption of (belief in) naturalism has been greatly bolstered by twentieth century scientific discoveries. It has grown to be a grandiose view…The Theory of Everything.

    On a rather more limited basis, science has, in practice, traditionally assumed naturalism as a working hypothesis ‘in the lab’…In the writings of Francis Bacon, and the early discussion of the Royal Society, we find an agreement to leave theology outside the laboratory…this was not a basis for atheism…Francis Bacon, and most of the members of the Royal Society, considered themselves devout Christians (I add- remember the governing paradigm of the seventeenth century was Reformation Theology).


    You said

    quote:
    I have repeatedly pointed out that any claims of an empirical nature fall within the realm of scientific inquiry.

    Francis Bacon would agree with you. What he would not agree with is bringing theology into the laboratory, be that theism or atheism. In other words, we can work out how things work in the lab without asking why they work (God made them or God didn't make them).

    That is the point I am trying to make. I do not wish to consider the ‘rather more limited basis’ of assuming naturalism in the lab, that’s fine by me. It is the grand vision of a Theory of Everything, which is a philosophical position excluding God, and which most people take for granted in public life, that I would like divorce from science. It is not science to exclude, disprove or discredit God, that is philosophy.

    You define yourself as an atheist in your profile. I am genuinely interested, in light of our discussion about naturalism, in the basis for your atheistic philosophy. Can you explain on what grounds do you believe that there is no God and that the universe ‘just is’?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    We're now on post 286 and much has been discussed from many different angles. No one has discussed the effects of naturalism, philosophical materialism, on our theology. It is clear, however, that not only has philosophical materialism polluted Christian thinking but that the issue is so complex that many of us are unable to 'think outside the box', that is to remove ourselves from the philosophical paradigm of the late twentieth century and challenge ourselves on what we believe.

    This inability to think outside the box is due, IMHO, to the complexity of the relationship between science, culture and theology. It is because the place of science in society and its effects on culture are not defined by a single simple relationship, but a very complex and multi-facetted one. There are many interwoven and interacting aspects of the relationship of science with society, and they have all been addressed at some point on this thread.

    I would like to try to summarise some of these issues. This list is not exhaustive, but it demonstrates the complexity of the argument which each of us needs to appreciate if we are to understand the effect of the philosophy that governs science and corrupts much Christian theology.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    No one has discussed the effects of naturalism, philosophical materialism, on our theology. It is clear, however, that not only has philosophical materialism polluted Christian thinking

    hasn't it been a large part of this thread that philosophical materialism hasn't "polluted" Christian thinking. Certainly it's influenced Christian thinking, but since it's a major philosophical position it needs at least a response from Christian thinkers. While we're on the subject, philosophical materialism is hardly unique in influencing Christian thought; neo-Platonism was a major influence on early Christian thought, Zoroastrian dualism appears to have influenced Jewish thought during and after the Exile, to give just a couple of examples. Christian thinkers are influenced by philosophies influential in the cultures they find themselves in, and often their thinking is enriched by what those philosophies have to teach us.

    Which brings us to one of the points on your list,

    quote:
    • We need to understand that theistic evolution is another philosophical position which attempts to marry the theory of evolution (random, purposeless and material) with theology (a specified and created universe).

    I tend to prefer the term "theistic materialism" to "theistic evolution" since my (admittedly philosophical) view of the relationship between God and the material universe encompasses far more than biological evolution. "Materialism" because I believe that methodological materialism (ie: science) is more than adequate in providing answers to questions of mechanism in the physical universe (including the mechanism of origins). "Theistic" because I believe there are questions about purpose, and why methodological materialism does work, that can best be answered from a (Christian) theistic viewpoint. The theistic and materialistic are complementary, the whole being greater than the parts, views of the same reality.

    Now for a fairly light hearted illustration of complementary views:

    Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were camping. Holmes awakes during the night, and shakes Watson awake. "Watson," he asks, "what do you see?"

    "Lots of stars", Watson answers. "What does this tell you?" asks Holmes

    "Well", replies Watson, "astronomically speaking that there are countless millions of stars and galaxies, doubtless orbitted by countless millions of planets. Horologically speaking that it is shortly after 3 in the morning. Meteorologically speaking I reckon it'll be a wonderful day tomorrow. Tell me Holmes, what does it tell you?"

    Holmes is silent for a while, then replies "Elementary my dear Watson, it tells me that someone has stolen our tent"

    Alan

    [edited because I left out the vital "Elementary my dear Watson" phrase that every Holmes story needs!]

    [ 13 August 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - You seem to know (or at least assume) a lot about my personal beliefs based on a one-word description in my profile. As far as my non-belief in God goes, it is simply a result of my never having needed to hypothesize a Deity. As far as the theory that the Universe "just is" goes, you seem eager for me to assert something of that nature, this being the second time you've placed those words in my mouth, but I wouldn't go so far. At the moment, my strongest assertion along those lines are that the Universe "is". As far as theories of causality go, yours is the one currently under discussion, having been the basis of this whole thread. A more cynical person than myself might think you were trying to direct attention away from the inconsistencies in your theory by changing the subject, but I would never accuse you of such.

    I assume that once again you are using scientific terms out of context, though since Kirsten Birkett has a Ph.D. I'm not sure the same can be said of her (his?) book. The "Theory of Everything" usually refers to a theory unifying the three particular forces (strong, weak, and electromagnetic) with gravity. I take it that this is not your meaning and that your theology bears no more animosity towards particle physics than it does any other branch of science. At least, that is the "Theory of Everything" I am most familiar with. What you seem to be objecting to is the philosophical assertion that science can explain all material phenomena. While I would not be so grandiose in my claims, not being familiar with all material phenomena, I would say that thus far science has done a lot better job of explaining the material Universe than any theological formulation. So getting down to specifics, which material phenomena do you believe are outside the realm of scientific inquiry? So far the list seems to include molecular biology and speciation. Are there others? And how do you decide what's on the forbidden list and what's okay for science to investigate?

    You also said that "It is not science to exclude, disprove or discredit God". Actually, it is science to exclude God. By its nature, science does not include supernatural or unnatural phenomena, such as a Deity. As for "disproving" or "discreting" God, that would only become an issue if your formulation of God was subject to material verification.

    Your longer list post has some interesting points some of which I'd like to touch on. For instance, you stated:

    quote:
    We need to openly admit that 'the theory of everything' is not a theory waiting to be proved by empirical evidence, but that it is a materialist philosophy which has developed highly speculative 'scientific' theories like 'imaginary' time to justify itself.

    The existence of imaginary time is strongly suggested by Special Relativity, particularly the Lorentz transformations. Do you reject relativity, or is there a more specific cause of your objection to imaginary time?

    quote:
    We must admit that there is no empirical proof for any of the philosophies outlined above, only deductions made by humans from the material evidence.

    . . .

    Under a unified theory of specification, sense can be made of all empirical material evidence just as a unified theory of random chance has sought to unify all empirical material evidence.


    This seems like you're still trying to have it both ways. Either your theory of specification or intelligent design or whatever you're calling it this time is subject to material verification or it isn't. Could you make up your mind and let us know which it is?
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    By defending the ‘enrichment’ of Christian thinking by philosophical materialism rather than admitting its pollution, you are stating a subjective position based on what you believe to be ‘enrichment’. I'm sorry, but this is going to be another lengthy missive.

    Your argument that neo-Platonism (a system of idealistic, spiritualistic pagan polytheistic philosophy, which tended towards mysticism and which flourished in the pagan world of Greece and Rome during the first centuries of the Christian era) and Zoroastrian dualism both influenced Christian thinking helps demonstrate my point. The former post-dated Christ, the latter pre-dated Moses. The latter may have been influential in shaping early Biblical manuscripts, but the latter is a reaction to Christian doctrine. Philosophical materialism is, in much the same way as neo-Platonism was, an intellectual reaction to the success of Christian doctrine (post Reformation).

    Recent external influences, which you see as a positive enrichment, are nothing more, IMHO, than post-scriptural influences on Christian doctrine and are pollutionist, not adding anything to the divine plan of redemption in Christ revealed in scripture.

    Focusing only on theology developed during the post-enlightenment period (which is the particular period this thread is concerned with and the period from which secular humanism emerged as the governing western philosophy and to which the liberal church tried (unsuccessfully) to adapt Christian theology to suit) we can trace the seepage of pollution into Christian thought:

    My argument is that philosophical materialism and, most prominently, Darwinian theory and its derivatives support secular humanism and liberal theology. If Darwinian theory is relegated from a position of supremacy amongst biologists to only one of a number of competing theories as to the development of life, the ‘Darwinian’ post-Enlightenment rationalism, philosophical materialism, will be relegated with it to one of a number of competing sources for truth. This is post-post modernism or realism.

    You are entitled to a theistic materialism, but I believe that if you promote evolution in its purely materialist form (random and purposeless) you only serve to maintain the supremacy of secular humanism and the marginalisation of Christianity.

    All this is wishful thinking on my behalf if the material observations of science support a material philosophy. But, recent publications such as Behe's 'Darwin's Black Box' and Schroeder's 'The Hidden face of God' demonstrate that material observations are far from supporting such a philosophy and can be used, legitimately, to support a theistic understanding of origins.

    Once philosophical materialism is demonstrated to have shaky foundations in science, or that material observations can support a rational theism, Realism will become the new governing paradigm, and realism includes a healthy critical assessment and application of revealed religion, because God is far from dead, God is not the product of human rationalism…God is very real indeed.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    If Darwinian theory is relegated from a position of supremacy amongst biologists to only one of a number of competing theories as to the development of life,...

    Tough. It isn't 'only one of a number' - it is by far the best supported theory by the evidence. I can give you a nice list of this evidence if you like. Or are you persisting in using 'Darwinism' to mean 'things that might be peripherally related to common descent but which I disagree with'?

    quote:
    but I believe that if you promote evolution in its purely materialist form (random and purposeless)

    Again, tough. As far as science is concerned, the forces and natural processes which drive evolution are indeed purposeless, and are contingent on random events. Stop reading this as a philosophical statement with implications beyond the scientific sphere; it is not, and does not.

    Your last post reads as a sort of 'lets reject this, not because it isn't true, but because I think this position supports my philosophical position better'. Sorry, reality doesn't play that way.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, perhaps in the end we'll have to agree to disagree about whether the influence of philosophical materialism on Christian doctrine is "pollution" or "enrichment". I'm just going to respond to some of your specific comments if you don't mind (and again it could get a bit lengthy).

    First, about my comments about Greek (eg: neo-Platonism) and Babylonian (eg: Zoroastrianism) philosophies influencing Judeo-Christian thinking. You've conceded that the Babylonians introduced new concepts to the Jews during the Exile (the concept of Satan as the Adversary of God in Chronicles and Job is a good example of dualistic thought). I'm not quite sure how you can say neo-Platonism developed in the first century as a reaction to Christian doctrine; at this stage it appears Christian doctrine was still forming, and besides was hardly in the position to be a dominant philosophy to worry neo-Platonists. Instead, I would say, the Christian message was packaged into Greek philosophical (including Aristotlean as well as neo-Platonic) terms inorder to communicate to people versed in Greek philosophy. In the process a lot of Greek philosophical ideas were introduced to the Christian faith, the Creeds are much more in tune with Greek ways of thinking than Jewish ones. We can debate the extent to which this was good for the Church, clearly some of it wasn't (for example Gnostic ideas) and were rejected early on. However, I think such a debate deserves a thread of its own.

    quote:
    Recent external influences, which you see as a positive enrichment, are nothing more, IMHO, than post-scriptural influences on Christian doctrine and are pollutionist, not adding anything to the divine plan of
    redemption in Christ revealed in scripture


    Do I take it that you think that all advances in Christian thought since the writing of Revelation are at least suspect, if not wrong? Do you honestly think that a theology/philosophy expressed in terms that addressed the cultures of the Mediteranean 2000y or more ago will be relevant today? And if not where do you draw the line as to which relevant ways of thinking and expressing the Christian faith do you include or exclude? Hmm, maybe that's also a topic for another thread.

    quote:
    You are entitled to a theistic materialism, but I believe that if you promote evolution in its purely materialist
    form (random and purposeless) you only serve to maintain the supremacy of secular humanism and the marginalisation of Christianity.


    Evolution is a scientific theory, therefore by definition is purely materialistic. It is only when evolution is discussed as though it were a philosophical position that it supports secular humanism at the expense of theism. But, no matter how much the likes of Dawkins may want it to be, evolution is not a philosophical position.

    My philosophical position is materialistic, but not exclusively so. It is one of theistic materialism (I'm wondering if that's a term I've invented, but it fits what I believe); where theism and materialism offer different ways of seeing and thinking about the same reality (which was the point of my Holmes story if you missed that). In some contexts (such as when I'm at work) the materialistic becomes more important, at others (for example in church on Sunday morning) the theistic comes to the fore. But they are never entirely seperate.

    quote:
    ...if the material observations of science support a material philosophy. But, recent publications ... demonstrate that material observations are far from supporting such a philosophy and can be used, legitimately, to support a theistic understanding of origins.

    OK, can I make this clear. Material observations can be legitimately used to support both materialist and theistic philosophies, they cannot be used to disprove either position. In matters of philosophy, material observations are largely irrelevant.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - When do you date the life of Moses? Most place the events described in Exodus somewhere during the Mediterranean Dark Age (c. 1600 B.C. to c. 800 B.C.), while Zoroastrianism was founded sometime in the sixth century B.C. If you have some alternative historical timeline you'd like to propose, it might make a good topic for another thread.

    As far as the proposed connection between scientific thought and theism, I presume Alan is referring to monotheism, rather than general theism. Polytheism and Pantheism are still theism, even if they involve "capricious gods". But I find the explanation that "montheism expects order" is somewhat unconvincing.

    The origins of scientific thought lie not in Christianity or Islam but in late Archaic/Classical Hellas. (That's Greece, to you Latinates out there.) Despite being burdened by "a pantheon of capricious gods", people like Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras, and Archimedes originated the materialism that makes science possible. In fact, I would argue that the Hellenes' capricious deities was one of a number of factors that allowed them to originate a mode of thought that would allow them to investigate the world without reliance on miraculous explanations, a mode of thought absolutely critical to science. The lack of satisfying religious explations for the world led them to investigate along other lines.

    Christian and Islamic societies did not develop science because of their monotheism. The monotheistic Zoroastrians were contemporaries of the Classical Hellenes, yet did not develop science. No, Christian and Islamic societies developed scientifically (at least in parts of their history) because they were the inheritors of Hellas.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    It is good to have you back on this thread. Did you read on in my post beyond the two quotes you used? I said, immediately after those quotes:

    quote:
    All this is wishful thinking on my behalf if the material observations of science support a material philosophy.

    It is amazing that you can not see that there is a difference between assuming naturalism for the purpose of science (which I have perhaps inconsistently supported as scientific on this thread) and adopting naturalism as a philosophy based on the results of science. It's a chicken and egg scenario. Naturalists operate within a closed loop. Their argument for a philosophy of naturalism goes something like "I am a naturalist because I use naturalism to investigate the material world which justifies my naturalism."

    As I said, if you read Behe, Schroeder and Birkett, three well qualified scientists, they each say that 'material observations or the products of naturalistic scientific investigation do not support a material or naturalistic philosophy' it is not a closed loop. The first two go a bit further to say that 'material observations of science support a theistic philosophy'. I say that they have gone too far, because I believe from a Biblical Theology that 'material observations of science are mute on aspects of philosophy' (which is why I asked Crœsos to define the basis of his atheism, because 'science' (material investigation) is not a legitimate basis for disbelief in a creator - it's a closed loop).

    Philosophical materialism is currently the loudest voice amongst the cacophony of voices that surround the material observations of science. Darwinism is only the 'best theory we've got', because the naturalist voice is the loudest and most widely supported (even by theists like yourself). Dawkins rants the way he does because his philosophical beliefs rest on Darwinism being true. But there is a growing voice amongst the cacophony which says 'we see design, wisdom and intelligence in creation'.

    Try turning the conclusions you drew on your own philosophical beliefs (which I have read and understand from your webpage). You can try and shout ID down, or rant about why it is wrong, but as you say 'reality doesn't play that way'.

    You seem to be saying 'let's reject this (ID), not because it isn't true, but because I think this position (random, purposeless evolution) supports my philosophical position better'.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    You know from previous posts on Darwin and Neitzche that I have not been too hot on my dates (lack of attention in 'O' grade History).

    The gist of your post is summarised when you said that

    quote:
    The lack of satisfying religious explanations for the world led them to investigate along other lines

    In the context of your post the 'other lines' are scientific investigations. Is science the basis for your atheism?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    I am delighted to say that I do not disagree with anything you said.

    The matter of application of scripture to life today is a matter for another thread, though I might clarify that I believe human nature to be the same today as it was 2000 years ago (effectively egocentric or 'Ptolemaic' with all the related relational problems that come with our selfishness). Christian doctrine takes our egocentric nature and turns it inside out and scripture is sufficient to reveal this to us and to offer the remedy for the situation. I do not deny that wisdom is found in many philosophies and religions and that we can learn from others, but I believe that nothing adds to the understanding of our relationship with the creator and outside the Bible.

    When I said I didn't disagree with you, your summary neatly ties up what I have tried to say rather awkwardly that

    quote:
    Evolution is a scientific theory, therefore by definition is purely materialistic. It is only when evolution is discussed as though it were a philosophical position that it supports secular humanism at the expense of theism. But, no matter how much the likes of Dawkins may want it to be, evolution is not a philosophical position.

    …OK, can I make this clear. Material observations can be legitimately used to support both materialist and theistic philosophies, they cannot be used to disprove either position. In matters of philosophy, material observations are largely irrelevant.


    My observation has been that when we (theists) try telling materialists, like Dawkins, that they can not use material observations to support their philosophy, we are told that we are being 'unscientific'. The term 'science' has come to engender both 'material observation' and 'philosophical materialism' in the minds of the public.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Richard Dawkins opening paragraph in his preface to his latest book Unweaving the Rainbow writes:

    quote:
    A foreign publisher of my first book confessed that he could not sleep for three nights after reading it, so troubled was he by what he saw as its cold, bleak message. Others have asked me how I can bear to get up in the mornings. A teacher wrote to me reproachfully that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. He advised her not to show the book to any of her friends, for fear of contaminating them with the same nihilistic pessimism. Similar accusations of barren desolation, of promoting an arid and joyless message, are frequently flung at science in general, and it is easy for scientists to play up to them.

    ...To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost drive to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected. But in this book I shall try a more positive response, appealing to the sense of wonder in science because it is so sad to think what these complainers and naysayers are missing...The feeling of awed wonder that science can give is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable.


    I emphasised the word 'science' for good reason.

    Karl, my gripe is not primarily with evolution as a theory nor with theistic evolution as a philosophy, it is with the confusion, as Alan established, between naturalism as a method of investigation and naturalism as a philosophy.

    Dawkins has confused 'material observations' and 'philosophical materialism', he's caught within the closed loop that scientific investigation assumes naturalism therefore naturalism is true. He uses the term 'science' interchangeably between his 'feeling of awed wonder' from his work of observing material objects and his personal philosophy of 'nihilistic pessimism'.

    But, 'material observations' are mute on philosophy. Nihilistic pessimism is not science, it is a philosophy derived from material observations.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    It is amazing that you can not see that there is a difference between assuming naturalism for the purpose of science (which I have perhaps inconsistently supported as scientific on this thread) and adopting naturalism as a philosophy based on the results of science.

    Oh in the name of all that is holy! All that is amazing is that after reading all I've written on this thread, anyone should think that I don't understand the difference! I understand it perfectly well - how else could I agree with the statement that evolution is 'random and non-directed' - because I understand that that is a scientific, not a philosophical statement.

    quote:
    Darwinism is only the 'best theory we've got', because the naturalist voice is the loudest and most widely supported (even by theists like yourself).

    No. It is well supported by the evidence. Do you really want an in depth defence of Darwin's theory of evolution. It's ready if you want it.

    quote:
    But there is a growing voice amongst the cacophony which says 'we see design, wisdom and intelligence in creation'.

    Which of course is a philosophical position, not inherently opposed to Darwinian evolution. So it's not two systems in conflict as you seem to think.

    quote:
    You seem to be saying 'let's reject this (ID), not because it isn't true, but because I think this position (random, purposeless evolution) supports my philosophical position better'.

    The you misunderstand me. I do not reject ID as philosophy, merely as a scientific concept, which it is not. I accept random, purposeless (from a scientific frame of reference) evolution because that is what is supported by the evidence.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Crœsos:
    As far as the proposed connection between scientific thought and theism, I presume Alan is referring to monotheism, rather than general theism.

    Yes, sorry should have been clearer - Judeo/Christian/Islamic monotheism.

    quote:
    The origins of scientific thought lie not in Christianity or Islam but in late Archaic/Classical Hellas.

    Yes, the origins of scientific thought. But that thought wasn't developed into science as we recognise it until much later under Christendom, and only then after a fair bit of Greek philosophical baggage had been jetissoned. Greek philosophers (and by and large that's what scientists and mathematicians were) were not that much into the popular religion of the time, as I understand it they may have followed the rituals of Greco-Roman religion but developed their ideas largely independently of the religion of the day and so were possibly not burdened by "a pantheon of capricious gods". However, they tended to be more concerned with philosophy than empiricism, which is reflected in their general fondness for mathematics and geometry (with an associated philosophical idea about perfect shapes) that was reflected in Greek architecture, Ptolemaic cosmologies of perfect spheres and the like; this tended to produce a "science" that tried to fit observations into philosophical expectations.

    quote:
    Christian and Islamic societies did not develop science because of their monotheism ... Christian and Islamic societies developed scientifically (at least in parts of their history) because they were the inheritors of Hellas.

    The Christian west rediscovered Greek thought after the so-called Dark Ages because that knowledge had been retained in the Islamic world, but it wasn't developed (at least to a great extent) by Islamic scholars, although I don't fully understand why but suspect it might be related to an attitude to the Q'ran as being the infallible word of Allah, so it was more important to study that rather than science - but I'm only guessing.

    Western Christians (I don't know about the eastern church at that time and how they may have viewed science) had a different philosophy than the Greeks, generally more interested in science as an investigation of the works of the Creator than an exercise in philosophical thought. As such were much more empirically minded, so for example when Copernicus realised that a helio-centric model for the motion of the planets worked better than the Ptolomaic geo-centric perfect spheres model the more philosophically pleasing model was dumped in favour of one that fitted the data better.

    Alan

    [fixed my own UBB]

    [ 15 August 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil Robbie, 15 August 2001 05:52
    quote:
    You know from previous posts on Darwin and Neitzche that I have not been too hot on my dates (lack of attention in 'O' grade History)

    Neil - Here's a story you might find informative. Once upon a time in my country there was a Vice President named J. Danforth Quayle, sometimes called "Dan" by his followers. This J. Danforth was not a very bright man and was an attrocious speller, but that didn't matter much because his chief duties were attending state funerals and formal dinners. One day, the Press Office thought it would be a good idea for him to be photographed with the winner of his country's National Spelling Bee. At one point J. Danforth, ever helpful and cheerful, decided that he would "assist" the National Champion in spelling a three syllable word. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, J. Danforth was an attrocious speller and only succeeded in embarassing himself by forcing a panic-stricken ten year old to put an 'e' on the end of the word 'potato'. Of course since this was a photo opportunity, the Press was there to fully document J. Danforth's foolishness.

    Now the point I'm trying to make here is that J. Danforth was not foolish or stupid because he was a bad speller. There are lots of otherwise intelligent people who can't manage to string three written words together without at least two spelling mistakes. No, J. Danforth was foolish and stupid for not figuring out that he had no business anywhere near a spelling bee or, failing that, he certainly should have known better than to arrogantly assume his spelling skills were greater than a National Champion.

    To apply this to your quoted comment, if you are aware of your own weakness in the subject of history you should not rely on historical references to prove or illustrate your points without some serious fact-checking and research, and it is doubly presumptuous of you to correct or question someone else's historical references, as you did at 14 August 2001 09:44, without the aforementioned research. And most certainly you should not just make up facts simply because they fit whatever philosophical point you are trying to make. (This last is only speculation on my part, but it's the best explanation I can think of for the origin of the "information" you posted.)
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - In answer to your question of 15 August 2001 05:52, no.

    Alan - The historical question of the origin of science is one of interest to me, but is only tangentially related to the current topic, which is cluttered enough without getting side-tracked. Because of this, I decided it would be best to "spin off" the topic into its own thread, Athens, Jerusalem, and Science.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl, what are your thoughts on the following statement made ny William Dembski on the matter of Theistic Evolution?

    quote:
    Theistic evolution takes the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptizes it, identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled down to its scientific content, however, theistic evolution is no different from atheistic evolution, treating only undirected natural processes in the origin and development of life.

    Theistic evolution places theism and evolution in an odd tension. If God purposely created life through Darwinian means, then God’s purpose was ostensibly to conceal his purpose in creation. Within theistic evolution, God is a master of stealth who constantly eluded our best efforts to detect him empirically. Yes, the theistic evolutionist believes that the universe is designed. Yet insofar as there is design in the universe, it is design we recognize strictly through the eyes of faith. Accordingly the physical world in itself provides no evidence that life is designed.


    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    I am sorry. I promise to do better Historical research for future posts, should I refer to dates again.

    On your answer to my closed question, good, science is no basis for faith. But you're not giving much away. Why do you believe that God does not exist?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Neil, I can't speak for Karl but that quote from Dembski is a very decent summary of my view except I use 'theistic materialism' rather than 'theistic evolution' because I don't want the implication that my philosophical position is limited to biological evolution. As such if I was making that quote I'd talk about theism & materialism in tension etc.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Dembski's first paragraph is bang on.

    The second is not. God does not have to hide anything because the natural processes concerned with the evolution of life are the outworking of His creative activity. Like Holmes' stars, it is merely a matter of one's frame of reference.
     


    Posted by Dyfrig (# 15) on :
     
    It is "design we recognise strictly through the eyes of faith."

    So Dembski's position is philosophical rather than scientific?
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Actually reading that 2nd paragraph of Dembskis' after Karls' comment there is something at odds with my ideas; God doesn't purposefully conceal himself like a master of stealth, it just happens that the way he chose to work in creation means he's visible in creation by faith only.

    And Dyfrig, yes it is a philosophical position. However, if you read some of his writings on (for example) the Origins website he doesn't appear to realise that.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Dyfrig (# 15) on :
     
    So if ID is a philosophy, not a scientific conclusion, doesn't it suffer from the self-same problems as "Darwinian-influenced philosophy" (as opposed to Darwinian scientific theory)?
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    Can I add to Dyfrig's question...?

    How does William Dembski's philosophical position (ID) differ in its nature from say the philosophical nature of materialism ("Darwinian-influenced philosophy") or theistic evolution ("Darwinian & Christian -influenced philosophy")? I'm not asking how each philosphical position differs, but by nature, can any be said to have greater legitimacy than the other? If so, on what basis?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Dyfrig (# 15) on :
     
    Neil - please don't try and make it look as if I'm siding with you on this issue, if you don't mind. Actually, I think Karl and Alan are more right than you on this point: you've attempted to "kill off" Darwinism and encourage the adoption of another attitude by claiming it to be more "scientific" when in fact it isn't - ID is as fundamentally flawed, if not more so, than anything Dawkins has to say. In fact, I'd go further and say that at least Dawkins basis his conclusions within the observable phenomenological world rather than try and introduce outside explanations which require "faith" - a perfectly scientific approach, said he, the lawyer.
     
    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Neil - the evolution, or for Alan materialism, part is the science. The theistic bit is philosophy, it is not part of the science. Which is why Dembski is right that scientifically theistic and vanilla evolution are exactly the same.

    Actually I do prefer Alan's term but the 'Theistic Evolution' label has been around for a while, despite its shortcomings. Probably because it's with origins that people have the biggest problems.

    If I were to try to force the scientific evidence to support the theism, then I would be making the same mistake as Behe on the one hand and Dawkins on the other. I do not attempt to do that.
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    and about the only difference between me and karl is that I don't mind dumping a label, no matter how long it's been around, if it doesn't actually fit what I believe. I don't know whether "theistic materialism" is a label I invented or whether others have used it, and so long as it doesn't have an established use significantly different from my use of the term I don't much care.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
     
    If the ID lobby is pointing out to people that there is a difference between scientific darwinism (which is helpful) and philospohical darwinism (that leade to ideas of a master race etc.) then it is doing a wonderful job - even if it is a wooly philosopy
     
    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    They're not, Astro. That is really left to the theistic materialists (Van Till, Miller, Me, Alan). ID confuses science and philosophy as possibly as badly as Dawkins et al.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    The only differnce between you and me is not the ability to change labels but the ability to change our views of the material world...I was once a chief deacon of the cult of Dawkinism (1986-1993), then perhaps a theistic materialist (1993-2001), now, perhaps an IDist (though the jury is still out...)

    No one has answered my question on legitimacy of philosophical materialism, theistic materialism or IDism. Are any legitimate philosophies, and if so, on what basis?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Philosophical materialism is a valid philosophical position provided it isn't built on methodological materialism (science) since there is no logical connection between the two.

    If by ID you mean a philosophy in which there are empirically measurable consequences uniquely identifiable as proof of design (which is certainly how Dembski, and from what's been said on this thread Behe, come across as saying) then the position is logically unsupported in my opinion.

    If you're saying ID is a philosophy with no such empirical consequences then to be honest the difference between ID and theistic materialism are almost non-existant.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Astro

    As usual, I disagree with Karl. I believe ID will help undermine the prominence of philosophical materialism and the practical atheism of the west. Turning to Richard Lewontin’s ‘The Doctrine of DNA: Biology as an ideology’, I’ve read past the introduction and have found a quite brilliant attack on the ‘nature not nurture’ ideology of biology (that we are what we are because of our genes). In his essay ‘All in the Genes?’ Lewontin says:

    quote:
    How are we able to resolve the contradiction of immense inequalities in a society that claims to be founded on equality? There are two possibilities. We might say that it was all a fake, a set of slogans meant to replace a regime of aristocrats with a regime of wealth and privilege of a different sort, that inequality in our society is structural and an integral aspect of the whole of our political and social life. To say that, however, would be deeply subversive because it would call for yet another revolution if we wanted to make good on our hopes for liberty and equality for all. It is not a popular idea among teachers, newspaper editors, college professors, successful politicians, indeed anyone who has the power to help form public conscience.

    The vulgar error that confuses heritability and fixity has been, over the years, the most powerful single weapon that biological ideologues have had in legitimating a society of inequality.


    This is a similar to University of California, Berkley left wing academic, Todd Glitin’s lament in his essay ‘In the twilight of common dreams’. Philip Johnson reviews Glitin’s work and summarises:

    quote:
    What the Left plainly needs is a new theolgy, with our without God. Glitin makes clear what the elements of such a theology must be. It must provide a universal vision that inspires people to regard themselves as fundamentally united, despite their differing social circumstances and cultural experiences. It must provide a basis for an objective rationality of both fact and value, refuting the current Left doctrine that “objectivity is only another word for white make subjectivity.” It must reject the market-orientated notion that individual gratification is the purpose of life, by providing a higher purpose. It must provide a reason for the economic winners to be generous and compassionate and for the losers to strive to become as productive as they are able.

    Where is such a theology to be found? I could offer a suggestion, but I don’t think Todd Glitin wants to hear it.


    If ID undermines philosophical materialism, then that theology, which Glitin would not care to listen to and the revolution Lewontin fears, might begin to make an impact in western culture. Kind of like a continuous Jubilee 2000. Not an armed revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, but a revolution of the heart of mankind.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - You seem to be applying some sort of philosophical litmus test to the legitimacy of scientific conclusions, arguing that they can't be valid because they don't agree with your notions of how God is supposed to operate. Your most recently quoted comments about genetics are of this nature, having nothing to do with the question of whether genetics or environment have a greater influence on human behavior. Instead, they propose what their authors would prefer to be true without any reference or scientific evidence as to what is more likely to be true. Regardless of which side of that particular debate one comes down on, this type of comment is idle speculation at best with no merit whatsoever. Castles in the air and angels on pinheads.

    You also seem to be attempting to apply a similar test to me, by asking me to explain my beliefs on a subject at best tangentially related to this topic. At the same time you have scrupulously avoided answering any substantive questions about the basis for your own positive assertions within the framework of this discussion. (For example, my as yet unanswered question about the Lorentz transformations at 14 August 2001 03:21.) The only reasons I can see for this "fishing expedition" is that either you are trying to decide if I am "philosophically worthy" of a response from you, or that you are trying to shift the focus of discussion from your unsupportable assertions (which form the origin of this thread) to a debate about whether my personal beliefs are valid. In the words of Joseph Welch in similar circumstances, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?"
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    Going back to the post you mentioned on the 14th August, you said

    quote:
    So getting down to specifics, which material phenomena do you believe are outside the realm of scientific inquiry?

    You are missing my point. I am not saying that material phenomena should be excluded from scientific inquiry.

    Let's take the mammilian blood coagulation cascade again. Scientific inquiry has now observed the material phenomena of how blood clots when mammals are wounded and how it avoids clotting otherwise. Scientific inquiry is now complete in this regard. With the understanding of how blood clotting works, science may now go on to investigate blood disorders like hemophilia.

    That description is the practical limit of scientific enquiry. Would you agree?

    Now, looking at the mammilian blood coagulation cascade, we can draw two philosophical conclusions. Either that it was the product of an unguided, unsupervised, impersonal, random, purposeless process or it was specified, designed to work that way.

    'Scientific inquiry' which goes beyond the 'how it works' and 'how can we fix it when it's broke' is in the realms of justification of philosophical materialism. Trying to prove that anything is the product of an unguided, unsupervised, impersonal, random, purposeless process can be described as 'science to prove a philosophy'.

    I've read this page on The Lorentz Transformations , the maths is a bit beyond me. I understand that The Lorentz Transformations are a speculative mathematical model which can not be empirically tested because we can not be in two places at one time. If we could test them empirically, are you saying we could deduce some philosophy from them?

    Neil

    [URL fixed]

    [ 17 August 2001: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    Why do you claim that your philosophy is not derived from scientific conclusions and then ask me to justify my understanding of scientific conclusions?

    My faith in God is based on the life, teachings, fulfillment of Old Testament Law and prophesy, death, resurrection, ascension and future return of Christ Jesus.

    What's yours based on? Put it negatively, who do you think Jesus is?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    You said on the same post

    quote:
    As far as my non-belief in God goes, it is simply a result of my never having needed to hypothesize a Deity.

    In light of my question to you about Jesus, there is no need for you to hypothesize. Faith in Christ is not subjective, Jesus was/is very real.

    As far as your need goes, are you any different from the rest of us? Like it or not, if Christianity is true, if what Jesus taught is true, we will all face moral accountability and our need for an advocate on that day will be very great indeed. Have you considered this carefully?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Let's take the mammilian blood coagulation cascade again. Scientific inquiry has now observed the material phenomena of how blood clots when mammals are wounded and how it avoids clotting otherwise. Scientific inquiry is now complete in this regard. With the understanding of how blood clotting works, science may now go on to investigate blood disorders like hemophilia.

    That description is the practical limit of scientific enquiry. Would you agree?



    Well, I wouldn't agree. Leaving aside that I doubt all the chemical signallings related to the process are known, I would say the origin of the process is still a valid, and potentially vital, part of scientific enquiry. What did the proteins currently involved in blood coagulation do before the DNA that make them mutated? What was the nature of that DNA mutation? How did proteins originally suited to other tasks get together to do a different task? Answers to these questions might even explain why the process sometimes goes wrong. And it's all good science.

    quote:
    I understand that The Lorentz Transformations are a speculative mathematical model which can not be empirically tested

    The Lorentz Transformations are mathematical constructs, but hardly speculative. Granted they were originally developed as mathematical curios, but Einstein applied them as the mathematical basis for his theory of general relativity with all the empirically verified predictions of mass-energy equivalence, time dilation etc.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    Your motivation for seeking the previous function, if there was one, for the proteins involved in blood clotting is a valid scientific inquiry. But, as I said to Crœsos, why do we keep referring the detail of scientific theory when we are talking about governing philosophy? Can you explain to me in lay terms, keeping in mind that I am a civil engineer, whether or not philosophical materialism or atheism can be proved by The Lorentz Transformations or any other mathematical, empirical or biological function?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    No. No philosophical position can be proved from science.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    In further response to Asto's question, I would like to highlight the difference between theistic materialists (theistic evolutionists) and proponents of intelligent design. To do this, we need to asked why, if Christianity can provide a revolution of the heart of mankind akin to Todd Glitin's outline, has that revolution not taken place? Why has the reverse occurred in Western society, where inequality between socio-economic groups, races and countries has increased towards the latter part of last century?

    If we take a hard look at secular humanism, the governing Western philosophy, we find that Christianity is permitted a subjective position in society. I commend to everyone on this thread the study of the Council for Secular Humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration . Reading all items in the declaration we find that 'Religious experience' is permitted as subjective if helpful to the individual.

    What are the effects of this on Christian practice? Charismatics can raise their hands and speak in tongues, if that's what they want to do, subjectively. Anglo-Catholics can wear cassocks and surplices and stand north facing at the 'altar', if that's what they want to do, subjectively. Evangelicals can earnestly study the bible and apply it to their lives individually & corporately, if that's what they want to do, subjectively. We can even fight amongst ourselves about which is the right manifestation of corporate gatherings in our faith in Christ and run the 'Mystery Worshipper' to highlight the differences. But, if we claim that Christianity is more than a subjective experience, if we claim that Christianity is true, we're told that we're either mad to believe such nonsense or that we are stepping out of place.

    If we are Christians then we identify with the sacrifice offered by Christ, once for all. It is true, not only for Charismatics, Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals (regardless of our preferred style of corporate gathering on Sunday) it is true for all humans. But philosophical materialism, secular humanism, keeps the practical atheist 'safe' from that truth because we are told 'what works for you is fine, but please don't pester me with your subjective experience'.

    Now, to the point of this thread. What is the mechanism which has relegated Christianity from its true theological position as objective truth to a false theological position as subjective experience? It is the mechanism of Christianity being subset of philosophical materialism. Of crucial importance to this situation is this question, what is one of the greatest supporting 'objective facts' of secular humanism? It is the unguided, unsupervised, impersonal, random, purposeless development of life on earth. According to secular humanism, humans are what we are, not because we were made this way but a supernatural being, but by a material process over which there was no control. At the deepest level, Darwinian theory excuses us of any moral responsibility. Christians have no choice but to retreat to a subjective belief and practice, because we have been marginalised by secular humanism and the 'triumph' of Darwinism as a means of explaining our origin and development.

    But, ID challenges the objectivity of the claims of the Darwinian theory of evolution, not because it wants to undermine secular humanism, but because ID does not accept Dawkin's 'Blind Watchmaker' thesis because it does not fit with the evidence of complexity in life. ID says that there is a watchmaker. Michael Behe's observations may or my not be empirically detected, it may not be possible to detect that blood coagulation cascades are the product of intelligence, but Michael's Behe's deductions are at least as legitimate as Richard Dawkin's. Like my earlier example of the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle, one will see it as fluke and another critical design to life on earth.

    ID undermines the authority of secular humanism, because, without conclusive supporting 'scientific' objectivity, secular humanism suffers the same fate as Christianity suffered post-Enlightenment. Without Darwinism, secular humanism is reduced to subjective faith, not objective reality. Practical atheists might find that there is no philosophical or 'scientific' basis for their faith after all. And our Christian faith, our faith in Christ, may be elevated again to a position of objectivity not subjective experience.

    Let the revolution begin.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    why do we keep referring the detail of scientific theory when we are talking about governing philosophy?

    I was only using the blood clotting as an example to address the comment you'd made earlier that
    quote:
    'Scientific inquiry' which goes beyond the 'how it works' and 'how can we fix it when it's broke' is in the realms of justification of philosophical materialism.

    The question of how something came to be is valid science as in methodological materialism. Answers to such questions provide no more support for any philosophical position than answers to "how it works" questions.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Ham'n'Eggs (# 629) on :
     
    Neil,

    Christianity is about relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This will differ for everyone who has experience of it.

    The particular view of Christianity that you propound appears to be directly arising from Enlightenment presuppositions (particularly in relation to its treatment of "objective truth").

    To succeed, a revolution must choose the critical moment. Modernism is well past its sell-by date, and is highly questionable as the basis of any new paradigm.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - If you'd take the time to refer back to my original (and as yet unanswered) question about the Lorentz transformations on page 12 at 14 August 2001 03:21, you'll see it was in response to one of the items on a list you purported to have written in which you described the concept of imaginary time as "highly speculative". Since the "gamma factor" in the Lorentz equations strongly implies the possibility of imaginary time, I mentioned it as a refutation of your point, not as any sort of absolute proof of God's non-existence. As for why we "keep referring the detail of scientific theory when we are talking about governing philosophy", I suspect it is because you keep making scientific assertions in support of your own theorizations in this matter, and the "facts" you cite (such as the bit about imaginary time) are often dubious, if not outright incorrect. If you don't want to get bogged down in materialism or science, quit making material and/or scientific assertions! And by all means don't get so huffy when someone decides to call you on it!

    As Alan pointed out, the Lorentz transformations are not speculative and can be demonstrated using any number of means, the most famous of which is the solar muon experiment. Alan did have one thing incorrect though. Einstein used the Lorentz transformations in the formulation of Special, not General, Relativity.
     


    Posted by doug (# 474) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:

    Now, to the point of this thread. What is the mechanism which has relegated Christianity from its true theological position as objective truth to a false theological position as subjective experience? It is the mechanism of Christianity being subset of philosophical materialism. Of crucial importance to this situation is this question, what is one of the greatest supporting 'objective facts' of secular humanism? It is the unguided, unsupervised, impersonal, random, purposeless development of life on earth. According to secular humanism, humans are what we are, not because we were made this way but a supernatural being, but by a material process over which there was no control. At the deepest level, Darwinian theory excuses us of any moral responsibility.

    Its not the scientific fact that you have the problem with then. I'm afraid you can't really say that someone using a scientific theory to justify their philosophical beliefs makes the theory they are referring to any more or any less "correct" ( whatever that means hey guys

    I'd suggest that attacking a shaky philosophy is a lot easier than attacking what is, like it or not, an exceedingly well-supported scientific theory.

    doug
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Crœsos:
    Alan did have one thing incorrect though. Einstein used the Lorentz transformations in the formulation of Special, not General, Relativity.

    Yes, sorry about that. I knew that, it's what I meant to say; the effects I mentioned (mass-energy equivalence and time dilation) are results of Special Relativity.

    I'll be away the next couple of weeks, so although I should be able to pop in I may not be as active in this discussion.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Looking back at this thread, I have been surprised by the level of passion and determination displayed by some of the Christians on the board in defense of Darwin's theory of evolution (the unguided, random, purposeless development of all life on earth). If only Christians would defend Jesus with such vigor.

    Why is this? Why is Darwin's theory defended more passionately than Christ Jesus?

    Ham 'n' eggs, you mentioned presuppositions which reminded me of the arguments over 'the new hermeneutic'. You have made a very valid point, that we see what we do because of our presuppositions. Can it be that our presuppositions influence our interpretation of material phenomena in the same way they influence our interpretation of the Bible?

    It is not that the same set of presuppositions is applied to material phenomena and interpretation of scripture, but that both disciplines are affected by our particular set of presuppositions.

    IMHO, the concept of 'the new hermeneutic' can be applied to our approach to Darwinian theory. The 'evidence' for the unguided, random, purposeless development of all life on earth is strong but incomplete. It therefore requires human thought to extrapolate ideas which complete the theory, human minds expand the evidence to fit the theory. Darwinism is a theory of grand extrapolation, variation in finch beaks and peppered moths are extrapolated to form a grand scheme of a developmental process for variation and complexity. The extrapolation is achieved by a process which involves our presuppositions.

    We are not born with any presuppositions, so where do our presuppositions come from? The classroom, TV, our surrounding culture, including, of course, the books we choose to read (and those we choose not to read), the evidence we choose to see and that which we choose to ignore.

    Darwinism, therefore, survives not because it is objectively true or unfalsifiable but because of our presuppositions, our cultural & historical environment. This is as true today as it has been for every other culture and time before us which has observed material phenomena. Observations of material phenomena, whether those observations are true or false, have been adopted to suit our presuppositions. The theory of a flat earth fitted a presupposition. The Ptolemaic theory of the universe fitted a presupposition. Darwinism fits a presupposition. Each theory has been defended passionately and dogmatically when new theories begin to emerge and Darwinism is no different. The dominant western philosophy requires (neo)Darwinism to be true, so (neo)Darwinism is true because of that presupposition, not because it is objectively true.

    Neil

    PS Crœsos…you haven't explained who you think Jesus is.

    PPS Doug have you read the Council for Secular Humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration ? Particularly items 8 and 9.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Kirsten Birkett in her book 'unnatural enemies: an introduction to science and Christianity' writes:
    quote:
    The physical world was created by God and everything in it continues to be sustained by his will. Thus, any true theory of how that physical world works cannot conflict with a Christian view of God, for the Bible says that the physical world is entirely moved and controlled by God, working in and through what we regard as 'natural processes'.

    Important implications flow from this. Firstly, finding a 'natural' cause for an event is no reason to dismiss God as the fundamental cause. In fact, if nothing else, our survey of the biblical teaching should make clear that the word 'natural' is rather inappropriate, especially if it is contrasted to 'supernatural'. In the end, there is no difference between the two, in the Bible's view. All causes within the world are ultimately caused by God. So even the most complete scientific theory, with every causal chain thoroughly described, is no reason to conclude that God is not there. From the Bible's viewpoint, it is merely an elaborate description of the wise order that God has created, and now sustains, in the world. The two are not competing explanations; they are both true explanations.


    If science and Christianity are 'unnatural enemies', why is there conflict? The conflict arises, not over the material evidence, but over a theistic presupposition and an atheistic or deistic presupposition. One view, as Birkett points out, is based on a biblical view of the world, what are the other ones based on?

    Neil
     


    Posted by John Collins (# 41) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Looking back at this thread, I have been surprised by the level of passion and determination displayed by some of the Christians on the board in defense of Darwin's theory of evolution (the unguided, random, purposeless development of all life on earth). If only Christians would defend Jesus with such vigor.

    Why is this? Why is Darwin's theory defended more passionately than Christ Jesus?


    Perhaps because if he's the son of God he should be better placed to defend himself than a mere theory?

    Also because this thread is about "The Death of Darwinism" not "The Death of Christianity".

    And finally because a lot of Christians misidentify the Theory of Evolution as their enemy.
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Neil, on here the basic truths about Our Lord are a given; the debate is about certain scientific theories, and certain philosophies.

    Rest assured that on secular creation/evolution debates I defend the Faith with the same vigour as I defend mainstream science. Indeed, the only reason I arse around with these debates is to present the rational Christian view, lest the creationist lie of "creationism=Christianity, evolution=atheism" be strengthened.
     


    Posted by Steve_R (# 61) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:

    Darwinism, therefore, survives not because it is objectively true or unfalsifiable but because of our presuppositions, our cultural & historical environment.


    I would dispute this assertion. Darwinism survives, in the face of other, better, later, theories for the same reason that Newtonian Mechanics survives in the face of Einsteinian Relativity, because, at a simple level, it works and is understandable.

    In order to progress beyond the simple assertions of the Darwinian world view requires a grasp of the underlying subject that is beyond the majority of people in this country (and elsewhere). The more complex theological and even biological consequences of Darwinism are as obscure to the majority of people as are the Lorentz Transformations.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Welcome back John, I wrote a commentary on the 'Discovery' program on this afternoon's BBC world service and your quote
    quote:
    And finally because a lot of Christians misidentify the Theory of Evolution as their enemy.
    tees it up nicely.

    Kirsten Birkett shows why science and Christianity are not at odds, because a Biblical understanding of the world expects order because God is an ordered God and 'natural processes' are part of God's order. But, Christianity did not make an enemy of science, science made an enemy of Christianity and continues to do so, and the BBC gave a classic example today. By assuming naturalism for science, scientists have come to believe that naturalism is true.

    The 'Discovery' program today was titled 'Pain is a problem'. The program was introduced by the statement

    quote:
    'Pain is a problem, it was once religion which tried to answer the problem of pain, but now science gives us the answer to the problem...science has shifted pain from morals to mechanisms.'

    After discussing the way pain is detected in the body, by interviewing many scientists who described how our bodies detect pain, the program turned to 'Christianity'. One interview was made with a Christian art critic who described works of Christ in pain on the cross and described an American gay HIV+ artist whose name I forget and whose stage show involved self mutilation, including many Christian overtones such as a crown of steel thorns. These religious overtones were attributed to the fact that this artist was the child of religious fundamentalist parents, and he had been 'groomed for Christian ministry', obviously making him the screwed-up basket case he is(was?) now.

    The art critic was scarcely relevant to the question, but at least she provided a good straw man of an artist whose self expression of pain as art was the result of unscientific religious fundamentalists. Why didn't the program try quoting CS Lewis from 'the problem of pain', where the program had perhaps unwittingly derived its title? Perhaps that would have given too serious a consideration to Christian thought.

    Having dealt such a blow to the credibility of Christianity, the program turned back to science and molecular mechanisms, neurons, inheritance and experiments on mice, good rational stuff. Then it took a poke at Dr Livingston's report of being attacked by a lion. When Dr L experienced no pain during the mauling he concluded that it was a 'merciful provision by our benevolent creator to reduce the pain of death'. Back to science, and 'opiod peptides', which explain Dr Livingston's lack of pain...'you see' implied the program 'there is no need for God to be involved at all.'

    The conclusion was that pain was a problem but science would solve it with drugs and pain killers. Well done science and well done BBC, good reporting, if you count good reporting as a biased, bigoted, intolerant, illiberal treatment of a serious issue.

    The real problem of the painful treatment of this subject was that the producer was only being faithful to his presuppositions...that science is rational and Christianity is barking mad. The frightening thing is that this is not some right wing fascist extremism, inciting religious intolerance and hatred, it is main stream global broadcasting in the name of 'science'.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Steve_R, before making patronising comments about people being too simple to understand science, please go back and read my post of 17 July 2001 10:15. Richard Lewontin explains why that argument is not only patronising but the very reason 'scientists' are allowed to make programs like the one on the BBC World Service today without being criticised for being bigotted, illiberal and guilty of inciting religious intolerance. Do you really believe that philosophical naturalism can be defended by telling non-scientists that they don’t know what they're talking about? That's what the bishops of the mediaeval church tried to do when their beloved doctrine was under attack.

    The BBC article demonstrates that this is not about 'evolution' or any other beloved theory, it is about legitimacy amoungst the intellectual elite.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    I think the problem is not the ligitimacy of science, but the perceived illigitimacy of religion that is the problem - that's why the scientific answers are preferred to, rather than taken as complimentary with, religious ones.

    This is not helped by attacks on science, whether they come from Michael Behe or from Duane Gish.
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    Neil,

    Perhaps congratulations on your stamina are in order, for keeping this thread going so long. Can I observe that you seem to be clinging to your initial position with some tenacity (in the face of some very knowledgeable and reasonable comments by Karl and others) ? Seems to me that both sides (those who talk up conflict between science and religion and those who play it down) feel fairly strongly about these issues.

    quote:
    posted by Neil Robbie:
    If science and Christianity are 'unnatural enemies', why is there conflict?

    Perhaps this conflict centres around the T-word. "What is truth?" asked Pilate, and then left the room, thereby missing out on at least 14 pages of intelligent argument...

    What is it stake is whether Christian religious beliefs are a "truth" that is "truer" than scientific "truth" (a position we might call "religious supremacy"). Or vice versa ("scientific supremacy"). Or whether these sorts of truth are complementary.

    Blaming "science" for the conflict is unfair. It goes back at least to the days of Galileo, and at that time in history the Church claimed an authority over scientific "truth" - the religious supremacists were in power. [the details of the Galileo affair aren't relevant; the point is the attitude to truth].

    I'm in the "complementary" camp - both science and religion are valid realms of human understanding, and properly understood there is no conflict between them. I don't feel that this position is undermined by any amount of quoting scientists who hold "scientific supremacy" views. Nor is the validity of "scientific" truths undermined by pointing out that scientists are only human and therefore form their views in the same way that other humans do.

    Why does it matter ? Because people are in need of God, and misrepresenting Christianity as anti-science creates a barrier on their path to finding Him...

    Russ
     


    Posted by Laura (# 10) on :
     
    quote:
    the unguided, random, purposeless development of all life on earth

    Urgh. I was trying to stay away from this thread, but I couldn't let this slide. Darwinian evolution does not rest on blind chance. It is rather better explained as chance mutation plus natural selection, natural selection being anything but random. Chance alone would be astronomically unlikely to result in the development of the human eye. Such mutations, followed by such selection, as has been extensively laid out by others here, are overwhelmingly supported in the fossil record.

    What I really can't believe is that certain people have so much invested in "disproving" evolution. I'm insulted that anyone would assert that passionate championing of good science represents a failure to champion Jesus, as if he needs it anyway. Jesus was all about Truth, and not (to the best of my reading of Scripture) all about using twisted and underinformed pseudoscience to cling to absurd views.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    I wrote the following before reading the posts which followed my rant about the BBC. I hope you enjoy this post...


    Karl

    I wish to offer you an apology for the way I have behaved on this thread and argued so strongly against your position of theistic evolution. I am truly sorry and hope you can forgive me.

    You might wonder what has brought about my change of heart. As you know, the matter of science and Christianity is fairly new to me. I have been a Christian for 9 years and have chosen to ignore science rather than face the challenge it makes, in its popular form, to Christianity. Reading Philip Johnson and Michael Behe hit a chord with my personal view of the world, which I described in the way I saw the intelligence of the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle in animals and plants. Because their views fitted my own presuppositions, I assumed ID was true and picked up their claims as dogmatically as some claim other theories.

    As you know I have been juggling many books during the writing of this thread (including Behe, Schroeder, Johnson, Dawkins, Gould, God (the Bible), Whitcomb and latterly, Birkett). Well, I finished Kirsten Birkett’s book (Unnatural Enemies: An introduction to science and Christianity) last night and she changed my mind on ID and theistic evolution, though she mentions neither in her book and I am not saying that either is correct.

    Kirsten Birkett is a lecturer at an Anglican seminary in Sydney Australia (if you know which one, please do not write her off as conservative Evangelical, her treatment of the matter is balanced and enlightening) and she teaches on science and Christianity. If you would like to find out why I no longer believe ID to be science and worth defending, you might like to order her book which you can get from The Good Book Company for a fiver.

    I remain convinced of intelligent design, but not in the sense the ID movement states, because I do not think, as many people pointed out to me, that the empirical evidence can be shown to ‘prove’ irreducible complexity or specified complexity. These are two more theories waiting for science to show how they came into existence. I believe in the ongoing work of God in creation from an informed Biblical Theology.

    This is not to say that I have given up against the claims of science to replace religion. Thomas Huxley may have won the day and his influence on the minds of popular culture today is still immense. John, remember my list of parallel positions within science as the new church, and you asked me what planet I was on? Well, it was not me, but Thomas Huxley that established that way of thinking. He referred to the ‘church scientific’, himself as one of its ‘bishops’ and his talks as ‘lay sermons’.

    It is the ‘church scientific’ which is the enemy of God’s church. Christianity did not make science its enemy, science assumed the position of the aggressor 160 years ago and maintains that popular stance with proponents like Dawkins. I no longer think that ID will undermine the authority of secular humanism, philosophical materialism or naturalism, but as someone clever said at the start of this thread scientists are not to be found in church because of the current vacuity of the message. The church needs to get up out of the dust, brush itself off from the beating it has taken since Huxely’s days and put science in its proper place. Then perhaps, the BBC will stop broadcasting anti-religious claptrap and Glitin’s revolution may begin.

    Humble apologies again, Karl and everyone else who was on the wrong end of my blind dogmatism.

    Can we change the focus of the thread to the question of putting science in its proper place? How can we as a church achieve a proper public understanding of the relationship between science and Christianity? That is that science and Christianity are unnatural enemies and that it is the claims of the 'church scientific' which has assumed the role of aggressor and victor without reasonable grounds.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Laura

    With the benefit of GMT+7 hours and reading Kirsten Birkett's book (BTW, if you visit the Good Book Company, the 'Unnatural Enemies' can be found under the 'engaging with the world' section), the difference between theology and the 'church scientific' is our understanding of the terms you used to describe evolution

    quote:
    chance mutation plus natural selection
    .

    This is the crux. How do we understand chance mutation and natural selection? How does 'chance' fit with a Biblical understanding of God? Does 'natural' selection involve God or exclude God? (cf my post of 20 August 2001 05:35)

    quote:
    the Bible says that the physical world is entirely moved and controlled by God, working in and through what we regard as 'natural processes'

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    No, Neil, I haven't explaine who I think Jesus is for two very good reasons, at least in my own estimation. First, my personal opinions of Christ have very little to do with the subject of biological evolution, materialism, or science in general and is thus totally outside the present topic. I'm fairly sure you're only so dogged on this subject because it is a last, desperate attempt to shift attention away from several scientifically untenable claims you presented as "scientific". If you're really interested, you could start a "Who was Jesus?" thread, which would be a much more appropriate venue for my answer. Secondly, you have not answered my question regarding your own apparent dislike of the theory of imaginary time, which was asked before you even brought up my personal opinion of Jesus.

    It is interesting you mention the question of pain and pain relief. It was a popular theological position in the mid-nineteenth century that the use of painkillers or anesthtics during childbirth was immoral and unChristian. The origin of this opinion was an overly-literal interpretation of Genesis 3:16, which stated that it was woman's Divine Punishment that "with pain you will give birth to children". By mitigating this divinely ordained suffering, scientists were perceived as "playing God". The controversy was quietly ended when Queen Victoria (the era's standard for all that was good and upright), who had already borne eight children in such Biblically proper pain, used an anesthetic when birthing her ninth child and pronounced the experience greatly preferable. This is, of course, just an interesting anecdote, but it illustrates something alltogether too common. One of the reasons that science and religion are often at odds is that science is largely about novel and unusual things, whereas relious belief (at least as it is practiced in Western culture) is drawn towards the old and preserving the status quo.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Neil - Unless your concept of God is subject to material verification, He is excluded from natural selection as a scientific concept. As far as how chance fits with a Biblical understanding of God, I am unaware of any part of scripture that deals with probability or statistical analysis, but I am far from an expert on the subject. Perhaps you can give us a few hints as to the way in which the existence of a Deity can be factored into probabilistic equations.
     
    Posted by Todd (# 169) on :
     
    Science and religion are frequently at odds (or at least, naive scientists and naive religionists are frequently at odds) because we are heirs of the Cartesian dualism of the "objective" and the "subjective". Science, this dualism would have us believe, is the realm of fact, of data, of the provable. Religion is the realm of values, of meaning, of morality, of the ethereal and the ineffable.

    Now this dualism, this division of human knowing into two separate spheres- the objective and the subjective- held together for a while; at least, until the Enlightenment got under full steam and issued in the skepticism of the 18th and 19th centuries, when it seemed possible to dispense with anything other than the vague moral sense that religion might provide one with. Of course, eventually people realized that one didn't even need religion for a sense of morality.

    In the 20th century this Cartesian dualism has issued in a division of "fact" and "value"; science holding all the facts, religion- and other similarly etheral things like ethics- holding the values. Facts are incontrovertible, provable units of sensory experience. Values, on the other hand, are relative, arguable, and unprovable mutual agreements between people.

    In reality, of course, as much late 20th century philosophy of science and religion were to demonstrate, the Cartesian dualism of "objective" and "subjective", of "fact" and "value", was just so much imaginative fancy. The truth is that scientific and religious communities (not mutually exclusive entities) conduct themselves in very similar fashion: each is done in community, so providing a check on the idiosyncratic and heretical; each has its dogmas or postulates, unprovable assertions on which the epistemological system is based; each depends on models and metaphors, sometimes on successive paradigms (thank you, Thomas Kuhn), to provide a common language for members of the community ("believers", if you will).

    Even the notion of "objective" is suspect, because we now realize that there are no uninterpreted data, that merely deciding what counts as data ("facts") is a matter of interpretation, that every decision (including the dogmatic postulate) amounts also to a decision to exclude, a prior, what is decided not to be a datum.

    The problem arises when a naive scientism, represented both by many practicing scientists and by most layfolk as well (isn't is interesting how we use these "religious" terms to describe such things?), insists that it provides the only reliable guide to reality, that its conclusions are provable and that those of religion are not (well, of course they would be when what is provable is defined a priori in such a way as to exclude the activity of God).

    Absolute codswallop. We can no more prove that only that which is empirically verifiable exists (or even that empiricism can define the limits of creation) that we can prove that God exists. Empirical materialism makes an excellent methodology, but when pressed as metaphysics (as thoroughgoing empirical materialists do), it becomes as thoroughly dogmatic as any creed.

    (Understand that, as a creedal catholic Christian, I am not attacking creedalism. On the contrary, dogmatic assumptions or postulates or axioms are necessary in any system of human knowing, or you are paralyzed by the inability to decide what constitutes truth in any sense.)

    In the end, science and religion are very two very similar ways of appropriating one way of human knowing, but to different ends: on the one hand the way the physical, empirical determinable universe behaves; and on the other hand, discernment of ultimate meaning, of truth, of value (in the sense of worth), and for followers of biblical religion- Christians and Jews- the discernment of the creating, revealing and saving activity of the one true and living God in his creation.

    To return to the issue that has produced several hundred posts on this thread alone (leaving aside hundreds of posts on similar threads on these boards in times past), my position is this: no Christian, no believer in biblical religion (in the sense of Christians and Jews) can uncritically accept the assumptions and conclusions of Darwinian evolution. Don't misunderstand me on this point; I find "young creation science" intellectually shallow and in some measure self-delusional, and I sense in the Intelligent Design movement (while I respect their bravado in challenging a scientific establishment in its comfortable and unquestioning dogmaticism) something akin to an Anselmian rationalist attempt to prove God's existence. But no believer in biblical religion can accept the idea that only the material, the empirically verifiable exists; both Judaism and Christianity teaches that God is the Creator "of all that is, seen and unseen." The foundational axiom for empirical materialist science is that only that which is empirically verifiable may be said conclusively to exist. The foundational axiom for Christian faith is that the Word of God became incarnate, took human flesh, in Jesus Christ.

    Nor can that believer accept the idea that the creation of life has proceeded in an entirely directionless manner (this obtains regardless of one's views of chance and natural selection, see Laura's and Neil's posts, above- neoDarwinian evolution insists that there be nothing teleological about evolutionary development, however adaptive it may be) or that life developed in a manner necessitated by the historical exigencies of environment. The first notion is a denial of God's sovereignty and intention in creating humanity, so that rather than our being created for dialogue with God and for God's delight in us (and we in God), we can at best conceive of God's involvment in the rise of human life to be something on the order of realizing one bright and sunny epoch, "Hey! There's a creature down there now that I can talk to!" The second notion, of the necessity of human development, is a denial of the sovereignty and grace of God in creating us; rather than beings whom God created freely for dialogue and delight, we are being who necessarily arose form the historical exigencies of the primordial ooze.

    Having said this, that I find neoDarwinian evolution to be incompatible with the biblical revelation of God because of its foundational assumptions and its anti-teleological conclusions; and that I find "young earth creation science" to be intellectually untenable (and it denies the vastness of God, too, to insist that it had to be done over the past 7000 years- that's a mighty damned short eternity past!); and that I find the Intelligent Design movement suspect, not because of any dissembling or obfuscating on the part of the considerable intellects involved, but because I find it too rationalist for my biblical-fideist soul; where am I left?

    With something that many long-time posters here have read from my keyboard before: creative evolution or evolutionary creationism. What do I mean by that? Well, not theistic evolution, at least as that is usually defined (that God creates the universe- Big Bang- giving it a sort of push in the direction of eventuating in human life- strikes me as remarkably deist in belief). What I mean is that I believe, as fervently as any young earth creationist or intelligent design proponent, that God created all life- all life- in the universe (hence its being called "creation"), not by filling in gaps where "missing link" couldn't carry on the evolutionary process, but in every moment, every nanosecond of the creative process. Viewed from the perspective of an empirical materialist methodology, this looks very much like evolution (whether gradual or punctuated), because God creates (dare I even say, experiments?) to fit the environment.

    The time has come finally to liberate our common way of human knowing from the epistemological shackles of Cartesian dualism (or better, of its latter-day bastardy), to restore science and religion to their proper places in human endeavor.

    Man the barricades! To arms!
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Many thanks Todd

    As an example of the ongoing battle, I heard another BBC World Service program today called 'Racial myths' which was a puff for the legitimacy of science over morals to the exclusion of Christianity.

    The program followed this argument. It claimed that 'race sciences' were responsible for racial genocide in the 1830s and 1840s, for example when the British wiped out Tasmanian Aborigines. Moral justification for the genocide at that time was based on the scientific fact that primitive people were doomed to extinction. But, claimed the program, 'liberal racial attitudes' were responsible for the abolition of slavery at the same time (1838). Now, this is contrary to my understanding of history in which Wilberforce, The Clapham sect and John Newton were responsible for the abolition of slavery (but the BBC would not want to attribute anything beneficial in society to Christianity).

    The program went on to Scottish Historian and philosopher Thomas Carlylse who was described by the program as 'a prophet, a sage' (and the use of religious language for such a racist was, IMHO, no accident). Next, Scotsman Robert Knox, the notorious gravedigger, and advocate of racial genocide who claimed that

    quote:
    races are naturally and essentially different, race is a fact, it is everything.
    To accept that fact, said Knox, was to speed up the process of racial genocide. The program sourced Darwinism as the foundation of Knox's conclusions and then it turned to Darwin's own teaching in The decent of man. It claimed that Darwin's work stated the fact that
    quote:
    'at some period in the future the civilised races would exterminate the savage races'
    and that this was a disturbing but real conclusion Darwin faced.

    Then the program brought in the hero on a white charger, 'the Liberal establishment', John Stuart Mill (backed up by Huxley, Darwin & Lyle) whose critique on Thomas Carlylse (which was backed by Dickens and Charles Kingsley) abolished the scientific conclusions Carlysle had read into Darwin's theory. Hooray for the liberal establishment. Hitler was then discussed as the last hangover of the conclusions of Robert Knox and Thomas Carlysle.

    And the conclusion of the program?

    quote:
    'Now science is undoing the damage done by the pseudo-science of Darwinism, because genetics are showing that we are one race'.

    Rather than commending Christians with the abolition of slavery and admitting that the Bible was right about the essential unity of humanity, the BBC once again says a big 'well done' to science for defeating racism and abolishing slavery. Biased, bigoted, anti-Christian, inflammatory reporting by 'the liberal establishment'.

    Unbelievable. So, in light of such reporting, how do we

    quote:
    liberate our common way of human knowing from the epistemological shackles of Cartesian dualism (or better, of its latter-day bastardy), to restore science and religion to their proper places in human endeavor.
    ?


    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Todd - your position sounds rather more like theistic evolution as I understand it than does your description of theistic evolution. Any form of 'God of the gaps' or distanced deism I avoid like the plague.

    I'm not so good on the technical descriptions - I didn't read philosophy - but the way I've always put it is that evolution, whilst purposeless and undirected from a scientific frame of reference, nevertheless is the outworking of the creative activity of God, which has both purpose and direction. Does this make any sense?
     


    Posted by Steve_R (# 61) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Steve_R, before making patronising comments about people being too simple to understand science, please go back and read my post of 17 July 2001 10:15. Richard Lewontin explains why that argument is not only patronising...

    I have re-read that post and I quote from it:

    quote:

    Joe Public has no way of questioning Lewontin's philosophy because, as Lewontin pointed out, no one understands his science.


    now who's being patronising?

    I stand by my original comments as not being patronising but, unfortunately, true of the scientific knowledge of the majority of people.

    Darwinism captured the imagination of the Victorian society on whom The Origin of Species was initially launched and until some counter-theory does the same then the simplistic notions that are generally understood by Joe Public to be Darwin's theory will remain in the consciousness. This will also be aided by the fact that the essential elements of evolutionary theory (disregarding the genetic, theological and other complexities) will be taught early in school biology and even where they have been adjusted for later theories they will still be credited under Darwin's name.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Steve_R

    I am sorry for my outburst and for accusing you of patronising non-scientists, please forgive me, I will try not do it again. If you take time to read that post again you will see that my statement was a summary of Lewontin's quote. I said, in summary,

    quote:
    I found the above statement refreshingly honest. Lewontin has stated the truth clearly and concisely…God is dead…science rules ethics, morality, culture, purpose and meaning.

    Joe Public has no way of questioning Lewontin's philosophy because, as Lewontin pointed out, no one understands his science.

    My questions are these?
     What gives science this legitimacy?
     What keeps Darwin's philosophical train in motion?
     How will the church counter this legitimacy?


    I was summarising that Lewontin tells people like me, Joe Public (an engineer outside the main body of science), that I don’t know what I'm talking about and so I should remain silent. This is not about whether or not Darwin was right in his observations but whether Lewontin as a philosophical naturalist has greater legitimacy than a philosophical theist to shape public morals and ethics. Todd has explained that this assumed legitimacy stems from corrupted Cartesian dualism, that is that

    quote:
    Science, this dualism would have us believe, is the realm of fact, of data, of the provable. Religion is the realm of values, of meaning, of morality, of the ethereal and the ineffable

    BBC programs which give science moral legitimacy and no legitimacy to Christianity are a product of this corrupted understanding. Therefore, as Todd has answered the first two questions, the last of my three questions from over a month ago remains valid and unanswered. Todd has said that

    quote:
    The time has come finally to liberate our common way of human knowing from the epistemological shackles of Cartesian dualism (or better, of its latter-day bastardy), to restore science and religion to their proper places in human endeavor.

    How will the church, indeed all of western culture, achieve liberation from such firmly binding shackles?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    How does your 'theistic evolution' vary from Kirsten Birkett's summary

    quote:
    The physical world was created by God and everything in it continues to be sustained by his will. Thus, any true theory of how that physical world works cannot conflict with a Christian view of God, for the Bible says that the physical world is entirely moved and controlled by God, working in and through what we regard as 'natural processes'.

    ?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Karl

    I should add that, in context, Birkett means that if the observed path of the development of life is gradual or rapid, by mutation or otherwise, selection or otherwise, whatever the conclusion of scientific observation it is not in conflict with a Biblical understanding of the way God works in creation, because God is at work through 'natural processes', though we can not always predict how God will work, because God is God and we are not.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    Todd,

    I agree with lots of this, but not (as currently phrased) to your dislike of objectivity.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Todd:
    Science and religion are frequently at odds... ...because we are heirs of the Cartesian dualism of the "objective" and the "subjective"...

    Is the problem when people equate "objective" with "empirically verifiable" ? That there is a distinction between that which is empirically verifiable and that which is not seems obvious. But things which are "subjective" are normally mental phenomena. Christians want to say that although God is unprovable (not empirically verifiable) he is objective (having an existence independent of all human thought) ?

    quote:

    ...the Cartesian dualism of "objective" and "subjective", of "fact" and "value", was just so much imaginative fancy... ...because we now realize that there are no uninterpreted data, that merely deciding what counts as data ("facts") is a matter of interpretation

    Not convinced. The realm of objective fact may be a little fuzzy around the edges, but that doesn't mean that there is not a useful distinction (between objective and subjective) to be made.

    quote:


    to restore science and religion to their proper places in human endeavor.

    Amen to that.

    Russ
     


    Posted by Laura (# 10) on :
     
    quote:

    ...the Cartesian dualism of "objective" and "subjective", of "fact" and "value", was just so much imaginative fancy... ...because we now realize that there are no uninterpreted data, that merely deciding what counts as data ("facts") is a matter of interpretation

    I'm not convinced either. You seem to be saying that there is no objectivity possible. And I don't really understand the basis for what you call creative evolution or evolutionary creationism, which seems to me to be a form of wishful thinking or attempt to reconcile in some way that feels good to the intelligent Christian what the early Bible says about God's involvement in the development of humans and everything else with what we have learned about this process in the last 150 years. This is fine, it even feels good to me -- but I'd have to admit that this position seems just as fanciful (though much more empirically acceptable) than resolutely denying on scriptural grounds that evolution was and is the ongoing process by which creatures today have been and are being formed.

    But I guess I feel less need of any torturous reconciliation of Christianity to science --it concerns me less because of my (well-known to you, Todd) position on the reliability of Scripture.

    But that's an entirely different debate, and one we've had frequently.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    The hypothesis that God is active through "natural processes" is an interesting take on the question of theology and science, but at the end it seems to be only so much wishful thinking. By attributing "natural processes" to God, all one does is essentially say that God cannot be measured or detected in any meaningful scientific manner but for the sake of philosophical convenience His existence is assumed and His supremacy likewise postulated without empirical evidence. However, stating that the Deity works through "natural processes" gives Him a purloined patina of scientific respectability instead of the air of pure speculation He would otherwise be subjected to.

    To get more specific, which "natural processes" does God work through, and what are the indications that He does so? If there is no hard, measurable evidence along these lines, what makes this supposition anything more than the idlest of speculations?
     


    Posted by Todd (# 169) on :
     
    quote:
    You seem to be saying that there is no objectivity possible.

    That is precisely what I am saying, Laura.

    At least, not in the sense that "objectivity" is commonly appealed to in arguments like this. How can any system, whether religious or scientific or whatever, be objective in any thoroughgoing sense when the system's bases for inquiry are assumed axiomatically (as the assumption that nature and nature's processes are measurable and empirically verifiable)? Objectivity ends at the drawing of distinctions about what defines "objects" that are free of the mental phenomena that define subjectivity (as Russ has offered).

    And would you suggest, Russ, that mental phenomena exist in some ethereal realm that doesn't have physical existence (surely thought arises in part from neurochemical processes in the axons of our brains, even allowing for human consciousness as a property that isn't entirely reducible to those physical processes)?

    While I would agree that Jupiter (the planet) possesses a reality that my mental fantasies do not, I would suggest that the distinction of objective and subjective is considerably fuzzier than you are willing to grant.

    And Laura, I'm not quite certain what is so tortuous about believing that God's constant creative activity, geological and biological and cosmological, may truthfully be described as creation in a biblical sense, while also admitting that what science- geological and biological and cosmological- observes in unfolding nature is an evolutionary process, unable (though science is) to discern any ultimate purpose or meaning or goal in the process simply because that lies outside the purview of the scientific methodology that has rightly been adopted. Is there really such a suggestion of intellectual dishonesty as seems implied in your post?

    As for natural processes, Croesus, to take simply the example of evolution, I am not saying for a moment that God is using some natural process called evolution to create the cosmos. What I am saying is that what science describes as evolution is the creative activity of God.

    As to the indications that God works through what we describe as natural processes, I take the witness of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, as well the tradition of the Church that flatly states that God is at work in the cosmos, creating, revealing, and redeeming. As for "hard, measurable evidence" why should every way of human knowing subject itself to the narrow definitions of empirical materialism, definitions that make for solid methodology but make for metaphysics that is as dogmatic and unprovable as any foundational religious dogma?
     


    Posted by Todd (# 169) on :
     
    quote:
    While I would agree that Jupiter (the planet) possesses a reality that my mental fantasies do not, I would suggest that the distinction of objective and subjective is considerably fuzzier than you are willing to grant.

    So much for infelicitous phrasing and fuzzy thinking.

    The division of objective and subjective is of course a real one, but not in the sense of there being objective and subjective ways of knowing. Objects are certainly real; the tree on my lawn that I can observe is certainly a real object. And just as certainly, the subjective is real; I, the observing subject, am also real. There is a reality outside myself (the subject), therefore the objective does exist.

    Quoting from Lesslie Newbigin,

    quote:
    It is surely obvious that knowing has both a subjective and an objective pole. It is subjective in that it is I who know, or seek to know, and that the enterprise of knowing is one which requires my personal commitment...And it is subjective in that, in the end, I have to take personal responsibility for my beliefs...I am responsible for seeking as far as possible to insure that my beliefs are true, that I am- however funblingly- grasping reality and therefore grasping that which is real and true for all human beings, and which will reveal its truth through further discoveries as I continue to seek.

    The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 23.

    What does not exist is a sort of "objective knowledge" that is supposedly free of value judgments, of a priori decisions about what constitutes reality, of personal commitment. All those things that have been denigrated as mere "subjectivity" are really the only way that human beings have of understanding "objective" reality.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    I am going to post this, because I spent two taxi journeys and my half my lunch hour composing it, even though you have preempted what I have to say about 'natural' verses 'supernatural'.

    It will be clear to all from this thread that I am not an intellectual. I am not the clearest of thinkers and struggle to put my more intuitive ideas clearly. I pray now that this is clear, because what follows is an understanding of the root of the conflict between Science and Christianity.

    Having worked though the issues as they have been raised on the thread and read much populist material on the matter, as a theist, I now no longer have any issue with science or 'evolution'. In addition, I believe that ID falls short of both good science and a good theistic understanding of the nature of God. I need to clarify both these statements to show why there is no conflict between science and Christianity, and at the same time demonstrate why the conflict arises.

    Karl, you have often offered to list the evidence for 'evolution'. I would like to offer a summary which may fall short of the exact dates and events, and which you are free to correct. My understanding of the word 'evolution', in one sense is that the world is 4.6 billion years old. The earth cooled down and soon after that, about 3.8 billion years ago as shown by the fossil record, single cell life forms have been found to occur. 1.8 billion years ago more complex forms of life appeared. At some point around the Cambrian period a vast array of complex plants and animals appear in the fossil record and we know much of what happened, paleontologically speaking, since then. That is the broad understanding of 'evolution' and as I said, you may be able to correct me on the details.

    Taking that evidence we can all see 'evolution', the development, over a very long period of time, of complex life on earth. Is that a fair summary? Please tell me if I have erred in any way.

    Laura, you asked Todd if it all boiled down to the authority of Scripture. That's a half truth because our attitude to scripture and our attitude to creation boil down to a full understanding of the nature of God. Looking at the evidence for evolution set out above, we can see 'natural' processes at work, DNA replication and mutation, reproduction without exact copy, variation, speciation, potential for adaptation, Karl and others may well be able to add more to this brief list of natural processes.

    How do we understand God in relation to these 'natural' processes? Philosophical naturalists believe that God has no part to play in the working of 'natural' processes. They are 'natural' in the sense that they work without invoking the need for supernatural intervention. They are predictable because they behave according to the laws of nature. They are 'natural', not 'supernatural'.

    This mindset or view has 'evolved' over the last 300 years due to the initial assumption that the physical universe can be understood and, to a very large degree, predicted because it follows 'natural' laws. These 'natural' laws have become, in time, the focus for philosophical naturalists who believe that because the universe and life follows 'natural' laws, that there is no need for a 'supernatural' being to maintain or, perhaps, even create the universe.

    But to say that 'natural' processes exclude God is a corruption of a full understanding of God. If the product of chemical reaction or the course of a projectile can be predicted, does that mean that by following 'natural' laws, nature demonstrates the inactivity of God? By no means! A full understanding of God helps us to see that there is no difference between 'natural' processes and 'supernatural' except that the latter may be defined as a process which could not have been predicted by science. If I throw a ball in the air and it doesn't come back down to earth, but hovers for a second, does a couple of loop-the-loops and shoots off over a house, it would be described as a 'supernatural' event because it did not obey the predicted course of 'natural' events. But if I throw the same ball up in the air and it follows a parabolic curve (allowing for air resistance) which can be predicted by a mathematical model, it is said to be a 'natural' event, it does not mean that that God was not involved in that event.

    Philosophical naturalists would say that because it was predictable it was 'natural' and not 'supernatural'. Theists should say that there is no distinction between 'natural' and 'supernatural' because God is constantly operating in nature through his predicable, reliable nature. We can not theistically separate 'natural' and 'supernatural' events, though we can separate them as 'predicable' and 'unpredictable'.

    Therefore, 'evolution' as we have observed it, which is mostly predicable or 'natural' in that it has taken many billions of years for complex life to 'evolve' is not in conflict with the nature of God. What is in conflict is the thought that 'evolution' is a chance process, random mutation is not part of God's natural process or nature, but pure luck or survival of the fittest. But the 'natural' events of evolution part of God's action in creation, that is, they occur according to his nature.

    Theists are not at liberty to believe that 'evolution' is a chance, random, lucky, uncontrolled, purposeless, non-goal orientated process of 'natural' effects, because the 'natural' events can not be distinguished, in the eyes of a theist, between the predictable nature of God's work in creation and the times when God chooses to do something 'supernatural' that we could not have predicted by laws of nature. God is constantly at work, and 'natural' processes are the work of God, even though we can not detect his presence in this process empirically.

    My original question at the start of this thread concerning the effects of ID on our theology was coming at the argument from the wrong direction. It is not that ID will effect our theology but that we need to fully understand the nature of God to make sense of the work of science. It is our theology which must change first. Once we have a full understanding of the nature of God, science will be put in its proper place.

    To conclude, Crœsos, as you asked ' what makes this supposition anything more than the idlest of speculations', I'm afraid that you will not like my answer. The answer comes in the form of a question, 'Who was/is Jesus'? I have already posted a Christological basis for the fact that the material world is mute on the matter of faith in God. I encourage you to think about why that is while I spend another couple of taxi journeys and a lunch hour composing another answer.

    All the best

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    More fuzzy explanation, or plain bad English, bad plain English
    quote:
    What is in conflict is the thought that 'evolution' is a chance process, random mutation is not part of God's natural process or nature, but pure luck or survival of the fittest. But the 'natural' events of evolution part of God's action in creation, that is, they occur according to his nature.

    Should have read something like:

    What is in conflict is the thought that 'evolution' is a chance process, that random mutation is not part of God's natural process or nature, that it is all down to pure luck or survival of the fittest, latent deism. But the 'natural' events of evolution are to be seen by the theist as part of God's action in creation, that is, they occur according to his nature.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    The 'Wisdom Literature' of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the book of Job collectively shed interesting light on the matter of empiricism. Glenn may be wondering if picking an choosing scripture is legitimate, but my defense is that the verses are a summary of the overall framework, the big picture, the main thrust of scripture. The approach to empiricism starts with the premise that the universe is created by intelligence, that there is wisdom behind the material world, in Proverbs 8:27-31 Solomon puts it like this:

    quote:
    I (wisdom) was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so that the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.

    Solomon's description of wisdom stems from general revelation. Creation, conscience, love and beauty all form part of general revelation, that is that we can sense God by such things but that we can not prove that God exists by them. We no that God can not be proved by them, empirically detected, from Ecclesiastes 8:16-17:

    quote:
    When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labour on earth - his eyes not seeing sleep day or night - then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

    If we are tempted to try to understand the meaning of what goes on under the sun, apart from God, we face the rebuttal Job faced when he dared to take on God.

    quote:
    Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
    Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
    "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
    Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    (Job 38:1-5)

    Searching for empirical evidence of God in the natural world is a fruitless task, God has put it beyond our comprehension, 'despite all our efforts to search out its meaning'. This does not mean that we should not seek to understand the natural world around us. Indeed scripture encourages us to understand cause and effect so that we can learn to live better lives. Science is a natural activity for good Christian living.

    If the natural world can not reveal the purpose or meaning, where do we turn? If we see the big picture, the divine unity, the ongoing thread of God's work in humanity from our being brought into existence by God (100,000 years ago, correct me if that date is empirically wrong); our rebellion; the freeing of the people of Israel from slavery; God's care for his people in spite of their disobedience and deistic adultery; God constantly working to reconcile the his people to himself which culminates in his incarnation, human life, teaching, fulfillment of Hebrew prophesy and law; his unfair trial, unlawful conviction, unjust death, miraculous resurrection, ascension to heaven, divine rule and his future judgement, give purpose and meaning to everything under the sun.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    On the matter of purpose and meaning, what is the alternative? Here is an example of the best 'science' can hope for, strive for, gain purpose in, in a material world.

    The BBC World Service has once again provided a timely example of the vacuity of science without God. On it's program 'Science View', the BBC covered a story on the history of the relationship between humans and Mars. It was highly informative and an interesting summary the development of our understanding of the 'Red star' and the latter day search for life on Mars.

    It concluded with the following prophesy from Robert Zubrin, author of 'The Case for Mars'

    quote:
    The youth of today have a yearning for purpose. The message from Mars is, 'learn your science and you could become part of pioneering a new world'. As mankind emerged from the dark ages, Cathedrals were built as a symbol of purpose. How much more exciting will it be to be part of the establishment of a new cathedral to human purpose, the building of a settlement on Mars?'

    And then what?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    Todd - I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. On the one hand, you are argue in favor of an objective reality and that you can make observations that trees or the planet Jupiter are "certainly" real. And then you argue that no such "certain" observations are possible due to your own human prejudices. Can you resolve this contradiction? It seems that you are arguing that statements like "the planet Jupiter exists" is equal in certainty and verifiability to statements like "green is a prettier colour than blue", since both are merely the products of individual, subjective prejudice.

    As for Neil's posts, it seems a case of assertions without anything to back them up. I could just as easily claim that my cat is responsible in some vague, unspecified, and mysterious way for all observable phenomena in the Universe, and I would have just as much evidence behind my claim. There are only two points in Neil's slew of postings that really bear commenting upon.

    The first is his continued antipathy towards probabilistic behaviour in any portion of the Universe. According to Neil's postings, anyting "chance", "random", or "lucky" is inherently unGodly. Given that such a deterministic viewpoint would invalidate not only most of genetics but also quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics, I think it only reasonable for me to expect a more in-depth explanation from him than simply his say-so. Or are you asserting that while certain events have probabilistic characteristics, biological evolution is somehow a "special case"?

    The other point I found interesting was Neil's assertion that "Science is a natural activity for good Christian living." This assertion is contradicted not only by most of the history of Christianity, but also by Neil's quotations from Ecclesiastes and Job which indicate an inherently incomprehensible Universe.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    The biblical understanding that ‘natural’ events (events which follow ‘the laws of nature’) follow the law under the omnipotent will of God is at least as valid, from the material observations, as the conclusion that no omnipotent being is acting, either that the laws, having been established, govern themselves (deism) or the conclusion that the laws ‘are’ and ‘do’ themselves (naturalism).

    All three conclusions stand on level ground on the basis of material observation alone. Indeed the idea that your cat controls everything is as valid on this basis as the three more common postulations.

    So why do naturalism and deism sit more comfortably with us today than theism? Could it be to do with our corporate philosophical understanding of nature? As I said, over the last 300 years, the methodological naturalism assumed for scientific investigation has become the justification for philosophical naturalism and deism. To our ‘scientifically’ trained minds, the idea of theism is quite repugnant. The problem faced by theism not the presence of supporting material evidence, but the conditioning of our minds by our education and culture to accept materialism.

    The difference between naturalism and theism comes when we confuse the way science can predict ‘natural’ events but can not predict ‘supernatural’. If science can not explain some phenomena, it is said to be ‘supernatural’. This is a naturalist’s label. As ‘supernatural’ events have exceptionally low rate of occurrence, and can often be explained by ‘natural’ methods, God becomes insignificant in our minds, an absentee landlord who cares so little for his creation he doesn’t even bother to intervene ‘supernaturally’ when things go wrong.

    But that is not the Biblical understanding of God. ‘Natural’ events are indistinguishable, theologically, from ‘supernatural’. That is, that every material event obeys God.

    The cells in our body work, not under our control, or under their own endeavours, but under the ongoing work of God, according to God’s nature. It is only the conscious mind which is at liberty to work against God’s will (and even that is a subject for debate – it needs another thread to discuss the Sovereignty of God and Human free will). ‘Evolution’ then, is seen by the theist to be the ongoing work of Christ in his creation. (Neo)Darwinism faces problems when gradual change is not evident in the fossil record, as admitted by Gould. Random mutation and natural selection are not sufficient to explain either the origin of life or, in light of the fossil record, the development of complex organisms in a short period of time. Intelligent Design is deism in another guise, because it tries to prove intelligence in design but is silent on matters of the sustaining work of God.

    But theism pulls all the evidence together and says, ‘as we find out new facts about how life develops on earth, we are witnessing the ongoing work of the God who made and sustains it all’. Forget about the muddied thinking of the church in the past, including YECism, we’ve covered the fact that all cultures have held fast to material philosophies as an understanding of how we came into existence. If we take a proper theistic mindset and look to the future, we can see that all future scientific discoveries will sit within a theistic framework and we will say ‘well done God, what a beautiful creation’. Sorry, I’ve used too many platitudes.

    I’ll end this rather long post with the following quotes from scripture which give the theological basis for understanding Christ as both the creator and sustainer of everything.

    quote:
    Hebrews 1:1-3 and 2:7-8
    In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.

    Colossians 1:15-22
    He is the image of the invisible (ie undetectable in creation) God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.


    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    I think that one of the reasons that theism (or at least theism in the mold that Neil presents) sits so hard with us is the recognition that it is not just an unscientific belief system but that it is inherently antiscientific. Breaking with the notion that everything happens at the whim of some supernatural entity or entities was the first step on the road to science. Such supernatural explanations have a stifling effect on scientific inquiry for two reasons. First, if everything has the same answer intellectual laziness is fostered. Imagine the sorry state of scientific knowledge if the following answers were regarded as complete and sufficient.

    quote:
    Q: What causes typhoid?
    A: God.

    Q: What causes the photoelectric effect?
    A: God.

    Q: What makes fire burn?
    A: God.


    Which leads to the second reason such an attitude is dangerous. These so called "answers" attributing these and all other phenomena to a mysterious being or beings don't actually answer anything at all. Saying that something called "God" is responsible for fire, or the photoelectric effect, or typhoid tells us nothing about these phenomena.

    Unfortunately I can't "forget about the muddied thinking of the church in the past" because the same thinking and attitudes are still common in the Church today. These include the notion that material, scientific evidence should be subordinate to theological philosophy and, in cases of disagreement, scientific evidence should be ignored in favor of theological expediency. This attitude is shown time and again in religious opposition to evolution, or heliocentrism, or medical anesthesia. What seems to be going on here is a sort of "effectiveness envy", with religious thought being jealous of the fact that science is so good at producing unambiguous, material results. Indeed, this sort of feeling can quite clearly lead to a sour-grapes sort of attitude and eagerness for giving science some sort of comeupance, such as Neil's statement that "science will be put in its proper place" someday.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    Your imaginary questions stop well short of the activity of science under theism. I have stated that science is not at conflict with Christianity, if science is viewed as the activity of understanding how things work. The conflict arises when science tries to explain more than how things work (like typhoid and fire) as Dawkins puts it

    quote:
    Science shares with religion the claim that it can answer deep questions about origins, the nature of life, and the cosmos, but there the resemblance ends. Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.

    Your imaginary questions stop short of science under theism, because theists are not prohibited by a Biblical understanding from investigating the world, theists are encouraged to do so. Kisten Birkett puts it like this

    quote:
    It should be clear by now that the Bible is in favour of investigating the world. It is God’s world, after all, and it is only appropriate that as caretakers of his world we should be interested in how it works. Anyone who takes the Bible seriously has excellent motivation to take up science, if he or she so wishes.

    What is more, we have motivation to take up science through the empirical method. While there is not space here to go into the complexities – or the historical background – the biblical understanding would lead us to think that empiricism is an appropriate method for investigating the world. That is, the Bible shows us that God acts in the world the way he wants to. He has not given first principles from which we can deduce logically how the world must be. The only way we can discover how the world is, is to look at it. The only way to find out how it works, is to investigate it. If we are interested in how the world is put together in a functional sense, we do not simply ponder in our heads, or wait for revelation from God – we go and use our senses and our brains to find out.


    That is science in its proper place.

    Neil

    [edited at Neil's request]

    [ 29 August 2001: Message edited by: RuthW ]
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    A missing 'not'.

    What a blunder...there is of course no prohibition of empiricism under theism.

    Would an administrator mind, please, adding 'not' prior to the word 'prohibited' in my previous post?

    Oops

    Neil
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    While it may "be clear by now that the Bible is in favour of investigating the world" to Ki[r]sten Birkett, the rest of us are left wondering since Neil apparently left off prior paragraphs containing the explanation. Given that his scriptural quotations at 23 August 2001 04:21 were blatantly anti-scientific (a point which I made a full day ago and he has not yet denied), perhaps he could come up with a few contradicting scriptural passages that actually encourage scientific investigation. If the empirical scientific method is something God would want to encourage, there must be a scriptural passage describing scientific methodology somewhere in there.
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Crœsos

    I have come to what I regard as a sufficient understanding of this issue having wrestled it through on this thread, and learnt much in the process. I've been spurred to read supporting books from every angle (Dawkins, Gould, Lewontin included). Family life demands more of my attention, so I will no longer contribute to the thread.

    I have enjoyed having to think about many issues, and hope you have too. I do not have time to answer your point about the passages I quoted being anti-scientific, which they are not. They were concerned with wisdom, the fear (respect) of God being the beginning of such. If you are truly interested in knowing what the passages are about, you can readMatthew Henry's Commentaryas a starter for 10. If you were only interested in picking a fight for the sake of it, then all the best, I wish you well with future debates on science and Christianity, unnatural enemies.

    All the best

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    One last post, which has been on my Palm Pilot for about 4 weeks. It needs to be posted to conclude the debate that we didn't have.

    We have covered on this thread the fact that philosophical naturalism is the view of the natural world which supports and is supported by secular humanism. This is indeed the case according to the Council for Secular Humanism's own webpage

    quote:
    We believe the scientific method, though imperfect, is still the most reliable way of understanding the world.

    If the western paradigm is currently post modern, why does our law only consider the secular humanist position? Is it because secular humanism allows individual religious freedom, but restricts that freedom in the shaping of ethics and law? Secular humanists say it is so:

    quote:
    As secular humanists, we are generally skeptical about supernatural claims. We recognize the importance of religious experience: that experience that redirects and gives meaning to the lives of human beings. We deny, however, that such experiences have anything to do with the supernatural…We consider the universe to be a dynamic scene of natural forces that are most effectively understood by scientific inquiry.

    So God is kept firmly in place by science. Morals, ethics and law are shaped by relativism. Again, the Council for Secular Humanism says,

    quote:
    There is an influential philosophical tradition that maintains that ethics is an autonomous field of inquiry, that ethical judgments can be formulated independently of revealed religion…We are opposed to absolutist morality, yet we maintain that objective standards emerge, and ethical values and principles may be discovered, in the course of ethical deliberation.

    All was well for secular humanism, until now. The opening line of their statement says:

    quote:
    Secular humanism is a vital force in the contemporary world. It is now under unwarranted and intemperate attack from various quarters.

    So, secular humanists are aware being 'attacked', where is the attack coming from and what is being attacked? The attack being referred to is the work of scientists who no longer believe philosophical naturalism is a viable position.

    The 'attack' has commenced with the undermining the very belief structure of philosophical materialism. Some scientists now claim that nature demonstrates general revelation. It is not that God can be proved by empirical means, but that the material world appears to be the product of wisdom, that it is designed, and that it is not just a product of undirected natural forces.

    The 'heat' between philosophical theists and philosophical materialists is not regarding unscientific practice or method. The 'heat' is generated because philosophical naturalists, secular humanists, do not wish to consider the possibility of the divine, or more probably, moral absolutes.

    Philip Johnson covers this matter in his is two books, "Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education." and "Objections Sustained: Subversive essay's on Evolution, Law and Culture". 'Reason in the Balance' is introduced thus:

    quote:
    According to Naturalism, God has no place in law, science, or the schools. Naturalistic thinking rules the intellectual world, including the public schools, the universities, and the elite of the legal profession.

    But is naturalism itself beyond question? Few among the cultural elite have dared doubt it. Now comes Phillip Johnson, Berkeley law professor and former clerk to the U.S. Supreme Court, set to take on the "intellectual superstitions" of the day.

    After this book, the culture wars may never be the same again.


    If secular humanism, then, is seen to be a faith based position, and not based on the 'fact' of naturalism, then secular humanism has no more legitimacy than other faith based positions to govern, dictate law and shape education.

    This is what I hoped we could speculate on at the start of this thread, because it is not just the legitimacy of secular humanism but much if not all of last century's liberal theology which has its neck on the block. No wonder no one wanted to debate or consider the possibility that God had anything to do with nature.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Todd:
    Objects are certainly real; the tree on my lawn that I can observe is certainly a real object. And just as certainly, the subjective is real; I, the observing subject, am also real. There is a reality outside myself (the subject), therefore the objective does exist.

    What does not exist is a sort of "objective knowledge" that is supposedly free of value judgments, of a priori decisions about what constitutes reality, of personal commitment.

    All those things that have been denigrated as mere "subjectivity" are really the only way that human beings have of understanding "objective" reality.


    Todd,

    I rather suspect that the tree you can observe on your lawn has objective existence. Can it not be observed by anyone, regardless of their value judgements, personal commitments ? Could a rational person conceivably take a prior decision that trees don't exist and thus be completely unable to perceive it ? Seems to me that we are sense-equipped to perceive trees and therefore perceive them whether their existence be consistent with our philosophy or not.

    However, there may also be on/within your lawn much tinier plants that one would only perceive if one set out to look for them. It seems to me that they have exactly the same kind of objective existence as the tree, but because of their scale, they have a different relationship with human beings. Our relationship with them is such that our philosophy and interests may be relevant to whether we perceive them or not, or act on the perception if we do. ("That doesn't count as a weed, it's too small").

    Some perceptions are preceded by a decision of the observing subject as to what to pay attention to. Some perceptions arrive unsought.

    Seems to me that you're miffed that the methodological naturalism (wonderful phrase - thanks Karl!) of science appears to grant to God merely a second-class existence as a subjective phenomenon alongside visions, illusions, philosophies and ideas. And are therefore moved to attack, inaccurately, the foundations of science.

    How dare science belittle religion !

    Croesus,

    You seem to be taking the opposite tack. Having agreed that the scientific method will never detect the existence of God, you seem to see no reason to postulate a God at all.

    Why doesn't religion just lie down and die now that science is here to explain things?

    Can I suggest that the importance to us humans of values and purposes are not diminished by the fact that they are unscientific ? And that you might be better of approaching religion as being about values and purposes, and not about explaining things in term of the existence of supernatural entities ?

    Russ
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    I'm back after a weeks holiday reading books related to this thread and after a intensely frustrating computer breakdown. I'm raring to write a critical review of Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe and to highly praise Kenneth Miller's excellent Finding Darwin's God (thanks for the recommendation Karl).

    But I find that Neil has changed his mind about intelligent design and has signed off the thread (after a colossal amount of writing on his part - thanks for the thread Neil). Never mind it was fascinating reading for its own sake, not just for debate!

    Ah well, I'll post my review over the weekend and I will also take up Neil's comments that:

    quote:
    If secular humanism, then, is seen to be a faith based position, and not based on the 'fact' of naturalism, then secular humanism has no more legitimacy than other faith based positions to govern, dictate law and shape education.

    ... since I think that secular government and the separation of church and state is vitally important for the health of society and we Christians should support it.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
     
    I know Neil's signed off, but maybe someone else can help me. I don't see how secular humanism is a faith-based position (and I used to consider myself a secular humanist -- in those days I would have cringed to hear it described as faith-based).

    As for who is attacking secular humanism, I have long been under the impression that folks who want to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms and courtrooms are the kind of people mounting serious attacks on secular humanism, not scientists who say rational materialism is not the be-all and end-all of human inquiry and knowledge.
     


    Posted by Crœsos (# 238) on :
     
    RuthW - I think it depends on how you define "faith". It's a slippery and ambiguous term. It can either mean "belief in the existence of something" or "belief in the rightness of something". By failing to resolve this ambiguity, much confusion is engendered.
     
    Posted by Mike (# 1198) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Russ:
    Todd,

    I rather suspect that the tree you can observe on your lawn has objective existence. Can it not be observed by anyone, regardless of their value judgements, personal commitments ? Could a rational person conceivably take a prior decision that trees don't exist and thus be completely unable to perceive it ? Seems to me that we are sense-equipped to perceive trees and therefore perceive them whether their existence be consistent with our philosophy or not.


    Unless I've misunderstood him, Todd's not denying that at all. He's not denying that the tree has an existence outside his mind, he's simply noting the fact - surely uncontroversial - that anything we know or understand about that tree is, precisely, stuff that we know. The knowledge therefore, whilst being knowledge of an object that is really, objectively there is, inevitably, subjective knowledge. There is no other kind to be had.

    This doesn't lead to non-realism, it doesn't lead to solipsism - it's been a bedrock assumption of most philosophy since Kant.

    Knowledge is not a perfect reflection of external objects on the flat, blank screen of our minds. It is, always, already interpreted: raw data arranged and categorised and interpreted by our brains in all sorts of complex and subtle ways. In that sense, our minds have always already influenced and shaped what we think we see.
     


    Posted by Ham'n'Eggs (# 629) on :
     
    I think that Mike posted here at 12:27, but the post has vanished.
     
    Posted by Ham'n'Eggs (# 629) on :
     
    tset
     
    Posted by Russ (# 120) on :
     
    Mike,

    Tell me more.

    You agree that the tree is objectively there. Are its leaves objectively green ? Is it objectively taller than the garden fence ? In what if any sense are its properties determined by the characteristics of the subject who perceives it ?

    If it is objectively both green and taller than the garden fence, is the statement that the tree is both green and taller than the garden fence not an objectively true statement ?

    Whereas the statement that the tree is very pretty can only be subjective, because it refers to the subject's perception of the tree and not the tree's objective characteristics.

    I really don't see the problem.

    If I convey to you a photo of the tree, or a description of the tree, such an image will inevitably be incomplete, yes. And in choosing to describe it in a certain way or photograph it from a particular angle I will have made an editorial judgement. Depending on my background I will find some aspects of the tree more worthy of comment than others.

    But that doesn't seem to me a reason to deny the distinction between objective and subjective.

    Am I missing something obvious here ?

    Russ

    PS: should this go on a new thread? we seem to have drifted away from Darwinism...
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    Welcome back, I hope you had a great holiday. I've decided to quit the thread because this matter was occupying a disproportionate amount of my time. I look forward to your post about Behe/Miller and I will redouble my efforts now to find Miller’s book in Singapore.

    I’m also interested to hear your views about the separation of church and state. You might like to read The Council for Secular Humanism's (TCfSH ) Declaration one more time before posting, because this issue is tied up with the legitimacy of any one position for dictating the rules, and TCfSH say that their legitimacy is based on science.

    TCfSH item two calls for the separation of church and state:

    quote:
    Because of their commitment to freedom, secular humanists believe in the principle of the separation of church and state. The lessons of history are clear: wherever one religion or ideology is established and given a dominant position in the state, minority opinions are in jeopardy.

    What is Secular Humanism if it is not an ideology? Why does it deserve a dominant position in the state?

    RuthW, if science can neither prove nor disprove God, then what is Secular Humanism’s religious scepticism based on? Faith.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    This and the next two postings are some of my responses to the arguments (and to the style!) of Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box , which I read recently. I will try to be brief since his arguments have been criticised on this thread and elsewhere. (See in particular Robert T. Pennock’s Tower of Babel ; Kenneth R. Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God. and Allen Orr’s review ‘Darwin v. Intelligent Design (Again)’ at the Boston Review website.)

    Behe’s argument.
    The living world is full of complicated things. Evolutionary theory tends to explain the existence of these complex things by saying that they ‘have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications’ (Darwin). People like Richard Dawkins have shown how such gradual changes can in principle explain the evolution of complex organs like the eye. Behe wants to move the argument down to the molecular level.

    To Darwin’s generation trying to see what went on at the level of the cell was like looking at an opaque, black box. Molecular biology has opened that box up in the last fifty years and revealed incredibly complex systems and structures inside the cell. Behe says that many of these cannot be explained by gradual evolution. (He makes great play of how no one has come up with complete step-by-step accounts of how these systems evolved - and nothing less will satisfy him.) He concludes that such systems must have been designed by an intelligent agent; since it is so massively improbable that any could have sprung into being fully formed, in one event.


    Response
    In response: the detective work involved in reconstructing the origins of biochemical systems that came into existence over perhaps a billion years is considerable! Seeing that we have only recently begun to understand how these kinds of systems work it is unreasonable to expect people to be able to reconstruct their origin and evolution so soon! Nevertheless some progress is being made and, for example Kenneth Miller shows how Doolittle's account of the evolution of blood clotting is far more persuasive than you would imagine from reading Behe’s book.

    Miller also describes other ways of coming at the problem. He tells of experiments with bacteria that show that they have a remarkable ability to evolve complex systems. In addition Pennock discusses computer programs that have been set up to have random variation, plus reproduction, plus selection and have resulted in the evolution of complex virtual ‘creatures’ that had not been dreamed of by the writers of the programs. These are thus not designed features but emergent features of the running program. Both these approaches reveal that random variation plus natural selection is in principle capable of a great deal more complexity than one might think.

    Behe and ‘Irreducible Complexity’
    Behe tries to argue that a particular type of complexity is particularly hard for gradualistic evolution to account for. He calls it ‘irreducible complexity’. A structure or system is irreducibly complex if it consists of parts that work together to achieve a function but where if any one of the parts is missing it that function is lost.

    Behe wants to say that such systems are unevolvable because you cannot select for them bit by bit: you need all of the components for it to function. But he admits that they could evolve in an indirect way. This is exactly the criticism that Orr levels at Behe. Behe just does not explore the idea that ‘Some part (A) initially does some job (and not very well, perhaps). Another part (B) later gets added because it helps A. This new part isn't essential, it merely improves things. But later on, A (or something else) may change in such a way that B now becomes indispensable. This process continues as further parts get folded into the system. And at the end of the day, many parts may all be required.’ Nor does he consider Dawkins comments that some systems have lost previously essential elements as others have been able to work without them (we might deny that an arch could be built stone by stone if we ignored the possibility that there was support or scaffolding – now gone- used in its construction).

    Instead Behe contents himself with arguing that ‘as the complexity of an interacting system increases though, the likelihood of such an indirect route drops precipitously (p40)’. This is just not true, all it means is that the route would take a longer time, and with many of the basic molecular systems having taken a billion or so years to evolve a long time was available.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Behe's Darwin's Black Boxcontinued... (the posting after this is more fun)

    Double standards about analogies
    One aspect of Behe’s book that I found particularly irritating was that Behe appears to have a double standard when it comes to the use of analogy in arguments. He uses one rule for evaluating his own (just mention the similarities) and another for his opponents (focus on the differences).

    For example on p218 Behe says:

    quote:
    Analogies always are set up so that they … propose that A is like B in a restricted subset of properties. Rust is like tooth decay in that they both start from small spots and work outwards, even though tooth decay takes place in living materials, is caused by bacteria … A Rube Goldberg machine is like a blood-clotting system in that they are both irreducibly complex, even though they have many differences. In order to reach a conclusion based on an analogy, it is only necessary that the deduction flow out of the shared properties. [My italics].

    Yes, but one has to ask: ‘how does one prove that the deduction does really ‘flow out of the shared properties’?’ You cannot prove it by the analogy itself because you are then arguing in a circle. For example, to argue that ‘This helium filled balloon floats in air, therefore this helium filled gas cylinder will float in air too’ proves that floating flows from the shared property of being filled with helium is obviously wrong. Differences in properties may frustrate the shared ones.

    So when Behe says, following on immediately from the last quote:

    quote:
    The irreducibly complex Rube Goldberg machine required an intelligent designer to produce it; therefore the irreducibly complex blood-clotting system required a designer also.

    As an argument from analogy it fails unless independent grounds can be given for the assertion that irreducible complexity is impossible without design. Given that Behe has admitted that ‘one can not definitively rule out the possibility of an indirect, circuitous route’ for evolving such systems (p 40); and that ‘there is no magic point of irreducible complexity at which Darwinism is logically impossible’ (p203) he must judge the argument to fail.

    Just a page later (pp219 to 221) Behe chucks his own insights into analogy overboard by criticising Sober and Dawkins’ use of the set of lettered discs which eventually produce the words ‘ME THINKS IT IS A WEASEL.’ Does he see that the analogy of this system with evolution rests on the shared properties of random variation plus non-random selection? No! Instead he launches into a list of how the system described differs from evolution in that the system has no function, has an intelligent agent doing the selecting etc. In doing so he reveals how completely he misses the point.

    But there is worse: both Sober’s and Dawkins’ accounts of this analogy explicitly point out that it is not a complete analogy for evolution. Does Behe mention this? Not at all! I found this the most offensively crass and polemical section of the book!

    When Behe’s opponents make analogies between one thing A and another B, he is very quick to highlight the differences between A and B. But when it comes to his own he is less than scrupulous. For example he constantly refers to the cell as a machine, which lulls the unsuspecting reader into being more receptive to comparisons of the molecular systems with mousetraps and Rube Goldberg machines and so on. Why does Behe not point out that the cell is vastly unlike a machine? Machines do not reproduce copies of themselves; do not compete for resources; do not have parents; are not subject to natural selection. Machines are also designed – a nicely covert way of assuming the point in dispute.

    Sure, use the example of the (intuitively unevolvable) mousetrap to explain irreducible complexity, but why not then discuss the eminently evolvable Venus Fly trap – nature’s version! Sure, talk about Rube Goldberg machines, but ignore the fact that they are nearly always linear, consist of elements that are vastly different from each other, and generally involve great complexity to perform a simple function. And when you compare it to blood clotting do give due weight to the fact that the system is not linear; the elements are very similar proteins, the function is complex all of which have bearing on its evolvability.

    Glenn
    Glenn
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Behe's Darwin's Black Box continued... the shorter, more fun responses.

    Behe misrepresents Dawkins
    I can’t say everything that I would like to about Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box but I can’t overlook his misrepresentation of Dawkins. Behe says (p249) that:

    quote:
    In the Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins tells his readers that even if a statue of the Virgin Mary waved to them, they should not conclude they had witnessed a miracle.

    Dawkins comes across from this as an irrationally fanatical atheist. In fact Dawkins says no such thing. He explains that the probability of this happening by chance is unimaginably huge, but calculable. He also says that if he was struck by lightning after saying ‘may I be struck by lightning this minute’ he would regard that as a miracle. Since he states that the lightning stiking him after uttering that sentence is, at 250 trillion to one, vastly more probable (and hence less miraculous) than the statue waving I find it incredible that Behe can misrepresent him in this way.

    Some annoying rhetoric form Behe
    Behe indulges in lots of rhetoric (FAR too much to record here) but some bits that especially annoyed me were:

    P97 ‘Doolittle … deserves a lot of credit for being one of the very few - possibly the only person – who is actually trying to explain how this complex biochemical system arose’ (Message: see how science ignores these problems!) Unfortunately Behe forgets that he has already written on p89 that: ‘Several scientists have devoted much effort to wondering how blood coagulation might have evolved.’

    P172 ‘In private many scientists admit that science has no explanation for the beginning of life.’ (Message: see how science hushes up these problems!) But take a look at Behe’s footnote and it turns out that (p283) by ‘in private’ he means published ‘in the scientific journals’!!!

    P232-3 ‘The results of these … efforts to investigate the cell … is a … cry of “design!” The result … must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein …’
    The reader’s first thoughts might be ‘then is Behe to be ranked with Newton and Einstein?’ But wait a second, they both produced highly original and detailed theories that explained reality in radically perceptive ways. Behe in contrast is just holding his hands up and saying ‘I can’t explain this complexity and I bet no-one can!’ That is hardly in the same league of genius!

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Mike (# 1198) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Russ:
    PS: should this go on a new thread? we seem to have drifted away from Darwinism...

    Good idea. I'll start up a new thread on objective/subjective. See you there.
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    I enjoyed your posts. Behe does have many flaws in his form of argument. Although, may I say, that your critique was written in the usual rhetorical form that most authors, on all philosophical sides of this matter, adopt. It is not that your arguments were fallacious, but that you concentrated, as a lawyer might, on flaws in Behe’s argument. Turning to what first interested me about Behe's book, what do you think about the bio-chemical challenges on the formation of ATP which I asked Crœsos about earlier, and to which he has posted no response?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Thanks Neil, I am glad I did not bore everyone to death!

    Yes you are quite right, I guess I did rather adopt the lawyer’s style of questioning the opposition case but not offering an alternative (Pennock criticises Johnson for doing that in his books). One has to start somewhere though! I am hoping to say a bit more of constructive nature in a later (and shorter!) posting about Miller's book.

    In the meantime however, you have raised the question of Adenosine Mono Phosphate (AMP) which Behe covers in chapter 7 of his book. As you know he discusses problems with the idea of metabolic pathways evolving with a particular look at AMP. He points out that AMP is needed to make DNA and RNA. He might have spelled out that this leads to a circle: the AMP needs the enzymes to form; the creation of enzymes depends on their being encoded for in the DNA or RNA; and the DNA needs the AMP to form itself. That’s fine and dandy if the system is set up but how do you get it started? He does raises various similar questions about how the interactive and complex pathway for AMP could possibly evolve gradually.

    Behe sets out the view of Creighton writing in 1993 that a pathway converting A to B then B to C then C to D may well have evolved from D being present naturally to begin with, then, when it became scarce cells able to make it from C would have an advantage, and cells that make that from B would do even better and so on (p151).

    But to cut to the chase: I think Horowitz’s idea is on the right lines for at least some metabolic pathways. I think de Duve’s ideas, about protometabolic pathways and of catalysts that catalyse a number of reactions, are also along the right lines. What I would emphasise is that Behe has looked at the pathway for AMP synthesis that exists now. Yes, that pathway may be a couple of billion years old, but it probably evolved and changed extensively over a period of half a billion years or more before that. The original pathways are probably very different from what they are today. Intermediates and catalysts that used to be involved probably no longer exist.

    As you may know Cairns Smith in Seven Clues to the Origin of Life has proposed that the first replicating and selectable things on earth were very likely not RNA or DNA based systems. What originally functioned in a ‘genetic’ way was not RNA or DNA (no need for AMP at that stage). (Dawkins discusses Cairns Smiths ideas in The Blind Watchmaker ) He proposes other possibilities and suggests the idea that a great deal of evolution of such systems took place before RNA or DNA began to be used for coding purposes but that, once it did, it took over the function because it was so much better at it. On this model it is thus highly likely that the original metabolic systems were also very different from what they are now. And on this model some path for AMP production probably came into existence from these earlier metabolic systems before RNA and DNA got going.

    As for his discussion of regulation of the rate of reactions Behe does not once mention the fact that reactions – even catalysed ones - have their own equilibrium states (the proportion of A to B in the conversion of A to B for example). Nor does he mention that the extent of the reaction (its equilibrium state) would be amenable to natural selection too, often on a gradual rather than all-or-nothing basis.

    Working all this out is going to take science some time, and it may even be that the truth is lost in the mists of the remote past some 3.5 to 4 billion years ago.

    Which leads me to remark that Behe did irritate me in the way he harps on again and again along the lines of ‘no one has a clue’ about how this or that system evolved. But what is he doing when he discusses the ideas of people like de Duve and Doolittle if not reporting the clues that they think they have and are following up? He irritated me again when he seems to think that he can dismiss de Duve’s work by saying that he fails to put names to the chemicals in his protometabolic pathways. But how do theories begin if not with speculation? It seems that not only has Behe no time for step by step evolution of life he doesn’t have any time for the step by step formation of a theory – he wants the full, complete and detailed thing to spring forth fully formed! Instead of being sent forth to encounter and benefit from criticism and ideas from others first.

    Could life have come into being through gradual evolution? Well the evidence for evolution is very strong, the fossil record, homologous structures in different species, DNA finger printing correlating so well with classification of animals and plants arrived at by other means, etc. Given all that, evolution seems to me the best explanation we have at the moment. Sure we don’t know how to explain all the details but Behe’s alternative of some primeval cell with a colossal genome with all the information in it later organisms would need won’t work. The genes that were not expresses would not be kept in working order by natural selection. As a result a couple of billion years of copying error and accidental deletions would have wasted them away and turned what remained of them into nonsense. Thus the genes for the clotting mechanism would have wasted away long before the animals they serve so well came on the scene.

    By the way, Pennock has criticised Behe’s ch7 Groundhog metaphor. His book ( Tower of Babel- a critique of the new creationism ) is one you may want to look at because of his long critique of Johnson.

    Thanks again for a thread that has proved so stimulating. I see that it has offspring in the ‘Objective and Subjective’ thread, I wonder if that too will evolve!

    Best wishes,
    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    Many thanks again. You have evidently thought through Behe's work at length. You said

    quote:
    Could life have come into being through gradual evolution? Well the evidence for evolution is very strong, the fossil record, homologous structures in different species, DNA finger printing correlating so well with classification of animals and plants arrived at by other means, etc. Given all that, evolution seems to me the best explanation we have at the moment.

    I agree that the development of life was gradual, and that 'evolution' is the term applied to gradual development. But, with this view in mind, I have two questions to ask. Firstly, what did you think about the ‘natural’/supernatural’ as opposed to ‘predictable/unpredictable’ concept?

    That was to say that theists see no difference between ‘natural’ events and ‘supernatural’ (a philosophical materialists’ term) because there is no difference…God is always active, sustaining his creation. The only difference from our subjective perspective is whether we could have predicted the way God acted in an event. If we could not have predicted it, we call itsupernatural. But to exclude God from the ‘natural’ event is not theism, it is deism.

    Under theism, it doesn’t matter if ‘evolution’ was gradual or rapid, whether it could have been predicted by Darwin’s scientific theory (ie that ‘evolution’ was the predictable action of God in nature) or not. What matters is that God is in control of every action, the terms ‘natural’ and supernatural do not apply, because there is no distinction. Everything we see around us in science is supernatural, because God is involved, we just forget it because almost everything is unpredictable’, such is God’s nature.

    Secondly, would you agree with the view that Behe et al are not doing science (as defined as understanding the ‘predictable action of God in nature, but that they are indulging in a commentary of general revelation? That is that God is evident through his creation. Behe can see the wonder of creation at a microbiological level, and has turned it from a commentary of the wonder of it all, into pseudo-science.

    Any comments?

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    That was to say that theists see no difference between ‘natural’ events and ‘supernatural’ ... because there is no difference…God is always active, sustaining his creation.

    which is basically where I'm coming from with "theistic materialism", science being a description of that activity (which is predictable because God is faithful).

    quote:
    The only difference from our subjective perspective is whether we could have predicted the way God acted in an event. If we could not have predicted it, we call itsupernatural.

    I would say that many good scientific (ie "natural") explanations are descriptive rather than predictive. I don't know anyway that we could say, had we been around, that certain dinosaurs would evolve into birds; but the fossil record does describe that.

    I would accept that God does, occasionally, work in ways outside his normal practice; these are miracles. I think much that is called "supernatural" could have natural explanations (some hauntings may be purely psychological for example) although the use of the term for things which are genuinly beyond any reasonable chance of natural explanation is fair enough. I think I'd like to invent another word to describe things of God; that is "meta-natural", completely beyond natural (transcendant would do, but has deist connotations).

    Just a few more thoughts,

    Alan
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Sorry, I spotted this from the 26th Aug earlier but was too busy to comment at the time
    quote:
    Originally posted by Crœsos:
    Breaking with the notion that everything happens at the whim of some supernatural entity or entities was the first step on the road to science.

    Which is part of what I was trying to get at when I mentioned that a Christian worldview helped to foster the development in modern science. The Christian God is not some whimsical deity who can't be relied on, but a God described as "faithful and true". Therefore, it can be expected that the natural world will be governed by law.

    quote:
    Such supernatural explanations have a stifling effect on scientific inquiry for two reasons. First, if everything has the same answer intellectual laziness is fostered ... These so called "answers" attributing these and all other phenomena to a mysterious being or beings don't actually answer anything at all.

    and again, the expectation that being made in the image of God humanity can understand how the world works means that better answers could be found. To call the deeply religious founders of modern science in western Europe lazy because they believed God was ultimately responsible for the way the world works does a great disservice to them, and all the other Christians who have devoted their lives to science since.

    quote:
    the same thinking and attitudes are still common in the Church today. These include the notion that material, scientific evidence should be subordinate to theological philosophy and, in cases of disagreement, scientific evidence should be ignored in favor of theological expediency.

    unfortunately you are right, some (often very vocal) elements in the Church do show such an attitude. However, it hardly seems fair to tar all Christians with such a brush because of the activities of a small minority. I fear, that no matter how much I would like to change things, people showing such ignorance and stupidity is a part of life.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    Thanks for your questions. I have only time for brief replies after sitting up far too late into the small hours posting earlier this week (I see more clearly why it is called ship of fools)

    quote:

    Firstly, what did you think about the ‘natural/supernatural’ as opposed to ‘predictable/unpredictable’ concept?

    Yes, I agree with you, excluding God from being connected with natural events and relegating him to only supernatural events is not a theological stance I would approve of. The way the universe is is to some extent an expression of God. Of course applying the term ‘expression’ to God is inevitably metaphorical. I dislike too much emphasis on the natural/supernatural distinction for other reasons too. It can lead to an undervaluing of what we call the natural; and it lends itself to readily to seeing God in too anthropomorphic a way.

    Miller has some speculations about God’s relation to the world involving the inherent indeterminism of quantum events which I hope to comment on and which seem promising.

    quote:

    Secondly, would you agree with the view that Behe et al are not doing science (as defined as understanding the ‘predictable action of God in nature, but that they are indulging in a commentary of general revelation?

    Yes. I think that to the extent that Behe and his colleagues stop looking for how physical laws (or ‘law like regularities’ if one prefers that expression) might be able to explain the development and origin of complex biochemistry, then to that extent they have stopped doing science on those problems.

    I understand that part of their research and work is devoted to developing a good theory about how to distinguish intelligent design from design arising from physical laws. I have no objection to this research being seen as science. I do not know much about their ideas on this, however.

    Finally, while we have fairly clear ideas about what is involved in a human designing something, God designing the universe is unique and must be a very different affair, as well as having enough similarities for the word design to be appropriate.

    Oh no it is after midnight again!
    Cheers,
    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan and Glenn

    22:26 Singapore time...this needs to be quick.

    I like the idea of using 'meta-natural' as a term to describe the 'unpredictable'. There is a job to somehow convince Joe Public that God is active, even though naturalism has come to define a world without God.

    Is there any truth in conclusion that assuming naturalism for science has led to a closed loop where philosophical naturalism is true because the naturalism (predictability) of nature proves that philosophically naturalism is true? If so, how do theists begin to demonstrate the flaw in the argument?

    I said it would be quick

    Neil
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Glenn

    Having seen the error in Behe's argument, from a theological perspective rather than empirical angle, I may have left you and Alan with the impression that I accept 'evolution' as fact. I would like to point out that I do not accept 'evolution' as fact, from both a theological perspective and empirical angle. Why? Empirically, it is a theory with more gaps than my granmother's teeth. Theologically, random, purposeless and material results in deism not theism.

    To illustate this, I have come to the end of Romans 11 in my study and meditation this morning, and add the doxology from verses 33 to 36 as a fitting summary of theism and why Christianity and science are therefore unnatural enemies.

    quote:
    33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

    According to this doxology, ‘evolution’ can not be random, purposeless and material because God is at work in his creation (from him) at all times sustaining it (through him) and one day it will all come to an end and we will meet with him (to him) either, in the context of the preceding chapters, as God’s elected people or as objects of God’s wrath.

    Whether ‘evolution’ was continuous or whether God designed it intelligently or acted in ways which science could not predict (given that science is the gathering of empirical evidence for the predictable nature of God) at points such as the development of self-replicators or the sudden development of complex life form in the pre-Cambrian explosion, or whether it was all made 10,000 years ago is merely squabbling over pennies. The big picture is that God made it all, sustains it all and will judge it all.

    Neil
     


    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    I would like to point out that I do not accept 'evolution' as fact, from both a theological perspective and empirical angle. Why? Empirically, it is a theory with more gaps than my granmother's teeth. Theologically, random, purposeless and material results in deism not theism.

    Neil, I thought we'd done this already? Never mind, I'll say it again. Evolution as a scientific theory has no place for purpose, it is merely descriptive of what has happened in the past and prescriptive of the mechanism by which species evolve (I don't think any biologist would predict what new species they'd evolve into). If you extend the purposelessness of the scientific description into a philosophical position then you are left with having to accept either deism (God started things off but doesn't really care where they go from there) or atheism. You can also have a deism where the physical laws and initial conditions of the universe are such that intelligent life must develop, and God sits back to watch it happen, which does introduce an element of purpose but I find unsatisfactory.

    However, the view expressed by myself and several others, which I have called theistic materialism, is very different from these views. This is theism, with God intimately involved in his creation, upholding and sustaining it. From a materialistic (ie: scientific) perspective the universe appears to run by laws, and evolution has no apparent purpose; science still works to give us increasingly improved understanding of the material world as it actually is. However, at the same time we can say philosophically that there is purpose and meaning, and also that there is more than just the material. Thus, God can truly be the one from whom, through whom and to whom are all things.

    quote:
    Whether ‘evolution’ was continuous or whether God designed it intelligently or acted in ways which science could not predict (given that science is the gathering of empirical evidence for the predictable nature of God) at points such as the development of self-replicators or the sudden development of complex life form in the pre-Cambrian explosion, or whether it was all made 10,000 years ago is merely squabbling over pennies. The big picture is that God made it all, sustains it all and will judge it all.


    Agreed, in the scheme of things the method of Creation isn't as important as the fact of Creation, and especially not as important as the Christ event. However, in public perception the "conflict between science and Christian belief" is a major problem, creating the impression that we check our brains in at the church door. Thus, this is a big issue.

    Alan
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Why? Empirically, it is a theory with more gaps than my granmother's teeth.

    Not so fast, Monsieur Robbie, not so fast...

    I think we're entitled to know what the gaps are, aren't we?
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    As to the gaps on evolutionary theory, I don't know how ancient the rest of you are but back in 1975 when I was 20 and doing a biology degree there were a lot more gaps then than now!

    Over the intervening 26 years we have been able to find out how similar the genes are in organisms, that genetic fingerprinting shows organisms to be 'related' in just the patterned way you would expect from evolution. We have found out about hox genes and their efffect on development and that they are in us as well as fruit flies.

    Evolutionary theory has enlarged too and new ideas about sexual selection and other aspects have been put forward and tested out.

    So the gaps were there, some are there still but many have been filled. Rome wasn't built in a day. Exploring all the ramifications of a theory takes a long time.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    A French publisher friend in Singapore gave me a book by landscape photographer Ric Ergenbright, called The Art of God (1999 – Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Illinois – not to be confused with the British Tyndale House). At the time, I flicked through the photos and put it with other big books on the shelf in the living room. I took it out last night and read the narrative. Here’s an extract from the introduction which points to the beginning of the paradigm shift we have discussed on this thread:

    quote:
    The seed for this book was sown in my childhood…gazing at the heavens and pondering the eternal riddles of life. How far is infinity? How long is eternity?…Over and over we would pose and ponder the questions, then discard them in frustration until the very next night.

    Childhood summers soon faded into adolescent memories…My gaze turned inward and my view of God grew dim as faith born of natural observation was exchanged for scientific dogma learned by rote. Seeking to please my teachers and avoid the ridicule of peers, I dutifully parroted Darwin’s mantra and denied God the glory of His creation. New discoveries would often rip embarrassing holes in the fabric of macroevolutionary theory, but my pride kept me from seeing the philosophical nakedness they revealed. I simply trusted that science would patch the holes and validate my belief. The holes kept getting bigger, requiring narrower blinders and greater faith to avoid seeing the obvious.

    …I began reading the Bible. Gently but steadily the blinders were pulled back, until I could no longer deny the truth before me: the perfection of everything in the heavens and on earth could only have come from the mind of an all-knowing, all –powerful, all-loving Designer, and never from an eternity of time plus chance.


    Neil
     


    Posted by Karl (# 76) on :
     
    Thanks for that non-answer, Neil. Again, what are these alleged bloody great holes in 'macroevolutionary theory'?
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    I said that I would like to comment on Kenneth R. Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God. (Cliff Street Books/ HarperCollins 1999).

    In short, this book shows (contra Ric Ergenbright view in Neil's most recent post) how evolution does not rob God of his credit for the glories of creation.

    Karl recommended this book, and what a good book it is. I would put it at the top of my list of books to recommend to any Christian wanting to consider the issue of evolution and its religious implications. (Closely followed by Pennock’s book The Tower of Babel )

    Miller’s book is in three main parts. The first is two chapters that introduce the topic and which give a brief history of the theory of evolution and the evidence for it.

    The second part consists of three chapters that critique various creationist viewpoints. ‘God the Charlatan’, looks at Morris and Whitcomb’s ideas of a young earth and contains the best short examination of radioactive dating that I have come across. The Rubidium/Strontium test is compelling and compellingly described. ‘God the magician’ looks at the evidence against the idea that each species was separately created. ‘God the mechanic’ is a very good critique of Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box.

    There is then an interlude chapter that looks at ways that some atheists have tried to use evolution as evidence against religion. He points out that these writers have and assumption in common with the creationists, namely

    quote:
    that … if the origins of living organisms can be explained in purely material terms, then the existence of God – at least any God worthy of the name - is disproved. (p190)

    ‘What I propose to do next’ says Miller ‘is to ask if that assumption is true.’ This he does in the final three chapters of the book. This is the final and constructive part of the book in which Miller expounds the ways that evolution is compatible with Christianity and religious understandings of the world.

    Christian critics of evolution tend to loathe the idea of randomness involved in evolution. Their alternative is to see the world as one which is essentially deterministic (to avoid randomness) but in which God interferes (to avoid deism). Miller points out that modern physics no longer sees the world as essentially deterministic, and, in Ch 7, he points out that the mutations that underlie evolution occur at the atomic level and therefore involve quantum effects. Quantum theory appears to show that randomness and uncertainty are built into the fabric of the universe; they are part of God’s creation. The universe is one in which natural laws and chance are inextricably mixed together. Miller explores the idea that this kind of world is one for which a more satisfying model for God’s action and for our own is possible than for other kinds.

    He quotes Polkinghorne:

    quote:
    The actual balance between chance and necessity, contingency and potentiality which we perceive seems to me to be consistent with the will of a patient and understanding Creator, content to achieve his purpose through the unfolding of process and accepting thereby a measure of the vulnerability and precariousness which always characterizes the gift of freedom by love. (p242)

    … and Barbour:

    quote:
    Natural laws and chance may be equally instruments of God’s intentions. There can be purpose without an exact predetermined plan. (p238) [My italics, G.O.]

    From the perspective of the debate in this thread Miller rejects the idea of seeing God’s design in terms of inexplicable features of the universe in the way Behe does, he sees Gods design in a larger sense of being responsible for the basic structure of the universe and the quantum uncertainty in its nature. He covers other issues than those I have mentioned including some comments on evolutionary psychology/socio-biology.

    The title of the book comes from Millers appreciation of the spirit of what Darwin said at the end of On the Origin of Species:

    quote:
    There is a grandeur in this view of life; with its several powers having been originally breathed by the creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone on cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most wonderful and most beautiful have been, and are being evolved.

    All in all this is an excellent and stimulating book. Thanks again Karl!

    Glenn
    I hope to check out Keith Ward’s Religion and Creation sometime too, since he usually has an astute appreciation of science and his book may bear on this topic.
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    I came accross these jokes (and others) at

    http://www.webcom.com/~ctt/comic.html#lites

    quote:
    How many Intelligent Designers does it take to change a light bulb?
    Looks like I'll never know--I asked some to do this simple task, and they started talking about how this 'simple task' was actually composed of many, many sub-tasks, each of which ITSELF was composed of many, many sub-sub-tasks, each of THESE of which was ITSELF composed of many, many sub-sub-sub-tasks, each of THESE...I think they are up to 10^5 "subs" now...a living fractal, how kewl...(wish I could see them better in this darkness, though).

    quote:
    How many Richard Dawkins' does it take to change a light bulb?
    According to his computer simulation, it only takes twelve of his cells--but he said I would have to be really, really patient.

    Glenn
     


    Posted by Ham'n'Eggs (# 629) on :
     
    Glenn - that is the most hilarious link!
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Another non-answer, I've given up arguing Karl, but here's an atheist site which has taken the Darwin v's Christ battle to new forms of plagiarism.

    I hope you enjoy this

    Funktown Mall

    Neil
     


    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    There is no safer time to flog a horse than when it is dead.

    This particular horse having turned up its hooves ('hoofs' is also correct) nearly a year ago, now is a good time for me to report on a very good book on the subject of this thread.

    Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics: philosophical, theological, and scientific perspectives. is edited by Robert Pennock (MIT Press 2001). It contains 37 articles from 25 authors and has over 800 pages of text. It contains papers previously published and some written especially for the book. The principle protagonists on the creationist side are Behe, Dembski, Johnson, Plantinga and Paul Nelson. There are lots of replies to their arguments and some replies to replies. It covers many of the issues raised in this thread such as irreducible complexity, naturalism (methodological and no-methodological types), teaching creationism in schools and much more. I especially enjoyed the discussion and critique of Dembski's views about 'specified complex information' Peter Godfey-Smith's is a very clear and powerful refutation of Dembski's argument. I also found illuminating the discussion about whether or not the results of comparing the genomes of different organisms tells for or against evolution.

    I found it extremely readable and fascinating and, to my surprise, read it in less than a fortnight. At £30 it is expensive so it is best to think of it as four 200 page books at £7-50p each to realise its value for money.

    Glenn
     
    Posted by Willyburger (# 658) on :
     
    It's Alive!! [Eek!]

    I really want this book. I can only find it at amazon.co.uk so far. Not available in the US yet, it seems.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    It should be Willyburger, it is a USA publication - Massachusets (Oh I can't pronounce let alone spell many US place names how did Connecticut get that middle C how do you say Arkansas!) Institute of Technology Press.
     
    Posted by ChastMastr (# 716) on :
     
    Just for Karl... [Smile]
     
    Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    Seen it. I roared.
     
    Posted by ChastMastr (# 716) on :
     
    Did you sound like the T. Rex in Jurassic Park? Just curious. [Wink]
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Answering the original question on this thread 'how would the failure of the theory of evolution' effect our theology, the answer to the question can be found in the opening essay and preface to two of the arguably most influential liberal theological works of the last century or so.

    From 'Faith' in Lux Mundi
    quote:
    When for instance, men see their habitual reliance on the evidence for design in nature, which had been inherited from Paley, yield and vanish under the review of the facts with which the theory of evolution aquatints them. What they feel is, that their familiar mode of interpreting their faith, or justifying or picturing it, has been abruptly been torn from them.
    [as an aside, note the supremacy of feeling or experience, in liberal theology, rather the rationalism so often sited by liberals as the leg to the three legged stool of scripture-tradition-reason. There's a thread in this...liberal theology is concerned primarily with the supremacy of experience, not reason.]

    And John Hick in the preface to The Myth of God Incarnate.
    quote:
    Western Christianity made two major new adjustments in the response to important enlargements of human knowledge. It accepted that man is part of nature and has emerged within the evolution of forms of life on earth.
    We need not ask the question, it has already been answered. Much, if not all, liberal theology would be written off as an irrelevance, a vacuous fallacy, if the theory of evolution were superceded. There's evidently more at stake than belief in the origins of life.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Neil Robbie:
    Much, if not all, liberal theology would be written off as an irrelevance, a vacuous fallacy, if the theory of evolution were superceded. There's evidently more at stake than belief in the origins of life.

    Now, I'm not a real expert on liberal theology, being an evangelical an all, but I don't see evolution as foundational to liberal theology (any more than Creation is foundational to evangelical theology, much as some people would seem to think it is).

    Apologies for the following generalisation. Taking the "Reason, Tradition, Scripture" tripod, by and large liberals would emphasize Reason more than other theological positions. As such, they would be more open to learning from and incorporating the fruits of Philosophy, Science etc... So, yes, I'm sure evolutionary thought has influenced liberal theology. But if (and as we've covered in depth here that's a very big if) evolution is found to be an imperfect scientific description of the origins and development of life and is superceded by a better scientific theory (which, in my opinion, will not be either Creationism or Intelligent Design) then I'm sure liberal theology will adapt to the new understanding.

    Alan
     
    Posted by Neil Robbie (# 652) on :
     
    Alan

    You said that liberals would adapt their theology to suit any new theory of the development of life and that is exactly my point.

    In the quote from the essay 'Faith' by Rev H.S. Holland in Lux Mundi, he contrasted Palley's design with Darwin's evolution and decided that his faith as a Christian minister had to change because evolution had demonstrated, in his limited experience, that nothing is designed. I assume that any subsequent change in theory would lead to a change in theology. But God doesn't change because we change our theories, surely?

    Now, you mentioned 'reason' as the supreme authority for liberals but I used the term 'experience' deliberately, as liberal theologians are supremely concerned with experience and not reason. You'd need to read 'Lux Mundi' or 'Honest to God' to begin to see why liberals are experiential not rational. It has much to do with not being experts in any scientific field and so retreating to a defensive theological position defined by a subjective experience which could not be detected by empirical means. Safe ground, but lacking in potency for evangelism.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Copied from closed thread in Purgatory
    quote:
    Originally posted by IntellectByProxy:
    A few weeks ago in New Scientist (I can't post a link as it's in the pay-to-view archive now) someone wrote an article in which he stated that his research had forever banished the theory of Intelligent Design of life.

    The reasoning went like this:
    We have the comprehensive family trees of a particular organism - lets say the Nautilus, so we know what all it's ancestors - trilobytes - were and what the branches of the 'evolutionary' tree look like.

    If we find something we know has been a product of intelligent design, then do its family tree and then compare this to the family tree of the Nautilus, if the two match then Nautilus is a product of intelligent design.

    So the guy took his enormous collection of cornets (small trumpet for those not in the know), grouped them by age and design features, then ran them through his genetic algorythm software which then spit out the family tree of his cornet collection.

    Surprise surprise, it looked nothing like the tree of the Nautilus. This was because one manufacturer had a good idea, and then all the others appropriated it - this made the tree very flat with multiple branches from one node (rather than the 2 branches you'd expect in an evolutionary tree)

    So, ipso facto evolution is correct, Intelligent Design is wrong, God is proven none-existent.

    That seems to me to be a very fatuous piece of scientific research and the author has made some big leaps and assumptions which seem to me to be un-scientific in the extreme.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Duo Seraphim:
    It's a fautous example and misleading - because the cornets have multiple intelligent designers,who were in competition with each other and learning from experience and each others' mistakes. In addition none of them were deities AFAIK. God has always insisted he created the Univers alone, without assistance.

    Frankly, you might as well go looking for the primal cause in the Register of Patents.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
    quote:
    Originally posted by IntellectByProxy:
    So, ipso facto evolution is correct, Intelligent Design is wrong, God is proven none-existent.

    The first two clauses are OK - if evolution is correct then Intelligent Design is wrong. It does not, of course, follow that if evolution is right or ID wrong that God is proven non-existent.

     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    The guy has a point, it may be reasonably expected that ID and evolution would result in differences in the family trees of organisms. In that sense he's pointed out a potential test to falsify ID. That he illustrates this with an inappropriate example, cornets, is a shame - but I'd think if he tried it on actual organisms he wouldn't be able to illustrate any difference. This would, of course, be because proponents of evolution and ID could quite easily look at the same organism as an example of both evolution and ID so the same family tree is consistent with both. What would be needed would be a sufficient understanding of both evolution and ID to draw up theoretical family trees and compare them to actual organisms - though I don't think either are in a position to do that at this time.

    As an aside, I've put some brief thoughts on Design Theory on my website. Those who've read all this thread (and if you haven't, why not?) will realise that I don't really think that highly of ID.
     
    Posted by IntellectByProxy (# 3185) on :
     
    Alan:
    I appreciate that the existence of God cannot be surmised from either of the first 2 clauses - the article didn't, in fact, make any opinions on the existence or otherwise of God. That bit was my own sarcastic irritation at the article.

    Whether we are intelligently designed or evolved is almost a side issue to the original post - I find it hard to believe that a scientist could claim to have proven any one theory defunct by looking at another case which is its fairly removed analogue.

    Are my own leanings towards the existence of God (and therefore intelligent design/theistic evolution) forcing a bias of my opinion, or is this fellow lacking scientific rigour?
     
    Posted by Dr Phizz (# 4770) on :
     
    Must be quick and get on with what I'm paid for...

    quote:
    Originally posted by IntellectByProxy:
    Are my own leanings towards the existence of God (and therefore intelligent design/theistic evolution) forcing a bias of my opinion, or is this fellow lacking scientific rigour?

    ..or possibly both.

    There are two questions. Does God exist? and How did life develop? Problems happen when people try and answer one by looking at the other.

    I suspect your anger comes from your suspicion that the Scientist in question isn't really interested in evolution but is trying to disprove God. You've sort of admitted that you're not interested in how life developed but would like to prove God exists. Neither approach is going to get either question answered to anyone's satifaction.

    I trust people who are genuinly interested in questions of life's development to come up with explanations. Similarly I'm spending far too much time on this board because I think you people are genuinely interested in God.

    Incidently with my purely scientific hat on I don't even believe in myself. [Yipee]
     
    Posted by Isis (# 4930) on :
     
    In English class we read the play Inherit the Wind which is based upon the Monkey Trial. I read the part of the Darrow-like guy and it was the greatest thing ever!
     
    Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
     
    moved from Purgatory by host

    quote:
    Originally posted by The Wanderer:
    The Spectator has just published this article. In brief, it says more and more people are seeing holes in Darwin's thought, and there is growing scientific backing for Intelligent Design. This is summarised as:
    quote:
    Unlike the swivel-eyed creationists, ID supporters are very keen on scientific evidence. They accept that the earth was not created in six days, and is billions of years old. They also concede Darwin’s theory of microevolution: that species may, over time, adapt to suit their environments. What Intelligent Design advocates deny is macroevolution: the idea that all life emerged from some common ancestor slowly wriggling around in primordial soup. If you study the biological world with an open mind, they say, you will see more evidence that each separate species was created by an Intelligent Designer. The most prominent members of the ID movement are Michael Behe the biochemist, and Phillip E. Johnson, professor of law at the University of California. They share a belief that it is impossible for small, incremental changes to have created the amazing diversity of life. There is no way that every organism could have been created by blind chance, they say. The ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe indicates a creator.
    I know that Creation vs Evolution has been kicked around these boards until is a very dead horse indeed. However, I'm not a scientist and would be interested to hear from Shipmates who are if a)there really is a big swing away from Darwin and b) if there is anything in ID?

     
    Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    I know that Creation vs Evolution has been kicked around these boards until is a very dead horse indeed. However, I'm not a scientist and would be interested to hear from Shipmates who are if a)there really is a big swing away from Darwin and b) if there is anything in ID?
    No, and no.
     
    Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    [Full Version]

    The fact that the same names - Behe, Dembski, Ross, Johnson come up time and time again shows there is no swing against Darwin. There're a few religiously motivated individuals, but no groundswell, no swing.

    ID itself is no more than a revised God of the Gaps fallacy. Take Behe's book Darwin's Black Box. Essentially, his thesis is:

    (a) some structures (example: bacterial flagellum) are "irreducibly complex" - take a bit away, and they don't work;
    (b) darwinism can't explain how an irreducibly complex structure can arise;
    (c) therefore God mustadunnit.

    Quite apart from the logical fallacy of placing God in a gap in current knowledge that may be filled tomorrow, there is the problem that Behe's examples are only irreducibly complex in the context of their current function. Kenneth Miller has done a lot of work on Behe's examples and is the person to read - once again, I heartily recommend his book Finding Darwin's God. He goes into some depth on the blood clotting cascade, on which not only has a possible evolutionary pathway been proposed, but also molecular evidence gathered to support the theory. You can follow it here http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/DI/Clotting.html

    I would suggest ID is ultimately damaging to faith. When the gaps in which God is placed are closed, God becomes homeless. It is also scientifically flawed. "Ah, Goddidit" is not a scientific hypothesis. The scientist must ask "OK, then how did God do it?"
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Nice succinct answer there Karl.

    Also, I liked the last paragraph of that article
    quote:
    St Basil, the 4th century Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, said much the same thing ... If an Archbishop living 1,400 years before Darwin can reconcile God with evolution, then perhaps Dawkins and the ID lobby should be persuaded to do so as well.
    Which of course also introduces the fact that extreme evolutionists like Dawkins, IDers and YECs fall into basically the same trap of expecting science to be more than science is. Science provides materialistic descriptions of the material universe ... to push it into metaphysics is a misunderstanding of both science and metaphysics.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    of course, the "succinct answer" bit referred to the first of Karls comments ... the second was written while I was typing.
     
    Posted by Karl - Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    It is a good article. I was glad to see that the "no transitionals" PRATT was addressed - the most cursory glance at Archaeopteryx tells you it is the perfect reptile/bird transitional, and attempts by creationists of any stripe to discredit it as such are invariably highly amusing.

    What's less well known is the amazing series of transitionals that links reptiles to the first mammals. The apparently difficult feat of replacing the reptile jaw joint with a mammalian one and migrating the reptilian jaw bones into the middle ear is shown in graphic detail through the therapsid series. (go here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html and do a search for "therapsid" on the page)
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    And, one of the objections mentioned in the article is quite valid
    quote:
    The playwright blamed the doctrine of survival of the fittest for ‘capitalist misery and the oppression of the people’.
    Which is a confusion between Darwinism as an theory of the origin of species by natural selection acting on genetic diversity with some of the more whacky extensions of the theory to aspects of sociology and politics. It's no more valid to criticise Darwinism for this than say criticise Special Relativity because you disagree with notions of relative morality.
     
    Posted by The Wanderer (# 182) on :
     
    Thank you for these responses. This is an area I have little specialist knowledge in, and I have to admit the thought of reading everything on this thread daunts me for that very reason. However I was surprised to see an article like this in the Spectator, and was hoping for some insight from those better informed than I. Many thanks for providing it.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    What Karl said the first time.

    The second one is a bit dodgier - Behe's "intelligent design" really is the "God of the Gaps" brought in to explain stuff we have no good theory on. But it is not irreconcileable with the observed universe the way YEC is.

    To follow Dawkins analogy of a historian annoyed by people who claimed that the Roman Empire never existed & all the apparent evidence is faked.

    YECism is like saying that ALL of known history is faked. That the whole world came into existence about 100 years ago and the stuff your grandparents told you that their grandparents told them was all lies. If you believed that then history would be a pointless excercise.

    Behe-style ID is like saying that the Roman Empire did exist, but the usual account of its origins were wrong - instead of being founded by Augustus in a coup against the Roman Republic, it was all down to a secret society of Illuminati, who left no records which can can understand.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Copied from a closed thread in Purgatory
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    I went to university and seriously struggled when studying geology.

    I could not reconcile Genesis 1 to what I was being taught.

    I still do have problems reconciling it - in that I do believe the bible is inerrant and therefore the Genesis 1 description is true whatever that may be.

    I think it is a cop out by some that a day is like a thousand years and that they were not physical days - but have to say that the evolution debate will not be resolved till this world ends.

    I do believe things changed before and after the fall - I do not think thorns (bain of my garden ) came into the world after the fall - Gen 3v18

    I know about plate techtonics and how the North and South poles changed their polarity over millions of years and that is why tests from America to Europe it shows this feature because this plate is expanding because the rocks have different polarities and that this is one way that they look at time. I also did not feel comfortable learning about the periods of time of the Jurassic etc

    One concern I have about science is that in some circles it has become a religion in itself.Our understanding is more important and we exalt ourselves out of a faith.

    I am encouraged that people can have a living vibrant faith whatever they believe regarding creation

    But you can see my dilema between what I have learned and what I believe

    The only thing I can say is that I look at the world today and cannot accept that all this was down to a chance explosion -

    at school the science teacher stood back when teaching creation v evolution and let the class discuss it - the only thing I had was to keep on going back and asking people who believed in the bang - what happened before - and kept on asking that question to each theory they cmae to explain that one away -

    I presume that noone is advocating that God was not involved in making this world or do we take out the first three verses of John 1 as well.

    I did have to subscribe to a flood to tie a lot of it together - including why plates are moving - there have obviously been changes on this earth even after the fall given that Methuselah lived till he was almost 1000 in yet I have to be happy with my threscore years and ten.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Divine Outlaw-Dwarf:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    the only thing I had was to keep on going back and asking people who believed in the bang - what happened before - and kept on asking that question to each theory they cmae to explain that one away

    Firstly, if you understood the 'big bang' theory you'd understand that this is a senseless question.

    Secondly, even if it weren't a senseless question, God doesn't provide an answer to it. God is not the beginning of a chain of events. God is not 'before' in a literal sense. God is outside of, and the creator of, time. There is a difference between the doctrine of Creation - which asserts that God is the reason why there is something rather than nothing at all - and temporal cosmological explanation. Hence, holding that the universe has no beginning, as in steady state theory, is compatible with belief in Creation.
    (St. Thomas Aquinas asserted something similar - holding that believing the world had always been there didn't do violence to faith in God or his Creation, but rejecting the idea because scripture claims the world has a beginning.)


     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    I went to university and seriously struggled when studying geology.

    I could not reconcile Genesis 1 to what I was being taught.

    I take it that you mean you couldn't reconcile a particular interpretation of Genesis 1 with what you were being taught at University. I studied physics, with a dash of geophysics, at university and I'm now working in a lab where other people do a lot of dating working. I have no problem because I don't believe Genesis 1 is a literal historic account of what happened; it is a symbolic statement of the theological truth that God created and some elements of the nature of the world we live in (eg: it is ordered and coherent because it's the work of a single God who brings order out of chaos).

    quote:
    I still do have problems reconciling it - in that I do believe the bible is inerrant and therefore the Genesis 1 description is true whatever that may be.
    I'm not a Biblical Inerrantist, but if you read the Biblical Inerrancy thread here in Dead Horses you'll find that there are Inerrantists who would agree with my reading of Genesis 1 (more or less) - Inerrancy doesn't compel you to accept Genesis 1 as a particular literary style, yuo can beleive it to be an inerrant non-historical account.

    quote:
    I think it is a cop out by some that a day is like a thousand years and that they were not physical days - but have to say that the evolution debate will not be resolved till this world ends.
    I'd agree that saying the "days" are infact longer periods of time is a cop out. For a start, it still disagrees with what science tells us about the world. It introduces long periods of time, but things are still in the wrong (and indeed, illogical) order.

    I'm more optimistic than you about a resolution to the "problem". I believe that the picture portrayed by science, of a geology and biosphere that has changed gradually over long periods of time in accordance with phenomena as currently observed, is how God actually created the world we live in. The opening chapters of Genesis tell us those important details about Gods involvement and purpose that science is unable to tell us, but says nothing about the mechanism or time scale of creation.

    quote:
    One concern I have about science is that in some circles it has become a religion in itself.
    Which is an entirely different discussion, and a point I expect I'd probably agree with you on. But it's a mistake to read the likes of Dawkins and think he speaks for all scientists on the philosophical matters (on the other hand, his descriptions of the science of genetics and evolution are excellent).


    quote:
    I presume that noone is advocating that God was not involved in making this world or do we take out the first three verses of John 1 as well.
    Well, I'm not. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" is good for me.
     
    Posted by BrightSparrow (# 5319) on :
     
    Aha- so this is where that thread I started ended up!

    Well, I want to thank all those who did respond to my opening post back in Purgatory. I found many of the responses encouraging. On almost every American board I've gone to, where I've argued for a figurative reading of Genesis One, I have had my faith questioned. It's always implied that if one trusts God sufficiently, there will be no need to ask questions...even when a literal reading and one's knowledge of science leads to contradictions.

    I have found that I can't 'will' myself to believe something that I know isn't true. (I feel that is what I am being told I have to do to be a good Christian, by these people.) [Frown]

    So I'm still seeking an acceptable harmonization of Genesis with modern cosmology- I hope that such a thing is possible. [Smile]
     
    Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by BrightSparrow:
    It's always implied that if one trusts God sufficiently, there will be no need to ask questions

    I've always thought the opposite is true - truly trusting in God is being able to ask questions and still believe in Him.
     
    Posted by XtattiK (# 6060) on :
     
    I'm only jsut wading into this debate, so i'm sorry if i'm repeating someone else's thoughts, but if you're trying to reconcile genesis to science you're in for some trouble.

    If you study the original Hebrew language, you'll find it's not a "scientific" language, unlike the Greek which is far mroe scientific in structure and form, and the genesis account (at least the first dozen chapters or so) is even more poetical in its form than the rest of the Old T (with the exception perhaps of psalms / SoS)

    The Hebrew genesis was written as a "why" rather than a "how". there are numerous patterns and imagery within it. It even contains a not so subtle dig at the the Babylonian account of creation (if you've studied a little of that as well). The ultimate purpose of the creation story was to say, regardless of how it was done, that God was behind it, and to set out the pattern by which we were intended to live out our lives.
     
    Posted by Androet (# 4133) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
    quote:
    Originally posted by BrightSparrow:
    It's always implied that if one trusts God sufficiently, there will be no need to ask questions

    I've always thought the opposite is true - truly trusting in God is being able to ask questions and still believe in Him.
    I agree. Does this help at all:

    "The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions...are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we shall be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God." (Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow)

    Best regards,
    Androet
     
    Posted by Dobbo (# 5850) on :
     
    Alan you mentioned you were involved in dating work

    I am interested has there been much progression from carbon dating ?

    What do you think of the gap theory ie there was a space of time between the world being created and man coming onto this earth?

    It is interesting the freedom people have to interpret scripture - from taking things literally to taking things figuratively / spiritually.

    I still have a 7 day hang up - but it has to be a matter by faith and not based on science - I do like Martyn Josephs line in saying that sometimes we should treasure the questions - it is not wrong that I have doubts and holes in my understanding - but I know that we look through a glass darkly now ...
     
    Posted by Zeke (# 3271) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Androet:

    "The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat Him in argument, when they stand on their feet and use their minds. So questions...are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we shall be something more than clever apes, and we shall dance with God." (Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow)

    Thanks for posting this, I love it! How can God be other than pleased when we use to their utmost limits the questioning minds he gave us?
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    Alan you mentioned you were involved in dating work

    I am interested has there been much progression from carbon dating ?

    Personally I'm not directly involved in dating work. The other half of the research group I'm in does do some luminescence dating, and I do help out with some radiation measurements for that work. Within the rest of the lab there is some C14 work (both dating and environmental studies, and an AMS facility for that work has recently been built) and a whole load of radioactive and stable isotope geochemistry, and does some dating work.

    I'm not sure what you mean about progression from radiocarbon. For most of the dating of geological relevance C14 is inappropriate anyway, as C14 dating only works for samples of less than about 30-40 thousand years old. The use of AMS has enabled accurate dates to be determined from much smaller samples, and we recently had a talk on progress into various reservoir effects (where the source of carbon in an organism has a different isotopic ratio from the atmosphere - for example in marine environments).

    Of course, there have been more suitable dating techniques for geological systems for many years. These include K-Ar, Rb-Sr and U-Pb dating, which allow accurate dates for samples going all the way back to the formation of the earth some 4.6 billion years ago.

    [ 17. May 2004, 07:39: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     
    Posted by Dobbo (# 5850) on :
     
    I knew carbon dating was not very accurate - the other thing about dating the way I see it is that the concept is to extrapolate - and base it on an imagined amount in the first place. Some of it being based logarithmically which could mean millions of years out in some cases - but that is to say that I do not know much about dating - but was interested to see what techniques are used to date items more accurately than carbon dating
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    ...I do not know much about dating - but was interested to see what techniques are used to date items more accurately than carbon dating

    Let me refer all of you to the excellent talk.origins website, where years and years of discussion are archived. There are many excellent links there, including

    Another site I found through a web search is RadioMetric Dating: a Christian Perspective which reviews the 40 or so methods used.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    I knew carbon dating was not very accurate

    I never said, nor intended to imply, that carbon dating is in any way inaccurate. For suitable samples (less than about 50000 years old) carbon dating is accurate, though at some points on the calibration curve uncertainities of maybe as much as a few percent occur. There are additional uncertainties associated with corrections to the calibration curve for marine samples to account for the regional variations in 14C concentrations in water and in some locations these variations are poorly defined.

    quote:
    the other thing about dating the way I see it is that the concept is to extrapolate - and base it on an imagined amount in the first place.
    In most cases the initial concentrations are well known. The 14C calibration is based on comparisons between 14C dates and dendrochronology (tree ring counting) which effectively measures the atmospheric 14C concentration over time. If you look at K-Ar dating then the samples dated are usually volcanic (or otherwise heated to high temperature), with the hot rocks allowing Ar to escape setting the Ar concentration to zero which then increases as K decays.

    quote:
    Some of it being based logarithmically which could mean millions of years out in some cases
    Radioactive decay follows an exponential curve. That doesn't make it unaccurate, at least not for samples younger than about 10 half lives of the decay being used. For 14C that is 5730 years, giving the maximum usable age of about 50000 years.

    quote:
    but that is to say that I do not know much about dating
    Indeed, I suggest if you want to discuss the question you find out some more. There are plenty of good websites out there that will explain the techniques - try for university sites, rather than just Creationist sites.

    [ETA: I see you don't even need to Google for them]

    quote:
    but was interested to see what techniques are used to date items more accurately than carbon dating
    Not more accurately. Covering different timescales or rocks, and hence better suited in some situations.

    [ 18. May 2004, 21:50: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Dobbo:
    I knew carbon dating was not very accurate

    Well its quite accurate. Usually within a couple of hundrd years out of a few thousand - it can sometimes be calibrated by tree-rings, lake varves & so on, so we have good data.

    But it has no relevance at all to evolution because it only works for recent objects, the last ten thousand years or so.

    quote:

    the other thing about dating the way I see it is that the concept is to extrapolate - and base it on an imagined amount in the first place.

    I'm sorry but I have no idea what you mean by this.

    quote:

    Some of it being based logarithmically which could mean millions of years out in some cases

    yes it could. But a few million years out of hundreds of millions is quite accurate really

    quote:

    was interested to see what techniques are used to date items more accurately than carbon dating

    Carbon dating is only relevant for newish stuff, and only relevant for things that were once alive (like wood or bone). It can sometimes be calibrated by tree rings or varves which are probably exact - so we really do have good dates from it.
     
    Posted by ScaredOfGrasshoppers (# 6485) on :
     
    I may (and probably am) way out of my depth on this issue, but I have spent a fair bit of time reading from both sides of the debate, and despite being a Pentecostal, have managed to keep a fairly open mind ;-)

    My question to anyone that cares to answer has to do with something someone on this board called macro-evolution. The example I'll use has to do with your average mammal's vision.

    If we start somewhere around the mammal's point in evolution where sight did not exist, then assume that one part of the visual system, for example the retina, appeared first. So here we have a spot, somewhere at the front of this creature, that does nothing. At this point, the creature can't see, because the retina, unless backed up by the 5 other sub systems involved in the visual system, does not provide the creature with sight.

    My question is, why, as a natural part of the evolutionary process, would this spot persist while all the other components of sight came together, if it had no apparent benefit for the creature in question?
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    Well, mammals started off with decent eyes anyway. But, to address the general query, eyes developed from photosensitive skin. This has an evolutionary advantage over no photosensitive skin in that if something passes between you and the source of light you know about it - that could be a predator (so you can take avoiding action) or prey (which could be lunch). Then, if that patch of skin were inside a slight dimple in the skin there's potential information on which direction the shadow is coming from ... and before too long you get a rudimentary eye.
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    There are a number of animals that do just have a patch of photosensitive cells. It seems to give them an advantage.

    The Irriducible Complexity argument, which is what we have here, makes a number of mistakes. One of them is assuming that unless it worked the way it does now - i.e. a camera eye producing a sharp image on a retina - it would confer no advantage.

    The eye is, of the structures in the natural world, perhaps one with the best extant set of transitional forms.
     
    Posted by ScaredOfGrasshoppers (# 6485) on :
     
    Thanks guys, I appreciate your responses, but my lack of understanding begs me to ask another question.

    How does a patch of photosensitive skin transmit data to the brain, unless there's a connection? And if there's a connection, did that develop at the same time as the skin? Don't we come back to the irreducibly complex argument?

    And Karl said this:

    quote:
    One of them is assuming that unless it worked the way it does now - i.e. a camera eye producing a sharp image on a retina - it would confer no advantage.

    I understand that, and see the flaw in the argument, but looking at the way the eye does work now, in that all the sub systems must be functioning in order for sight to be possible, how did it get to where it is? Please don't think I'm trying to argue with you here, just trying to get my head around it.
     
    Posted by Dei (# 6980) on :
     
    Greetings, and first off I have to say that it is impossible to construct a theory based on the scientific method that could even remotely explain design or a designer.

    How could you falsify that?

    So far there is no theory at all to dispute evolution and common descent.

    If so please name one that follows the scientific method?

    As time progresses more and more evidence exists to enforce evolution as a fact. You would have to intentionally close your eyes to avoid the landslide of evidence that exists and supports the theory of evolution.

    Secondly you need to drop the term Darwinism, there is no 'ism' to it. It's not mythology, it's science, Darwin didn't make this up, he discovered it.

    If you'd like some real evidence of evolution seeing how most who don't believe in it know absolutely nothing about it.


    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
     
    Posted by Dei (# 6980) on :
     
    When the mammals first evolved they had eyes!

    Macro-evolution is not the term, it's called Common Descent.

    Structures are passed on to the next generation and built upon therein. Evolutionary theory predicts that all structures will follow this pattern.
     
    Posted by Dei (# 6980) on :
     
    'If you have, you will know that Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a means for explaining the origin of life and the origin of new species is coming under increasingly objective scientific criticism.'

    But it still stands as the undisputed answer to the observed phenomena.

    There is no other currernt theory, no falsifications have been presented to believe otherwise.

    I must add that the theory of evolution DOES NOT, explain the origin of life, it simply details how life works to adapt to it's ever-changing environment. That's a common theme and typical of people who do not understand evolution.

    Nothing in biology makes any sense without evolution, you'd have to discount every biological science there is if evolution were wrong. Currently there is nothing that makes evolution wrong.

    Just a bunch of statements like 'they have evidence it's wrong!' yet no one ever presents any.

    'they' is a common cop-out, you can make statements all day long that include 'they' which details no science or proof in your statement.

    Just like evidence that supports god, there is none and no current theories to explain it.

    Please back up what you say with some form of scientific proof.
     
    Posted by TonyK (# 35) on :
     
    Dei - welcome to the Ship and thank you for your posts.

    If you were trying to answer previous posts, it helps to indicate who you are answering. The easy way to do this is to use the double-quote icon above the original post, then deleting any text you don't want. Don't delete anything inside square brackets, however, or the brackets themselves, as these are UBB instructions. If you want to try this out in a safe environment (i.e. where you will not attact unwanted criticisms [Biased] ) try the 'Practise UBB' thread in the Styx Board
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ScaredOfGrasshoppers:
    How does a patch of photosensitive skin transmit data to the brain, unless there's a connection?

    Well, there are plenty of "data transmission channels" between the skin and the brain that don't relate to sight - just put your hand on a warm surface and you'll experience the effect of some of them.

    quote:
    And if there's a connection, did that develop at the same time as the skin? Don't we come back to the irreducibly complex argument?
    Skin is only present in larger organisms of course, bacteria being single cells don't have a layer of skin cells. It developed over time to allow larger oganisms to both protect their inner organs from the outer environment and to interact with that environment. I'm pretty sure the second of those would have required some form of communication of signals from the skin to whatever nervous system the organisms have. So, yes, skin and the communications system developed together. Nothing irreducibly complex there.

    quote:
    but looking at the way the eye does work now, in that all the sub systems must be functioning in order for sight to be possible, how did it get to where it is? Please don't think I'm trying to argue with you here, just trying to get my head around it.
    It got to where it is by the process of several small steps, each of which was an improvement on the earlier version and so gave a survival advantage. The same as any other feature developed. Another thing is, we have living examples of all the basic steps along that line of development (in some organisms and environments the cost of developing more complex eyes outweighs the benefits gained and so the intermediate forms are the best suited and are retained).
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ScaredOfGrasshoppers: Thanks guys, I appreciate your responses, but my lack of understanding begs me to ask another question.

    How does a patch of photosensitive skin transmit data to the brain, unless there's a connection?

    The most primitive creatures with such a patch do not even have brains. Once you do have a central nervous system, there's no real difference between a nerve ending that fires when it experiences touch and one that fires when the cells it's attached to respond to light. And remember, all we need here is "Ooo! Light source this way!"

    quote:
    And if there's a connection, did that develop at the same time as the skin? Don't we come back to the irreducibly complex argument?
    It developed at the same time as the CNS, if it occured the way I describe above. I'm not an expert, but I'm sure I could look it up if you're interested.

    quote:
    And Karl said this:

    quote:
    One of them is assuming that unless it worked the way it does now - i.e. a camera eye producing a sharp image on a retina - it would confer no advantage.

    I understand that, and see the flaw in the argument, but looking at the way the eye does work now, in that all the sub systems must be functioning in order for sight to be possible, how did it get to where it is? Please don't think I'm trying to argue with you here, just trying to get my head around it.
    To answer this, we need to ask which stages you are questioning.

    Eyes in nature include pits containing light sensitive cells (more directional than just a patch), pits with very small apertures (pinhole cameras that start to focus actual images) and eyes where the aperture is larger but has a rudimentary lens (better than a pinhole in low light). Once you get muscles round the aperture to squash and flatten the lens, the rest is garnish. [Biased]
     
    Posted by alienfromzog (# 5327) on :
     
    Some (relatively uncontroversial statements):
    1. Dawin was a very thoughtful man
    2. Dawinism died in the the last century and was replaced by Neo-darwinism.
    3. Neo-darwinism explains the origin and diversity of the species in the following way:

    Random mutation is always occuring. If a mutation offers a selective advantage (ie. it makes an animal more likely to survive and/or reproduce) it is selected for. This is natural selection which is entirely 'anti-random' as Dawkins puts it.

    So far so good.

    The problem is (and I speak as one with a degree in molecular biology) is that it doesn't work. Before I go any further let me say two things: 1. I've read Behe's book - it is very good and explains the problems with Neo-dawinism very well; 2. I am very nervous of any scientific argument and resutls in the philosophical 'God-of-the-gaps.' The God of the bible is intricately involved in his creation and not simply there to explain what science cannot.

    Having said that, Neo-darwinism (evolution as it is currently understood) does not explain the origin or species.

    How can I make such an outrageous claim? Well Darwin himself knew that his theory (and the subsequent more sophisticated theories) depend on a stepwise mechanism and that anything in nature that could not be arrived at in a stepwise manner would be the downfall of his theory.

    There are so so so many biological mechanisms that cannot develop in a stepwise manner.

    The eye seems to be a popular battle ground for this debate. One says I don't see how an eye can evolve - look at it; it has a lens, a retina a nerve and muscles etc. And the reply quite acurately points out that even some light-sensitive cells would confer a selective advantage and the rest is simply improvements.

    This argument is flawed because (as Behe) makes very clear there is nothing simple about a light-sensitive cell and it requires many many proteins to work. And so for a cell to become light-senstive is the problem.

    Let me explain further- (I'm sorry to everyone who already knows this, and this is a simplified version).

    Proteins are the stuff of life - Genes code for proteins. Each protein is made up of building blocks called amino-acids. The gene simply determines which building blocks go together is which order to make a particular protein. Proteins are incredibly variable. There are 20 different amino acids and haemoglobin, for example has over 100 of them (in each subunit) and that's a small protein.

    Neodarwinism works like this - A mutation occurs in the DNA. This then makes a novel protein, this protein gives some advantage to the organism and then is selected for. Thus the species evolves. Different conditions make different things beneficial hence fish have gills and birds have wings.

    OK. Mutation occurs all the time. (Although all higher organisms have mechanisms to correct mutations). The vast majority of mutations do not make any difference. A small number are deadly. An even smaller number are beneficial. But to get a novel protein is difficult.

    The theory goes that if you allow enough time then a mutation that is useful will occur and thus be selected for.

    Here's a bit of degree level genetics: An experiment you can do with bacteria goes like this. If you put E. coli (bacteria) on an agar plate it will grow. If you put ampicillin in the agar (an antibiotic) the E.coli won't grow. If the E.coli has an ampicillin resistance gene added to it, this strain of E.coli will grow even on the ampicillin plate.

    Okay the experiment is this; A simple molecular technique is used to inactivate the ampicillin resistance gene. Then the E.coli is spread on the plate containing ampicillin. What we expect is no growth - we've switched off the gene needed to allow the bacteria not to be killed by ampicillin. What you get is some growth - but very very little. This is because at a rate of 1 in 10 to the power of 7 ie: 1 in 1000000 the bacteria spontaneously reverts - that is by random mutation it switches back on the gene for resistance, this clearly has a selective advantage and so only the mutants grow.

    So far so good. But coming back to the eye: light sensitive cells require multiple proteins to work; if they required two: the chances of getting both mutations is 1 in 10 to the power of 14. And that is an underestimate for two reasons - 1. the spontaneous revertant explained above is a simple mutation and not reflective of nature and 2. you need at least 9 proteins for a light-sensitive cell to work. So the chances of it happening are (much higher than) 1 in 10 to the 63. And you need each of the nine proteins before you have any advantage for the organism for natural selection to work on.

    And there are countless examples of cellular mechanism that depend on multiple protiens in order to work.

    I'm not yet sold on the design hypothesis, but as a scientist with an open mind I have to say that Neo-darwinsim does not work on the molecular level. Hence it cannot be true. The fact that I cannot offer a replacement theory does not mean I have to accept one I know to be wrong.


    Congratulations to anyone who got to the bottom of this. I promise this is a simple as I could make it. [Snore] [Confused] [brick wall]

    Feel free to PM me with any questions or debate me on the board.

    AFZ BSc(Hons)
     
    Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
     
    Have the new people read the other 8 pages of this thread before weighing in? It's customary to do so on this board, so as to avoid repetition and especially in order to avoid raising points which have already been answered.

    Behe, for example, has been discussed at length at the very start of this thread.

    Louise
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
    ...The most primitive creatures with such a patch do not even have brains. ...

    As I recall, some single-cell organisms have primitive "eyespots" - euglenids which as basically pond-scum.

    Does the euglenids eyespot require two proteins? That page implies that it's unexplored territory.

    I'd assume (at some chance of making an "ass" of "me") that the eyespot is a modified chloroplast. If the two proteins the previous poster referred to include chlorophyl (is that a protein?), which is useful in itself - then there's no problem.
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    I trust that Alienfromzog has read Ken Miller's writings on Behe's IC argument - i.e. that the irriducibly complex structures that Behe describes aren't.

    The biggest problem (IIRC) with Behe's resolution - that God pre-programmed all these structures into the primaeval DNA of the first cells is that through the millions of years they were not required, transcription errors, with no selection pressure because they are not expressed, would have rendered them useless.

    You know what's wrong with IC - your suspicion of God of the Gaps answers is correct. Even if neo-Darwinian theory needs further work (or even some complete overhauling in places - not that I think it does), the answer is not going to be Goddidit.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ScaredOfGrasshoppers:
    … How does a patch of photosensitive skin transmit data to the brain, unless there's a connection? And if there's a connection, did that develop at the same time as the skin? Don't we come back to the irreducibly complex argument?
    … looking at the way the eye does work now, in that all the sub systems must be functioning in order for sight to be possible, how did it get to where it is? Please don't think I'm trying to argue with you here, just trying to get my head around it.

    Just to add to what Alan and Karl have said (and repeat a bit too):

    When thinking of the evolution of complex structures three key points are these:

    (1) that it is structures and chemicals that are already present that are altered by gradual changes over time to arrive at the structures we have today; and

    (2) that some structures and chemicals that are already present are incorporated into other structures during the course of the evolution of a complex structure or organ;

    (3) as long as each intermediate stage is an advantageous improvement on the previous stage then it does not matter that the intermediate stages are not as good as the final stage.

    When you ask “How does a patch of photosensitive skin transmit data to the brain, unless there's a connection? And if there's a connection, did that develop at the same time as the skin? Don't we come back to the irreducibly complex argument?” you are assuming that the skin had no link with the nervous system when it became photosensitive. You need to ask what was there to begin with before the photosensitivity began. It is likely that the skin in question would have had some nerves in it already, doing other useful things (detecting certain chemicals say). Skin that acquired photosensitivity would thus be connected up already. That patch of skin would thus fire off nerve impulses in different circumstances to the surrounding skin. If the response of the organism to those firings was, as with the chemical detectors ‘move in that direction’ and this was advantageous then it would tend to be selected for. (This is from point (1) above.)

    When you say that “looking at the way the eye does work now, in that all the sub systems must be functioning in order for sight to be possible” you are not quite correct. Ask any partially sighted person, (e.g. a person with no lens in their eye) if they can see and they will say ‘yes’ or ‘yes, but …’. Karl also illustrates this when he lists the wide range of more or less sophisticated types of sight there are. (This is point (3) above – intermediate stages are functional despite not being as sophisticated as the final stage).

    A typical proposal for the stages of the gradual evolution of the mammalian eye goes something like this:

    An organism (well before mammals arose) with a nervous system with nerves in its skin:
    a) has a patch of skin that is photosensitive. This is an advantage if light is correlated with something beneficial or harmful for the organism
    b) that patch is larger. This may be advantageous because it makes the organism more sensitive to light than those of its kind that have a smaller patch.
    c) the patch becomes covered in a protective layer of translucent cells
    d) the patch becomes curved inwards. The nerve messages from concave patch of photosensitive cells will be different to a flat patch because if the light is coming from an angle then one side of the patch may be in shadow while the other is fully lit. The direction of the light source is thus more accurately known. If this is an advantage to the organism it will tend be selected for by natural selection.
    e) with an even more concave patch of cells the effect becomes like a blurry pinhole camera and still more information can be derived from the nerve messages.
    f) the transparent protective layers of cells that now fill the cavity changes its refractive index and thus improves the image on the retina;
    g) a portion of this layer near the hole is particularly critical for this and comes to form a lens;
    h) additional features such as an iris also evolve;
    i) the shape of the cavity also alters to best suit the focal length of the lens;
    k) concurrently with this, the brain of the organism is also evolving and those organisms in the population which develop neural pathways which can get more useful information out of the more accurate images will be selected for.
    l) and also concurrently with this, the variety of pigments in the photosensitive cells can also evolve.

    Key points about this are that:
    - each step is functional;
    - no step requires that a large numbers of adaptations to take place all together for any of them to be a benefit;
    - each step is advantageous compared to the previous one IF increased visual acuity is likely to increase the survival and reproduction of the individual of the species. (As Alan has pointed out, if you are an animal that doesn’t need visual acuity then it is not to your advatage to have great eyes).

    As an illustration of point (2) mentioned earlier, the lens of sophisticated eyes are filled with globular proteins called crystallins. Nowadays we can sequence proteins and, lo and behold, we find that these crystallins are proteins identical to or slightly modified versions of proteins elsewhere in the body that are used for different functions e.g. certain enzymes. So it is not necessary to evolve an entirely new protein from scratch but instead a protein already in use elsewhere gets conscripted in, as it were, for a different function in the eye.

    (For some discussion of these matters see Mark Ridley (ed) Evolution (an Oxford Reader – a collection of articles and extracts from many authors) in particular Dan-E. Nillson and Susanne Pelger ‘A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve’ - their estimate is 363992 generations i.e. much less than half a million years.)

    Another post for Alienfromzog to follow.
    Glenn
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by alienfromzog:
    There are so so so many biological mechanisms that cannot develop in a stepwise manner.

    ... there is nothing simple about a light-sensitive cell and it requires many many proteins to work. And so for a cell to become light-senstive is the problem.

    ... light sensitive cells require multiple proteins to work; ... you need at least 9 proteins for a light-sensitive cell to work. So the chances of it happening are (much higher than) 1 in 10 to the 63. And you need each of the nine proteins before you have any advantage for the organism for natural selection to work on.

    And there are countless examples of cellular mechanism that depend on multiple protiens in order to work.

    Neo-darwinsim does not work on the molecular level. Hence it cannot be true.

    The three principles that I outlined in my last post apply at the molecular level too.

    (1) that it is structures and chemicals that are already present that are altered by gradual changes over time to arrive at the structures we have today; and

    (2) that some structures and chemicals that are already present are incorporated into other structures during the course of the evolution of a complex structure or organ;

    (3) as long as each intermediate stage is an advantageous improvement on the previous stage then it does not matter that the intermediate stages are not as good as the final stage.

    Your argument assumes that you need at least 9 proteins to make a cell light sensitive, but that is a highly questionable assertion. What grounds do we have to insist upon it? It is not sufficient to point to that number being used now in light sensitive cells, we are interested in much earlier forms of life. Is it not possible that a gradual stepwise progression to this current number and arrangement occured with each stage being functional but less good than the next? I simply fail to see how that can be dismissed even after the kinds of arguments Behe offers. You will find references to Behe's arguments in the earlier parts of this thread. Karls reference to Miller is very much worth following up.

    Glenn (BA (Hons) Biology specialising in molecular genetics (not boasting, but just indicating a comparable background))
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Here are the comments of Matthew Brauer and Daniel Brumbaugh on Behe's discussion of the visual-pigment signaling cascade.

    quote:
    One would never know from his detailed discussion of the molecular steps in the pathway that they are, in fact, ubiquitous features of many different signalling processes in most cells. ... The proximate step of visual perception is part of the GTP-coupled receptor signaling pathway ... whereby a stimulus from outside the cell can quickly ... change the chemical state of the cell. The phot-receptor apparatus merely modifies one of these steps to acccomdate a photon as the source of the external signal. Other cells modify the same pathway as well. In ova, for example, the GTP-coupled pathway is triggered by the adhesion of a sperm cell. (from 'biology Remystified: The Scientific Claims of the New Creationists' Matthew Brauer and Daniel Brumbaugh (p316) in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics edited by Robert T. Pennock MIT Press (2001))
    In other words an evolutionary explanation of photosensitivity would involve adding a step to or altering a step of an existing signaling system rather than beginning the whole thing from scratch. Precursors to a new complex structure or pathway do not have to have been involved in the same function as the new structure or pathway. The construction of evolutionary explanations of such complex features can thus suggest that not just new single items are added to a system or altered but that existing systems are co-opted into the new set up as well.

    Clearly there must be some complex processes built up single step by single step, but there is no reason to suppose that the irreducible complexity argument applies to all molecular processes. Once some are thus evolved they can contribute to the evolution of qualitatively more complex pathways and structures.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Henry Troup:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
    ...The most primitive creatures with such a patch do not even have brains. ...

    As I recall, some single-cell organisms have primitive "eyespots" - euglenids which as basically pond-scum.

    Eyespots? There are single-celled creatures that have eyes with lenses - some of the dinoflagellates.

    quote:


    Does the euglenids eyespot require two proteins? That page implies that it's unexplored territory.


    I'd assume (at some chance of making an "ass" of "me") that the eyespot is a modified chloroplast. If the two proteins the previous poster referred to include chlorophyl (is that a protein?), which is useful in itself - then there's no problem.

    Chlorophylls (there are a number of sorts) are not proteins but rather complex multiple-ring compounds. But they exist in the chloroplast as part of very complex structures involving proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and other things.

    And they are bloody sophisticated and complex enough already. Metabolically much more complex than anything that goes on in a mere mammalian eye!
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    Why is it that those who want to claim Darwinism is impossible always concetrated an the easy examples that are simplest to defeat?

    They go on about bird flight, when we have great explanations for the evolution of bird's wings and feathers. Many of them. The yeccies never ask about the evolution of insect wings, a much more controversial subject.

    And eyes. They love talking about eyes. Which are of all the complex structures in the body just abotu the easiest to imagine the evolution of.

    And perhaps actually to evolve - complex eyes like ours seem to have evolved at least twice and arguable half-a-dozen times.

    But they keep off the really difficult questions in evolution. Such as:


    Can't Behe and his mates attack on the bits of biology that are still obscure?

    Then the effort to refute them might stimulate some genuine new thought instead of just getting people to drag out the same old arguments.
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ken:
    ... complex eyes like ours seem to have evolved at least twice and arguable half-a-dozen times....

    The octopus' eye doesn't have the "bug" that causes the blind spot in human perception, for example.

    And there's a vestigial bone sometimes found in the human thumb that's either the "lost" phalange or a descendant of a dewclaw-like structure. Little bits of leftover that show that H. sap is not the peak of creation are significant to me.
     
    Posted by alienfromzog (# 5327) on :
     
    Glenn,

    Firstly, thanks for your intelligent and interesting reply. I like the point you made about your degree - not boasting but stating back ground. I hope everyone realises that is my reason. Despite my evangelical background my doubts about Neo-darwinism are all born out of my degree in molecular biology and not theology.

    I also liked the link Karl, liberal back slider gave to the clotting cascade explanation. That was very interesting.

    I have found that many atheists are very dogmatic about evolutionary theory, because their entire world-view depends on a God-less explanation of life, whereas I would claim to be open-minded. I do not think that a literal interpretation of Genesis makes a great deal of sense theologically, let alone scientifically. Thus I am happy to take or leave evolutionary theory.

    One interesting thought though (well I think it's interesting): I stated earlier that I am very nervous of any explanation that tends to a 'God-of-the-gaps' view of science. For one thing it's not biblical. However the idea that science will be able to explain life and diversity of the species is dependent on the assumption that science works - that the universe is rational and predictable. This is only an assumption, nothing more. (Unless of course you believe in a God who made a rational universe).

    Anyway that's enough of that. The key issue is and always will be, can complex biological structures devolop in a stepwise manner? Two key factors are necessary for this. 1. That pre-existing proteins can gain new functions, thus not starting from scratch; 2. Gene duplication.

    My knowledge of proteins is not as strong as my knowledge of genes but the idea of adapting proteins I currently find unconvincing. {I look forward to Glenn's view on this). Secondly I think the prominence of gene duplication is unconvincing, there are not many examples of functioning duplications that I can think of; the globin family is the only one that comes to mind. Although I admit my knowledge is limited on this point.

    Hey, maybe I'm wrong, I'm not a zealot, but real science asks the questions, please try and persuade me. My main conclusion from reading Behe's book was that I agreed with him about the problems of Neo-darwinsim but did not want to jump to the ID conclusion.

    AFZ
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by alienfromzog:
    there are not many examples of functioning duplications that I can think of; the globin family is the only one that comes to mind.

    Hundreds discovered so far. Maybe thousands.

    There are the ribsomal RNA genes and tRNA genes, all through life.

    There are bacterial sigma factors involved in DNA transcription.

    There are the homeobox genes.


    This weekend I was reading some papers on the Mycobacterium genomes (bacteria that causes tuberculosis + some relatives) & there are, for example, a large number of duplicate or near-duplicate genes involved in fat metabolism, which can be used to trace relationships between and within the species. Also a whole family of genes called PE/PPE which are apparently new to that bacterium - and seem to derive closely from a known gene family, and have been duplicated many times in the TB organism.


    That's just off the top of my head - I've seen estimates that about 15,000 human genes - almost half - are visibly the product of evolutionary recent duplication (obviously many more than that might be further back)
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    AFZ posted:

    quote:
    1. That pre-existing proteins can gain new functions, thus not starting from scratch; 2. Gene duplication.
    2. has been ably covered by Ken.

    For 1, I'd like to suggest an example that is usually used to counter the "no beneficial mutations" accusation from the creationist side; however, it also demonstrates a completely new function of a pre-existing gene which occurs in a single mutation:

    http://www.nmsr.org/nylon.htm

    Enjoy [Biased]
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    A thread in Purgatory led me to speculate what experimental sciences would not have to contain special exceptions if the 6000 year old Young Earth model were proven true.

    Physics - nearly everything is thrown into chaos. Radioactive decay couldn't work as we think it does. That would cast significant doubt on the entire quantum model.

    Chemistry - the chemistry of oil and rocks would be in significant turmoil.

    Geology and Astronomy - totally overthrown.

    Optics - the behaviour of light couldn't be what we think it is.
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    Have to say that natural selection is not evolution. Natural selection is an exchange of information (via genes) that results in loss of information. Therefore there would be degeneration not upward progression. The main truth about the theory of evolution is that it is a theory and not fact. Darwin himself was worried about the lack of transitional fossils. He reasoned (correctly) that evolution should produce fossils in transition, half man, half monkey, half fish, half land animal. No such fossils have been found.

    The reason for this is because the bible tells us that God made the species "after their kind" so a dog is a dog, a monkey is a monkey. Evolutionists say we evolved - goo to you! God says He made us. Which is more fantastic, that a Creator God made everything or matter appeared somehow and we kind of made ourselves?

    That's really the choice, I think. Comes down to belief because evolution is nowhere near to being proved.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    <stuff>

    There is no meaningful response to this post that does not break the ships rules on not being rude to firt-time posters.

    Can I say politely that if you really believe what you have just written then you do not understand the issues well enough to have an opinion worth arguing with?
     
    Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ken:
    Can I say politely that if you really believe what you have just written then you do not understand the issues well enough to have an opinion worth arguing with?

    Not likely. [Biased]
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    No, I didn't think I could [Frown]

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure that in the unlikely event anyone is interested in my rude but honest opinion about such *******%^&^)*^)*)*( its somewhere else in this or another thread.
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    Perhaps you might like to refute my argument Ken? After all, if what I say is not worth arguing about you could at least tell me where I've went wrong so that I might then contribute to the discussion?
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    Have to say that natural selection is not evolution.

    Correct. Natural selection is the mechanism by which features advantageous for survival and reproduction in a given environment are persist at the expense of less advantageous features. It is not so much theoretical as blindingly obvious.

    quote:
    Natural selection is an exchange of information (via genes) that results in loss of information.
    Exchange of information in genes is called sexual reproduction. It is a very powerful mechanism for new genetic information to be shared among a population group over several generations (assuming that new information is beneficial, see "natural selection" above). This may result in the loss of genetic sequences from a population that prove to be non-beneficial.

    quote:
    Therefore there would be degeneration not upward progression.
    Only if there was some finite initial set of information. Introduce a mechanism for generation of novel features such as genetic mutation, a means of propogating that information (such as sexual reproduction) and a means of sorting good from bad new information (natural selection) and you can actually generate significant amounts of new information in a relatively short amount of time. So much infact, that mechanisms have evolved to slow the rate of mutation through gene repair mechanisms.

    quote:
    The main truth about the theory of evolution is that it is a theory and not fact.
    Yep. And gravity is just a theory too which doesn't mean you float off into space. Oh, and guess what, the world being created in six days some 6000 years ago is also a theory - it just happens to be a theory lacking anything like the amount of supporting evidence evolution has.

    quote:
    Darwin himself was worried about the lack of transitional fossils. He reasoned (correctly) that evolution should produce fossils in transition, half man, half monkey, half fish, half land animal. No such fossils have been found.
    Darwin worried because the number of fossils known to him was very small, so much that even if transitionals existed in it the lack of earlier and later forms would have made it impossible to identify them. The fossil record we currently have is stuffed full of transitional forms. For example, here is your fish-amphibian transitional, or a series of hominid skulls showing ape to human evolution (sorry the distance from human to monkey is so great the number of transitionals is enormous).

    quote:
    Which is more fantastic, that a Creator God made everything or matter appeared somehow and we kind of made ourselves?
    Well, personally I'm happier with a physical universe that is so well made that it follows a consistant, logical and fairly comprehensible set of regularities that we call natural laws. A universe that is capable of generating novelty and variety through time. A far more impressive a feat for the creator than a static dull universe that never changes significantly. Not to mention the problems of believing and trusting in a creator who, if your position is correct, goes out of his way to deceive us into believing that the universe is significantly different from what any reasonable person may deduce from what we observe.

    quote:
    Comes down to belief because evolution is nowhere near to being proved.
    Yep, belief.

    Irrefutable evidence that the universe is approximately 15 billion years old, with the earth 4.5 billion years old. Irrefutable evidence that life appeared early in the history of the earth, and gradually developed into more complex forms. Or dismiss this irrefutable evidence for some fairy tale based on an over simplistic reading of a few verses in a book. Yep ... I know where my belief is.
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    I think you'll find the "examples" are altered, they're what man imagines the missing link to be. Go into any museum and ask to see an original fossil of a "monkey man" and you won't get one. If your theory is correct why are no chimpanzees contributing to this forum?

    Evolutionist's arguments seem to be "Oh God is just a theory but trust me, science is fact." It's not empirical science at all.

    As for finite initial information, that's just what there is. Genes are a code. Proven! Fact! Genetic information contains instructions to produce so human genes produce humans, dogs produce dogs.

    I would like to see the irrefutable evidence that the universe is millions of years old. I can show you studies where living snails have been carbon dated at thousands of years old. Hardly reliable that. There are numerous fossils of upright trees in rock. Impossible over millions of years because the tree would have long since rotted but consistent with a sudden deluge as in Noah's flood.

    And what about the second law of thermodynamics? That's a natural law isn't it? If everything tends towards atrophy how can there be upward development?

    Irreducible complexity? What did we start off as, a big toe? The body is a unit, take away any one of many organs and it doesn't work. I'd like to see a diagram of a human evolving, I really would. I suspect many evolutionists would too.

    OK, try this. You know those bug zappers, blue light and a fly flies into it and zap, he's toast? Mr fly flies into it and his mate says "What happened to fred.... think I'll take a look at this blue light - aaaaah!"

    See, that's a danger but flies haven't adapted to it yet they're still here. They haven't the brain power to adapt, they haven't the genetic code. They're flies, that's all they'll ever be.


    God has deceived no one, rather man chooses to disbelieve what God has said. It's the same evidence for creationist and evolutionist alike, it's the interpretation that is different.

    Population Statistics...World population growth rate in recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 1089. The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies.

    I could go on...
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    I think you'll find the "examples" are altered, they're what man imagines the missing link to be. Go into any museum and ask to see an original fossil of a "monkey man" and you won't get one. If your theory is correct why are no chimpanzees contributing to this forum?

    What??? You're claiming that transitional fossils are all faked??? That is one heck of a claim to make!

    Many museums have early hominid fossils on display, though I agree you won't find a "monkey man" - plenty of "ape-men", but no monkeys. Which just goes to prove we're descended from apes not monkeys. If you're in London, or ever visit, try the Natural History Museum.

    There are no chimpanzees here because chimps, though close relatives to humans, are not human. Both species evolved from a common ancestor living several million years ago - an ape ancestor, not a monkey.

    quote:
    As for finite initial information, that's just what there is. Genes are a code. Proven! Fact! Genetic information contains instructions to produce so human genes produce humans, dogs produce dogs.
    Genes code for proteins, proteins form cells, cells form larger organisms. The genes in a human produce many of the same proteins as are found in dogs, and many more very slightly different ones. They also encode protein expression such that we are humans, and they are dogs. Comparisons of DNA show that the genetic code of all species is very similar. Either God got lazy and reused his code book all the time, or we evolved from common ancestors bringing with us those genes. But, at some point in the past (and at present in simpler organisms such as bacteria) genetic codes were much shorter and simpler. As creatures evolved the genetic code was added to and adapted. There are plenty of mechanisms known for genetic information to do this, mostly to do with replication of genes or even entire chromosomes coupled with sexual reproduction to share the new versions through a population.

    quote:
    I would like to see the irrefutable evidence that the universe is millions of years old.
    I bet you would, cos that would prove me wrong. 15 billion years old is the approximate age of the universe. It's derived from studies of galaxies and their relative motion (the universe is expanding from a single point), studies of the cosmic microwave background (afterglow of the Big Bang) and so on. The age of the earth at about 4.5 billion years old is derived from radioisotope dating of old rocks on earth, but mostly from meteorites as the earths surface is relatively young having been reworked by geological processes.

    quote:
    I can show you studies where living snails have been carbon dated at thousands of years old.
    And, if they were living in a marine environment or on limestone then that's what one would expect. It is a well known effect in radiocarbon dating, one that in most circumstances can be corrected for, albeit with a reduced precision on the actual age produced. But, that's irrelevant anyway as radiocarbon dating is unsuitable for materials older than about 50000 years and so isn't used to date anything but the most recent geological events. There are plenty of other radioisotope dating systems that prove beyond doubt the antiquity of the earth and the ages of different fossils found in the earth - starting with very simple bacteria some 3.5 billion years ago and progressing to multi-cellular organisms and then animal life in just the broad picture that evolution predicts. Either that or God has been highly deceptive.

    quote:
    And what about the second law of thermodynamics? That's a natural law isn't it? If everything tends towards atrophy how can there be upward development?
    The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to closed systems. The universe as a whole is closed, but the earth isn't (we receive energy from the Sun). Local increases in order are perfectly acceptable - indeed any sort of useful work relies on the Second Law. I've I thread in Limbo on this subject, here, that you might be interested in.

    quote:
    God has deceived no one, rather man chooses to disbelieve what God has said. It's the same evidence for creationist and evolutionist alike, it's the interpretation that is different.
    Yes, the evidence is. 1) Very old universe (15 billion years) 2) almost as old earth (4.5 billion years) 3) genetic similarities between all living organisms 4) fossil organisms irrefutably dated to ages in the distant past of (mostly) creatures no longer alive 5) physical similarities between fossils and living organisms strongly suggestive (nice understatement eh?) of common ancestry 6) many fossils of forms that are strongly suggestive of being transitional between other forms, dated to being older than the recent ones and newer than the older ... I could go on.

    That's the evidence. The interpretive choices are 1) God created everything recently with all this evidence of antiquity and evolution, 2) God created everything over a long period of time utilising the very regularity he built into the system or 3) God doesn't exist and everything is just chance. I'd go for 2 everytime, but can recognise the case for 3. Sorry, but 1 is a God I cannot possibly believe in.
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    Ken - I don't mind telling a newbie when he's being a prat.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    Have to say that natural selection is not evolution. Natural selection is an exchange of information (via genes) that results in loss of information. Therefore there would be degeneration not upward progression.

    Wrong. New "information" as you put it has been documented. Look above, a couple of posts ago I referred to nylon digesting bacteria.

    quote:
    The main truth about the theory of evolution is that it is a theory and not fact.
    So is heliocentricity and the sphericity of the earth. You don't know what "theory" means in science, do you? Most creationists don't, so don't feel too bad. It doesn't mean "guess".

    quote:
    Darwin himself was worried about the lack of transitional fossils.
    Since when many have been found. His theory was vindicated.

    quote:
    He reasoned (correctly) that evolution should produce fossils in transition, half man, half monkey
    Nope. Humans didn't evolve directly from monkeys. Like a lot of creationists, you don't know the difference between a monkey and an ape, either, do you?

    quote:
    half fish, half land animal. No such fossils have been found.
    Except for these of course:

    Ape/human transition:

    http://www.umsl.edu/~edujpolm/edtec452/adventures/IMAGES/Lucy.jpg

    Fish/land animal transition:

    (Ack bugger it - problem with DNS. I'll get you the picture later. Of course, if you can be bothered, you could just Google "Acanthostega")

    Any more you'd like? The real question is whether the person who told you the nonsense you're posting here was a liar or merely also misled.

    quote:
    The reason for this is because the bible tells us that God made the species "after their kind" so a dog is a dog, a monkey is a monkey. Evolutionists say we evolved - goo to you!
    No, Duane Gish said that.

    quote:
    God says He made us. Which is more fantastic, that a Creator God made everything or matter appeared somehow and we kind of made ourselves?
    How about God created a universe with the capability of an evolutionary process that would create us?

    quote:
    That's really the choice, I think. Comes down to belief because evolution is nowhere near to being proved.
    It's as near as any scientific model. How proven is the germ theory of disease? Quantum mechanics?

    [Edited to fix UBB code]

    [ 04. June 2004, 13:31: Message edited by: TonyK ]
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    Incidently - are you planning to stay Thomas? I need to know whether to start filling out my Cretigo card.
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    well you're all very choosy on what you reply about. I thought you may at least have pointed me in the direction of a soup to man diagram or perhaps how an organism with primitive structures/small brain can adapt (the fly).

    You haven't convinced me of evolution I have to say and calling me a pratt isn't exactly reasoned logic. My point of view is as valid as yours whether I'm right or wrong.

    If you don't want me to post that's OK but I thought this was a discussion board?
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
    Incidently - are you planning to stay Thomas? I need to know whether to start filling out my Cretigo card.

    Looking like a pretty high score...
    quote:
    PRATTs (Points Refuted A Thousand Times).


    [ 04. June 2004, 17:30: Message edited by: Henry Troup ]
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    Well I had a look at your pratt board, I must admit, you've no room for another view. You're sticking to your unproven theory and that's that.

    Not everyone is closed however. Here are a few examples fro scientists who do not subscribe to evolution:

    1. The Fossil Record...Evolutionists have constructed the Geologic Column in order to illustrate the supposed progression of "primitive" life forms to "more complex" systems we observe today. Yet, "since only a small percentage of the earth's surface obeys even a portion of the geologic column the claim of their having taken place to form a continuum of rock/life/time over the earth is therefore a fantastic and imaginative contrivance.1" "[T]he lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being due to the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled."2 This supposed column is actually saturated with "polystrate fossils" (fossils extending from one geologic layer to another) that tie all the layers to one time-frame. "[T]o the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favor of special creation." 3
    2. Decay of Earth's Magnetic Field... Dr. Thomas Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, has published the definitive work in this field.4 Scientific observations since 1829 have shown that the earth's magnetic field has been measurably decaying at an exponential rate, demonstrating its half-life to be approximately 1,400 years. In practical application its strength 20,000 years ago would approximate that of a magnetic star. Under those conditions many of the atoms necessary for life processes could not form. These data demonstrate that earth's entire history is young, within a few thousand of years.
    3. The Global Flood... The Biblical record clearly describes a global Flood during Noah's day. Additionally, there are hundreds of Flood traditions handed down through cultures all over the world. 5 M.E. Clark and Henry Voss have demonstrated the scientific validity of such a Flood providing the sedimentary layering we see on every continent. 6 Secular scholars report very rapid sedimentation and periods of great carbonate deposition in earth's sedimentary layers..7 It is now possible to prove the historical reality of the Biblical Flood.8
    4. Population Statistics...World population growth rate in recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 1089. 9 The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies.
    5. Radio Halos...Physicist Robert Gentry has reported isolated radio halos of polonuim-214 in crystalline granite. The half-life of this element is 0.000164 seconds! To record the existence of this element in such short time span, the granite must be in crystalline state instantaneously.10 This runs counter to evolutionary estimates of 300 million years for granite to form.
    6. Human Artifacts throughout the Geologic Column...Man-made artifacts - such as the hammer in Cretaceous rock, a human sandal print with trilobite in Cambrian rock, human footprints and a handprint in Cretaceous rock – point to the fact that all the supposed geologic periods actually occurred at the same time in the recent past.11
    7. Helium Content in Earth's Atmosphere... Physicist Melvin Cook, Nobel Prize medalist found that helium-4 enters our atmosphere from solar wind and radioactive decay of uranium. At present rates our atmosphere would accumulate current helium-4 amounts in less than 10,000 years.12
    8. Expansion of Space Fabric...Astronomical estimates of the distance to various galaxies gives conflicting data.13 The Biblical Record refers to the expansion of space by the Creator14. Astrophysicist Russell Humphries demonstrates that such space expansion would dilate time in distant space.15 This could explain a recent creation with great distances to the stars.
    9. Design in Living Systems...A living cell is so awesomely complex that its interdependent components stagger the imagination and defy evolutionary explanations. A minimal cell contains over 60,000 proteins of 100 different configurations.16 The chance of this assemblage occurring by chance is 1 in 10 4,478,296 .17
    10. Design in the Human Brain...The human brain is the most complicated structure in the known universe.18 It contains over 100 billion cells, each with over 50,000 neuron connections to other brain cells.19 This structure receives over 100 million separate signals from the total human body every second. If we learned something new every second of our lives, it would take three million years to exhaust the capacity of the human brain. 20 In addition to conscious thought, people can actually reason, anticipate consequences, and devise plans - all without knowing they are doing so.21
    1Woodmorappe, John, "The Essential Non-Existence of the Evolutionary Uniformitarian Geologic Column: A Quantitative Assessment," Creation Research Society Quarterly, vol. 18, no.1 (Terre Haute, Indiana, June 1981),pp. 46-71
    2 Nilsson, N. Heribert, as quoted in Arthur C. Custance, The Earth Before Man, Part II, Doorway Papers, no. 20 (Ontario, Canada: Doorway Publications), p. 51
    3Corner, E.J.H., Contemporary Botanical Thought, ed. A.M. MacLeod and L.S. Cobley (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1961), p. 97
    4Barnes, Thomas, ICR Technical Monograph #4, Origin and Destiny of the Earth's Magnetic Field (2nd edition, 1983)
    5Blick, Edward, A Scientific Analysis of Genesis (Oklahoma City: Hearthstone, 1991) p. 103
    6Clark, M.E. and Voss, H.D., "Fluid Mechanic Examination of the Tial Mechanism for Producing Mega-Sedimantary Layering" (Third International Conference on Creation, Pittsburg, July 1994)
    7Ager, Derek, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record (New York: John Wiley and Sons) p. 43 and p. 86
    8West, John Anthony, Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt (New York: Julian Press, 1987) pp. 13-14
    9 See Morris, Henry, Scientific Creationism (El Cajon, CA: Master Books)
    10Gentry, Robert, Creation's Tiny Mystery (Knoxville, Tenn.: Earth Science Assoc.,1988)
    11 Baugh, Carl, Why Do Men Believe Evolution AGAINST ALL ODDS? (Oklahoma City: Hearthstone, 1999)
    12Cook, Melvin, "Where is The Earth's Radiogenic Helium?" Nature, Vol. 179, p. 213
    13Cowan, R., "Further Evidence of a Youthful Universe," Science News, Vol. 148, p. 166
    14Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22
    15Humphries, Russell, Starlight and Time (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1994)
    16Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Maryland: Adler & Adler, 1986) p. 263
    17 Mastropaolo, Joseph, "Evolution Is Biologically Impossible," Impact # 317 (El Cajon, CA: Institute For Creation Research,1999) p. 4
    18Restak, Richard, The Brain: The Last Frontier, 1979, p. 390
    19The Brain, Our Universe Within, PBS Video
    20Wonders of God's Creation, Moody Video Series
    21Weiss, Joseph, "Unconscious Mental Functioning," Scientific American, March 1990, p. 103
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    [a point about posting style]


    Mr Marshall

    If you're just going to cut and paste stuff off the Web, it's easier (and more honest) to just provide a URL to it. Most people on here can, I guess, use Google to find out which Creationist forum you copied it from, and if you neither credit nor link to it those people might suspect you don't really understand what you're talking about. Or you want to be seen as an original thinker when you're just taking other people's ideas. I struggle to think of a more charitable explanation.

    Another exciting side effect of using Google is that you can find comprehensive answers to all those points so painstakingly cut and pasted. If you don't understand those answers, or if you understand them and think they're flawed, then you should say so. Otherwise, everyone will think you're ignoring the answers because... oh, again, various explanations suggest themselves. None complimentary.

    If you want to have a debate, and I see that you claim you do, then you have to follow certain basic rules of honesty and discipline.

    [/point]

    Have you got any substantive objections to any of the PRATT content? Or do you just not like it very much?

    R
     
    Posted by Thomas J Marshall (# 7303) on :
     
    So the idea is to question my honesty rather than answer the questions? If I'm dishonest my ideas can't be trusted? Good enough ploy I suppose. I haven't heard any honest answers to my legitimate questions, only disparaging remarks. Anyway, here's two links:

    http://www.creationevidence.org/
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/

    but you could google loads more.

    I have researched using the web, I see nothing wrong in that. Just because I agree with the content does not make me dishonest. At least I provided references. Perhaps you could point me to definitive texts that prove evolution? Any that I've seen (and I have looked) assume that it is not a theory but fact. Many scientists do not accept it proven and they're still accepted as scientists.

    Those points I've posted (pasted!) are valid contentions. I think anyway.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    I haven't heard any honest answers to my legitimate questions, only disparaging remarks.

    Well, I've tried to give honest answers. Though there are times I feel like I'm being ignored at times. Anyway, I'll have a crack at some of your cut and paste points. Using my own words.

    quote:
    1. The Fossil Record...Evolutionists have constructed the Geologic Column in order to illustrate the supposed progression of "primitive" life forms to "more complex" systems we observe today.
    Well, first off the Geological Column was devised by geologists, not evolutionists, as a means of describing certain regularities in the way some fossils appear in strata within rocks in various places. Basically it is a means of cataloguing rocks that is true whether or not one accepts evolution. Much of the early work on describing the rocks under our feet and developing the Geological Column was conducted by geologists who sincerely believed they were cataloguing the effects of a global flood - of course, this was before any means of dating the rocks was possible or evolution explained the distribution of fossils within the rocks.

    quote:
    2. Decay of Earth's Magnetic Field... Dr. Thomas Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, has published the definitive work in this field.4 Scientific observations since 1829 have shown that the earth's magnetic field has been measurably decaying at an exponential rate, demonstrating its half-life to be approximately 1,400 years.
    The earths magnetic field is no to fluctuate. Infact, measurements of the magnetism trapped in rocks as they solidified along mid-ocean ridges show that the earths magnetic field regularly reverses. Measurements over a period of less than 200 years are hardly conclusive of long term trends, even if those measurements were accurate (I'm not sure how good such measurements were 200 years ago, measuring a small magnetic field even today isn't the easy).

    quote:
    7. Helium Content in Earth's Atmosphere... Physicist Melvin Cook, Nobel Prize medalist found that helium-4 enters our atmosphere from solar wind and radioactive decay of uranium. At present rates our atmosphere would accumulate current helium-4 amounts in less than 10,000 years.
    Which ignores the fact that helium (and, indeed hydrogen) is escapes from the atmosphere as well. In fact, I'd be somewhat surprised He influx from the solar wind was significant, the generation rate from radioactive decay on earth must be significantly greater. The main effect of the solar wind is to strip away the upper atmosphere above the protection given to us by the earths magnetic field. Helium (and hydrogen) being significantly lighter gases than the average of the atmosphere tend to rise to the top of the atmosphere and get stripped off into outer space.

    quote:
    10. Design in the Human Brain...The human brain is the most complicated structure in the known universe.18 It contains over 100 billion cells, each with over 50,000 neuron connections to other brain cells.19 This structure receives over 100 million separate signals from the total human body every second. If we learned something new every second of our lives, it would take three million years to exhaust the capacity of the human brain. 20 In addition to conscious thought, people can actually reason, anticipate consequences, and devise plans - all without knowing they are doing so.
    The human brain is a marvelous thing, which the Lord has given to us. It's a real shame some people decide to reject that God-given ability to reason and the knowledge gained through the application of it.
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    ...Perhaps you could point me to definitive texts that prove evolution? Any that I've seen (and I have looked) assume that it is not a theory but fact. Many scientists do not accept it proven and they're still accepted as scientists.

    Evolution isn't proved. No scientific theory ever is. It is, however, the most consistent explanation for the multitude of facts, the theory with the best predictive power and the one that has been the most thoroughly observed.

    There are many scientists who don't accept the above, true. Few of them work in the field of evolution - and outside a scientist's specialist subject they're not much better qualified than a layman. Most 'scientific' creationists I've experienced are engineers, mathematicians and computer types.

    quote:


    Those points I've posted (pasted!) are valid contentions. I think anyway.

    But those points have been answered by many people, thousands of times. What don't you like about the answers?

    Do you believe in the scientific method? Do you know what it is?

    R
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    Well I had a look at your pratt board, I must admit, you've no room for another view. You're sticking to your unproven theory and that's that.

    We've no room for a view that is defended solely by weak arguments that have been debunked a thousand times. Present some good evidence.

    quote:
    Not everyone is closed however. Here are a few examples fro scientists who do not subscribe to evolution:

    1. The Fossil Record...Evolutionists have constructed the Geologic Column in order to illustrate the supposed progression of "primitive" life forms to "more complex" systems we observe today. Yet, "since only a small percentage of the earth's surface obeys even a portion of the geologic column the claim of their having taken place to form a continuum of rock/life/time over the earth is therefore a fantastic and imaginative contrivance.1"

    Alan's dealt with this one.

    quote:
    "[T]he lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being due to the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled."2
    I suggest you explain how the examples Alan and I posted are "lack of transitional series".

    quote:
    This supposed column is actually saturated with "polystrate fossils" (fossils extending from one geologic layer to another) that tie all the layers to one time-frame. "
    No, it isn't. There are indeed polystrate fossils connecting layers. There are layers that were formed close in time to each other. There were others that were not. Find a polystrate tree that links an early Jurassic bed to an early Cretaceous one and you've got something.

    quote:
    [T]o the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favor of special creation." 3
    Ooh! Fruits of selective quote mining. Here's the quote in full:

    "The theory of evolution is not merely the theory of the origin of species, but the only explanation of the fact that organisms can be classified into this hierarchy of natural affinity. Much evidence can be adduced in favour of the theory of evolution - from biology, bio-geography and palaeontology, but I still think that, to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favour of special creation. If, however, another explanation could be found for this hierarchy of classification, it would be the knell of the theory of evolution. Can you imagine how an orchid, a duckweed, and a palm have come from the same ancestry, and have we any evidence for this assumption? The evolutionist must be prepared with an answer, but I think that most would break down before an inquisition.

    Textbooks hoodwink. A series of more and more complicated plants is introduced - the alga, the fungus, the bryophyte, and so on, and examples are added eclectically in support of one or another theory - and that is held to be a presentation of evolution. If the world of plants consisted only of these few textbook types of standard botany, the idea of evolution might never have dawned, and the backgrounds of these textbooks are the temperate countries which, at best, are poor places to study world vegetation. The point, of course, is that there are thousands and thousands of living plants, predominantly tropical, which have never entered general botany, yet they are the bricks with which the taxonomist has built his temple of evolution, and where else have we to worship?"


    Full examination of Corner's opinions (he accepted evolution, by the way) can be found here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html - it's a fascinating place with not a dull page in it.

    quote:
    2. Decay of Earth's Magnetic Field... Dr. Thomas Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, has published the definitive work in this field.4 Scientific observations since 1829 have shown that the earth's magnetic field has been measurably decaying at an exponential rate, demonstrating its half-life to be approximately 1,400 years. In practical application its strength 20,000 years ago would approximate that of a magnetic star. Under those conditions many of the atoms necessary for life processes could not form. These data demonstrate that earth's entire history is young, within a few thousand of years.
    Thanks to Alan. This one's a bit like arguing that since the rising tide covered a hundred yards in two hours the Atlantic Ocean can only be a few weeks old.

    quote:
    3. The Global Flood... The Biblical record clearly describes a global Flood during Noah's day. Additionally, there are hundreds of Flood traditions handed down through cultures all over the world. 5 M.E. Clark and Henry Voss have demonstrated the scientific validity of such a Flood providing the sedimentary layering we see on every continent. 6 Secular scholars report very rapid sedimentation and periods of great carbonate deposition in earth's sedimentary layers..7 It is now possible to prove the historical reality of the Biblical Flood.8
    No, it isn't. Can you explain the fossil distribution within the sedimentary layers using a flood model? Can you explain how volcanic intrusions exist within these layers? How this flood preserved the tracks and burrows of land animals? How it even preserves desert palaeosols?

    quote:
    4. Population Statistics...World population growth rate in recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 1089. 9 The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies.
    Not this one again - you've already posted it in your last careless cut'n'paste. Have you tried applying these sorts of numbers to bacteria or rabbits? I would suggest to you that it is most likely that throughout the vast majority of humanity's years its population growth rate has been very low - almost zero, as most species' are most of the time. Since we discovered agriculture, and later technology, we have no longer been in equilibrium and have increased in number. There is no reason to suppose this has always been so.

    quote:
    5. Radio Halos...Physicist Robert Gentry has reported isolated radio halos of polonuim-214 in crystalline granite. The half-life of this element is 0.000164 seconds! To record the existence of this element in such short time span, the granite must be in crystalline state instantaneously.10 This runs counter to evolutionary estimates of 300 million years for granite to form.
    You are aware there is considerable doubt whether these halos are really formed by polonium? http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/po-halos/gentry.html talks about it in detail. Is this really something to consider overturning the whole of conventional geology over?

    quote:
    6. Human Artifacts throughout the Geologic Column...Man-made artifacts - such as the hammer in Cretaceous rock, a human sandal print with trilobite in Cambrian rock, human footprints and a handprint in Cretaceous rock – point to the fact that all the supposed geologic periods actually occurred at the same time in the recent past.11
    Well, they might if they were in any way genuine. The hammer you refer to is of very doubtful providence - http://members.aol.com/paluxy2/hammer.htm. Again - is this really the sort of rigorous scientific evidence you wish to overturn conventional mainstream science with?

    [quuote]7. Helium Content in Earth's Atmosphere... Physicist Melvin Cook, Nobel Prize medalist found that helium-4 enters our atmosphere from solar wind and radioactive decay of uranium. At present rates our atmosphere would accumulate current helium-4 amounts in less than 10,000 years.12[/quote]

    Well done Alan.

    quote:
    8. Expansion of Space Fabric...Astronomical estimates of the distance to various galaxies gives conflicting data.13 The Biblical Record refers to the expansion of space by the Creator14. Astrophysicist Russell Humphries demonstrates that such space expansion would dilate time in distant space.15 This could explain a recent creation with great distances to the stars.
    I'll leave this one to Alan. He's the physicist. I'm not and don't really understand general relativity well enough. Nor, I suspect, do you.

    quote:
    9. Design in Living Systems...A living cell is so awesomely complex that its interdependent components stagger the imagination and defy evolutionary explanations. A minimal cell contains over 60,000 proteins of 100 different configurations.16 The chance of this assemblage occurring by chance is 1 in 10 4,478,296 .17
    Strawman. Nowhere does mainstream science suggest such a thing ever happened.

    quote:
    10. Design in the Human Brain...The human brain is the most complicated structure in the known universe.18 It contains over 100 billion cells, each with over 50,000 neuron connections to other brain cells.19 This structure receives over 100 million separate signals from the total human body every second. If we learned something new every second of our lives, it would take three million years to exhaust the capacity of the human brain. 20 In addition to conscious thought, people can actually reason, anticipate consequences, and devise plans - all without knowing they are doing so.21
    Which could be why it took three billion years to evolve. Evolution is a great mechanism for creating design, but it's not fast.
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
    quote:
    8. Expansion of Space Fabric...Astronomical estimates of the distance to various galaxies gives conflicting data.13 The Biblical Record refers to the expansion of space by the Creator14. Astrophysicist Russell Humphries demonstrates that such space expansion would dilate time in distant space.15 This could explain a recent creation with great distances to the stars.
    I'll leave this one to Alan. He's the physicist. I'm not and don't really understand general relativity well enough. Nor, I suspect, do you.
    Well, I didn't comment last night because I didn't understand the comment and it was too late to try to figure it out. There are uncertainties in measuring the distances to distant galaxies, if there weren't then we'd have a much better handle on things like the Hubble Constant and the ultimate fate of the universe.

    However, the data is unambiguous in that the universe is expanding. That is, space itself is expanding rather than just that the galaxies are moving through space. I can see how one might want to say that this is what the Bible means when it talks of the heavens being stretched out by God, though I personally dislike such attempts to force the Bible into making statements that predict modern science as I don't beleive that's what the authors intended.

    It follows that as more distant galaxies are travelling away from us at greater speeds than nearer ones that time dilation effects would occur - it would have an effect on the observed light over and above the simple Doppler effect (red shift). But, since time dilation is a well understood phenomenum I don't see the relevance of this to this discussion.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Apologies for the delay in replying to you.

    quote:
    Originally posted by alienfromzog:

    My knowledge of proteins is not as strong as my knowledge of genes but the idea of adapting proteins I currently find unconvincing. {I look forward to Glenn's view on this). Secondly I think the prominence of gene duplication is unconvincing, there are not many examples of functioning duplications that I can think of; the globin family is the only one that comes to mind. Although I admit my knowledge is limited on this point.

    Thanks for your reply, alienfromzog.

    A useful book that tackles this kind of problem is Cells, Embryos, and Evolution by John Gerhart and Marc Kirschner (1997) Blackwell Science, Inc. Chapter 5 of that book is entitled ‘Novelty’ and looks at how new proteins and new uses for proteins can arise as a result of evolution. The comparative study of protein sequence and structure and of DNA sequencing have revealed much new information about how proteins may be evolutionarily related to each other.

    The main point that they make is that many proteins are composite in that they can be seen as consisting of linked domains. A domain is an amino acid sequence that is capable of particular interactions with other molecules (and often with other proteins). It is increasingly clear that many different proteins have domains that are also found in other proteins. It thus appears that novel proteins may have evolved from the duplication of DNA sequences coding for such domains and from insertion of such DNA sequences into other genes. This giving rise to new proteins in a way that differs from the point mutation of a single codons for one amino acid.

    They also show how existing proteins may be put to new uses. The chapter discusses a wide range of similarities between different proteins and speculates about their evolutionary relationships.

    For example:

    1) Existing Proteins being used for new functions
    Examination of the proteins that make up the lens of the eyes of animals has been studied extensively and many of them turn out to be the same as, or closely similar to a number of metabolic enzymes such as aldehyde dehydrogenase III etc. Here an existing protein with another function has been put to another use altogether. Other lens crystallins resemble heat shock proteins.

    2) Existing Proteins combining to give new function
    Lactose synthetase (the enzyme that produces lactose in the milk produced by many mammals) turns out to be a combination of two sub units, one is galactosyl transferase and the other is alpha lactalbumin. The latter when linked to galactosyl transferase enhances that enzymes poor ability to synthesise lactose and inhibits its usual function of transferring galactose. Alpha lactalbumin is found only in milk, but its three dimensional structure and sequence suggest that it may have arisen from modification of a type of lysozyme. Lysozymes are present in milk and have an antimicrobial function. The suggestion is, then, that at some stage the a lysozyme proteins structure became such that it could bind with galactosyl transferase and thus initiate lactose production. It could then evolve to become more efficient at stimulating lactose production.

    3) Duplications and insertion of a gene allowing new function – ‘exon shuffling’.
    Certain protease inhibitors are short proteins of about 58 or so amino acids. These sequences bear a marked relation to a group of proteins that function as toxins in snake venom. The suggestion here is that the gene for the protease duplicated thus allowing one of the copies to evolve an altered function while the other gene’s protein maintained the existing function. In addition this gene sequence has been found in other locations [I]within[I] other genes so that the amino acid sequence appears within the larger protein from the enlarged gene. Examples of larger proteins in which it appears are are beta-amyloid; a lipoprotein that inhibits blood coagulation; type IV collagen; and, less surprisingly, inter alpha trypsin inhibitor.

    Another example is the family of proteins which are proteases involved in blood coagulation. These have many domains in common. Plasminogen has 5 kringle domains and a calcium binding domain; tissue type plasminogen activator has a finger domain, EGF domain and 2 kringles; Protein C, factor iX and factor X all have 2 EGFs and a calcium binding domain; prothrombin has a 1 calcium binding and 2 kringles; urokinase has 1 EGF and 1 kringle. This naturally suggests that the proteins concerned may have evolved from the shuffling and duplication of DNA sequences for those domains.

    The discovery that many genes consist of introns and exons greatly enhances the possibility of this type of evolutionary explanation. With exons coding for these kinds of domains of proteins then the ease with which the can be duplicated and moved is enhanced.

    Overall, Gerhart and Kirschner state that:
    quote:
    “similarities between protein sequences have allowed us [the biology community] to construct plausible hypotheses for many evolutionary transitions among proteins. … in many cases we can track a plausible direct path of modification and new employment. … The impression from many such examples of composite proteins is that it is not particularly difficult for the cell to generate new protein functions, if the appropriate selective conditions arise.”
    I think this kind of thinking goes a considerable way towards throwing light on the kinds of ways that evolution at the level of proteins may have happened. There is still, doubtless, much to learn, but the kinds of data emerging are satisfyingly coherent with this kind of approach. Does this address some of your concerns?
     
    Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
     
    Glenn, did you really understand everything you just posted? I'm in awe. [Overused]

    Clearly these knotty problems of life, the universe, and everything are in good hands.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Mousethief:
    Glenn, did you really understand everything you just posted?

    Pretty well, Mousethief, although some of the subtleties of the details in the chapter I referred to were unclear to me! [Smile]

    I am, however, well aware of the proverb 'He who states his case first seems right until the other comes and examines him.' (Proverbs 18:17)
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    Perhaps you might like to refute my argument Ken? After all, if what I say is not worth arguing about you could at least tell me where I've went wrong so that I might then contribute to the discussion?

    It just gets so boring after a while. But in my next post here I'll refute some of the more egregious lies that you are passing on to us.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    So, the refutations. Again. Being selective because there is so much of this stuff. Alan is politer than me, maybe because he is more of a scientist. I will call a prat a prat.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Thomas J Marshall:
    I think you'll find the "examples" are altered, they're what man imagines the missing link to be. Go into any museum and ask to see an original fossil of a "monkey man" and you won't get one. If your theory is correct why are no chimpanzees contributing to this forum?

    Well I can't refute this because it doesn't mean anything.

    "what man imagines the missing link to be"? What do you think a "missing link" is? "monkey man?" But monkeys aren't men and men aren't monkeys. We are apes - which are rather different from monkeys. And in fact monkeys evolved more recently than apes. Why on earth should there be such a thing as a "monkey man"?

    And why would you expect chimps to contribute to this forum? Humans and chimps are descended from a common ancestor. But we are different. Which should I any more expect to see a chimp posting here than I should expect to see a creationist half way up a tree eating fruit with its feet?

    quote:

    Evolutionist's arguments seem to be "Oh God is just a theory but trust me, science is fact."

    A lie. Plenty of people who believe in God and trust God also accept the ideas of evolution.

    If you start from the idea that there is an inevitable clash between Christianity and science then you have already been deluded.

    The lie of young-earth creationism suits a certain kind of heresy that holds that the material world isn't really real, that we aren't animals, that God does not dirty himself with mere matter, and that Jesus dod not truly come in the flesh


    quote:

    As for finite initial information, that's just what there is. Genes are a code. Proven! Fact! Genetic information contains instructions to produce so human genes produce humans, dogs produce dogs.

    Yes. So? Nothing to refute here. In fact understanding this is fundamental to understanding how living thingn work. If it were not so we'd be living in a sort of chaotic soup (if at all)

    quote:

    I would like to see the irrefutable evidence that the universe is millions of years old.

    Study chalk. Just forget all about those flash hard rocks like granite. Learn a little about chalk. A kilometre of solid fossil. No way that came from a single ocean in a few hundred years.

    quote:

    I can show you studies where living snails have been carbon dated at thousands of years old. Hardly reliable that.

    So what? What has carbon dating got to do with it? Carbon dating is utterly irrelevant to dating ancient fossils. That you even bring the subject up just shows that you do not know enough to understand the lies you are parroting. A few thousand years either way is like measuring the distance from New York to Rio and being a few inches out.

    quote:

    There are numerous fossils of upright trees in rock. Impossible over millions of years because the tree would have long since rotted but consistent with a sudden deluge as in Noah's flood.

    So? There are plenty of sudden deluges, flash floods and mudslides all over the place. Fossils of this sort can be seen forming all over the world. They are rare - but they exist.

    quote:

    And what about the second law of thermodynamics? That's a natural law isn't it? If everything tends towards atrophy how can there be upward development?

    This applies as much - in fact even more - to the growth and development of an individual animal or plant. If entropy (not "atrophy") disproved evolution it would also disprove your own growth, or your education (in which your brain gets more organised), or the building of a city where once there was no city.

    quote:

    OK, try this. You know those bug zappers, blue light and a fly flies into it and zap, he's toast? Mr fly flies into it and his mate says "What happened to fred.... think I'll take a look at this blue light - aaaaah!"

    See, that's a danger but flies haven't adapted to it yet they're still here. They haven't the brain power to adapt, they haven't the genetic code. They're flies, that's all they'll ever be.

    This shows that you are exactly, precisely, missing the point. That you even bring up the topic shows that you do not know what natural selection is. You are confusing it with adaptation and growth. The brain power of flies is nothing to do with this. In your scenario, sooner or later, either all the flies will be dead - which is very possible, most species that ever lived are extinct - , or else those that survive will be the few that for whatever reason avoid blue light. And that's it. That's all you need.

    No-one claims that bacteria have brain power. Yet bacteria evolve immunity to antibiotics before our very eyes.

    quote:

    God has deceived no one

    But the liars and cheats and hereticswho mislead God's people with the satanic lie called "Young Earth Creationism" have decieved many.

    The Book of God's Word is not at variance with the Book of God's works. These neo-Gnostics and crypto-Mormons who have infiltrated American churches with their young-earther lies are teaching people that the world is an unreal illusion. That studying the world - science - is a sin and a deception. It is a false hyper-spirituality that only works if you believe in a kind of virtual world, and illusion. That's not the Gospel.

    The world is real. Jesus did come in the flesh. God was born on earth as a man - as an animal - as something with a body that had ancestors, that had evolved, that was subject to the normal processes of biological growth and pain and decay.

    The Gospel is not about some docetic idea of a purely spiritual Jesus, a cosmic conjuring show, a white-robed pretence of humanity with a halo and a deep manly synthesised voice.

    God, somehow, was enclosed in a womb. Was a living thing like a little blob, dependent on his mother's blood and antibodies and hormones and nutrients for life.

    The world is real. It works, it has logic, laws, beauty. It was created by God to be good. It was redeemed and made holy and glorified by God choosing to be incarnate in it. One of the many way we can worship God is by learning more about the world.

    If we start off with a suspicion that God is somehopw lying to us, that its all a trick, that what we see around us is an illusion, a virtual-reality creation, full of fossils that never lived, starlight that never came from a star, apparent retro-viral genes that never came from a virus - then we make out God himself to be a liar.


    quote:

    Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 1089. The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies.

    [Killing me]

    That pathetic excuse for an argument applies even more to bacteria which can double their numbers every hour. Twenty minutes some of them. Forget 6,000 years. By your logic a single bacterium could fill up the entire world in 6 days.


    quote:

    1. The Fossil Record...Evolutionists have constructed the Geologic Column in order to illustrate the supposed progression of "primitive" life forms to "more complex" systems we observe today.

    Another lie.

    The "geologic column" was not thought up by "evolutionists". Most of the people who worked it out (who were, incidentally, almost all Christians) did not have any idea of evolution. They looked at the rocks, and they realised that the world was very old.

    The oldest references to the great age of the world being demonstrated by geology that I know of are from John Ray in the 17th century, a Christian minister and spiritual writer who was also a botanist. He believed in thespecial creation of Adam and Eve - but he saw from the rocks that the world was far more ancient than humanity and that many species had become extinct.

    Once this was generally realised then many others worked out the details of the strata.

    quote:
    Dr. Thomas Barnes, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, has published the definitive work in this field.4 Scientific observations since 1829 have shown that the earth's magnetic field has been measurably decaying at an exponential rate, demonstrating its half-life to be approximately 1,400 years. In practical application its strength 20,000 years ago would approximate that of a magnetic star. Under those conditions many of the atoms necessary for life processes could not form. These data demonstrate that earth's entire history is young, within a few thousand of years.

    Don't your minders update their lies? No-one who had even a decent high-school scientific education could have written this once in the last 40 years.

    The magnetic field gets stronger and weaker over time, it fluctuates.

    quote:
    The Global Flood... The Biblical record clearly describes a global Flood during Noah's day. Additionally, there are hundreds of Flood traditions handed down through cultures all over the world.

    So what?

    Whatever Noah's flood was it was after the creation of humand and all the other species around on the earth at the time.

    Even if every word of the "flood geology" was true - and it isn't, as has been known since at least the early 19th century when Adam Sedgwick and other honest Christian geologists bothered to look at the evidence instead of just reading books about it and found that most of the featues ascribed to the global Flood are in fact glacial - it has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the idea of evolution.


    Design in Living Systems...A living cell is so awesomely complex that its interdependent components stagger the imagination and defy evolutionary explanations. A minimal cell contains over 60,000 proteins of 100 different configurations.16 The chance of this assemblage occurring by chance is 1 in 10 4,478,296 .17
    [/QB][/QUOTE]

    Did you even read this crap before posting it? What "minimal cell"?

    When you find someone who believes that evolution can happen by chance, feel free to tell them that I know of none with as few as "100 different configurations" of protein. Most have tens of thousands. No known fee-living bacterium gets by with much less than a thousand. There are some intracellular parasitic bacteria trhat rely on host proteins for many vital functions - for example Mycobacterium leprae that causes leprosy and is probably an ancient parasite of mammals has very many fewer genes, and therefore fewer proteins, than the apparently closely related Mycobacterium tuberculosis

    Thanks for the references. Though I have them already. And if you think I'm going to accept people like Henry Morris as evidence for anything scientific, I have this bridge to sell you.

    Face it. You have been taken in.
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Monday
    Evolution isn't proved. No scientific theory ever is. It is, however, the most consistent explanation for the multitude of facts, the theory with the best predictive power and the one that has been the most thoroughly observed.

    There are many scientists who don't accept the above, true. Few of them work in the field of evolution - and outside a scientist's specialist subject they're not much better qualified than a layman. Most 'scientific' creationists I've experienced are engineers, mathematicians and computer types.

    I am no supporter of young earth creationism, but I refuse to let a select subset of scientists be the final arbiters of what is or is not true. A true scientific theory will be found to be correct across all the scientific knowledge disciplines. It should also keep the philosophers happy.

    Part of the whole problem in this debate is the inadequate definition of what is meant by “evolution”, or the specific version of it understood by “Darwinism”. Although the Darwinists do not like to admit it, there are biological scientists who enthusiastically accept some form of evolution, but who have partially or wholly refuted Darwin’s specific ideas. Some have even proposed their own models of evolution, but these lie buried in academic papers and texts, far from the popular mind.

    So on a thread entitled “The Death of Darwinism” it won’t do to subtly morph into generalised vagueness about “evolution”. Karl - Liberal Backslider inadvertently illustrated this above when he said:
    quote:
    How about God created a universe with the capability of an evolutionary process that would create us?
    That is certainly not Darwinism, which does not admit to any teleology in the natural biological processes. Design is out, remember? With a remark as metaphysically careless as that, I rather suspect that when Richard Dawkins leads the revolution, Karl - Liberal Backslider will be joining both Thomas J Marshall and myself up against the wall. [Smile]

    Neil
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Monday
    Evolution isn't proved. No scientific theory ever is. It is, however, the most consistent explanation for the multitude of facts, the theory with the best predictive power and the one that has been the most thoroughly observed.

    There are many scientists who don't accept the above, true. Few of them work in the field of evolution - and outside a scientist's specialist subject they're not much better qualified than a layman. Most 'scientific' creationists I've experienced are engineers, mathematicians and computer types.

    I am no supporter of young earth creationism, but I refuse to let a select subset of scientists be the final arbiters of what is or is not true.
    But that is not what is being proposed. Even if you include all the engineers, mathematicians and computer types, the vast majority of scientists have no time for creationism of any stripe. It's just that of the tiny number of scientists who are creationists, a vanishingly small proportion are biologists.

    quote:
    A true scientific theory will be found to be correct across all the scientific knowledge disciplines.
    'sokay, it is.

    quote:
    It should also keep the philosophers happy.
    It does, most of them. But why should a scientific theory keep philosophers happy?

    quote:
    Part of the whole problem in this debate is the inadequate definition of what is meant by “evolution”,
    We have a perfectly good definition. Creationists like to muddy the waters by including things like abiogenesis, the big bang and so on, but that's their problem.

    quote:
    or the specific version of it understood by “Darwinism”. Although the Darwinists do not like to admit it, there are biological scientists who enthusiastically accept some form of evolution, but who have partially or wholly refuted Darwin’s specific ideas.
    Vanishingly few in number who would actually significantly distance themselves from the central theses of Origin. Most of the debates (which can indeed be fierce) are over fine points of the mechanism and the exact course in the fossil record.

    quote:
    Some have even proposed their own models of evolution, but these lie buried in academic papers and texts, far from the popular mind.
    Can you link to some examples?

    quote:
    So on a thread entitled “The Death of Darwinism” it won’t do to subtly morph into generalised vagueness about “evolution”. Karl - Liberal Backslider inadvertently illustrated this above when he said:
    quote:
    How about God created a universe with the capability of an evolutionary process that would create us?
    That is certainly not Darwinism, which does not admit to any teleology in the natural biological processes.
    Wrong. It is exactly Darwinism. Read the Origin, and you will find that Darwin proposed that God set it in motion. But strictly speaking, no scientific theory, Darwinism or any other, can say anything about God's intentions or activities. Are you confusing Darwinism with philosophical naturalism?

    quote:
    Design is out, remember? With a remark as metaphysically careless as that
    Not at all careless. As I said, no scientific theory can actually give a yea or a nay to what God might be using the phenomena it describes for.

    quote:
    I rather suspect that when Richard Dawkins leads the revolution, Karl - Liberal Backslider will be joining both Thomas J Marshall and myself up against the wall. [Smile]
    But that will be Dawkins with his (rather tatty) atheist philosopher's hat on, not with his quite smart and snazzy biologist's. That he can't always tell the difference is a flaw.

    Neil [/QB][/QUOTE]
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ken:
    So, the refutations. ...

    Face it. You have been taken in.

    Bravo, Ken. [Overused] Thanks for all your input. Your rebuttals have saved others of us much tedious writing.
    Glenn
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Part of the whole problem in this debate is the inadequate definition of what is meant by “evolution”, or the specific version of it understood by “Darwinism”. Although the Darwinists do not like to admit it, there are biological scientists who enthusiastically accept some form of evolution, but who have partially or wholly refuted Darwin’s specific ideas. Some have even proposed their own models of evolution, but these lie buried in academic papers and texts, far from the popular mind.[/QB]
    I am not quite sure of where you are headed with this Neil. If 'Darwinism' is indeed dead then 'neo-Darwinism' is flourishing and that still has extremely strong continuity with Darwinism, in particular in the ideas of common descent and that natural selection is a key mechanism in evolutionary change.

    To echo Karl: what did you have in mind?
    Glenn
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl – Liberal Backslider:
    It does, most of them. But why should a scientific theory keep philosophers happy?

    Most scientists do not have a philosophical or theological training. Some therefore can be blissfully unaware when they make statements that are not scientific, but philosophical, or indeed even theological. The concept of fitness at the heart of Darwinism is a very elusive scientific quality, yet it is an essential part of the theory. Philosophers have certainly written on this subject.

    Richard Dawkins is so notorious for straying into philosophical and even theological territory that there is a paper on the Internet entitled A Critique of Aspects of the Philosophy and Theology of Richard Dawkins. Link to Poole’s original paper. Link to Dawkins’ reply. Link to Poole’s further response.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl – Liberal Backslider:
    Vanishingly few in number who would actually significantly distance themselves from the central theses of Origin.<snip>

    Can you link to some examples?

    I don’t have any Internet links on this, but a good book to read for the non-biological specialist (such as myself) is “Creation and Evolution” by Alan Hayward. He is a physicist writing from an evangelical perspective. However, you will be pleased to hear that he comprehensively demolishes the young earth position – he describes himself as an old earth creationist. He also looks hard at the status of Darwinism and other theories of evolution.

    There is a whole chapter on biologists who reject Darwinism, but who hold an alternative evolutionary viewpoint. In some cases these names are not British or American, hence they are not well known in the English-speaking world. Writers mentioned include Erik Nordenskiöld (Norway), Andrée Tetry, Pierre Gavaudan and Pierre-Paul Grassé (France), C. P. Martin (Canada), W.R. Thompson, J.C. Willis and E.J.H. Corner (Great Britain).

    All these biologists have published full–weight academic texts and/or papers critiquing and in many cases rejecting Darwinism completely in favour of some other evolutionary model. I haven’t read any of their work, so I am taking Hayward on trust here. Hayward also documents some of the devastating critiques of Darwinism undertaken by reputable mathematicians and philosophers.

    Note: Quite independently Hayward agrees with Karl that some people have misrepresented Corner’s views by selective quote mining. He also makes it clear that Corner did accept some form of evolution – but definitely not Darwinism!

    The only scientific discipline where Hayward has been unable to document a reputable writer with serious doubts about Darwinism is Anthropology. In trying to understand why, he comments, “Anthropologists, it appears, have so few facts to go on that they deal mostly in opinions”.

    What Hayward is attempting to document is the circular argument that is going on. Evolutionary ideas predate Darwin, but were not widely accepted at the start of the 19th century. However, after a slow start, evolutionary ideas eventually achieved great respectability on the basis of Darwin’s writings and some later developments (especially the science of genetics). But if Darwinism is questionable or even demonstrably false, where does that leave the broader field of evolutionary ideas?

    quote:
    Originally posted by Karl – Liberal Backslider:
    Wrong. It is exactly Darwinism. Read the Origin, and you will find that Darwin proposed that God set it in motion. But strictly speaking, no scientific theory, Darwinism or any other, can say anything about God's intentions or activities. Are you confusing Darwinism with philosophical naturalism?

    Your response here illustrates my point perfectly. Is this thread talking about the content of Darwin’s Origin of Species, or the content of Darwinism as it came to be understood by his successors in the late 19th/early 20th century, or the neo-Darwinism that Glenn Oldham mentions (of which Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins are perhaps the most common household names)?

    Darwin mentions a creator a few times in some editions of his book, and it remains a good question just what Darwin’s own religious beliefs were. From Karl’s description it sounds like the remote and disinterested God of the Deists, not the God of Christian theism. I have heard that references to a creator were edited out of some later edition of the Origin, but I can’t document that at present.

    Later generations have certainly fused Darwin’s work with philosophical naturalism to the extent that they are now virtually inseparable. It is one thing to look for a naturalistic explanation of an observed phenomenon, as all scientists do. It is another thing to declare that a naturalistic explanation is the only explanation there can ever be. Phillip Johnson has ably documented that fusion.

    My understanding of neo-Darwinism (which, as Glenn says, is indeed flourishing) is that the whole panoply of life on this planet emerged on its own through the natural processes of physics and chemistry, via common descent, random mutation and natural selection, without any need to invoke an external creator at any point. Design in particular and metaphysics in general are ruled out-of-order from the start.

    Life on earth is then essentially an accidental by-product of the universe, without supervision, meaning, purpose or destiny. That is how I read some scientists. Before I go any further, are we singing from the same hymn sheet on the meaning of neo-Darwinism?

    Neil
     
    Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
     
    No, Neil, we are not.

    You say that:

    quote:
    My understanding of neo-Darwinism (which, as Glenn says, is indeed flourishing) is that the whole panoply of life on this planet emerged on its own through the natural processes of physics and chemistry, via common descent, random mutation and natural selection, without any need to invoke an external creator at any point.
    Which is fine as far as it goes. It is an accurate description of evolutionary theory from a scientific frame of reference. It is this point that is crucial.

    Scientific theories do not need a God. They therefore say nothing about the relationship between any putative God and the phenomenon under investigation. I do not look for a particular role for God to play from a scientific frame of reference, because I believe that the whole evolutionary process is an outworking of God's creative activity, viewed from a (by definition) narrow scientific perspective. I do not expect a "job" for God in it any more than I expect to find which part of quantum mechanics or hydration of white copper sulphate God does.

    quote:
    Design in particular and metaphysics in general are ruled out-of-order from the start.
    Yes, because they're not part of the remit.

    As regards these alternative evolutionary models - do you have any links to basic descriptions of them? Can you give a description of any of them?
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    I'm not sure there's much fundamental difference between Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism includes a mechanism for gene coding and mutation that was unknown to Darwin. The basic premises of Darwinism - that variability exists, it is inherited, and natural selection operates to selct for beneficial variants.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    The concept of fitness at the heart of Darwinism is a very elusive scientific quality, yet it is an essential part of the theory.

    It is not an elusive scientific quality, it is a very precise scientific quantity. A simple ratio between countable numbers. The word "fitness" is a bad choice of word for it. (I don't know whether to blame Darwin or Galton for that)
     
    Posted by Cheesy* (# 3330) on :
     
    From memory this is the fitness circle:

    Organism X is exposed to Y pressure. Phenotype A is best suited to the pressure so Genotype B survives and is replicated throughout the population of organism X.

    A is therefore the most fit to condition Y. How do we know? - because genotype B survived. Why did phenotype A survive? - because B was best fit.

    Sorry that is a crap explanation - basically it is very difficult to see externally why one phenotype is better fitted to a pressure than another other than to measure the genotype in a later population of the organism.

    This is a lack-of-knowledge issue rather than a point for or against Darwinism IMO. Something can be true or false independent of our understanding of said phenomena.

    [yeah, yeah, yeah]
    C

    [ 08. June 2004, 13:13: Message edited by: Cheesy* ]
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    OK, now this is a little more toothsome

    But first a little historical background. There was certainly evolutionary speculation befgore Darwin & Wallace - after all Darwin's own grandfather had written about it. What they managed to do was convince effectively all scientists (& indeed non-scientists who were paying attention) that evolution had occured.

    But from the 1880s to the 1930s something rather odd happened. Although people continued to believe in evolution, Darwinism and natural selection went out of favour.

    There were two main reasons for this: first a lack of understanding of the methods if inheritance - which actually got worse after Mendel's ideas were popularised - some very clever people failed to understand their implications. (you can still read about bollocks ideas like "mutation load") And maybe also that scientists paid too much attention to philosophers, many of whom were stuck in what Ernst Mayr calls "essentialist" thinking, which predisposes them to miss the point of natural selection entirely. The worst offenders were some of the absurd German nature-philoshphers. I wish I could say they were all proto-Nazis like the vile Hackel but in fact the thoroughly sound & decent Virchow was misled too. Though Weissman (about whose politics and personal life I know nothing) always stuck to Darwinism. But all too many of his contemporaries got sidetracked into vitalist nonsense.

    It was only in the early 20th century that geneticists, naturalists, mathematicians, and paleontologists got together to make the "neo-Darwinian" synthesis. One of the sad effects of this is that much writing on evolution from people educated between about 1880 and 1920 (& in Germany and perhaps France from about 1860 to 1940) is simple rubbish [Frown]

    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

    Alan Hayward. He is a physicist writing from an evangelical perspective. However, you will be pleased to hear that he comprehensively demolishes the young earth position ? he describes himself as an old earth creationist.

    Old Earth Creationism is a different kettle of fish altogether. Historically it was the position of most evangelicals and fundamentalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And although it is not in any obvious sense a "scientific" theory (or set of theories) it is at least compatible with the evidence of our eyes. It at least could be true, wheras YEC could not be true (outside the Omphalos). One can respect an Old-Earther.

    quote:

    There is a whole chapter on biologists who reject Darwinism, but who hold an alternative evolutionary viewpoint. In some cases these names are not British or American, hence they are not well known in the English-speaking world. Writers mentioned include Erik Nordenskiöld (Norway), Andrée Tetry, Pierre Gavaudan and Pierre-Paul Grassé (France), C. P. Martin (Canada), W.R. Thompson, J.C. Willis and E.J.H. Corner (Great Britain).

    Hmm - I haven't heard of most of these blokes.

    Quick web-search....

    Nordenskiold is too early to be very relevant here - he simply lived in the wrong time to have assimilated the ideas the creationists quote him against properly.

    Tetry and Gauvadan I know nothing about. I have only read those few paragraphs by Hayward on them, which, if he reports their views accuratly lead me to think that Tetry actually really is a Darwinist, but is arguing against some straw-man idea of a philosophical "Darwinism" which isn't really relevant to this debate. Our scientific stereotype of the French educational system is that they always tend to over-philosophise. Darwinsism is not a "myth", not a philosophical explanation of the world. It part of Natural History, not Natural Philosophy, still less Ontology or Metaphysics. If Hayward reports Gauvadan accuratly, then Gauvadan is talking bollocks. Sorry, but this looks like the worst of 19th-century German metaphysical speculation about the onward and upward thrust of the life-force. It belongs in the waste bin with all the rest of the Gnostic nonsense. If, that is, he is reported correctly here - I've never heard of him before, never mind read him.

    Similarly the quotes attributed to Grasse by Hayward seem to miss the point. Like so many people he has no idea of the scale involved.

    Willis and Corner are, frankly, evolutionists & to some extent Darwinists - even if they point out loads of problems - but also still stuck in that odd early-20th century so-called "Mendelianism" that was popular before RA Fisher - and since Fisher by people who don't understand him.


    quote:

    My understanding of neo-Darwinism (which, as Glenn says, is indeed flourishing) is that the whole panoply of life on this planet emerged on its own through the natural processes of physics and chemistry, via common descent, random mutation and natural selection, without any need to invoke an external creator at any point. Design in particular and metaphysics in general are ruled out-of-order from the start.

    Life on earth is then essentially an accidental by-product of the universe, without supervision, meaning, purpose or destiny. That is how I read some scientists. Before I go any further, are we singing from the same hymn sheet on the meaning of neo-Darwinism?

    Nope. Neo-Darwinism is just the old Darwinism done by people who understood statistics, population genetics, and phylogeny. It's a "synthesis" because geneticists and ecologists, who had tended to be barking up different trees for a generation or two, were now co-operating.

    It is all about the origin of species, literally. Not the origin of life. It addresses the fundamental question of ecology: "why are there so many kinds of living things?". Not the meaning of life the universe and everything. It leaves that to philosophers & theologians.

    The originators of neo-Darwinism are really RA Fisher, JBS Haldane & Sewall Wright. Backed up later by Julian Huxley, GG Simpson, and Ernst Mayr (who is sort of the historian of the movement - and still alive & still writing AFAIK). Also later people like like David Lack, Willi Hennig, Maynard Smith, RH MacArthur, Motoo Kimura, James Valentine, EO Wilson, SJ Gould, Robert May & so on.

    The arguments of a few decades ago between punctuated equilibrium and gradualism, between neutral evolution and adaptationism, between group selection and individual selection, and between cladistics and doing phylogeny badly, are all arguments within the neo-Darwinist synthesis.
     
    Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Cheesy*:
    A is therefore the most fit to condition Y. How do we know? - because genotype B survived. Why did phenotype A survive? - because B was best fit.
    [...]
    basically it is very difficult to see externally why one phenotype is better fitted to a pressure than another other than to measure the genotype in a later population of the organism.

    Yes, exactly. This is Natural History, not Natural Philosophy.

    Your fitness is how many grandchildren you have. People with more grandchildren have more grandchildren then people with fewer.

    Really that's all there is to it. Making it into a mythical or philosophical or metaphysical explanation is irrelevant. It'll still be true whatever the philosophers say.
     
    Posted by Henry Troup (# 3722) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by ken:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    The concept of fitness at the heart of Darwinism is a very elusive scientific quality, yet it is an essential part of the theory.

    It is not an elusive scientific quality, it is a very precise scientific quantity. A simple ratio between countable numbers. The word "fitness" is a bad choice of word for it. (I don't know whether to blame Darwin or Galton for that)
    Fitness is a horribly bad word. An organism survives to breed, therefore it is "fit" to survive. There is no measure of fitness other than reproductive success. (Not mere survival.)

    Fitness can mean large size, or small size, large litters or small, hairy or naked, large-beak or small-beak, fast runner or good camoflage. Whatever gets you to breeding more than the other guy.

    Hence, Dawkin's Selfish Gene - the gene survives because it is part of an organism that reproduces. Dawkins does an admirable job of dispelling "group selection" and a number of other dubious bugbears evolutionary theory. The chapters where selection meets game theory are particularly interesting.

    One of the most annoying things is when people start applying some value to "fitness" that is other than the selective one. This rapidly leads to the notion of evolution as have a "destination", and a number of other pathologies.

    Evolution is a strategy for trying everything and keeping what works. If an organism survives by sheer luck - it survives, it is fit, it reproduces. If it is part of a big enough population, its descendants will be a large clade.

    If the planet gets pasturized by a large asteroid and all the dinosaurs die, whatever survives by any means is likely to be the ancestor of the next dominant population. (Although there are more insects than mammals, I think the mammals can claim dominance.)
     
    Posted by Cheesy* (# 3330) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Henry Troup:
    (Although there are more insects than mammals, I think the mammals can claim dominance.)

    I think you have a very odd understanding of dominance, Henry, if I may say so.

    C
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Karl – Liberal Backslider said:
    Which is fine as far as it goes. It is an accurate description of evolutionary theory from a scientific frame of reference. It is this point that is crucial.

    Scientific theories do not need a God. They therefore say nothing about the relationship between any putative God and the phenomenon under investigation. I do not look for a particular role for God to play from a scientific frame of reference, because I believe that the whole evolutionary process is an outworking of God's creative activity, viewed from a (by definition) narrow scientific perspective. I do not expect a "job" for God in it any more than I expect to find which part of quantum mechanics or hydration of white copper sulphate God does.

    I think you’re being very optimistic here on the willingness of some influential parts of the scientific community to acknowledge that there are other frames of reference apart from the scientific one. It is well documented that some scientists argue that there are no other frames of reference having any truthful reality.

    It is one thing to look for a naturalistic scientific explanation following the known laws of science. Having found such a putative explanation, it is then an easy extrapolation to say that the naturalistic explanation makes any other explanation unnecessary (including a theistic one). From there it is but a short step to say dogmatically that the scientific explanation is the only one that has reality.

    I would argue that any theory based on random, undetermined, and unspecified mutations is in danger of being interpreted in that fashion. There are certainly numerous Darwinists who have made that interpretation, and who have used the weight of scientific credentials to gain a hearing for their metaphysical views.

    The reason for the growth of the Intelligent Design Movement is not just the embarrassing antics of the young earth brigade. Intelligent Design has demonstrated the flimsy intellectual foundations of many Darwinist pretensions, whilst simultaneously documenting the strong political hold that the Darwinists exercise, especially in North America. This is well documented at the Access Research Network site.

    quote:
    ken said:
    Nordenskiold is too early to be very relevant here - he simply lived in the wrong time to have assimilated the ideas the creationists quote him against properly.

    Tetry and Gavaudan I know nothing about. <big snip> If, that is, he is reported correctly here - I've never heard of him before, never mind read him.

    Hayward’s book quotes Nordenskiöld for a historical and cultural perspective in the early part of the 20th century.

    My edition of Hayward’s book comes from 1985. Most of the research he references was published in the 1960’s and 70’s. He specifically makes the point that some outstanding continental science writers have written against Darwinism, but that they are not well known in the English speaking world, even though their writings are now available in an English translation.

    For example, Pierre-Paul Grassé was a former president of the French Académie des Sciences, whose book Evolution of Living Organisms appeared in French in 1973 and in English in 1977. I haven’t read his work and it is probably far too technical for me to follow, but he certainly sounds a heavyweight in his field.

    Hayward describes Grassé’s evolutionary model as based on “internal factors that compel life to evolve along predetermined lines”. These factors are neither mystical nor magical, and should be discoverable to science. Hayward describes Grassé’s replacement explanation as “vague and unconvincing”.

    Hayward acknowledges that Willis is an evolutionist, but from his description Willis is by no means a Darwinist as far as the plant world is concerned. His evolutionary model progresses in great leaps. At the back of it Willis sees some scientific law yet to be discovered.

    quote:
    ken said:
    It is all about the origin of species, literally. Not the origin of life. It addresses the fundamental question of ecology: "why are there so many kinds of living things?". Not the meaning of life the universe and everything. It leaves that to philosophers & theologians.

    Would that it did! I think any theory that presumes human life to have originated spontaneously and developed naturally through the same route as the animal life around us is going to attract a lot of attention to itself. It is quite clearly the case that for some people Darwinism is indeed the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

    quote:
    ken said:
    Your fitness is how many grandchildren you have. People with more grandchildren have more grandchildren then people with fewer.

    The scientific angle is surely to understand why one genetic configuration has more grandchildren than other genetic configurations. Counting relative survival numbers is not a scientific explanation for why they have survived. Hayward summarises Willis’s opinion on plants as “survival of the luckiest”.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Cheesy* (# 3330) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    [QB]

    The reason for the growth of the Intelligent Design Movement is not just the embarrassing antics of the young earth brigade. Intelligent Design has demonstrated the flimsy intellectual foundations of many Darwinist pretensions, whilst simultaneously documenting the strong political hold that the Darwinists exercise, especially in North America. This is well documented at the Access Research Network site.

    Sorry but if you look at the personalities involved, you will find that they are the same. Try googling some of the speakers at the 8th European Creationist Congress (advertised on the arn website).

    C
     
    Posted by Callan. (# 525) on :
     
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

    quote:
    I think you’re being very optimistic here on the willingness of some influential parts of the scientific community to acknowledge that there are other frames of reference apart from the scientific one. It is well documented that some scientists argue that there are no other frames of reference having any truthful reality.
    Well, I've come across scientists who take just that view, scientists who don't believe in God but who subscribe to something like Gould's theory of Non-overlapping magisteria or Popper's demarcation between science and metaphysics and scientists who are theists of one kind or another.
    I don't think that demonstrates more than that scientists, like non-scientists have a range of religious and philosophical viewpoints.

    quote:
    It is one thing to look for a naturalistic scientific explanation following the known laws of science. Having found such a putative explanation, it is then an easy extrapolation to say that the naturalistic explanation makes any other explanation unnecessary (including a theistic one). From there it is but a short step to say dogmatically that the scientific explanation is the only one that has reality.
    But equally it is one thing to be awed by the beauty and wonder of the cosmos and another to postulate a creator. Neither position is self-evidently absurd but both positions involve a shift from the realm of science to the realms of metaphysics or faith.

    quote:
    I would argue that any theory based on random, undetermined, and unspecified mutations is in danger of being interpreted in that fashion. There are certainly numerous Darwinists who have made that interpretation, and who have used the weight of scientific credentials to gain a hearing for their metaphysical views.
    Surely those scientists are strengthened rather than weakened when Christians advance 'scientific' theories which are patently motivated by a desire to defend the faith. If Richard Dawkins says that evolution demonstrates that God does not exist and Philip Johnson argues that we must all adopt Intelligent Design forthwith because Darwinism is subversive of Christianity then the man on the Clapham Omnibus is going to decide that Darwinism and Christianity are incompatible because both sides agree that is the case.

    The case against Dawkins hinges on the point where he illegitmately shifts his ground from scientific arguments to the realm of metaphysics. When he argues, as he does in the Blind Watchmaker, that God cannot exist because he must have evolved by natural selection it is legitimate to point out that the God of the Christian tradition is an entirely different entity to any that could concievably have evolved in that way. What then ensues is a debate as to whether such an entity exists. If one retorts instead, that natural selection did not happen or did not happen to the extent that Darwinists claim, then Dawkins is quite justified in retorting: "Ah, but it did!".

    I think that Intelligent Design and Creationism are both untrue. But I also think that Creationism and Intelligent Design are staggeringly bad moves tactically because they effectively argue that the mainstream of scientific thought is inimical and deadly to Christianity.

    [ 09. June 2004, 12:46: Message edited by: Callan. ]
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    Intelligent Design has demonstrated the flimsy intellectual foundations of many Darwinist pretensions ...

    With respect, I think that this claim is still unsubstantiated (despite page 10 of this thread havign been reached).
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    I am no supporter of young earth creationism, but I refuse to let a select subset of scientists be the final arbiters of what is or is not true.

    This would be a valid criticism, were it to be true. It is not true, as you would know were you to ask any scientist whether they were either a member of the 'select subset' or knew of a member. For laughs, you could suggest some names of scientists who are 'arbiters of truth' to others who work in the same field.

    quote:


    A true scientific theory will be found to be correct across all the scientific knowledge disciplines. It should also keep the philosophers happy.


    I know very few happy philosophers. As for true across science, a scientific theory is only relevant to some. Plate tectonics barely touches on Ohm's Law, and (say) morphogenesis hardly troubles the superconductor crew. So inasfar as that statement has any meaning, it is inconsequential.

    quote:


    Part of the whole problem in this debate is the inadequate definition of what is meant by “evolution”, or the specific version of it understood by “Darwinism”.


    I dunno. I don't use Darwinist much - Darwin's ideas are 150 years old and he had but the smallest fraction of evidence we have in the field of biological evolution. Evolution itself is a simple concept: the change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. Darwin died long before genetics was conceived.

    quote:


    Although the Darwinists do not like to admit it, there are biological scientists who enthusiastically accept some form of evolution, but who have partially or wholly refuted Darwin’s specific ideas. Some have even proposed their own models of evolution, but these lie buried in academic papers and texts, far from the popular mind.


    Such as? Which of Darwin's 'specific ideas' do they refute? How about the subsequent 150 years of scientific thought on the subject?

    quote:

    So on a thread entitled “The Death of Darwinism” it won’t do to subtly morph into generalised vagueness about “evolution”. Karl - Liberal Backslider inadvertently illustrated this above when he said:
    quote:
    How about God created a universe with the capability of an evolutionary process that would create us?
    That is certainly not Darwinism, which does not admit to any teleology in the natural biological processes. Design is out, remember? With a remark as metaphysically careless as that, I rather suspect that when Richard Dawkins leads the revolution, Karl - Liberal Backslider will be joining both Thomas J Marshall and myself up against the wall. [Smile]

    Neil

    'Darwinism', as I think you understand it (as *far* as I think you understand it) has nothing to say about purpose. What Darwin sought to explain was what he observed: how it came to be that way is something else again.

    I don't think you are adequately representing the current state of evolutionary understanding. Until you can correctly identify what's actually going on, I don't think you've got much chance of framing a coherent critique.

    R
     
    Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Glenn Oldham:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    Intelligent Design has demonstrated the flimsy intellectual foundations of many Darwinist pretensions ...

    With respect, I think that this claim is still unsubstantiated (despite page 10 of this thread havign been reached).
    Given that huge tracts of this thread consist of people pointing out the deficiencies of 'intelligent design', I await with baited breath Faithful Sheepdog's, no doubt forthcoming and exciting reply in which he quotes all these arguments and explains wherein they are lacking.


    L.
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:


    I think you’re being very optimistic here on the willingness of some influential parts of the scientific community to acknowledge that there are other frames of reference apart from the scientific one. It is well documented that some scientists argue that there are no other frames of reference having any truthful reality.


    This is philosophy, not science. Unless you're prepared to embark on a discusion of what 'truthful reality' is -- and one dead horse at a time is my limit -- you should accept that science works in the frame of reference which it claims for itself, that of a testable, objective reality conforming to repeatable, observable laws. There may be others, but you won't find science dealing with them. If you want to say scientific ideas of evolution are wrong because they don't explain things in science's own terms, then you have a scientific argument on your hands. If you say science is wrong because it does not involve God, then fine - but unless you can show how this makes for bad science, it's not a scientific argument.

    quote:


    It is one thing to look for a naturalistic scientific explanation following the known laws of science. Having found such a putative explanation, it is then an easy extrapolation to say that the naturalistic explanation makes any other explanation unnecessary (including a theistic one). From there it is but a short step to say dogmatically that the scientific explanation is the only one that has reality.


    It's certainly the only one you need to worry about from a scientific viewpoint. Where creation scientists screw up is in saying that their objections to science are themselves scientific.

    Explanations do not *have* reality. They are *about* reality. There is a difference, and science is always concerned with finding the explanation that seems closest to the business in hand. Creation scientists do not play this game: ipso facto they are not scientists.

    quote:


    I would argue that any theory based on random, undetermined, and unspecified mutations is in danger of being interpreted in that fashion. There are certainly numerous Darwinists who have made that interpretation, and who have used the weight of scientific credentials to gain a hearing for their metaphysical views.


    Lots of people use a lot of things to form metaphysical views. It does not reflect on the scientific accuracy of those things. Who do you know who accounts the metaphysical views of scientists (who are as prone to dodgy spiritual metafarts as anyone) of more weight because they are scientists - as opposed to plumbers, or TV presenters, or merely charismatic (with a small C) people who have the gift of persuasion?
    quote:

    The reason for the growth of the Intelligent Design Movement is not just the embarrassing antics of the young earth brigade. Intelligent Design has demonstrated the flimsy intellectual foundations of many Darwinist pretensions, whilst simultaneously documenting the strong political hold that the Darwinists exercise, especially in North America. This is well documented at the Access Research Network site.

    Simply not true. ID has singularly failed to demonstrate *anything* beyond wishful thinking. It has no legitimacy among mainstream scientists, and no constituency outside certain categories of religious believers. Most people who support it cannot describe its scientific rationale, let alone defend it.

    R
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Monday:
    'Darwinism', as I think you understand it (as *far* as I think you understand it) has nothing to say about purpose. What Darwin sought to explain was what he observed: how it came to be that way is something else again. I don't think you are adequately representing the current state of evolutionary understanding. Until you can correctly identify what's actually going on, I don't think you've got much chance of framing a coherent critique.

    Rex, many of your comments have been discussed further up the thread. I would also remind you that I do not subscribe to young earth creation science. Please take your patronising stereotypes elsewhere.

    Your comment about purpose in Darwinism is begging the question. There are many (especially in America, it seems) who say that the scientific theory explicitly excludes any sense of purpose in the Universe. Mutations occur randomly and those that are beneficial are selected passively through environmental pressure alone.

    So Darwinism can certainly be interpreted to be consistent with philosophical naturalism, a most reassuring conclusion for atheists, but troubling for believers. The key question is whether that is an essential philosophical corollary to the scientific theory, or whether such naturalism is an import being read in illegitimately – eisegesis rather than exegesis.

    There is no doubt that the perceived linkage between scientific Darwinism and philosophical naturalism has been the driving force behind much of the writing emanating from the Intelligent Design fraternity. They expect to find purpose in nature and to describe it scientifically when they do so. They are quite open about their metaphysical presuppositions. Would that the Darwinists were equally open.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Monday:
    'Darwinism', as I think you understand it (as *far* as I think you understand it) has nothing to say about purpose. What Darwin sought to explain was what he observed: how it came to be that way is something else again. I don't think you are adequately representing the current state of evolutionary understanding. Until you can correctly identify what's actually going on, I don't think you've got much chance of framing a coherent critique.

    Rex, many of your comments have been discussed further up the thread.


    Indeed, but I was labouring under the misapprehension that you hadn't read the earlier parts of the thread. As you have, perhaps you might care to comment on the very many comments addressed to you but which remain unanswered.

    quote:

    I would also remind you that I do not subscribe to young earth creation science. Please take your patronising stereotypes elsewhere.


    Perhaps you could point out where I said that you did. I do hope your aversion to stereotypes continues.

    quote:


    Your comment about purpose in Darwinism is begging the question. There are many (especially in America, it seems) who say that the scientific theory explicitly excludes any sense of purpose in the Universe. Mutations occur randomly and those that are beneficial are selected passively through environmental pressure alone.


    As you are sufficiently well versed in what mainstream science says about this matter to critique it, you will no doubt know that the way in which mutations occur and become speciation events is a matter for no little debate. Are you quoting a deliberately simplistic version for dramatic effect?

    quote:


    So Darwinism can certainly be interpreted to be consistent with philosophical naturalism, a most reassuring conclusion for atheists, but troubling for believers.


    Most believers I know are untroubled by this, and given that the atheists I know have never ever said that evolution is evidence for a lack of a god I don't know what reassurance you think they get. I'm sure that some on both sides do think as you state, but surely it's extremely patronising to cast it as a universal truth.

    quote:


    The key question is whether that is an essential philosophical corollary to the scientific theory, or whether such naturalism is an import being read in illegitimately – eisegesis rather than exegesis.


    That key question is badly formed. Perhaps a better question is whether evolutionary biology and theology in general have any link of more import than, say, solid state physics and theology. There are *some* theologies that are grossly insulted by evolutionary biology, but then there are some theologies that are grossly insulted by almost any fact you care to unearth. The Apostolic Catholics believed that the End Times would come about before the last of their appointed elders would die. The gross fact that the last of their apostles died before the End Times kicked off was such an insult to their theology that it did not survive.

    Inasmuch as theology in general is the study of God, then it is best served through science by the dispassionate study of nature to the best of our abilities.

    quote:


    There is no doubt that the perceived linkage between scientific Darwinism and philosophical naturalism has been the driving force behind much of the writing emanating from the Intelligent Design fraternity.


    It's also the driving force behind much of the nonsense emanating from the Discovery Institute, Islamic fundamentalists and others of that kidney.

    quote:


    They expect to find purpose in nature and to describe it scientifically when they do so. They are quite open about their metaphysical presuppositions. Would that the Darwinists were equally open.


    Yes, but what they find is not convincing - any more than the stuff from the YECs is convincing.

    What matters in science is results. Metaphysics don't enter into it. Why bring them up? The philosophy inherent in the scientific method is statement enough. It doesn't need endless repetition.

    quote:

    Neil

    R
     
    Posted by Louise (# 30) on :
     
    quote:
    There are *some* theologies that are grossly insulted by evolutionary biology, but then there are some theologies that are grossly insulted by almost any fact you care to unearth. The Apostolic Catholics believed that the End Times would come about before the last of their appointed elders would die. The gross fact that the last of their apostles died before the End Times kicked off was such an insult to their theology that it did not survive.

    Much though I hate to correct my dear betrothed, I think you'll find that they were the Catholic Apostolic Church and that in fact their theology survived the passing of the last apostle in 1901 by quite some time - their sacramental ministry didn't cease until their last priest died in 1971.

    However that doesn't affect your underlying point as sure enough when the last priest died that reality did, more or less, do for them - although I'm sure there are still a tiny handful of Catholic Apostolic believers around. (There was also a German branch of the denomination which decided to appoint some more Apostles and they are still going - but I digress)

    cheers,
    L.

    PS. If anyone else is interested in the Catholic Apostolics - please let me know by PM as I find them fascinating and wouldn't mind comparing notes.

    [ 09. June 2004, 22:25: Message edited by: Louise ]
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Louise:
    Much though I hate to correct my dear betrothed...

    Ah, I know Scottish rhetoric when I see it!

    Mea culpa. I shall pick examples I can check properly next time.

    R
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    There are many (especially in America, it seems) who say that the scientific theory explicitly excludes any sense of purpose in the Universe. Mutations occur randomly and those that are beneficial are selected passively through environmental pressure alone.

    And, of course there are those who suggest that given the physical and chemical structure of matter that in a universe like ours evolution by random mutation and natural selection will, in all probability, lead to intelligent life eventually somewhere in that universe and that this was the way God accomplished (part of) God's purpose.

    Why Christian's rush to intelligent design creationism is a puzzle to me.
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Glenn Oldham said:
    And, of course there are those who suggest that given the physical and chemical structure of matter that in a universe like ours evolution by random mutation and natural selection will, in all probability, lead to intelligent life eventually somewhere in that universe and that this was the way God accomplished (part of) God's purpose.

    Why Christians rush to intelligent design creationism is a puzzle to me.

    It is no accident that I have similar thinking to my namesake on the earlier part of this thread (Neil Robbie) – we are both civil engineers by training. As a non-biological specialist some of the debate is technically way over my head. However, the concept of an engineered system is immediately familiar.

    The idea of biological machines has especially appealed to me, particularly the notion of irreducible complexity. I am also no stranger to the concept of design as a science – I even had lectures on the subject at university. So the Intelligent Design fraternity is speaking a scientific language that finds a ready resonance with me.

    quote:
    Callan said:
    <snip>
    The case against Dawkins hinges on the point where he illegitimately shifts his ground from scientific arguments to the realm of metaphysics. When he argues, as he does in the Blind Watchmaker, that God cannot exist because he must have evolved by natural selection it is legitimate to point out that the God of the Christian tradition is an entirely different entity to any that could conceivably have evolved in that way. What then ensues is a debate as to whether such an entity exists. If one retorts instead, that natural selection did not happen or did not happen to the extent that Darwinists claim, then Dawkins is quite justified in retorting: "Ah, but it did!".
    <snip>

    Scientific reconstruction of the past is a very different kettle of fish compared to scientific understanding of the present. The scientific aim to discover a testable, objective reality conforming to repeatable, observable laws is fine for the present, but it becomes problematic for the past, and much more difficult for the far distant past.

    By definition the past is neither repeatable nor observable, so we must reply on observation and deduction from the present using whatever clues are available. The present we can observe; the past we must reconstruct. Already we have lost much of the precision associated with science, not to mention the ability to run repeatable experiments.

    Earlier on this thread Alan Cresswell linked to some interesting hominid skull fossils. These are the raw scientific data, clearly representing ancient life-forms of some kind. However, when it is declared that these fossils show the ape-to-human evolutionary transformation, we are in a questionable area of interpretation.

    How do you know that each skull is a remote biological descendant of the earlier one, and that we - modern humans - are remote descendants of any particular fossil? Is it possible to do any form of DNA testing on fossils? Were they even all located in the same geographical area? There is already an assumption operating, and the raw fossil evidence is interpreted within a Darwinian framework.

    I am aware that “natural selection” is responsible for moths getting darker, finch beaks getting longer, and bacteria acquiring resistance. Has anybody demonstrated that “natural selection” has the creative power to make the massive physiological changes necessary in the particles-to-people theory?

    I have read the (highly technical) paper on Observed Instances of Speciation at the Talk Origins website. So far I see pansies remaining pansies, and fruit flies remaining fruit flies, albeit losing the ability to interbreed.

    Given the dogmatism emanating from parts of that site, I would expect to see much better examples of speciation. It simply won’t do to point to small observable changes and say that they clearly demonstrate the validity of the whole Darwinian story. There is a massive piece of extrapolation taking place here on the basis of very limited data.

    Darwinism was described by the French botanist Gavaudan as an “ingenious romance” (quoted in Hayward’s book). I think I agree.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Alan Cresswell (# 31) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    Earlier on this thread Alan Cresswell linked to some interesting hominid skull fossils. These are the raw scientific data, clearly representing ancient life-forms of some kind. However, when it is declared that these fossils show the ape-to-human evolutionary transformation, we are in a questionable area of interpretation.

    Yes, the fossils are raw data. But, the challenge is to find some explanation for that data - sticking them in a museum for people to admire uninterpreted isn't science. Now, the data we have in regard to these fossils is (broadly speaking for brevity) that we have a number of fossilised skulls showing different features. Each skull has an associated age and location where it was found. The earliest skulls were all found in approximately the same area in Africa.

    So, what options do we have?

    Well, we can start with the classic Creationist position that God created all things according to their immutable 'kind', and what we have are a collection of different varients on human much as we have different varients of dogs that are still the same species. Now, we have to ask the question "what happened to all the other varients?" as they clearly are not currently in existance? And, related to that, why were only a small number of those varients fossilised at any one time - if all those varients existed at the same time, why was fossilisation so distinctly non-random? The obvious answer is that not all varients lived at the same time, that some appeared later in time after others had died out just as many species of dog had not yet been bred a thousand years ago, and many breeds from a thousand years ago are now very rare if not extinct. This leaves very big questions of why that would be.

    Alternatively we can say that there was a progression of changes in features over time, with (for example) a tend towards larger brain capacity. Now "progression of changes in features over time" is evolution. This is a fact derived from the fossils that is pretty damn close to being as basic as the existance of the fossils themselves.

    Of course, you then move on to a discussion of how that evolution occured and what powered it. I see two basic camps. 1) Each species was specifically created by God to live in a particular environment or 2) Each species is an adaptation on earlier species in response to changing environments. Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are basically the second option.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    These are the raw scientific data, clearly representing ancient life-forms of some kind. However, when it is declared that these fossils show the ape-to-human evolutionary transformation, we are in a questionable area of interpretation.

    How do you know that each skull is a remote biological descendant of the earlier one, and that we - modern humans - are remote descendants of any particular fossil? Is it possible to do any form of DNA testing on fossils? Were they even all located in the same geographical area? There is already an assumption operating, and the raw fossil evidence is interpreted within a Darwinian framework.

    I am aware that “natural selection” is responsible for moths getting darker, finch beaks getting longer, and bacteria acquiring resistance. Has anybody demonstrated that “natural selection” has the creative power to make the massive physiological changes necessary in the particles-to-people theory?

    I have read the (highly technical) paper on Observed Instances of Speciation at the Talk Origins website. So far I see pansies remaining pansies, and fruit flies remaining fruit flies, albeit losing the ability to interbreed.

    Given the dogmatism emanating from parts of that site, I would expect to see much better examples of speciation. It simply won’t do to point to small observable changes and say that they clearly demonstrate the validity of the whole Darwinian story. There is a massive piece of extrapolation taking place here on the basis of very limited data.

    Darwinism was described by the French botanist Gavaudan as an “ingenious romance” (quoted in Hayward’s book). I think I agree.

    I am rather baffled by your post, Neil, you cite several observations all of which are consistent with evolution and then you describe evolution as an “ingenious romance”. Where was the argument supposed to be in this?

    Speciation happens. No evolutionist expects to live long enough to see genera evolve, though if he or she did there would doubtless be creationists still around to say ‘ah yes but they are all really the same kind’.

    The fact that we have no present day observations that can show new genera, families, orders forming does not mean that there is no evidence for common ancestry. The case for evolution is a cumulative one, not one that consists of a single knockout argument. So, to pull in another strand of evidence, why are there so many similarities between species that only really make sense if they have common descent? Why do all mammals have seven neck vertebrae (whales and giraffes alike) and why do all vertebrates have such similar limb structure (the pentadactyl limb)? Why does the giraffe’s laryngeal nerve take a route down from the brain to near the heart and then up to the larynx? That nerve always takes that route in all vertebrates but in the giraffe it means the nerve is 5 metres longer than it needs to be to get from the brain to the larynx. There are no design reasons for all these kinds of similarity, but since the theory of evolution argues that adaptations build on what is already there then these kinds of similarity make sense.

    Why are the chromosomes of chimps and humans so similar, why are their DNA sequences so similar and why are the amino acid sequences of their proteins so similar? They do not need to be. There is no clear reason whatsoever why the haemoglobin of chimps needs to be as similar as it is to the haemoglobin of humans. There are a wide range of amino acid sequences for haemoglobins - why do chimp sequences match humans more than lions? Or sloths? Or goats? There are no known design reasons for these similarities. Once again, however, the theory of common descent explains these similarities and a host of comparable ones in all sorts of species.

    Christians are, surely, familiar with cumulative case arguments – they use them to argue for the truth of Christianity.
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Sorry to double post but it looks as if the chapter that Neil refers to is online at Biologists who reject Darwinism by Alan Hayward so we can have a look for ourselves.
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    quote:
    Glenn Oldham said:
    And, of course there are those who suggest that given the physical and chemical structure of matter that in a universe like ours evolution by random mutation and natural selection will, in all probability, lead to intelligent life eventually somewhere in that universe and that this was the way God accomplished (part of) God's purpose.

    Why Christians rush to intelligent design creationism is a puzzle to me.

    It is no accident that I have similar thinking to my namesake on the earlier part of this thread (Neil Robbie) – we are both civil engineers by training. As a non-biological specialist some of the debate is technically way over my head. However, the concept of an engineered system is immediately familiar.


    Indeed. I can't find the study right now, but engineers are significantly over-represented in creationist demographics compared to those of other groups of Christians.

    quote:


    The idea of biological machines has especially appealed to me, particularly the notion of irreducible complexity. I am also no stranger to the concept of design as a science – I even had lectures on the subject at university. So the Intelligent Design fraternity is speaking a scientific language that finds a ready resonance with me.


    One of the pitfalls that linguistic translators are taught to notice are 'faux amis' or false friends, more technically called deceptive cognates. These are words in one language that look very similar to words in another, but in fact mean something substantially different to their apparent namesakes. How might you guard against something similar happening here, with your familiarity with sentient engineering making you prone to seeing an engineering explanation with a sentient engineer for biological systems?

    quote:

    quote:
    Callan said:
    <snip>
    The case against Dawkins hinges on the point where he illegitimately shifts his ground from scientific arguments to the realm of metaphysics. When he argues, as he does in the Blind Watchmaker, that God cannot exist because he must have evolved by natural selection it is legitimate to point out that the God of the Christian tradition is an entirely different entity to any that could conceivably have evolved in that way. What then ensues is a debate as to whether such an entity exists. If one retorts instead, that natural selection did not happen or did not happen to the extent that Darwinists claim, then Dawkins is quite justified in retorting: "Ah, but it did!".
    <snip>

    Scientific reconstruction of the past is a very different kettle of fish compared to scientific understanding of the present. The scientific aim to discover a testable, objective reality conforming to repeatable, observable laws is fine for the present, but it becomes problematic for the past, and much more difficult for the far distant past.

    By definition the past is neither repeatable nor observable, so we must reply on observation and deduction from the present using whatever clues are available. The present we can observe; the past we must reconstruct. Already we have lost much of the precision associated with science, not to mention the ability to run repeatable experiments.


    Sadly, that's not true. Astronomers spend all their time observing the past directly (let's ignore the fact that technically so we all do). Fortunately, the things astronomers observe directly touch on the basic mechanisms and laws of physics - so we can immediately tell that in the past, things behaved as they do now, at least on various interesting and useful physical levels. So, whatever mechanisms created the stuff we find around us are the selfsame mechanisms we can touch and experiment on right now.

    The past is accessible and analysable, predictions about what we can find out can be made and tested. Good thing, really, otherwise courts couldn't operate and historians, geologists and oil companies would have a thin time of it.

    quote:


    Earlier on this thread Alan Cresswell linked to some interesting hominid skull fossils. These are the raw scientific data, clearly representing ancient life-forms of some kind. However, when it is declared that these fossils show the ape-to-human evolutionary transformation, we are in a questionable area of interpretation.

    How do you know that each skull is a remote biological descendant of the earlier one, and that we - modern humans - are remote descendants of any particular fossil? Is it possible to do any form of DNA testing on fossils? Were they even all located in the same geographical area? There is already an assumption operating, and the raw fossil evidence is interpreted within a Darwinian framework.


    I think you misunderstand. Indeed, it isn't generally possible to say that we are descendents of any particular fossil - you may be aware of the continued discussion about whether we are or are not in some way descended from Neanderthal Man. Furthermore, evolutionary theory doesn't say that this should be generally proveable nor that it matters that much (although it's obviously of great interest to find one's family).

    What you can say from the collection of fossil hominid skulls is that there has been a set of features evolving over time, and that we share some of those features. Whether a particular skull is an ancestor of Homo Sapiens or whether it shares a common ancestor with us, is frequently very hard to tell - although one of these two is true.

    What we have is a consistent pattern of changes in structure over time, which is very strong proof indeed in favour of evolution. To deny it, you must either show that the skulls don't show the features or that the proposed sequence is incorrect. True, there is an element of tautology here, in that evolution is so widely assumed that the change in features are used to help create the sequence, but that's merely because there is so much evidence from elsewhere that this is a correct approach. Some of the sequencing from microscopic prehistoric sea creatures is staggeringly detailed and complete over very long stretches of time, because here we have such good and complete fossil records - find me a creationist micropaleontologist, and I will be truly impressed.

    There are other dating methods used, and they bolster this approach -- were they not to do so, then it would be an interesting start to proving evolution false.

    quote:


    I am aware that “natural selection” is responsible for moths getting darker, finch beaks getting longer, and bacteria acquiring resistance. Has anybody demonstrated that “natural selection” has the creative power to make the massive physiological changes necessary in the particles-to-people theory?


    The whole world demonstrates this! The question is rather, is there any demonstrable (or even conceivable) limitation on variability that would prevent such changes? What might be the limiting mechanism? Is a lungfish enough like a fish to be a possible modification? Is an amphibian enough like a lungfish to be a possible modification? Is a lizard like an amphiban, ditto? So why can a lizard not be descended from a fish?

    Creationists are fond of quoting 'goo to you' as an example of how evolution cannot possibly work because the change is just too big. But that's not how evolution is thought to work - many small changes over time will do it. You may never find a pound on the pavement, but pick up enough pennies...

    quote:


    I have read the (highly technical) paper on Observed Instances of Speciation at the Talk Origins website. So far I see pansies remaining pansies, and fruit flies remaining fruit flies, albeit losing the ability to interbreed.

    Given the dogmatism emanating from parts of that site, I would expect to see much better examples of speciation. It simply won’t do to point to small observable changes and say that they clearly demonstrate the validity of the whole Darwinian story. There is a massive piece of extrapolation taking place here on the basis of very limited data.


    But no! There are enormous amounts of data. You've already said that sufficient levels of mutation occur even in the short term to cause population divergeance to the point where interbreeding cannot occur. We see this in the fossil record too. However, the fossil record does what our quotidian observations cannot, it extends over much larger stretches of time. We see sequences of species diverging and becoming very different -- once they cannot interbreed, this is what you'd expect over time -- and this happens consistently and in agreement with multiple independent methods of dating.

    In fact, if we did observe gross speciation events occuring 'in real time', which is what you seem to be complaining is missing, then it would be strong evidence that our concepts of evolution are badly flawed. Frogs don't turn into dogs: evolution merely says that at some very distant point in the past, frogs and dogs had a common ancestor.

    quote:


    Darwinism was described by the French botanist Gavaudan as an “ingenious romance” (quoted in Hayward’s book). I think I agree.

    Neil


    I agree too, up to a point - a lot of evolutionary science is ingenious romance. A criticism frequently levelled at evolutionary biologists is that they spend their time writing Just So stories. Which they do, but to see this as a weakness in evolution is to fundamentally misunderstand it.

    The truth is that, just like any science, various theories are advanced that seem to fit the facts and people spend their time inventing these ideas and digging out ways to test them. Evolutionary biology defines the sort of Just So stories that can be written and sets the limits of the plausible. Evolution itself is as well proven a scientific fact as any we have: the details and the implications are what the science is all about.

    Creation science falls well outside the plausible space. There is simply no scientific evidence for it, and predictions that would seem logical -- such as huge numbers of very different animals appearing simultaneously in the fossil record -- are so clearly at odds to what we find that no creation scientist can make them.

    R
     
    Posted by Cheesy* (# 3330) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rex Monday:

    I think you misunderstand. Indeed, it isn't generally possible to say that we are descendents of any particular fossil - you may be aware of the continued discussion about whether we are or are not in some way descended from Neanderthal Man. Furthermore, evolutionary theory doesn't say that this should be generally proveable nor that it matters that much (although it's obviously of great interest to find one's family).

    What you can say from the collection of fossil hominid skulls is that there has been a set of features evolving over time, and that we share some of those features. Whether a particular skull is an ancestor of Homo Sapiens or whether it shares a common ancestor with us, is frequently very hard to tell - although one of these two is true.

    What we have is a consistent pattern of changes in structure over time, which is very strong proof indeed in favour of evolution. To deny it, you must either show that the skulls don't show the features or that the proposed sequence is incorrect. True, there is an element of tautology here, in that evolution is so widely assumed that the change in features are used to help create the sequence, but that's merely because there is so much evidence from elsewhere that this is a correct approach. Some of the sequencing from microscopic prehistoric sea creatures is staggeringly detailed and complete over very long stretches of time, because here we have such good and complete fossil records - find me a creationist micropaleontologist, and I will be truly impressed.

    Sorry, first an evolutionist cannot appeal to concepts of features that could be constructed sequentially over time - but at the same tell engineers to mind-their-own-business when told it cannot physically be done. I would think engineers are at least as well qualified as biologists to make this assessment.

    Second, you are now falling into the Dawkins this-happened-because-I-said-it-did trap. Let us wake up and smell the coffee here. How many huminoid fossils are there in existance? Answer - not many, of the oldest at least. What circumstances would encourage fossilisation? I would postulate that people with mental illness, sickness or other infirmity are more likely to find themselves in situations suitable for fossilisation than fully fit members of the community. Morein, I would not be surprised if the huminoid 'adaptions' found in the fossils are also found within the normal variation of the species (think of the 'elephant' man for example - would he not have been considered another species if his fossil had been found in isolation?).

    I suggest to you that there is, therefore, at least the potential for major errors to exist within human evolution.

    Prehistoric sea creatures are not relevant to questions of human evolution. Trilobites, for example, were around from the cambrian with relatively minor variations for millions of years. What does this show? If you look for evidence [both within the fossil record and in nature as a whole] you will inevitably find whatever you are looking for. This is not to say that evolutionary theory is wrong just that some of you guys need to be a whole lot more circumspect and less defensive about it.

    And before any creationist thinks of pming me, read my previous comments.

    C
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Cheesy*:
    Sorry, first an evolutionist cannot appeal to concepts of features that could be constructed sequentially over time - but at the same tell engineers to mind-their-own-business when told it cannot physically be done. I would think engineers are at least as well qualified as biologists to make this assessment.


    Nobody, biologist or engineer, is qualified to make that assessment unless they can follow it up with a 'because...' that stands scrutiny.

    Behe says that there are biological systems that could not have evolved because there is no way they could exist in a part-functioning or incomplete state - and thus nothing they could have evolved from. They are irreducably complex, in his term, because they have multiple necessary components, removal of any one of which causes the system to cease to function.

    Unfortunately for him, the mechanisms he's chosen to exemplify this theory have plausible evolutionary pathways - evolution can indeed produce 'irreducably complex' systems. All that's necessary is a system that was merely beneficial in the past becoming essential through modification. Further beneficial mechanisms can then come about that depend on the first one, and if one of those new beneficial mechanisms also becomes essential you have two essential connected components that nonetheless evolved independently and at different times.

    quote:

    Second, you are now falling into the Dawkins this-happened-because-I-said-it-did trap. Let us wake up and smell the coffee here. How many huminoid fossils are there in existance? Answer - not many, of the oldest at least. What circumstances would encourage fossilisation? I would postulate that people with mental illness, sickness or other infirmity are more likely to find themselves in situations suitable for fossilisation than fully fit members of the community. Morein, I would not be surprised if the huminoid 'adaptions' found in the fossils are also found within the normal variation of the species (think of the 'elephant' man for example - would he not have been considered another species if his fossil had been found in isolation?).


    Well, these are all possibilities - but in the absence of statistically significant numbers of fossils, you have to apply what we know of probability. In a population of hominids, how many mutants are there? How many survive any length of time? Compare that to the number of typical examples: in Victorian England, there was one Joseph Merrick for how many millions of more typical homo sapiens?

    Also, the features of the hominid skulls seem to fit a number of patterns of development - jaw structures, occipital bones, even the structure of the brain as revealed by the inside of the skulls. It's not as if there are so many random features that are shuffled around by the evolutionary biologists to make a pleasing picture.

    quote:

    I suggest to you that there is, therefore, at least the potential for major errors to exist within human evolution.


    Absolutely. It just doesn't seem very likely on the evidence we have, and nobody's come up with a better explanation that fits.

    quote:


    Prehistoric sea creatures are not relevant to questions of human evolution. Trilobites, for example, were around from the cambrian with relatively minor variations for millions of years. What does this show? If you look for evidence [both within the fossil record and in nature as a whole] you will inevitably find whatever you are looking for. This is not to say that evolutionary theory is wrong just that some of you guys need to be a whole lot more circumspect and less defensive about it.


    You can find very many different strands of evolution, including families of animals that remain substantially unchanged for many millions of years, and including quite dramatic changes in much smaller periods. It's not a question of 'finding whatever you're looking for' - something which is patently false, as there's nothing there that supports creationism - but having a huge encylopedia of past events that may help inform our understanding of biology as a whole.

    Everything is connected, everything is useful: the one rule is that there won't be anything in the fossil record that contradicts something else. If that apparently happens, we know that our understanding is wrong.

    quote:


    And before any creationist thinks of pming me, read my previous comments.

    C

    R
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    Indeed. I can't find the study right now, but engineers are significantly over-represented in creationist demographics compared to those of other groups of Christians.

    I’m sure you’re well aware that the word creationist has a slippery and occasionally very pejorative meaning. Despite that it is peppered all over your posts. To remove any misunderstanding I suggest that you define your terms more accurately or use a different word. I prefer to stay well away from it unless the meaning is clearly defined in the context.

    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    One of the pitfalls that linguistic translators are taught to notice are 'faux amis' or false friends, more technically called deceptive cognates. These are words in one language that look very similar to words in another, but in fact mean something substantially different to their apparent namesakes. How might you guard against something similar happening here, with your familiarity with sentient engineering making you prone to seeing an engineering explanation with a sentient engineer for biological systems?

    A “false friend” is an incorrect deduction from prior knowledge of one language concerning a similar-looking word in a text of another language. In such a case there is a prior assumption that the text is meaningful. However, the specific deduction on the word’s meaning is incorrect.

    The error is in the detail, not in the overall principle. The text is meaningful, but not in the way that you thought. Simon and Garfunkel said it all 30 years ago, “A man sees what he wants to see, and disregards the rest”.

    Concerning biological machines, the same laws of physics and chemistry apply to both biologists and engineers, in a way that they do not to linguists. Deductive reasoning from these basic laws is a fundamental part of natural science. However, I think the difference between engineers and Darwinists is the starting point in what is perceived to be already known.

    Darwinists “know” that a Darwinian mechanism can create complex, information-rich systems, whereas engineers “know” that machines and engineered systems don’t happen by accident – they require intelligence and information – or as Dembski would put it, complexity and specification.

    The genetic engineering going on is a good example that some biologists can think like engineers. However, the challenge to Darwinists is to demonstrate scientifically that “natural selection” can indeed create new, complex, information-rich systems, rather than taking it as a given.

    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    Sadly, that's not true. Astronomers spend all their time observing the past directly (let's ignore the fact that technically so we all do). Fortunately, the things astronomers observe directly touch on the basic mechanisms and laws of physics - so we can immediately tell that in the past, things behaved as they do now, at least on various interesting and useful physical levels. So, whatever mechanisms created the stuff we find around us are the selfsame mechanisms we can touch and experiment on right now.

    The past is accessible and analysable, predictions about what we can find out can be made and tested. Good thing, really, otherwise courts couldn't operate and historians, geologists and oil companies would have a thin time of it.

    No, I can’t agree here with your conclusions regarding the earth’s past. Powerful telescopes can tell what is happening on the far side of the cosmos umpteen million years ago, but they cannot tell us anything specific at all about life-forms in the earth’s distant past. Despite our evident knowledge of geology and fossils, our access to the earth’s biological past remains partial and incomplete, and barring time travel, is always likely to be so.

    The telescopic observations can demonstrate that the basic laws of physics and chemistry were the same in times past in the far reaches of the cosmos, thus giving us the principle of uniformitarianism. However, until such powerful telescopes can witness the development of life in the far past in other parts of the cosmos, we are none the wiser about the specific mechanisms for the development of life on earth. We still have to extrapolate from the earth’s present.

    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    What we have is a consistent pattern of changes in structure over time, which is very strong proof indeed in favour of evolution. To deny it, you must either show that the skulls don't show the features or that the proposed sequence is incorrect. True, there is an element of tautology here, in that evolution is so widely assumed that the change in features are used to help create the sequence, but that's merely because there is so much evidence from elsewhere that this is a correct approach. Some of the sequencing from microscopic prehistoric sea creatures is staggeringly detailed and complete over very long stretches of time, because here we have such good and complete fossil records - find me a creationist micropaleontologist, and I will be truly impressed.

    The pattern of changes may be consistent with an assumed evolutionary schema, but your comment on tautology is quite correct. People are more or less assuming that which they wish to prove. I do not disagree with the fact that life-forms in times past were very different – what schoolboy was not fascinated with dinosaurs? (And when he grew up, Raquel Welch, but I digress. [Smile] ) It is the route to the life-forms of the present that must be demonstrated, not just assumed.

    Micropaleontology is definitely not my speciality, although if the fossil record here is totally consistent with classical Darwinism it is not something I have previously come across in my reading. Gould moved to a “punctuated equilibrium” model in order to try and match the fossil record more closely, whilst still remaining within the Darwinist camp.

    Even if you are correct on the evolutionary history of micro-organisms, it is still an extrapolation to apply that to hominid life-forms – we are very different to bacteria!

    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    Creationists are fond of quoting 'goo to you' as an example of how evolution cannot possibly work because the change is just too big. But that's not how evolution is thought to work - many small changes over time will do it. You may never find a pound on the pavement, but pick up enough pennies...

    Yet another careless use of the word “creationist”; a slippery elision into “evolution” on a thread about Darwinism; and an ad hominem caricature as well. [Frown] Hayward’s book is full of references to explicit scientific evolutionists who do not accept a Darwinian model.

    You may indeed find a penny on the pavement, but the assumption in your argument is that you will continue to find more pennies, whilst simultaneously never losing any already collected, until your pound is complete. Your penny is only a simple analogy, so I won’t push it too far, but my fundamental point about extrapolation remains.

    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    In fact, if we did observe gross speciation events occurring 'in real time', which is what you seem to be complaining is missing, then it would be strong evidence that our concepts of evolution are badly flawed. Frogs don't turn into dogs: evolution merely says that at some very distant point in the past, frogs and dogs had a common ancestor.

    Engineers do accelerated ageing tests on their products all the time. Can biologists not do the same on their theories? I take your point about frogs not becoming dogs, but fruit flies can be bred at great speed. I want to see fruit flies becoming something that is demonstrably not a fruit fly via a Darwinian mechanism.

    I admire the way you have turned the absence of present day evidence for gross speciation events into evidence for the correctness of Darwinism. I’m afraid I see such absence as a major flaw in Darwinism. As a theory it would appear to be neither testable nor observable nor repeatable, and certainly not falsifiable, rendering its scientific credentials suspect in my eyes.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Glenn Oldham (# 47) on :
     
    Neil,
    May I ask in what way Intelligent Design explains the genetic relationships between species, the homologies in structure (such as the pentadactyl limb) and the fossil record?
     
    Posted by Faithful Sheepdog (# 2305) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Glenn Oldham:
    Neil,
    May I ask in what way Intelligent Design explains the genetic relationships between species, the homologies in structure (such as the pentadactyl limb) and the fossil record?

    Glenn, you're welcome to ask, but I don't guarantee to be able to answer. [Smile] For a start, I don't have the specialist knowledge of animal biology and physiology that you have displayed in your posts. I have to approach this subject through a non-specialist route.

    I will give some more thought and come back tomorrow if health permits. In the meantime there is a huge amount of information at the Access Research Network Website.

    With respect to Cheesy's comments above on hominid fossils, one piece of research I would like to see is the present-day natural variation in hominid skulls (if such research doesn't already exist). I suspect that the natural variation will be found to be surprisingly large. That information may result in different assessments for some of the hominid skull fossils.

    Neil
     
    Posted by Rex Monday (# 2569) on :
     
    quote:
    Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
    quote:
    Rex Monday said:
    Indeed. I can't find the study right now, but engineers are significantly over-represented in creationist demographics compared to those of other groups of Christians.

    I’m sure you’re well aware that the word creationist has a slippery and occasionally very pejorative meaning. Despite that it is peppered all over your posts. To remove any misunderstanding I suggest that you define your terms more accurately or use a different word. I prefer to stay well away from it unless the meaning is clearly defined in the context.


    Creationists: people who believe that God directly created different kinds of living things. And in that sense, I'm going to carry on using the word. Could you define 'Darwinism'?

    quote:


    A “false friend” is an incorrect deduction from prior knowledge of one language concerning a similar-looking word in a text of another language.


    T