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Evolution and Evangelicals … Reflections (RJS)

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We began a discussion Tuesday on the real and perceived barriers to the acceptance of  an evolutionary mechanism of creation amongst evangelical theologians.  The basis for our discussion is a recent survey by Bruce Waltke (or here), an Old Testament scholar, author of a Genesis commentary and other books. The results of his survey are available here: Waltke Scholarly Essay.  

Waltke has a few conclusions and a few
suggestions. These are well worth considering in some depth. The presentation that follows below is a paraphrase – not a quote from the white
paper. The material is reorganized around three main themes according to my thinking at this time.

First – The caricature of evangelicalism as demanding Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is a gross oversimplification Some 46% of the evangelical theologians surveyed are comfortable with evolutionary creation. More than half are comfortable with some form of old earth creation, evolutionary or progressive. Many have nuanced and carefully considered views. The same general trend is found in other surveys as well.  But it is a deep divide, and in some respects the division increases the heatedness of the discussion.

Like many evangelical OT scholars, Waltke sees a truth in Genesis that is goes beyond literal historicity.  Reflecting on the first barrier and the 44% who found the interpretation of Genesis 1-2 to be a barrier to acceptance of evolutionary creation Waltke notes:

The first barrier can be lowered, I suggest, by recognizing the two levels of literature: the historical story level and the interpretive, creative plot level. On the story level the accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 are historical; on the plot level they are creative representations of the historical reality.

[He uses an illustration of a glass half full of water, half full of air and continues] … the additional creative element expresses truth beyond the historical reality. Similarly, the accounts of creation are based on real history, but presented creatively, using the form of ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies.

Second – But there is more; the conflict goes beyond Genesis. The
issues – and the resistance to an evolutionary view of creation
go beyond the interpretation of Genesis 1-3.  There are theological and
anthropological considerations – the nature of God and the nature of
man, the nature of sin and death.  There are world view barriers to the acceptance of evolutionary creation. Some of these relate to perception and definition – and bring us to
Waltke’s second conclusion and suggestion.

Waltke makes two important observations on definition: “differentiation
must be clearly stated between evolution guided by the Creator and
evolution guided by purposeless, random chance
” and “a careful
distinction must be made between deism and immanence. Evangelicals
rightly reject deism–that is to say, God began the process and then
walked away from it. The Trinity is immanent in all his creation
.” 
We must think hard about both randomness and immanence.  Conway
Morris’s book Life’s Solution is a very important reflection in this
regard – randomness is a tool that can be used to achieve purpose.

Third – we have scientific materialism and the God hypothesis. There is a famous interaction between LaPlace and Napoleon. LaPlace presented his work to Napoleon who ..

received it with the remark, ‘M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the
system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.’
Laplace … drew himself up and answered
bluntly, ‘I had no need of that hypothesis.’
” 

Part of the conflict between science and faith is that we do not wish to eliminate the “need of that hypothesis” prematurely and without cause.  This gives rise to another significant barrier to the acceptance of evolutionary creation and, I suggest, to the popularity of the Intelligent Design movement. These considerations lead us to Waltke’s third suggestion.

Waltke is disturbed (as are many others) by the tone of the discussion of Intelligent Design.  He claims that “the arguments of the ID movement, whether for a total negation of evolution or a rejection of it on only the molecular level, represents the main scientific challenge to the theory of creation by evolution.” (I agree – but I also think that in general the scientific claims of the ID movement are not holding up to scrutiny.) 

However, Waltke has another key observation on the topic of ID — “the organizations seeking to refute evolution and/or to narrow
the gap between creation and evolution must address one another with
respect and openness to be optimally effective. The gap between
BioLogos and ID, I suggest, can best be narrowed by open dialogue, not
by entrenched confrontation.
” In a footnote he brings up a comment by one of the respondents to the survey:

In a personal correspondence, one highly respected scholar–were it otherwise, I would not cite him– wrote that it is alleged that Collins will not publicly engage an adherent of anti-evolution ID; he further suggested that if this is not so, Collins should make this clear.

I am also disturbed by the tone of the discussion – there is far more heat than light.  Now, for reasons rooted in my understanding of science and my understanding of the data, I am cleanly on the evolutionary creation side of this discussion – but we need to be able to sit down and discuss the issues with out resorting to vitriolic rhetoric and ridicule. I am uncomfortable with the approach of many – including Miller, Conway Morris, and Giberson at times – on this issue. Ridicule hardens positions, it does not create movement or build bridges. 

On the other hand, I do not think that it would be profitable for Collins to publicly engage an adherent of anti-evolution ID.  I don’t think that any good would come of it – and there is much potential for harm. There is no way to design an effective forum or to avoid soundbite sabotage.

Of course there is no reason why we, here, cannot open a civil discussion. With this in mind I will look at books from the ID movement – not only at books expanding upon my position (evolutionary creation).  We will begin in a few weeks with Stephen Meyer’s recent book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.

What do you think? What roles do theological, biblical, philosophical, and scientific factors play in your thinking about evangelicalism and evolution?

How can we carry on a useful conversation? What features do you think are needed?

If you wish to contact me, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net



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John W Frye

posted October 29, 2009 at 8:39 am


RJS,
Because most within the evangelical stream, no matter their discipline–theology, biblical studies, science, etc.–were trained in an adversarial framework of finding truth, they cannot easily dialogue in a civil, courteous manner. Someone has to be adamantly right and the other (the adversary) wrong. I observe that those who seemed convinced of their rightness seem to be the most shrill when challenged. If they are so convinced, why can’t they calmly listen, interact and present their case without castigating their dialogue colleagues?



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Julie

posted October 29, 2009 at 9:15 am


Thanks for this comment John. I’d love to republish it on my blog (with credit to you). You’ve said in a paragraph what took me 700 words to write. “…trained in an adversarial framework of finding truth.” My contention is that they (we) have been provided doctrines and theological tenets (and interpretations of science) as givens (these are things that must be believed to retain membership in the Christian community) and were never encouraged to ask the questions for ourselves. We adopted our points of view uncritically, but then spend years learning how to defend them without ever having drawn those conclusions for ourselves, through our own process of inquiry. (This is not true of all, of course, but true of a sizable majority, imho.)
Thanks RJS for a thoughtful treatment as well.



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Phil

posted October 29, 2009 at 9:32 am


Thank you RJS for taking the time to look at ID and other points of view. It should help round us all out.



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scott eaton

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:00 am


RJS, I’m a bit confused. Why do evolutionary creation and intelligent design stand at odds with one another? Doesn’t ID simply mean that there is intelligence behind the creation? Would not you as a Christian evolutionary creationist believe that God (or whatever someone believes that intelligence to be) had purpose and intent in the creation whatever process He chose to use?
I always thought one could believe in both some kind of evolutionary process and ID.
Where am I off here?



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Dan

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:24 am


“What roles do theological, biblical, philosophical, and scientific factors play in your thinking about evangelicalism and evolution?”
From my vantage point, the narrative of scripture describes a world in which the creator intervenes in the creation at periodic intervals. It suggests an orderly world, to be sure, but that order is dramatically interrupted from time to time. Most theistic evolutionists allow for the miraculous in the events of the New Testament (virgin birth, resurrection, etc.) but take the view that miraculous descriptions of events in Genesis 1-11 are something less than what seems to be described.
The philosophical creed of the modern scientist is described in Judge Overton’s descripton in McLean v Arkansas. According to Overton, true science has these characteristics.
It is guided by natural law;
It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
It is testable against the empirical world;
Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
It is falsifiable.
Here is the question I think needs to be addressed on this blog. To what extent do theistic evolutionists accept Judge Overton’s definition and why?
Both ID and Creationist advocates ask questions like these:
Is it not antithetical to the Biblical narrative to say that all things must be explainable in reference to natural law?
Is it not antithetical to the very notion of God as a Creator to insist natural law alone explais ALL things?
Is not such a definition prejudicial to both ID and creationism in the debate over origins before debate even begins?
Is such a viewpoint itself falsifiable?
I simply want to understand why so many individuals who are theists and professing Christians seem to adopt a philosophic viewpoint that is functional naturalism and, from my perspective, seems to rule divine intervention in the question of origins out by definition. I understand why agnostics and atheists would adopt naturalism as a starting point. I don’t understand why theists and Christians do. I truly want to understand, because I’ve asked that question often over the years and never once gotten a satisfactory answer.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:29 am


John #1
I recently heard someone observe, “Not every movement needs a God but most movements seem to need a Satan.” :-)



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:41 am


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
Bravo! I appreciate your honest, balanced comments. We do need honest, open, respectful, truthful dialogue.
But I am puzzled by this:
“On the other hand, I do not think that it would be profitable for Collins to publicly engage an adherent of anti-evolution ID. I don’t think that any good would come of it – and there is much potential for harm. There is no way to design an effective forum or to avoid soundbite sabotage.”
First off, what is “anti-evolution ID”? That is a pejorative label and seems to serve no purpose I can see. It leads to the next question: what is “non-anti-evolution ID”? Who’s who and who on the ID side should Collins engage publicly? Which one is Meyer in your opinion?
I’m confused. You call for dialogue. Why no public dialogue between Collins and ID?



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RJS

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:51 am


pds,
“anti-evolution ID” is a direct quote from Waltke’s white paper and probably from his source. I know that there is a range within the ID movement.
On your other point – I don’t think at this point there is anyway for Collins to enter into a profitable public dialog. When he is no longer director of the NIH, perhaps. What he does privately, I don’t know. I hope that he carries on a civil and respectful conversation. While Collins makes no bones about the fact that he disagrees with much of the ID science, everything I have read and heard from him has a respectful tone. The same cannot be said for many others.



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:51 am


Scott #4,
“I always thought one could believe in both some kind of evolutionary process and ID.”
You are absolutely correct. Many ID proponents accept much of evolutionary theory. Most accept an old earth.
Dan #5,
Excellent points and questions. The question in the last paragraph is one I have raised here before. I use the phrase “theistic materialist” to describe theists who are rigid (or very passionate) materialists in the realm of biological origins.



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scott eaton

posted October 29, 2009 at 10:58 am


RJS,
Thanks for taking your time for this. It is something I am really working through.
One more question. Would you consider yourself in the ID camp? Why or why not?



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Ben

posted October 29, 2009 at 11:23 am


here is an interesting hypothesis in Intelligent Design Message from the Designers, which if it were true, would be a classical example of the dangers of science overlooking something, simply because it does not come for a scientifically credible source.Further,this requires an evolution of thinking and then one may understand the excellent compromise this provides between the two camps as to the origins of our humanity. So both sides can be partly correct.It requires both research into all the worlds religious and historical texts for evidence,through the scientific eyes of what is happening in science today, particularly in genetics.(See Craig Ventner GENESIS II)Instead of progressive evolution of design by nature, this is about progressive evolution of design by advance science.Relatively speaking much quicker than evolution, but longer than suggested in the religious texts.In addition to that one has to consider the growth of a humanity over a predictable period, in much the same way as the development of a child in the womb is scientifically predictable. This is against a backdrop of there having been many humanities on this very ancient planet which have disappeared for the self-evident reasons we can see today.Science fiction? I think not given the potential for self-destruct which coincides precisely with the concerns of the Bulletin of Atomic scientists. If it is science fiction wonder why the film industry is so slow on taking ip up as a theme for a film? Probably because to many people read the ‘postman’ and not the ‘letter’



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RJS

posted October 29, 2009 at 11:37 am


scott eaton,
This is, in some respects, a loaded question. I certainly think that God created the world intelligently and with design and purpose. I think that our scientific methods provide a means to investigate that design and the mechanisms by which it was achieved. The evidence at this time is solidly in the evolution camp as far as origin of species goes (although pds and others disagree with my assessment here).
I don’t consider myself in the “Intelligent Design” camp. I certainly don’t come close to the “anti-evolution” wing of the ID camp – but this doesn’t define the whole as pds and others are quick to point out. Logan Gage put the minimum bar for intelligent design as “ All ID requires is that intelligent design was involved and that the effects of this design are empirically discernable.” when he posted on this blog (here). I don’t think that it is necessarily true that this design is empirically discernible, and I think that all efforts to-date to demonstrate that design is empirically discernible are flawed. Here is where we may get into some useful discussions as we consider Meyer’s book.



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Brad

posted October 29, 2009 at 12:07 pm


I agree wholeheartedly that God created the universe and that He had both a design and a purpose in doing so. I also agree with RJS that the design may not be empirically discernible. But some of the claims put forth by the ID folks such as irreducible complexity are empirically discernible and have been falsified. Examples of claims for irreducible complexity are the claimed impossibility of the evolution of bacterial flagellum and vertebrate blood clotting.
Biologist and Christian Ken Miller (whose book, Finding Darwin’s God, I highly recommend) offers an example of how blood clotting could evolve at this link: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/DI/clot/Clotting.html. One can google for examples of evolution of the flagellum.
Bottom line is that the ID folks are engaging in a “god of the gaps” type argument and fighting a losing battle in trying to prove a negative. How does one successfully argue that something can’t happen when merely providing one example of how it can is all that is required to refute it?
And honestly, haven’t we been down this road before with the Roman Catholic Church’s battle against heliocentrism back in the 17th century? How could one win over an unbeliever to Christ by trying to convince him of something he knows is false? How could one believe in Jesus if she is led to believing that she must also believe that the earth is at the center of the universe? No one would try and do this nowadays. But no one (or almost no one as I assume there aren’t many geocentrists today) feels they have to. The scripture passages that people believed supported geocentrism are now understood completely differently. And they are understood this way without believing those scriptures to have been shown false.
In Romans 1, we are told that “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” One can certainly understand that to imply that 1) God makes Himself know to humanity and 2) God is not going to deceive us via His creation. We don’t have to PROVE that God exists scientifically. We merely need to be able to help those who want to use science to try and disprove God.
Augustine gave some pretty good advice on this front. ?It often happens that even a non-Christian knows a thing or two about the earth, the sky, the various elements of the world, about the movement and revolution of the stars and even their size and distance, about the nature of animals, shrubs, rocks, and the like, and maintains this knowledge with sure reason and experience. It is offensive and ruinous, something to be avoided at all cost, for a nonbeliever to hear a Christian talking about these things as though with Christian writings as his source, and yet so nonsensically and with such obvious error that the nonbeliever can hardly keep from laughing.
?The trouble is not so much that the erring fellow is laughed at but that our authors are believed by outsiders to have held those same opinions and so are despised and rejected as untutored men, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil?How are they going to believe our books concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven when they think they are filled with fallacious writing about things which they know from experience or sure calculation?
?There is no telling how much harm these rash and presumptuous people bring upon their more prudent brethren when they begin to be caught and argued down by those who are not bound by the authority of our Scriptures, and when they then try to defend their flippant, rash, and obviously erroneously statements by quoting a shower of words from those same Sacred Scriptures, even citing from memory those passages which they think support their case, ?without understanding either what they are saying or things about which they make assertions? (I Tim. 1:7)?



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Ray Ingles

posted October 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm


Part of the conflict between science and faith is that we do not wish to eliminate the “need of that hypothesis” prematurely and without cause.
I’d say that’s backwards. You don’t ‘eliminate the need’ of a hypothesis; ideally, you don’t propose hypotheses unless they’re called for by the data. As Einstein put it, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” You need cause to add a hypothesis, not to remove one.
An essay that touches on Laplace’s (possibly-apocryphal) statement and what it’s meant for science:
http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/read/essays/nathist/perimeterofignorance



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Steve

posted October 29, 2009 at 12:18 pm


I understand the need to act like Christians in our engagements with one another in areas in which we disagree. But a godly tone does not demand that we do not strike at the root of the problem, which I firmly believe is science vs. fideism. On this point I.D. advocates are decidedly on the side of the latter. The two camps are not likely to be able to work together because their foundations are on completely different planets.
This is manifestly clear: on one hand we have scientists who believe we can make sense of the natural world in the terms of the natural world, and on the other we have scientists (hold your snickers) who believe there’s a divine element tipping the scales in one way or another, such that natural explanations are often (but not everywhere, apparently — randomly?) going to be inadequate to explain natural phenomena. And to top it off, the reason ID proponents do this is because of their faith that God did it that way. Science single-mindedly seeks to find explanations, throwing out bad ones as necessary but in the end trying to find the most likely one; ID seeks to poke holes in explanations, consistently offering as its only explanation a predetermined conclusion. In theory, there could be a better explanation than evolution and common descent; mainstream science would adapt and move on. But not even in theory could ID change its sole explanation.
Moreover, the worst part of this debate is that non-scientist Christians see it as a matter of “acknowledging God as creator” vs. “blind, random chance that replaces God”. As long as the ID proponents retain their position on the pedestal before evangelicals, ID will always come up on Christians’ radar screens as the former, and those who believe God acted using explainable, analyzable natural forces will be accused of the latter.
The battle that must be waged is between how we should interpret Scripture, which is the bedrock of the whole issue. This is why I believe that the debate between BioLogos and ID is not a scientific debate, but a theological one.



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Your Name

posted October 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm


As a pre-Christian, I worshipped science. My degree is in industrial engineering — making things. Americans reject something-for-nothing thinking by our respect for principles of science learned mostly by osmosis. We are people emersed in making, repairing and using gadgets.
DNA should have slammed the door on Darwinism. It’s language use, not the thing itself, but a symbolic representation. A conscious mind is required to pick and place the symbols acording to the rules of the language used. Then you need a compatible receiver to use the coded information. “Fallen together by a happy chain of accidents” doesn’t get it for me. Insufficient faith for that explanation as an adult.
We make design inferences all day long. The answer to designed or all-natural does lead to “Who dunnit?” But that doesn’t make the answer Designed! a religious response. It’s now part of many sciences.



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm


Brad #13 and Steve #15,
What you describe has very little to do with ID as it is articulated by its leading advocates. You are talking about “straw man ID.” Until we are talking about the same thing, we will be talking past each other.
RJS, there will never be good dialogue until we get past the simplistic misrepresentations. Sigh.
You, dopderbeck, AHH (on his good days) and several others are able to do that. I think discussing Meyer and his book will be good. If we can stick to his actual arguments and leave the pseudo-historical conspiracy theories and folklore to the side, we might make some progress.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm


Your Name@16: DNA is actually one of the strongest imaginable arguments for evolution.
Books used to be copied by scribes, and (despite a lot of care) sometimes typos would be introduced. Later scribes, making copies of copies, would introduce other typos. It’s possible to look at the existing copies and put them into a ‘family tree’. “These copies have this typo, but not that one; this other group has yet another typo, though three of them have a newer typo as well, not seen elsewhere…” This is not controversial at all when dealing with books, including the Bible.
Now, this process of copy-with-modification naturally produces ‘family trees’, nested groups. When we look at life, we find such nested groups. No lizards with fur or nipples, no mammals with feathers, etc. Living things fit into a grouped hierarchy. This has been solidly recognized for over a thousand years, and systematized for centuries. It was one of the clues that led Darwin to propose evolution. (Little-known fact: Linnaeus, who invented the “kingdom, phyla, genus, species, etc.” classification scheme for living things, tried to do the same thing for minerals. But minerals don’t form from copy-with-modification, and a ‘nested hierarchy’ just didn’t work and never caught on.)
Today, more than a century later, we find another tree, one Darwin never suspected – that of DNA. This really is a ‘text’ being copied with rare typos. And, as expected, it also forms a family tree, a nested hierarchy. And, with very very few surprises, it’s the same tree that was derived from looking at physical traits.
It didn’t have to be that way. Even very critical genes for life – like that of cytochrome C – have a few neutral variations, minor mutations that don’t affect its function. (Genetic sequences for cytochrome C differ by up to 60% across species.) Wheat engineered to use the mouse form of cytochrome C grows just fine. But we find a tree of mutations that fits evolution precisely, instead of some other tree. (Imagine if a tree derived from bookbinding technology – “this guy used this kind of glue, but this other bookbinder used a different glue…” – conflicted with a tree that was derived from typos in the text of the books. We’d know at least one tree and maybe both were wrong.)
The details of these trees are very specific and very, very numerous. There are billions of quadrillions of possible trees… and yet the two that we see (DNA and morphology) happen to very precisely match. This is either a staggering coincidence, or a Creator deliberately arranged it in a misleading manner, or… common ancestry is actually true.



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Steve

posted October 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm


pds,
Respectfully, I’d ask that you tell me where I’m wrong. I’m not denying that ID advocates look at actual scientific data, and that they might occasionally highlight a weak point or an underdeveloped aspect of evolutionary science. But I’ve never seen it cogently denied that the only motivation for there even being an ID movement is to try to find a place for God’s miraculous intervention into creation. If it could be demonstrated that there was actual intervention from a non-divine being (aliens, for instance), Christians would stop supporting and funding ID so fast your head would swim.
It boils down to a disagreement over what the primary motivation for science should be. Mainstream science wants to understand the natural world using what can be observed about the natural world. For others, the motivation for science is not only (if at all) to close the gap between what occurred in natural history and what we know, but to find a place for God in that gap and declare that mainstream science cannot close it. ID has a ready made, front loaded answer that doesn’t really increase our understanding of the laws of nature at all.
Once again, I ask you to demonstrate where I’m wrong. I have no interest in holding an incorrect understanding of ID, but everywhere I look I see this being confirmed.
Also, I’d like to know if you agree that there is a significant theological elephant in the room? If the Bible said no more about creation than “God is responsible”, would there be an ID movement?



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Brad

posted October 29, 2009 at 2:11 pm


pds,
Can you be more specific about “straw man ID”? Irreducible complexity is a claim made by Michael Behe who (along with folks like Philip Johnson and William Dembski) is a leading ID advocate. If I recall correctly, the evolution of blood clotting and bacterial flagellum are specifically cited by Behe as examples of irreducible complexity. Neither are actually irreducibly complex.
If ID has been simplistically misrepresented here, would you please point me to a more accurate representation? Perhaps sum it up in a nutshell? The leading advocates of ID definitely advocate more than the position espoused by RJS here that “that God created the world intelligently and with design and purpose”. If that were all they claimed, there would be no controversy.



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Brad

posted October 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm


As a followup, pds, here is a quote from William Dembski from his book The Design Revolution. “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible; namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence”
I would assume that you do consider Dembski to be a leading proponent of ID. Is it really unfair or unrepresentative to engage specific examples of these “natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces” and to determine that they are not actually such?
Steve, you are correct. And not only is it not cogently denied that the only motivation for there even being an ID movement is to try to find a place for God’s miraculous intervention into creation, but the basic strategy is a political and legal one of teaching God in public schools. I find this to be not only extremely misguided but also counter-productive to spreading the gospel.



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Brian in NZ

posted October 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm


@John #1, I did like your comment about adversarial framework for finding truth. Perhaps it is that the western civilisation is based on Greek philosophy which was linear and based on right or wrong, that causes a lot of our difficulty with the Genesis story, and many of the other OT stories. We are trying to interpret an eastern story through western glasses. I don’t know enough about the story telling culture of the ANE but I do suspect that we are missing something critical. I suspect that they were more focused on symbolism than facts, so to them literal interpretation was not the intended purpose of the story.



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm


Peeling Dragon Skin
Brad and Steve,
I would rather spend my time discussing the interesting aspects of ID with others who genuinely seek to understand it. People who want to vilify ID proponents are a dime a dozen.
Having said that, I point to these straw man descriptions:
“Bottom line is that the ID folks are engaging in a “god of the gaps” type argument and fighting a losing battle in trying to prove a negative.”
“And to top it off, the reason ID proponents do this is because of their faith that God did it that way.”
I encourage you to read original ID sources and then throw in some Dallas Willard and Thomas Nagel.



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Dan

posted October 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm


“But I’ve never seen it cogently denied that the only motivation for there even being an ID movement is to try to find a place for God’s miraculous intervention into creation.”
Actually, that would be true of creationism in both its old and young earth forms. ID does not begin or end there. ID looks at present data and makes inferences based on what is observable and makes inferences toward best explanations. The difference with ID and evolution is that ID does not exclude the possibility that some things may not be best explained by naturalism. Primary example in terms of the genetic code: The genetic code is a form of information. All instances presently observed where information is created are traceable to an intelligence. Best inference, the genetic code was designed by an intelligence.
ID advocates would argue that unintelligent or chance causes of the creation of information are not observed in the present (although changes or loss of information by mutation are). They would argue that a philosophical commitment that insists on natural causes are a bias that prevents modernist science from accepting a better explanation.
So they would turn the “making science safe for God” accusation around and say naturalism excludes God by assumption and philosophical commitment, refusing to consider other options.
That was the point of my original post. Why do theistic believers in the sciences seem to maintain a method or approach to science that seems to uncritically accept an underlying naturalism.



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm


Brad (#13)
I forgot to ask you: Where has the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum been falsified? Can you give me a link? I have asked others here for documentation of this and it has not been provided. Given your certainty, surely it is readily available.



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RJS

posted October 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm


pds,
You seem to be looking for the five line (or five page) proof with QED neatly penciled at the end – incontrovertible and irrefutable. Description of bacterial flagellum or blood clotting or any of the either systems are very complex (just not irreducibly complex). The “proof” becomes a book length exposition, and may not yet be final but the accumulation of evidence is in the direction of a final proof.
This is basically why I have decided not to bite on this question at this time — rather a more productive approach is to read the ID books and discuss the specific arguments. We will see how it goes.



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Brad

posted October 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm


pds,
Please consider the possibility that not only are some of us willing to genuinely seek to understand ID, but have already invested significant time and effort in doing so.
As far as my “god of the gaps” comment, I would refer you to this definition of the term.
http://www.theopedia.com/God_of_the_Gaps
“God of the Gaps arguments are a discredited and outmoded approach to apologetics, in which a gap in scientific knowledge is used as evidence for the existence of God.”
How is this significantly different from Dembski’s statement that the fundamental claim of ID is that “there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence”? Isn’t he claiming that not only is there a gap in scientific knowledge that implies the existence of God but also that that gap cannot be filled? How is this a straw man argument?
I can’t speak for others, but I have read original ID sources. For example, I have read Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box. Have you read it? Do you consider it to be an original ID source? Is it really vilifying Behe for someone to show how his arguments are wrong?
I haven’t read Willard or Nagel. I will look into their work. Any recommendations for particular instances of their writing?



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Brad

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm


pds (#25)
Here’s an article by Kenneth Miller about bacterial flagellum and irreducible complexity.
http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html
You can google using “behe irreducible complexity flagellum” and turn up several others. IIRC, Miller talks about it in Finding Darwin’s God as well. I know he mentions blood clotting there as the link I posted earlier is an expansion of his discussion from the book.



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RJS

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:12 pm


pds,
You’ve said in the past that you think that Miller’s argumentagainst irreducible complexity in the bacterial flagellum is flawed. Perhaps you could expand upon why you think that it is flawed. That might forward the conversation.



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pds

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm


Brad (#28)
Ok, thanks. Miller’s attack seems to be what most people point to. I think it is a start, but he has a long way to go. His claim of total victory is, I think, ridiculous.
Here is what I said in a previous comment:
Below are two links- one to Miller and one to Dembski critiquing Miller.
**********************
Miller attacking IC:
http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html
Dembski defending IC:
http://www.designinference.com/documents/2003.02.Miller_Response.htm
I see serious logical errors in Miller. For example, he concludes:
“The existence of the TTSS in a wide variety of bacteria demonstrates that a small portion of the “irreducibly complex” flagellum can indeed carry out an important biological function. Since such a function is clearly favored by natural selection, the contention that the flagellum must be fully-assembled before any of its component parts can be useful is obviously incorrect. What this means is that the argument for intelligent design of the flagellum has failed.”
Showing independent functionality of a component does not defeat IC. Miller still has to show that the assembly of the rotary propulsion machine could have been accomplished by Darwinian mechanisms: step by step assembly with each step providing a survival advantage. He also has to show that each step does not involve too much survival disadvantage in the loss of the previous functionality of the components.
He seems to think that speculation as to a “possible” pathway is enough. He has to show that it is plausible.
His claim that the functionality of the TTSS defeats IC is so obviously wrong. Not only is he wrong, but he displays bad logic that any non-scientist can easily understand.



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Randy

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm


I did not have time today to read all of the excellent comments, so I will comment only on the initial presentation and the first two comments.
First, now that Collins is head of NIH, I believe his ability to appropriately address some of these issues is somewhat curtailed by his position as a speaker for NIH. Am I mistaken?
Second, as for Evangelicals being trained “in an adversarial framework of finding truth,” I would say that some have. Based on my experience in a state university, I find many practicing scholars who are able and willing to speak with more nuance and frankly “tact” than that. What I find, and fear to some extent, are those evangelicals who have scholarly degrees but have become more-or-less professional apologists. These then reproduce the problem that New Englanders had with itinerant preachers in the 1750s. — Because they can present and then move on, they don’t have to get along with a set of colleauges, which in itself tends to promote nuance and tact in such discussions.
Peace,
Randy Gabrielse



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 29, 2009 at 5:43 pm


Science employs a methodological naturalism not a philosophical naturalism. Still, because it is a normative approach and not a metaphysical stance, I prefer to call science a methodological incrementalism.
1) How the theory of evolution interacts with the Bible is a matter for the interpretive science of biblical hermeneutics. 2) As for the so-called design inference of the ID movement, it is poorly designed in that it confuses complexity and probability. Like the strong anthropic principle, it also confuses coincidence and probability. We do not know enough about the initial conditions of life’s origins, much less those of the universe, to say what should or should not be expected of reality. 3) Finally, there are demarcation criteria for science in play.
Parsing these themes, then, the theologians can adjudicate the hermeneutical issues. As for any so-called irreducible and/or specified complexity, that amounts to bad science. Attempts to redefine the demarcation criteria for science (e.g. wedge strategy) would amount to good or bad philosophy.
Intelligent Design ? a poorly designed inference



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Steve

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:35 am


Dan,

The difference with ID and evolution is that ID does not exclude the possibility that some things may not be best explained by naturalism.

Actually, it’s not that ID doesn’t exclude the possibility of supernatural intervention – it is based upon the existence of supernatural intervention. Remember Dembski’s quote in Brad#21’s comment: “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible; namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.” In other words, the design inference is the starting point for the whole ID enterprise. A belief in the inadequacy of “undirected natural forces” necessarily implies non-natural intervention over what those “undirected natural forces” would have done. This is

Why do theistic believers in the sciences seem to maintain a method or approach to science that seems to uncritically accept an underlying naturalism.

Because methodological naturalism is the only approach that leads to real, finite conclusions, and hence useful discoveries. It’s not a matter of natural vs. supernatural as much as for analyzable vs. unanalyzable. The moment we throw in the towel and say it’s unanalyzable in terms of rational methods, we open it up to other explanations like “it was designed”, but also to “it’s magical”, both of which will inevitably be premature inferences in many if not all cases.
Even given the existence of divine intervention in natural processes, the worst that can be done with methodological naturalism is that actual cases of preternatural design will be studied for natural causes ad infinitum and ultimately fail. The worst that can be done without methodological naturalism is that we will at some point stop searching for explanations in the hard cases and attribute them to preternatural design, even when natural answers exist. This is the crux of the matter for me.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 7:02 am


Steve,
My priority is to get to the right answer, not the best naturalistic answer. It seems strange that Christian scientists would prefer the best naturalistic answer to the truth.
You said,
“the worst that can be done with methodological naturalism is that actual cases of preternatural design will be studied for natural causes ad infinitum and ultimately fail.”
But that is so unneccessary. In fact it is worse than that. It causes scientists to accept too quickly the “best” naturalistic explanation, even if the evidence is very mixed.



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Dan

posted October 30, 2009 at 7:37 am


Steve 33. Thanks for the explanation, though I don’t agree. “Because methodological naturalism is the only approach that leads to real, finite conclusions, and hence useful discoveries” is just not a necessary conclusion. Plenty of Christians in the past and present have been good scientists and come to finite conclusions about a number of things. It has often been pointed out that it was belief in a creator that birthed modern science, because a creator implied an orderly creation – scientists were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
Certainly we can tell the difference between that which can be explained naturally and the miraculous or “magical”. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, it was a knowledge of natural laws of cause and effect that caused Joseph to want to send Mary away, because he understood that women don’t get pregnant without sexual relations with a man. Should a Christian scientist continue looking for a “natural” explanation for the virgin birth so that he can come to a “real” or “finite” conclusion? To do so seems to completely overturn the notion of a universe inhabited by a a supernatural God.
The thing is, with origins, we are dealing with events in the distant past. All we have are inferences based on present processes and attempts to apply those priciples to the study of the rocks, bones, and genetic material. It is always a matter of inference. I do not think it consistent for a Christian to insist all those inferences MUST yield to natural explanations and rule out anything and everything that might be “beyond” nature.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 7:41 am


pds,
I look at this a bit like mountain climbing – suppose a group of mountain climbers are told that a peak is unclimbable. Is the response agreement or a concerted effort to find a way to climb the peak? The group will, of course, search for a way to climb the peak – and ultimately we can predict that someone will succeed by some heretofore unconsidered method – unless of course the peak is “truly” unclimbable. But an assumption today of unclimability is a “gap.”
In the discussion of irreducible complexity Behe has made a claim of “unclimability” and these leads people to think very hard about the mechanisms available to climb the peak. You want a full refutation today – but Behe knows his stuff and picked hard “peaks.” But these peaks are being inched up … in some cases as people consider paths that have not been considered in the past.
When you layout your criteria for a refutation you seem to eliminate from consideration any “new” natural paths. But I think that these hard problems will actually point to the need to refine the thinking on how natural selection works, not the need to dump natural selection as the mechanism. As a result the peak will almost certainly be scaled.
Now – I do see a problem with a natualistic worldview as limiting in all areas of endeavor. But do think that this really applies to the details of mechanism as we investigate the world God made.



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 7:53 am


pds (#28)
Technically, each step in the assembly of the flagellum doesn’t have to provide a survival advantage. It merely needs to exist in a population long enough for mutation to provide the next step.
But there is a broader point here. Do ID proponents really want to travel down this path? Irreducible complexity appears fundamental to Intelligent Design. It seems pretty clear that folks like Dembski and Behe are hanging their hats on it. Dembski has gone so far as to calculate probabilities for the flagellum to assemble and use those probabilities to claim that it is virtually impossible and therefore implies ID. I.e. the bacterial flagellum is proof of God. But what happens if he’s proven wrong? Will it cause people to disbelieve in God?
Let’s assume one doesn’t find Miller’s arguments (or those of others who might propose a mechanism) for the evolution of the flagellum convincing. What happens to ID when/if some enterprising researcher gets in a lab and produces mutated bacterial populations that match each step of a proposed evolutionary pathway and shows that each is viable and only a minor mutation from the previous? Isn’t it possible or even likely for this to occur considering the rapid rate of technological advance? This is an example of the “god of the gaps” that I mentioned previously. Take the structure of DNA for example. Even if scientists don’t have an explanation for a phenomenon, there’s no guarantee that they won’t discover one. And as each claim for an example of irreducible complexity is made and then disproved the gap shrinks.
And isn’t the apparent goal of ID really pointless anyway? Doesn’t the Bible teach us that God reveals Himself to everyone? Now that Jesus has been lifted up isn’t He drawing everyone to Himself? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Do these things really require that one be able to scientifically prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer? Why try and prove it scientifically, especially when failure just embarrasses Christianity, when God is approaching it from a completely different angle? Do we really need to try and force-fit God into scientific inquiry? Science is just a tool. We don’t do the same for other tools like arithmetic, spelling, or auto repair. And yet people still learn those skills and still manage to believe in God.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 9:49 am


Peeling Dragon Skin
RJS (#36)
I think it is bad analogy. “Climability” is quite different than finding the origin of the flagellum or the Cambrian animals. Climability will vary based on technology, strength, cleverness and dynamite. The origin of the flagellum or the Cambrian animals were historical events. There was a cause or causes, and we are trying to get at the truth about what happened. That truth will not change.
Better analogy: detectives trying to figure out if a death was an accident or homicide. Your approach would have the detectives assume that it was accidental and keep looking for the cause of the accidental killing. They would ignore the possibility of it being a murder.
Scientists engage in design detection all the time. There is no reason to ban it from biology.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 10:09 am


Peeling Dragon Skin
Brad (#37)
Now you are back to a straw man. Conclusions about God are not a part of ID the science. Everyone wants to jump to the philosophical implications (including Dawkins), but they are distinct. ID the science looks at the scientific evidence and draws inferences of design based on what is most plausible.
Different people will draw different philosophical conclusions. What you are describing is bad apologetics. ID the science is tentative, and so any implications are tentative. As Tim Keller puts it, it is at best a “clue.”
Have Behe, Johnson or Dembski ever suggested that a Christian should rest her entire faith on the flagellum? Nothing even close. Yet this straw man persists and is an extremely common false understanding.
Do you concede that Miller did not falsify IC?



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 10:11 am


pds,
I disagree – the question is not accident or murder – the question is “how did this man die?” Now investigate.
So with the question of origins the question is “how did this come about?” I have yet to see an intelligent design proposal that actually provides a testable mechanism – and demonstrates that natural means are insufficient. In terms of the search for natural mechanisms, the “climbability” will vary based on technology, strength, cleverness and such (we’ll leave out dynamite) – and that is really the point of the claim that the design proposals to-date are “gap arguments” – they assume no innovation in strength, cleverness or technology. The arguments for irreducible complexity are only one piece of the ID argument – but this proposal, this peak, in particular shows every appearance of being “climbable”.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 10:38 am


RJS, Now you are moving into the question of the plausibility of explanations. I don’t expect to convince you. We each have our plausibility structures.
Dan’s question was about ruling out some possible explanations at the outset. He and I see no reason to do so.
This was the point of my analogy, and I don’t think you addressed that adequately.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 10:52 am


pds,
Does the ID community rule out the possibility of a natural explanation from the beginning? If you don’t think so why don’t you think so?
You can argue that most of the scientific community rules out supernatural and I’d agree. But for those of us that don’t – this discussion simply frames the how question slightly differently. So consideration of design is interesting – but it is only one option. Experience suggests that “natural” explanations will suffice and nothing important hangs on their failure. I don’t need to “prove” that God intervened through demonstrably supernatural means. God exists and works regardless of mechanism. With regard to the rest of this discussion I will go where the evidence leads. Now we approach each question on its own merits and discuss the details.
So with regard to irreducible complexity – I am not ruling out the possibility that Behe is right. But I am thinking about the issues without “bias” (in as much as anyone can) and at this time I don’t think that he is right. Not out of preconception, but because I see serious holes in the logic.
But here is the key point – My faith does not depend of whether he (or any other ID proponent) is right or not. We go with the evidence and the reasoning.



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:07 am


pds (#37)
It’s hard to be sure to what you are referring as a straw man without your quoting specifically what I said that you find objectionable.
But if it is characterizing ID as attempting to prove God via science that is the issue, that is not a straw man. The term “Intelligent Design” clearly implies an intelligent designer and that designer is essentially the same thing as “God”. The term design itself is practically meaningless without a designer aside from a Dawkinsian blind watchmaker kind of design. Every single proponent of ID (as far as I am aware) believes not only that ID implies a designer but that the designer is God. And specifically they all believe that God is the Christian God of the Bible. Not only do they believe that, but it is almost certain that these beliefs comprise the whole purpose of the entire ID movement.
Neither Dembski, Behe, nor any other ID proponent rests or encourages others to rest their entire faith on the flagellum. But there is no doubt that they want to use ID to convince others of the existence of a designer (God) and that they want to use the irreducible complexity of the flagellum to do so. It’s also certain that a great deal of ID itself as a system or theory rests on such claims as these. Wouldn’t you agree that anyone who becomes a believer or whose belief is strengthened via the claims of irreducible complexity is subject to their belief being destroyed or weakened when/if those claims are falsified? From a Christian perspective, is this a good thing when it is totally unnecessary to win people to Christ?
I’m willing to concede that Miller hasn’t falsified the irreducible complexity of the flagellum merely because there’s not enough space here to adequately discuss it nor is an in depth discussion of that topic really within my field of expertise. Do you concede that IC of the flagellum must be falsifiable to be science? Since you weren’t swayed by Miller’s argument, what specifically would sway you? I.e. how is the claim of the irreducible complexity falsifiable? What would it take to show this? And what happens to your confidence in ID (and that of others) when/if those conditions are met and it is falsified?
Don’t you see how this is a “god of the gaps” issue? For example, prior to the 1940’s people might have been able to say that Darwin’s claims about natural selection were bogus because there was no known unit of heredity. DNA hadn’t yet been found to be the basis of genetics. But then it was. Not yet knowing something is not the same as demonstrating that something is impossible to know. This kind of impossibility claim is the kind of claim that ID makes.



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Brad VW

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:32 am


As I read over the comments on this thread and the discussion as a whole, it seems that many are looking at everything that has happened in the history of the universe and trying to decide if God did that, (supernatural intervention) or did it happen through natural law.
Let me try another metaphor. God wants to make a cake, so he creates ingredients that are needed to make it happen, but of course they will not just mix together and rise by themselves so the Father stirs them together and puts them in a pan and puts them in the oven. Problem is the ingredients will still not do anything by themselves because in order for the cake to rise there must be heat (holy spirit anyone). Point being that nothing happens without God’s action so why are we trying so hard to pick out the special times when something “supernatural” happened when it all is pretty super.
Now maybe we are having problems explaining how the world came to be as we find it because it would be like the cake trying to explain how it got to be such a tasty treat.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:40 am


RJS,
“Does the ID community rule out the possibility of a natural explanation from the beginning?”
Not at all.
“If you don’t think so why don’t you think so?”
Many ID proponents accept that much in evolutionary theory is valid. Microevolution and, for some, limited macroevolution and, for some, common descent.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:54 am


pds,
Well – yes, but that is not what I meant. Does the ID community accept the possibility that there may be no empirical evidence for design?
See – I would accept the possibility that there may be evidence, and that there may not be evidence. Each question must be investigated on its own merits.



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dopderbeck

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:57 am


I think Randy (#31) is right: a significant part of the problem is the professional apologetics industry, which generally can’t fathom and isn’t underwritten by nuance or subtlety.
Re the ongoing discussion of ID and divine causation: once again, I think the Roman Catholic perspective is far more mature than what we hear from apologists who cater to evangelicals. Here’s an excerpt from a report of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See:

The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God?s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: ?The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency? (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process ? one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence ? simply cannot exist because ?the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles….It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence? (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).

Exactly right, I think.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 30, 2009 at 11:59 am


PDS – I’d have to say that the ID proponents are committing what I call “Haldane’s Error”. See here:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/scienceandthesacred/2009/10/darwin-laplace-and-god-of-the-gaps-reasoning_comments.html#1873274
To sum up: J.S. Haldane couldn’t imagine any ‘mechanism’ that could accomplish heredity, and insisted that it had to be ‘spiritual’ in nature. Later, DNA was discovered…



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm


dopderbeck,
I especially like this point: Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process ? one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence ? simply cannot exist…



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:08 pm


Brad VW (#44)
I agree. The distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” seems quite artificial. We cede too much to science and its assumptions and methods of inquiry when we assume that everything is an either/or situation. I.e. either God created humans or they evolved. Either there was a Big Bang or God created the universe. Either God holds the planets in orbit or it’s gravity that does it. Either God formed me in the womb or I developed from a fertilized egg. For me, all “natural” explanations are just examples of *how* God did what He did. Knowing how doesn’t remove the awe and mystery for me. It often just gives me a greater feeling of awe over that which God has done.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:08 pm


Brad (#43)
“I’m willing to concede that Miller hasn’t falsified the irreducible complexity of the flagellum . . .”
Thanks. Let’s get the word out.
As to your other comments, they all fall under the straw man problem of equating ID the science with certain philosophical implications (and certain wacky philosophical implications).
“Wouldn’t you agree that anyone who becomes a believer . . . via the claims of irreducible complexity is subject to their belief being destroyed when/if those claims are falsified?”
Once someone becomes a believer, we need give them all the good reasons to remain a believer. That applies no matter what led them to faith.
Dallas Willard thinks design arguments (and there are many) have always been a strong basis for faith. See:
http://peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/dallas-willard-on-design-arguments/
I agree. But I still add to them arguments based on the resurrection, and many others.



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm


pds (#51)
“As to your other comments, they all fall under the straw man problem of equating ID the science with certain philosophical implications (and certain wacky philosophical implications).”
RJS asked the question “how can we carry on a useful conversation?” I am certain that actually engaging each other’s positions is essential. If you don’t mind, would you please specifically explain how I have employed a straw man? I’d really like correct any misconceptions I have here.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm


Brad (#52)
I think I did already. See #39. “Conclusions about God are not a part of ID the science.”
You keep seeing implications and you equate them with ID. That is not fair. Not sure what else I can say.



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:12 pm


pds (#53)
Then I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree then.
The term “Intelligent Design” clearly implies an intelligent designer.
That designer is essentially the same thing as “God”.
ID does attempt to prove an Intelligent Designer (i.e. God) via science.
Every single proponent of ID (as far as I am aware) believes not only that ID implies a designer but that the designer is God.
And specifically they all believe that God is the Christian God of the Bible.
You may characterize these statements about ID as a straw man. But they are true. If they are difficult to separate from ID the science, then perhaps that is a problem with ID the science itself.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Brad,
I think you overstate it a bit. Some of the people who are affiliated with the ID movement are looking at it from the position of non-Christian fatih. At least one from a Jewish perspective (more I think) and one of the outspoken people is from the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon. I think there is at least one specific non-theistic participant as well. But the preponderance are looking at it from a Christian perspective, and it is an issue within evangelicalism as impacting Christian world view.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Brad, pds, others –
I asked the question about how to make headway because I think this is an important issue.
The questions won’t be decided in one hour debates or isolated blog posts. It will require sustained civil dialogue. Although I have not been convinced yet by pds, Dan, or others (or they by me I suspect) one of the important features of a conversation is a commitment to consider the views and frame the next comment or question in a useful form to further the conversation.
pds – one thing this might require on your part is that you stop insisting that an argument against irreducible complexity must show that “each step does not involve too much survival disadvantage in the loss of the previous functionality of the components.” As I’ve said many times and Brad (#37) makes the same point – there is not necessarily any survival disadvantage when a component can be used for more than one function.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm


Brad #54,
It is not hard for me to distinguish the science from the implications of the science. Not hard for Behe. I am sorry it is so hard for you.
Should we dismiss evolution because of the implications Dawkins and Dennett et al love so much?



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm


pds,
I must admit that I am surprised by #57 – first because the “I am sorry it is so hard for you” was a gratuitous put down. This kind of comment does not forward a civil conversation.
Second, because in past comments you have argued that ID is important because a purely naturalistic world view leads to things like eugenics and social Darwinianism.



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm


RJS (#55)
You’re probably right. Instead of “they all believe that God is the Christian God of the Bible” I should probably have said “the vast majority believes that God is the God of the Bible.”



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm


RJS #56
I agree.
“there is not necessarily any survival disadvantage when a component can be used for more than one function.”
I agree, but there may be a survival disadvantage. I have seen a discussion of this by design engineers. I agree that that is a small part of what has to be shown. What I find most implausible is the step by step assembly of the machine with each step having a survival advantage.



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm


pds wrote in #38: >>>Better analogy: detectives trying to figure out if a death was an accident or homicide. Your approach would have the detectives assume that it was accidental and keep looking for the cause of the accidental killing. They would ignore the possibility of it being a murder. Scientists engage in design detection all the time. There is no reason to ban it from biology.



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Craig V.

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm


RJS #46 (this comment section moves faster than I can type)
It seems to me your question amounts to asking the ID community to accept the possibility that they’re wrong. The whole project, as I understand it (from my non scientific point of view) is to make terms like ‘design’ empirically meaningful. I’m not part of the ID community, but I am surprised that this project (as I understand it) is greeted with such resistance. It seems like a worthwhile thought experiment to me, even if it fails. Is it possible that it’s politics and not science that have made this discussion so contentious?



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm


RJS #58,
It was an expression of exasperation, not a put down. #54 was bit condescending I think. My reply was short and measured.
I think the implications of ID and evolution are both very important, you are right. My point is that they are distinguishable from the science. We must not wrap the implications that Brad or I or Richard Dawkins or Pastor Billy Bob see around the neck of Michael Behe as he explores the origin of the flagellum.



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:38 pm


Craig V. #62,
You are right – to an extent. But two points – first, the complaint is often made that scientists rule out supernatural explanations from the beginning and therefore the reasoning can’t be trusted. Of course ID rules out the possibility that God may have acted only through natural mechanism and then searches from proof of supernatural.
We need an open-minded approach: perhaps all mechanisms are natural, perhaps there is some proof of supernatural action. Now lets consider all of the possibilities. So I do think that the project is useful – but the adversarial stance within the church is not.
As I see it – as Christian brothers and sisters we should be discussing the possibilities.
The “adversarial” stance should be between Christians on all sides of this issue and those secular scientists who claim that science eliminates the possibility for rational belief in God.
But many Christians see the stakes as much higher and the barriers to an open discussion of evolutionary creation as insurmountable.



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Ray Ingles

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm


pds – What I find most implausible is the step by step assembly of the machine with each step having a survival advantage.
I suggest you read up on the experiment referenced here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/scienceandthesacred/2009/10/evolution-in-an-erlenmeyer-flask.html
There were several documented – at-the-level-of-genome-and-protein-function documented – cases of adaptation observed in that 21-year experiment. One thing they confirmed is that “each step” is not required to have “a survival advantage”. Neutral variations (and even, rarely, slight disadvantages) can become common enough to become fodder for later, advantageous mutations.
(A bit more detail: http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2009/10/the_arc_of_evolutionary_geneti_1.php or http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2009/10/the_arc_of_evolutionary_geneti.php discuss this in detail.)



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm


RJS #64
Do you think the complaint that scientists rule out supernatural explanations from the beginning and therefore their reasoning can’t be trusted is a valid complaint? Because it seems that scientists, even atheist ones, don’t really explicitly exclude or rule out the supernatural. They merely use what they can physically test, observe, or measure. It’s more a limitation of the tool than a philosophical or religious consideration, don’t you think?



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Brad

posted October 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm


pds (#63)
I assure you that I intended no condescension in my post and I am sorry to have offended you.



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm


The rub seems to be whether science is both necessary and sufficient to address human concerns. Put differently, one might ask whether questions not asked by science are meaningful. Science is necessary but not sufficient in order to realize life’s greatest values. Scientific questions and answers are not our only meaningful questions and answers. For example, the design inference is not unreasonable just because it is metaphysical and not otherwise scientific.



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R Hampton

posted October 30, 2009 at 3:24 pm


William Dembski, leading advocate of “Intelligent Design” clearly tipped his hand in his book “Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology” (1999)
“If we take seriously the word-flesh Christology of Chalcedon (i.e. the doctrine that Christ is fully human and fully divine) and view Christ as the telos toward which God is drawing the whole of creation, then any view of the sciences that leaves Christ out of the picture must be seen as fundamentally deficient.”
– and –
“Christ is indispensable to any scientific theory, even if its practitioners do not have a clue about him.”
ID is not about some undetermined “intelligence”, it isn’t even about an agnostic concept of God, it’s about Christianity. In other words, ID is the evolutionary descendant of Creation Science.



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R Hampton

posted October 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm


To add to Ray’s comment on neutral mutations: we see them examples of them everyday — blue eye color. About 6,000 to 10,000 years ago a genetic defect in the OCA2 gene in created a mutation that did not positively nor negatively affect survivability. Today, all blue eyed people are descended from that lone individual.



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pds

posted October 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm


Brad #67,
No offense taken; I was merely explaining my state of mind when I replied. This discussion has stayed pretty civil, IMO.



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm


Let me break-open #61 RE: It is a category error to suggest that science a priori dismisses answers to questions that it does not even ask, i.e. questions involving either primal or robustly transcendent realities. Science aspires to neither complete nor to robustly transcendent accounts of reality because it is necessarily incomplete and incremental.



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R Hampton

posted October 30, 2009 at 7:19 pm


RJS #64, Brad #66
Suppose a scientist wanted to empirically observe and experiment with souls in order to accurately describe its essence. Where would the a scientist find a soul, and what instruments would be useful? Because no human being can do this, the supernatural is outside the scope of Science and by necessity is absent from its explanations.
But then some would say that the soul can be “experienced” in a non-scientific way. To that I propose the following hypothesis as a test of supernatural Truth: Most of us have one soul but some are born with two and others born with none. How would you (or anyone for that matter) defend or refute this idea with objective evidence?



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RJS

posted October 30, 2009 at 8:14 pm


R Hampton,
The connection between body, mind, and soul is an interesting topic. Soul is supernatural, but how these are all connected in our lives is something of a conundrum. I did a few posts on topics related to this – on the science of sin, on Scot’s book on fasting, and on science and Christian virtue. I also have Joel Green’s book Body, Soul, and Human Life and Kevin Corcoran’s Rethinking Human Nature – and plan to post on these at some point in the future.
But this is not a purely scientific discussion by any means – it is theological and philosophical as well as scientific. And I haven’t answered your question …



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 31, 2009 at 12:42 am


RJS (#74) wrote: The connection between body, mind, and soul is an interesting topic.



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george ngo

posted October 31, 2009 at 5:11 am


Hi, I’m new to this blog and I’m from Hong Kong.
I’m not a scientist either. In fact when it comes to scientific concepts my understanding is high school level. Thus I don’t think I can give any contribution towards this interesting topic discussion.
However I do have a question. I have in my hands the book called “The Science of God” by Gerald Schroeder. In his book he discusses how the six days (which is earth time) in Genesis is equivalent to 15 billion years in cosmic time and what science has suggested how the universe came to be with the appearances of the milky way, sun etc then the earth, and then its first life forms to the appearance of hominids and finally humans roughly corresponding with the 6-day creation description in Genesis 1.
Pardon my ignorance but is this something relevant to the discussion here and if so, what is he: a proponent of ID or is he a evolutionary creationist or what?



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 31, 2009 at 7:58 am


Another way to approach the demarcation issue is to note that, after we have been as evidential as we can, empirically, as rational as we can, both logically and presuppositionally, as meta-rational as we can metaphysically with our natural theology, we discover that it is not unreasonable, that it is beyond reason but not without it, to go super-reasonably or supra-rationally in faith. It is a move not unlike William James described as forced (not to choose is to choose), vital (it is of profound existential and ultimate concern) and a live option (wholly reasonable).
Liturgical animals that we are, as storytellers, more often we engage reality through our participatory imaginations, which is like hometown knowledge. This is to say that we may often know how to go from one place to another even if we have more than a little trouble relaying that knowledge discursively or, let’s say, through map-making. So, our coming to faith is more often implicit and informal than it is explicit and formal, more often a participatory than a propositional knowledge, but real nonetheless. At some point, we want to give the conceptual map-making its due, such as in apologetics, but there is no substitute for walking the walk in addition to talking the talk.
Very little of what theologians do begins with philosophy. Natural theology frames up reasonable questions that can be very compelling vis a vis a belief in God vis a vis a cumulative case approach, but it cannot make its way to the truths gifted us through special revelation in the New Testament and our living tradition. A Theology of Nature, on the other hand, begins within the faith, and through metaphor and analogy and poetry can fire up our imaginations with the awe and wonder appropriate to a God, Who is wholly incomprehensible but utterly intelligible. I pretty much agree with Charles Sanders Peirce that, where natural theology is concerned, beyond our initial abductions of the Reality of God, in other words, the formulations of our initial arguments, any further argumentation becomes pretty much a fetish. Evolution, then, is a marvel to behold from within the faith, a great story of a great God at work. It’s not otherwise a stumbling block to those of the faith and neither is it a stepping stone away from the faith, at least not a faith properly considered.



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pds

posted October 31, 2009 at 8:41 am


JSS (#72)
“It is a category error to suggest that science a priori dismisses answers to questions that it does not even ask, i.e. questions involving either primal or robustly transcendent realities.”
Your statement reflects a rather narrow philosophy of science, which is not shared by all scientists and philosophers. Show me 10 scientists and I will show you 10 different philosophies of science. Some insist on bright line demarcations, some see science and philosophy entwined in a way that is very difficult to separate.
As I said before, science studies and detects design all the time (e.g. forensics and archeology).



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pds

posted October 31, 2009 at 8:51 am


Ray (#18)
You said,
“Today, more than a century later, we find another tree, one Darwin never suspected – that of DNA. This really is a ‘text’ being copied with rare typos. And, as expected, it also forms a family tree, a nested hierarchy. And, with very very few surprises, it’s the same tree that was derived from looking at physical traits.”
My understanding is that this is not an accurate description of the current science regarding the “tree of life.” See here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/4312355/Charles-Darwins-tree-of-life-is-wrong-and-misleading-claim-scientists.html
Different genes show different trees of life, which is not what evolution predicts. Genetic trees differ from morphological trees. There are perhaps ways to explain away this problem, but the problem is there.



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RJS

posted October 31, 2009 at 9:43 am


george ngo (#76)
I’ve read Schroeder’s book The Science of God – but it was several years ago so the details are not fresh in my mind. Schroeder takes the view that the science and Genesis can be brought into agreement if we look a time and relativity. Basically that the Bible agrees with science. His ideas are interesting, but I am not sure that it is the right way to go. I think Waltke and John Walton and others looking at the nature of the text – not as scientific history – have a more useful approach.
I don’t know for sure what Schroeder’s position is, but I think that it falls in the more ID, progressive evolution “camp.” I don’t think he takes an evolutionary creation or theistic evolution approach, but someone else may correct me.



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted October 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm


pds (#78) Your statement reflects a rather narrow philosophy of science, which is not shared by all scientists and philosophers. Show me 10 scientists and I will show you 10 different philosophies of science. Some insist on bright line demarcations, some see science and philosophy entwined in a way that is very difficult to separate. As I said before, science studies and detects design all the time (e.g. forensics and archeology).Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District
Even if one were to concede a more broadly conceived definition of science for argument’s sake, there are other fatal errors in the ID hypothesis:
2) As Dembski maintains, irreducible complexity is a special case of specified complexity, but he is conflating the notion of complexity (which means difficult to describe) with improbability (which means unlikely to happen) and is using arbitrary explanatory filters to define a cut-off for what he considers to be absurdly improbable, which is the same error made by those who advance the strong anthropic principle. In the first case, he is dealing neither with complexity nor true improbability but coincidence.
3) Setting that error side, for argument sake, we still do not have enough information about the initial, boundary and limit conditions for the origins of extant (and extinct) species, much less the origin of life, much less the origin of the cosmos, such that anyone could meaningfully establish what should or should not be expected from reality. The only thing Dembski has established is that this or that has wildly exceeded his own expectations. And the scientific community rightly considers that a triviality.
4) Let’s set these errors aside, too, for argument sake. The hypothesis is not falsifiable.
5) Ignoring that, too, the terms employed in the hypothesis do not successfully refer to reality in terms of its known givens: primitives, forces and laws. Hence, it is so far out in front of known science that it can have no practical bearing or normative impetus for the reality in which we live and move and have our being.
All that said, I am DEEPLY sympathetic to the overall thrust over against scientism or an Enlightenment fundamentalism, which maintains that the only meaningful discourse is that of science and the only meaningful questions are those that can be answered by science. The Enlightenment was entirely efficacious insofar as it helped recognize and establish the autonomy of our descriptive, normative, interpretive and evaluative approaches to reality, distinguishing the foci of science, philosophy, religion and culture. These human concerns are methodologically-autonomous but are axiologically-integral (i.e. semiotically re: meaning and values). Enlightenment fundamentalists err in imagining that these foci are axiologically autonomous. More plainly, they think science, alone, can realize human values.
Bottomline, we have precisely located our impasse. It is precisely how broadly or narrowly one conceives science that is at stake. This will keep us from talking past one another. At the same time, I am also just willing to agree to disagree. Other issues are at stake though, such as biblical hermeneutics. I wonder where different Evangelicals stand regarding that, for example, vis a vis Genesis?



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Dallas

posted November 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm


The reason this issue is so divisive is that it is on a fault line of a worldview conflict. On one side there is the belief that this universe is the result of a random sequence of events that have no intelligent guide.This is the view of atheists and other secular religionists. On the other side is the belief that there is an intelligent reality that produced the universe in it’s current form. This belief is held by a variety of religious viewpoints.
Intelligent Design Theory is a minimalist interpretation of intelligent design, being open to evolutionary interpretation on every point except the insistence that evolutionary processes be random. To deny ID in favor of non-ID evolution is essentially an affirmation of atheism.



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Ray Ingles

posted November 1, 2009 at 10:16 pm


PDS – To fit that text into a comment, I elided a paragraph I normally include. I should, perhaps, have known better. In any case, here it is:
Single-celled organisms are much more ‘promiscuous’ in their reproduction and spread genes willy-nilly without respect for straightforward inheritance. With single-celled creatures, it looks more like a ‘web’ of life than a ‘tree’. But even if the tree of life has tangled roots, it’s still very definitely a tree when it comes to multicellular life.
The article you link to acknowledges this. In multicellular life, “lateral gene transfer” isn’t unheard of, but it’s extremely rare, and stands out like a sore thumb. For example, look up “endogenous retroviruses” – and notice that even they fit the inheritance model I outlined above.



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pds

posted November 2, 2009 at 9:41 am


Ray 83
You said,
“But even if the tree of life has tangled roots, it’s still very definitely a tree when it comes to multicellular life.”
That seems to be precisely what is being disputed. Darwin predicted a tree, Darwinism requires a tree, and the evidence shows no consistent tree of life. What we see are conflicting trees.



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Ray Ingles

posted November 2, 2009 at 10:19 am


PDS – “Darwin predicted a tree, Darwinism requires a tree, and the evidence shows no consistent tree of life.
Nope. Even the article you cited doesn’t say that. At most it notes that a couple of scientists are saying that “the evolution of animals and plants isn’t exactly tree-like”. As I said, “lateral gene transfer” isn’t unheard of, but it’s extremely rare. Doolittle’s claims have been and are being consistently misinterpreted and exaggerated; see, e.g., here:
scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/07/hey_guy_its_an_anastomosing_re.php
scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/07/silly_and_naive.php
As I wrote before, all Doolittle has actually claimed is that “the tree of life has tangled roots”.



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pds

posted November 3, 2009 at 9:35 am


Ray 85
Are you saying the evidence shows a single consistent tree? That all genetic trees are consistent with each other and are consistent with morphological trees?
That is simply false. You can spin the facts and “average out” the conflicting trees to come up with one tree. But this is imposing an interpretation on the facts.
See here:
http://www.discovery.org/a/10651
“Syvanen recently compared 2000 genes that are common to humans, frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes. In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the six animals. He failed. The problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories. This was especially true of sea-squirt genes. Conventionally, sea squirts?also known as tunicates?are lumped together with frogs, humans and other vertebrates in the phylum Chordata, but the genes were sending mixed signals. Some genes did indeed cluster within the chordates, but others indicated that tunicates should be placed with sea urchins, which aren’t chordates. ?Roughly 50 per cent of its genes have one evolutionary history and 50 per cent another,? Syvanen says.”



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Ray Ingles

posted November 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm


PDS – If you want to read what Syvanen actually says, you could look here: pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/the-last-univer.html
“Though the idea of common ancestry remains valid (indeed evidence for common ancestry is everywhere in the sequence of our genes) there is no longer a need to postulate that all life evolved from a single last universal common ancestor.”
It’s okay. The work of scientists looking at ‘lateral’ (or ‘horizontal’) gene transfer has been consistently misrepresented by ID and creationist sources:
evolutionblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/nelson-on-mooneynisbet.html
http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=484
thequestionableauthority.blogspot.com/2005/09/communications-and-science.html
Oh, and it’s worth noting that Syvanen’s result regarding tunicates has not been published yet, so it’s kinda difficult to check. It’s entirely possible they formed from a symbiosis event, like how eukaryotic cells formed, but until we see some actual data…



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John Sobert Sylvest

posted November 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm


While I haven?t seen a design inference regarding any particular reality that, in my view, makes for good science or good philosophy, at the same time, I very much affirm a design inference regarding reality as a whole, which makes for a good theology of nature.
From a semiotic approach to reality, we know that certain tacit dimensions of reality can be ineluctably unobtrusive while utterly efficacious. We also know that such semiotic realities can effect a downward causation without violating physical causal closure. It is perhaps beyond the scope of this consideration to explore this in more depth but I bring this up in the context of recognizing the role of telos in ordinary physical reality. By analogy, then, one would not unreasonably extrapolate this minimalist telos into a more robustly conceived divine telic dimension.
God as Primal Goal or Primal Design thus remains an eminently compelling inference to humankind. Just like the notions of God as Primal Cause and Primal Being, as conceived in the Cosmological and Ontological conceptions of God, the Teleological conception remains alive and well, metaphorically & theologically. It’s not an unreasonable philosophical posit either even though unprovable.
I treat this in a little more depth here:
another Design Inference, properly conceived



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R Hampton

posted November 3, 2009 at 8:38 pm


This appeared on the Catholic News Service today, and it demonstrates that ID proponents who depict Evolution as, ultimatelty, the rejection of a Christian God (see #82 Dallas) completely dismiss the Catholic Church.
“Prominent Catholic cell biologist Kenneth Miller pointed out that the idea [of Intelligent Design] is distinct from the transcendent intelligence that theists, including himself, believe created the universe.
“He quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 statement: ‘This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.’

“Intelligent design proponents often claim that mainstream scientists are doctrinaire evolutionists unwilling to consider the conflicting idea, but Kenneth Miller said they are unwilling to submit to the peer review critical to scientific advance.”



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pds

posted November 4, 2009 at 7:00 am


Ray #87
Thanks for that article! It supports my position. I am not sure why you think it supports yours.
Syvanen confirms the facts: that there is no consistent tree of life. He then explains it away.
This confirms what I said in #79, and confirms that was you said in #18 is not accurate.
By the way, you did not answer my questions:
Are you saying the evidence shows a single consistent tree? That all genetic trees are consistent with each other and are consistent with morphological trees?



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pds

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:38 am


Peeling Dragon Skin
Ray,
A clarification- I should have said this:
Syvanen confirms the facts: that there is no consistent tree of life. He then tries to explain it away.
One more thing. Syvanen has a theory why people present the facts like you did in #18:
“There are deep ideological reasons for believing in a LUCA [Last Universal Common Ancestor] that explain the reluctance of many to abandon it. In fact this reason is built directly into the most basic model of modern biology, i.e. the tree of life. The only figure in Darwin?s ?Origin of Species? happens to be a tree that inevitably maps back to a single trunk.”
He then goes on to explain how their assumptions cause confusion:
“Indeed the algorithms used in phylogenetic analysis can only find a single trunk, which, of course, is how they are designed. All practicing biologists are aware of the limitations of phylogenetic modeling with its built in assumptions, but nevertheless these assumptions do cause confusion.”



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Ray Ingles

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:35 am


PDS – Again you misrepresent what Syvanen actually says. In that article he’s talking exclusively about the origin of life and the basic biological kingdoms – not multicellular life. Go ahead, reread it. He is not arguing against living things having “Last Common Ancestors”. He is arguing against a “Last Universal Common Ancestor” – i.e. what I actually wrote, that the “tree of life has tangled roots”.
Are you saying the evidence shows a single consistent tree?
For multicellular life: you betcha. There are occasional ‘grafts’ where branches of the tree ‘merge’ or ‘cross over’ – think of it as ‘mistletoe on the tree of life’. But they are rare, and stick out. Have you looked at endogenous retroviruses yet?
That all genetic trees are consistent with each other and are consistent with morphological trees?
No, as I noted there are surprises – just “very very few” of them. And this can actually be numerically quantified. See, e.g., here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section1.html#independent_convergence
A quote: “Biologists seem to seek the ‘The One Tree’ and appear not to be satisfied by a range of options. However, there is no logical difficulty in having a range of trees. There are 34,459,425 possible [unrooted] trees for 11 taxa (Penny et al. 1982), and to reduce this to the order of 10-50 trees is analogous to an accuracy of measurement of approximately one part in 10^6.”



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pds

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm


Ray,
Your assertions just don’t match the relevant literature (including the article you cite), as I read it. Not sure what else to say.



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Ray Ingles

posted November 5, 2009 at 11:48 am


William Paley, of the “watchmaker argument”, said something else that might be of relevance here.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”



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