Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Fond Dreams of BioLogos

posted by David Klinghoffer

Astute readers will have noticed that Beliefnet runs two blogs that deal with evolution on a more or less frequent basis but in very different ways: this blog and Science and the Sacred, where former Human Genome Project head Francis Collins and other contributors from the BioLogos Foundation share their thoughts. An Evangelical Christian, Dr. Collins would like to find a reconciliation between Darwinian evolution including its randomly driven, unplanned, unguided mechanism of natural selection, with Biblical religion, which is premised on God’s creative guidance of life’s history. 

I wish Dr. Collins all the luck in the world. He’ll need it. An Orthodox Jew, I find his to be an impossible quest, though attractive to believers who find it expedient to dodge the radical challenge to theistic religion posed by Darwinism. 
Part of the appeal of “theistic evolution” lies in the prospect it holds out to Christians and Jews of being respected and accepted by the prestige academic world. In that world, Darwinism and atheism have a way of melding. Alas, the fondly wished for respect is often cruelly withheld. Prominent Darwinists like P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne have been amusingly contemptuous of the BioLogos concept —  “full of fluffy bunnies and pious weasels to reconcile science and faith” — which Dr. Collins also elaborates on a website of that name and in his book, The Language of God.
Of course, they are unfair to Dr. Collins and his collaborator Karl Giberson. I enjoyed Language of God, and reviewed it favorably in The Weekly Standard, though I did note that Dr. Collins, who disdains intelligent-design theory, gives no evidence of having kept up with the latest that is being argued and written on the subject. His critique suffers from superficiality.

For example, Dr. Collins lays great stress on the purported evidence for Darwinian evolution from so-called “junk DNA.” But see the latest knock-down of the argument by my colleague Richard Sternberg at Evolution News & Views.
Fundamentally, when it comes to Darwinian evolution, the conflict isn’t between faith and science. It’s between faith and unfounded science. Bad science. Who would think Judaism or Christianity can be reconciled with any and every science-flavored theory of how the world works that happens to come along?
Without going into a lot of details about what separates our perspectives, I think readers deserve a sort of thumb-nail explanation of where Dr. Collins and I part, and why we do. Interestingly, the contrast between our two ways of thinking about faith goes way back. It was noted more than a century ago by the great psychologist and philosopher William James.
In the Postscript to his book The Varieties of Religious Experience, James wrote about two species of “supernaturalism” — meaning, in general, an openness to recognizing a reality beyond our natural, material world. The opposite would be naturalism, which denies the existence of such an unseen and unseeable realm. James distinguished between a “refined” or “universal” supernaturalism, which views the supernatural as being unable or unwilling to exert a meaningful guiding influence over material reality, and a “crass” supernaturalism, which perceives the invisible world as intersecting with the visible.
James himself identified as a crass supernaturalist. Religious but not a Christian, he found that refined supernaturalism “surrenders…too easily to naturalism.” BioLogos is tempted by the refinement and the prestige of universal supernaturalism.
James wrote: “In this universalistic way of taking the ideal world, the essence of practical religion seems to me to evaporate. Both instinctively and for logical reasons, I find it hard to believe that principles can exist which make no difference in facts.” Under refined supernaturalism, the “universe become a gnosticism pure and simple.”
I particularly like the part about “surrendering” to naturalism too easily. That’s exactly what BioLogos, a/k/a “theistic evolution,” does. With it, practical religion is put in danger of evaporating. 
James also gives an insight into why refined supernaturalism appeals to so many otherwise faithful believers. It seems refined, sophisticated, worldly, whereas the crass version seems crass. The latter “finds no intellectual difficulty in mixing the ideal and the real worlds together by interpolating influences from the ideal region among the forces that causally determine the real world’s details.” How backward and old-fashioned! Why it almost sounds like intelligent design. That would never go down in the faculty club.
Like William James, I’m happy to be crass. It’s not bad company to be in.


Advertisement
Comments read comments(28)
post a comment
Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 9:00 am


Count me in as crass, too. And with a clear conscience as well. (:
Wayne Hollyoak



report abuse
 

Turmarion

posted May 18, 2009 at 10:17 am


I suppose if the temptation of “refined” supernaturalism is to succumb to “naturalism”, the temptation of “crass” supernaturalism is to degenerate into mindless fundamentalism. I’m not saying that David is mindless or fundamentalist; but by the same token, I don’t think that most “refined” supernaturalists are naturalists (in this sense), either. I do think that the distinction is more subtle than this, though.
David: Dr. Collins would like to find a reconciliation between Darwinian evolution including its randomly driven, unplanned, unguided mechanism of natural selection, with Biblical religion, which is premised on God’s creative guidance of life’s history. I wish Dr. Collins all the luck in the world. He’ll need it.
I don’t think theists who also accept evolution think that the universe is a “randomly driven, unplanned, unguided mechanism….” God is certainly powerful enough and subtle enough to work in ways that seem to us to be random. There seems to be a lot of randomness even if one posits no evolution–why did God give us appendices, why did He not make our lower backs more efficient in design for bipedalism, why did He make wasps that paralyze caterpillars so that their young can eat them alive, why did He create malaria, why did He create things in such a seemingly “defective” way?
Even ID proponent and David’s fellow Discovery Institute member Michael Behe has stated, in The Edge of Evolution, “Are viruses and parasites part of some brilliant, as-yet-unappreciated economy of nature, or do they reflect the bungling of an incompetent, fallible designer?” and “Wasp larvae feeding on paralyzed caterpillars is certainly a disquieting image, to say nothing of malaria feeding on children. So did Darwin conclude that the designer was not beneficent? Maybe not omnipotent? No. He decided—based on squeamishness—that no designer existed. Because it is horrific, it was not designed—a better example of the fallacy of non sequitur would be hard to find. Revulsion is not a scientific argument.” Elsewhere (can’t find the quote offhand), when challenged as to what kind of designer the evidence indicated, Behe said it could as well indicate the Gnostic Demiurge, the evil and deficient designer.
I might also point out that Behe, in the same book, accepts the idea of the common descent of life, and of the common ancestry of humans and chimpanzees: “Behe argues strongly for common descent of all lifeforms on earth, including conceding that humans and chimpanzees have a common ancestor. He states that there is such overwhelming evidence for common ancestry that it should not only be obvious, but ‘trivial’.” (from here) Keep in mind, this from an ID proponent!
David: An Orthodox Jew, I find [Collins's] to be an impossible quest, though attractive to believers who find it expedient to dodge the radical challenge to theistic religion posed by Darwinism.
I guess this is a good point at which to renew my question to David, which he has never answered: Do you propose that the opening chapters of Genesis are to be taken literally? Do you think the Earth is about 6000 years old? Or what do you think? It seems to me that failing to answer these questions directly or dodging them with obfuscations about “mystery” and such makes it hard to have dialogue or fair debate.
Also, you’ve admitted that the truth or falsity of evolution is a scientific, not a religious question. Do you think that if evolution could be demonstrated, to your satisfaction, that it would invalidate your faith? We compatibilists don’t have that problem.
One last thing on a slight tangent: I ran across this interesting op-ed by Jeffrey Goldberg discussing Benjamin Netanyahu. What’s interesting, is where he discusses Netanyahu’s father’s book about the Spanish Inquisition: “Over more than 1,300 pages, Benzion Netanyahu argued that Spanish hatred of Jews was not merely theologically motivated but based in race hatred (the Spanish pursued the principle of limpieza de sangre, or the purity of blood) that reached back to the ancient world.” (emphasis added)
Perhaps this weakens the “Holocaust was the fault of Darwin’s theories” meme? Maybe evolution wasn’t necessary for anti-Semites to view the Jews negatively in racial terms? Maybe people were doing that four hundred years before Hitler was even born? Maybe the hatred and prejudice of such people grabs whatever is available to try to “justify” itself, when there is no real connection?



report abuse
 

Brian Beckman

posted May 18, 2009 at 11:06 am


Let me produce an example of an invisible, immaterial, non-physical entity that interacts with the physical world: a print driver. This is a piece of computer software that causes paper and ink to come out of a physical printer. The piece of software is, itself, however, not physical at all. It may have various physical encodings as bits in RAM or on a hard drive or as source code written on paper, but the software itself has an independent existence free of any physical representation, just the way a number has an independent existence free of any representation as a numeral.
This independent entity — the software itself — is unique, has no location, no mass, no lifetime, no attributes of physical entities, but it certainly exists. When a physical representation is needed, it can be made for free by copying some other representation, and this copying is (almost) free and is exact. But the act of producing copyies does not diminish the original in any way, a fact that causes much consternation for the music and movie industries, which nowadays must produce their wares in “software” forms.
When a print driver is activated in a computer, it interacts with the physical world by causing paper and ink to be combined. I think in earlier times, a print driver might have been called an angel.



report abuse
 

Brian Beckman

posted May 18, 2009 at 11:09 am


Can’t resist repeating a quip:
“Creationism isn’t bad science, it’s bad religion. Atheism isn’t bad religion, it’s bad science.”



report abuse
 

DML

posted May 18, 2009 at 11:45 am


Theistic evolution at least has some hope of hanging on, it really isn’t true that accepting Darwin will force you to reject religion, only a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture. Young earth creationism simply can’t stand up against modern day biology (or geology, or astronomy, or physics, or anthropology, or archeology, etc.) BioLogos is an improvement over Discovery Institute philosophy.
Concerning evolution, Richard Sternberg’s take on indels doesn’t hold water either. The recent HapMap data, indel analysis of humans and in particular, the recent Science magazine article about the genetic structure and history of Africa firmly demonstrate that humans are a product of evolutionary forces and we have a heritage that is not reflected in religious texts. The ‘out of Africa’ hypothesis is crystal clear. Its really a lot more satisfying to embrace the truth of our genetic heritage. It doesn’t bother me at all that we and monkeys share a common ancestor.



report abuse
 

John Shuey

posted May 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm


I usually try to say something nice about folks with whom I disagree, if only to emphasize that my disagreement is not personal. In this instance, I make an intentional exception.
Most of the comments of Mr. Klinghoffer are outright falsehoods. He and his Discovery Institute cronies have embarked on a campaign designed, not to “Discover” anything, but rather to confuse and deceive those not sufficiently schooled in the sciences. They do not do science at the DI, they do politics, public relations, and propaganda.
Please…no feigned outrage or hurt, I don’t care. The evidence for evolution is both deep and wide; multidisciplinary and consisting of literally of millions of data points of evidence…all of which supports evolution. To claim otherwise is simply being disingenuous.
Instead, I refer you to a recent challenge PZ Myers issued to the DI — a rather simple way to cast REAL doubt on evolution and to show that the Institute really is capable of doing science. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkED8cWRu4Q&feature=player_embedded )
Neither PZ nor I are holding our breath.



report abuse
 

Lopez

posted May 18, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Collins is credentialed as both a Ph.D. and M.D. Klinghoffer is neither.
Klinghoffer claims, as ‘an Orthodox Jew’ to find Dr. Collins’ efforts to comprise an “impossible quest.”
What?
For the past 100 years, learned Orthodox Jews – such as Moshe David Tendler (referenced by respondent SHMOIKELE in a prior post on the Stem Cell issue) who is a Columbia Univ. Ph.D. in Biology as well as an ordained rabbi and Talmud authority – have had no problems with it.
Like Mr. Klinghoffer – whose day job is at the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think-tank – it is only ASSIMILATED Jews, who, in their eagerness to please their Gentile overlords, ape Bible Belt fundamentalism.
In his original post, SHMOIKELE raised another issue which Mr. Klinghoffer has yet to address.
Given as how Mr. Klinghoofer has made a point of wearing his Orthodox Judaism on his sleeve, why does the photo of him which accompanies this blog, show him bare-headed, i.e., without a skullcap or other form of head-covering? Is he afraid of looking
“Jewish”?
To ne sure, there is a possibility that he might be wearing a skull cap on the back of his head and to the side; but that is Israeli style, and since Mr. Klinghoffer has made it clear that he is a non-Zionist, that clearly would not be an option for him.



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm


Hilarious, Lopez. So let’s get this straight. My not being totally on board with religious Zionism obliges me to wear some sort of elaborate religious costume. And it’s *assimilated* Jews who are more likely to be sympathetic to intelligent design? On what planet?



report abuse
 

Steve

posted May 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm


David wrote: “Fundamentally, when it comes to Darwinian evolution, the conflict isn’t between faith and science. It’s between faith and unfounded science. Bad science.”
David, what reason is there to believe that Darwinian evolution is “unfounded science” and/or “bad science?” You haven’t given any reasons to support that assertion. That one has reasons to believe that a given assertion is true is necessary for one to know (or justifiably infer) that the assertion is true. For example, suppose someone claims that he knows that Bigfoot exists, but he doesn’t offer any reasons to support the assertion. In that case, I wouldn’t be warranted in inferring that his assertion is true.
Moreover, it is known that some of my ancestors are fish. Here is a link to some of the kinds of data that has enabled some people to determine that some of my ancestors are fish:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 2:39 pm


Steve, this isn’t a science blog where I make the scientific case for intelligent design and against Darwinism. For that, I direct you to Evolution News & Views where my colleague Jonathan Wells is currently writing an excellent series of posts on “Why Darwinism Is False: http://www.evolutionnews.org/
In this blog, I write about the consequences of ideas, including scientific ones, and how they relate to the worldview expressed in the Hebrew Bible. I hope this helps.



report abuse
 

Steve

posted May 18, 2009 at 2:57 pm


David wrote: “Steve, this isn’t a science blog where I make the scientific case for intelligent design and against Darwinism. For that, I direct you to Evolution News & Views where my colleague Jonathan Wells is currently writing an excellent series on posts on “Why Darwinism Is False: http://www.evolutionnews.org/
“In this blog, I write about the consequences of ideas, including scientific ones, and how they relate to the worldview expressed in the Hebrew Bible. I hope this helps.”
It is important for you to not offer highly questionable claims that are logically inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of scientists believe without offering reasons to support those claims. If you offer reasons, it can enable others determine whether your claims are warranted. Just providing a link to Jonathan Wells’ article would have been sufficient. It is good that you did that now. I’ll respond to it.



report abuse
 

shmoikele

posted May 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm


do tell…
you cavalierly dismiss the long-standing ORTHODOX Jewish custom of keeping one’s head covered as “an elaborate religious costume” and yet deny being ‘assimilated’?
And then even have the chutzpa to claim to be Orthodox?
What deception!
What better proof is there, of your being assimilated than of your refusal to wear a skull-cap or hat?!!
Not to mention the profound disrespect that such behavior shows for Jewish tradition and the grand masters of Halacha.
But then, I forget. You are a convert.



report abuse
 

DML

posted May 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm


I took a peek at the evolutionnews website. Its really fringe wedge strategy stuff, bad science that couldn’t ever muster peer review.



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm


Shmoikele, did I say I don’t wear a kipah? I’m wearing one right now. Just so that no one gets confused, of course I cover my head. I was cavalierly dismissing your earlier foolish demand that I wear a special costume in order to qualify as a Jew with opinions that don’t follow a stereotyped pattern. Sorry, I don’t believe you can measure a Jew by the size of his kipah or hat.



report abuse
 

Steve

posted May 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm


I read Jonathan Wells’ piece. According to Wells, “if ‘evolution’ meant simply that existing species can undergo minor changes over time, or that many species alive today did not exist in the past, then evolution would undeniably be true. But ‘evolution’ for Coyne means Darwinism — the theory that all living things are descendants of a common ancestor, modified by unguided natural processes such as DNA mutations and natural selection.”
Let’s assume that Wells interpretation of what Jerry Coyne meant by “evolution” is indeed what Coyne mean by “evolution.” First, I’ll call the idea that “all living things are descendants of a common ancestor” the idea of common descent. Moreover, the idea of common descent is, at the very least, overwhelmingly likely. I think I know that it is true. Second, it is overwhelmingly likely (though less likely than the idea of common descent) that “unguided natural processes such as DNA mutations and natural selection” caused self-replicating molecules that were on earth about 3.8 billion years ago to evolve into all the complex organisms that have lived on earth. In other words, it is overwhelmingly likely that no deity intervened on planet earth at any time over the last 3.8 billion years in order to cause the existence of, or differences among, any of the organisms that have lived on earth. It is also unlikely that any extraterrestrial contributed to the existence of, or differences among, any of the organisms that have lived on earth.
First, let’s talk about common descent. Wells at least suggests that the fossil data is not sufficient to determine that common descent is true, and he may even suggest that the fossil data contributes to the warranted inference that common descent is false. I would agree that the fossil data is not [b]sufficient[/b] to determine that common descent is true. In essence, the fossil record is the remains of organisms that once lived on earth. Moreover, to know the cause of a given event, it is very important for one to know the cause of similar events. For example, if I come across a mouse, I know its existence was proximately caused by sexual reproduction partly because I know that trillions and trillions of organisms (and trillions and trillions of mice) have come into being through sexual reproduction. So, the fossil data, by itself, is not enough to know that common descent is true. However, the fossil data does [b]help[/b] me determine that common descent is true, because nearly every known organism is very similar anatomically to at least one known organism that is older than it and relatively close in age to it. See the sequence of fossils from less complex bacteria to more complex bacteria; the sequence of fossils from more complex bacteria to fish; the sequence of fossils from fish to amphibians; the sequence of fossils from amphibians to reptiles; the sequence of fossils from reptiles to early mammals; the sequence of fossils from land mammals to whales; and the sequence of fossils from apes to humans. Moreover, there is no known organism that is hugely different anatomically than every known organism that is older than it. For instance, there aren’t any rabbits that lived 1 billion years ago. The structure of the fossil data has helped people determine that common descent is true because we know that when organisms reproduce the offspring is always fairly similar to its parent(s).
Moreover, although the fossil data is not sufficient for me to know that common descent is true, it is not the only data available to me. I’ll present two particularly important arguments to support common descent. First, if I know that kind of event X caused kind of event Y trillions and trillions of times and I don’t know of any other kind of event that caused kind of event Y, this helps me know that kind of event X caused kind of event Y at time T. For instance, I know that the difference in mass between the earth and my pencil caused my pencil to fall to the ground partly because I know that the difference in mass between the earth and things like pencils has caused pencils to fall toward the earth every other time. Moreover, I know of trillions and trillions of cases in which reproduction proximately caused the existence of a complex organism, for instance, me. And I don’t know of any other kind of event that has proximately caused the existence of a complex organism. Therefore, my knowledge that trillions and trillions of complex organisms have come into being through reproduction and my not knowing any other kind of event that has caused the existence of a complex organism helps me know that the first organism that you would identify as fully human came into being through sexual reproduction.
Second, the closer in time that two species first appeared on earth, the more similar their DNA is. For example, the first humans first lived on earth closer in time to when the first chimpanzees lived than they did to when the first fish lived. And the human genome is more similar to the chimpanzee genome than it is to the fish genome. This helps me know that common descent is true, because I know that when organisms reproduce, the offspring tends to be more genetically similar to its parents than it is to any organism that lived thousands of years before it.
So, common descent is, at the very least, overwhelmingly likely. I think it’s true.
Now what about the idea that no deity intervened on earth any time in the last 3.8 billion years in order to cause some organisms to exist or to be the way they are? It is overwhelmingly likely that this did not occur. For one thing, no person knows of anything remotely similar to that having occurred. For instance, no one has observed a deity or extraterrestrial poof an elephant or ferret into existence. Similarly, it is very unlikely that the first T-rexes were able to fly, because we don’t know of any similar organism, at least without wings, that has been able to fly.



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Thanks for the good challenges, Turmarion. As always, I appreciate your civilized tone. If I fail to answer a question, it’s only because of the press of time. You ask if I’m a literalist on the age of the earth. No, that would not be remotely supportable from scientific evidence nor does Judaism require it. I’m attracted to Gerald Schroeder’s approach in The Science of God. The challenge of Darwinism is far more fundamental. It’s not about whether we can still read Genesis in a simple minded literal way, and again Jews have never done that, but instead whether God has a creative role to play at all in guiding life’s history. In any sense, is He the creator? If somehow it could be shown that God did not play such a role, that would indeed cast serious doubt on Judaism and Christianity alike. I mean, that’s putting it mildly. But showing such a thing is very different from Darwinists’ simply spinning out hopeful hypothetical scenarios, just so stories.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm


about having one’s head covered,
it is nice that on occasion you make the effort to wear a kipah, but then why is that not evident in the photo that accompanies this blog?
Which is to say- as someone who goes out of his way to claim to be Orthodox, as you do – why are you afraid to be seen in public, to be publicly identifiable as a Jew: which is part of the function of the head-covering.
For someone- like yourself- who harps about the “Jewish mission” to the world, why are you afraid to don its most identifiable public symbol? ON A JEWISH blog, even, for heaven’s sakes!
You don’t measure a Jew by the size of his kipah, but by its CONSPICUOUS presence at all times, as a symbol of OBEDIENCE to Jewish practice, in implementation of G-d’s will.



report abuse
 

Steve

posted May 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm


David wrote: “It’s not about whether we can still read Genesis in a simple minded literal way, and again Jews have never done that, but instead whether God has a creative role to play at all in guiding life’s history. In any sense, is He the creator? If somehow it could be shown that God did not play such a role, that would indeed cast serious doubt on Judaism and Christianity alike. I mean, that’s putting it mildly.”
It’s clear that if there is a God, God did not proximately poof into existence any organism – or any part of any organism – to have lived on earth. Please see my previous two posts. However, it is obviously less clear whether one or more intelligent beings contributed to the existence of the known universe. I’m an atheist. I believe that no intelligent being contributed to the existence of the known universe, and I believe that no Gods even exist. But, obviously, it is logically consistent to believe that one or more Gods exist and to believe that no God proximately poof into existence any organism – or any parts of any organism – to have lived on earth. The two ideas have different meaning. Moreover, it is important to make the distinction between, on the one hand, whether an intelligent super-being caused the known universe to exist and, on the other hand, whether an intelligent super-being proximately poofed into existence some of the organisms that have lived on earth. The two claims have much different levels of plausibility. The claim that God proximately poofed into existence some of the organisms that have lived on earth is obviously false. It is much less clear whether one or more intelligent super-beings contributed to the existence of the known universe. I think that no such event occurred. However, I concede that it is much more clear that an intelligent super-being didn’t proximately poofed into existence some of the organisms that have lived on earth than it is that an intelligent super-being contributed to the existence of the known universe.
David wrote: “But showing such a thing is very different from Darwinists’ simply spinning out hopeful hypothetical scenarios, just so stories.”
What “just so stories” are you referring to? The claim that some of my ancestors are fish is not a “just so story” in the sense of a claim that is no more plausible than not. Clearly, some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my previous two posts. However, some claims that some people consider part of evolution are fairly speculative, for instance, that a meteor event contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, my experience is that scientists generally do a good job of making clear when a claim is fairly speculative. And when they don’t do so, they should do so. Nevertheless, the claim that some of my ancestors are fish is not highly speculative. It is, at the very least, overwhelmingly likely that some of my ancestors are fish.



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm


Sigh. OK, “Your Name” or whatever sock-puppet identity you are using now, once again, and this is the last time I will address this or any similarly ridiculous question: I was wearing a kipah when that photo was taken. I always wear a kipah. I do not wear it on my forehead, which I would need to have done for it to be visible in the photo. Enough! Because I don’t want to create or worsen a desecration of God’s name by giving non-Jewish or non-Orthodox readers the incorrect impression that this is the sort of nonsense bickering that Orthodox Jews engage in all the time, it occurs to me I should simply ignore absurd challenges like this and should have done so from the start.



report abuse
 

tm61

posted May 18, 2009 at 5:34 pm


Regarding a reconciliation between science and religion:
No reconciliation is needed!
Consider this:
If my computer doesn’t start up, here’s what I do (and I’ll bet you do the same):
1. Check for power – is it plugged in? Is the power bar on?
2. Is the power supply ok? Is the fan on?
3. Is the motherboard ok? Did I hear the beep?
etc…
In other words, I would check all sorts of material causes.
But what does this say about my faith in God – or yours if you follow a similar procedure? NOTHING!
Have I denied God by not including Him as step 1 or any other step? NO!
The search for material causes for material phenomena implies nothing about the presence or absence of any supernatural power. This is true when we talk about computers failing to start, or the development of life on earth, or any other material phenomena.



report abuse
 

Glen Davidson

posted May 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm


I wish Dr. Collins all the luck in the world. He’ll need it. An Orthodox Jew, I find his to be an impossible quest, though attractive to believers who find it expedient to dodge the radical challenge to theistic religion posed by Darwinism.

And that’s the only reason you have for rejecting it. You’ll accept science as long as it passes your religious prejudices (such as age of the earth), but not when it goes against them.

Part of the appeal of “theistic evolution” lies in the prospect it holds out to Christians and Jews of being respected and accepted by the prestige academic world. In that world, Darwinism and atheism have a way of melding. Alas, the fondly wished for respect is often cruelly withheld. Prominent Darwinists like P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne have been amusingly contemptuous of the BioLogos concept — “full of fluffy bunnies and pious weasels to reconcile science and faith” — which Dr. Collins also elaborates on a website of that name and in his book, The Language of God.

That’s essentially a misrepresentation. Myers, who I do think often goes too far, is one who does respect people like Ken Miller–in the scientific realm. He’s more likely to be against Miller when it comes to religion, while I’m generally indifferent to Miller’s religion.
As usual, you’re incapable of supplying evidence for what you claim, and in this case you equivocate. Who isn’t “respected and accepted by the prestige academic world” when they adhere to scientific principles? Does even Myers diss Collins’ scientific work? No, he does not. And so what if he is contemptuous of Collins’ religion? He’s more the minority in putting it down, and that’s part of, you know, honest academic freedom, against the fraudulent “academic freedom” espoused by the Dishonesty Institute.
David is trying to portray an anti-religious sentiment in academia that doesn’t exist, not, at least, as he claims that it does. Prejudice there may be, but by and large one’s work is not judged according to that, and someone like Collins does not lack for recognition in science. He’s been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and is a member of both the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Science.
One might be able to make a case for prejudice, especially from certain corners. But David’s portrayal of Collins as not having academic respect is as unfounded as his claim that “Darwinism” is “bad science.” As usual, he either doesn’t know about what is discussing, and/or, he doesn’t particularly care about the facts.
I should point out again that he’s been given very good reasons why “Darwinism” is good science, and if he were interested in being honest with his readers, he’d address those. As it is, he doesn’t know science, doesn’t know how Collins is honored by other scientists, doesn’t know of any reason “Darwinism” is bad science, and yet he doesn’t refrain from using his ignorance and prejudice to mis-portray what is the case.
Just another complete misrepresentation of these matters by a man who has rarely strayed from misrepresenting evolutionary theory.
He asked us where we get our values. I think the real question is where he gets his values, since it is we who care to depict scientific matters in an honest and straightforward manner, while he clearly doesn’t mind taking the opposite tack.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



report abuse
 

Glen Davidson

posted May 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm


Fundamentally, when it comes to Darwinian evolution, the conflict isn’t between faith and science. It’s between faith and unfounded science. Bad science. Who would think Judaism or Christianity can be reconciled with any and every science-flavored theory of how the world works that happens to come along?
Without going into a lot of details about what separates our perspectives, I think readers deserve a sort of thumb-nail explanation of where Dr. Collins and I part, and why we do.

Please note how contemptuously Klinghoffer treats the theist that he pretends to praise.
Collins explains quite well why he accepts the science of evolution, while David simply regurgitates a simplistic notion of “naturalism.” David never addresses the science, except with his near-total ignorance of science and with Dishonesty Institute misrepresentations of these matters.
Collins has studied evolution, David has not. Yet David simply calls Collins’ expert opinion “bad science” (though more obliquely), and contemns the Collins who most scientists do honor, though not always without criticism.
No, Collins is accepted and generally given credit for his intelligence and expertise. David just dumps his ignorance and prejudice onto Collins, thereby making light of some of the best work done by Collins, the genome project, which was informed by evolutionary theory.
By the way, it is ridiculous to suppose that respecting Collins and Miller necessarily entails respect for all of their beliefs. Does anyone expect Republican scientists to be free from political criticisms coming from Democratic scientists? What matters is whether scientists respect Collins’ science, and certainly the consensus of scientists does confer respect upon Collins.
And again, I do not believe that Myers or Coyne have ever treated Collins with the contempt that Klinghoffer does.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



report abuse
 

David Klinghoffer

posted May 18, 2009 at 7:09 pm


Glen, you wrote: “I do not believe that Myers or Coyne have ever treated Collins with the contempt that Klinghoffer does.” Clearly you haven’t read their blogs. I don’t feel or express contempt for Dr. Collins. But if you think I do, Myers and Coyne go far beyond me. Coyne’s headline: “Shoot me now: Francis Collins’s new supernaturalist website.”
http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/shoot-me-now-francis-collinss-new-supernaturalist-website/



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm


I fail to see that Coyne is being very contemptuous of Collins in your link, David, especially with regard to Collins as a scientist, which was the thrust of my argumentation regarding respect. But then I don’t particularly think that Collins should expect scientists to respect his religion, while he does have cause to expect some respect when he does good science.
You may be focusing on the religious aspect, however. Fine. Who wrote this about Collins and his religion?

There’s a short film with scientists talking about Darwin and religion, seeking to show that Darwinism actually has religion’s best interests in mind. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome project and a self-identified Christian, says that ID can “potentially [do] great harm to people’s faiths.” How so? Says Collins: by “putting God in the gaps” — by discovering God’s creative powers at the junctures in life’s history that science can’t so far explain. When science at last finds mechanistic explanations for every presumed miracle, where will that leave God?
Never mind that his view, in which God can be assumed not to operate in the natural world, makes Collins a funny kind of Christian.
Never mind, also, that he inaccurately characterizes ID. The argument for design, whatever merit it may possess, is based on positive evidence, hallmarks of a designer’s work. For example, the sudden infusion of genetic information 530 million years, when most of today’s animal body plans appeared in the earth’s ancient seas.

The hint, his initials are DK.
It is untrue that ID is predicated upon positive evidence (what about ID predicts a “sudden infusion of genetic information 530 million years ago,” and where is any evidence that such a thing happened?), of course. Collins addresses the evolutionary evidence, while ID does not, unless you want to count the blitherings of the wholly discredited Wells with his claptrap for Father Moon.
My point about comparing contempt from Myers and Coyne with that from David had mostly to do with science, not with religion. But David manages to fault Collins on his supposed lack of knowledge of ID (when David clearly can’t back up his claims for ID), his religion, and certainly is contemptuous of such a “funny kind of Christian.” So I see no respect from David for Collins, even though he tries to sound sympathetic now.
Here’s Myers:

Francis, I’m very disappointed in you
Category: Godlessness
Posted on: June 12, 2006 8:37 PM, by PZ Myers
Francis Collins is a very smart, very disciplined, very hardworking man. He was the head of the Human Genome Project, and now he has written a book, The Language of God : A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), and I have to tell you, it doesn’t look promising.
He talks about his ideas in an interview. It’s the usual dreary stuff we get from the god-botherers, and it’s clear that this is a subject on which he willingly turns his intellect to off.

I included where Myers is beginning to rip into Collins, which I am more than a little aware of his doing (too much so, IMO). But where I think it counts, where it should count, is in the matter of science, and there Myers calls Collins “a very smart, very disciplined, very hardworking man.” I don’t expect Myers to respect Collins’ religion, I expect Myers to criticize it when he thinks fit to do so. Again, that’s what academic freedom is about. It is not about calling pseudoscience the equal of science.
I think the only reason David considers himself to be more respectful is that David doesn’t know the science nor does he care about it, while he does care about religion. At times, then, he feels a kinship to Collins, and yet it is difficult to see his treatment of Collins’ religion as anything but contemptuous in the first quote above (it’s from National Review Online, originally). Where I think respect is important, professionally, that is, with respect to science, Myers gives some grudging respect, while David simply fobs off Collins’ considerable expertise and his actual arguments.
Sorry, certainly from my perspective Myers and Coyne are more respectful of Collins than is David. Snuggling up to Collins now hardly explains why David contemned Collins’ religion previously, nor does it explain his incorrect notions about Collins’ arguments against an ID which has never provided a speck of positive evidence for “design.”
What’s with this nonsense anyhow?

though I did note that Dr. Collins, who disdains intelligent-design theory, gives no evidence of having kept up with the latest that is being argued and written on the subject. His critique suffers from superficiality.

What “latest” does ID have to offer? And no, the bit about “junk DNA” means nothing, for David hasn’t answered what I wrote about it at all, neither telling us any entailed predictions about “junk DNA” that ID could make, nor giving us any reason to believe that “junk DNA” does not exist or has not existed. There is much to discuss about “junk DNA,” but Sternberg’s just telling us the same old meaningless spiel of the DI and equally disreputable ID sources, and David neither addresses the response I made nor brings in anything new.
Collins knows quite enough about ID, and way more about the genome than do Sternberg or David. That’s exactly the contempt for Collins I find from David, and he wasn’t much more respectful of Collins’ religion than are Coyne and Myers (they don’t call him a “funny kind of Christian, but fault him for being Christian–an honest attack from their perspective. Nevertheless, I wasn’t much concerned about the latter, since I don’t believe that it has much to do with “being respected and accepted by the prestige academic world,” which, as I noted, Collins is.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 8:38 pm


By the way, I find contemptuous in the extreme the implications regarding David’s fellow theist, found here:

Part of the appeal of “theistic evolution” lies in the prospect it holds out to Christians and Jews of being respected and accepted by the prestige academic world. …Myers and Jerry Coyne have been amusingly contemptuous of the BioLogos concept

That’s from one paragraph, and what is implicit there is that a significant part of the appeal of theistic evolution for Collins is acceptance by the academic world, which, David purports, is being withheld from Collins.
To infer that Collins is anything but an honest scientist in supporting “Darwinism” is appalling indeed. Collins gives reasons for accepting evolutionary theory, and these reasons are good ones. He ought to be accepted as being honest in doing so, until and unless David et al. can show a. that they are wrong, and b. that Collins knew that they were wrong. David has done neither, nor has Jonathan Wells on his usual forum which allows no dissent.
So again, the contempt for Collins’ intellect and honesty appears to be overwhelming here. Coyne and Myers have contempt for Collins’ religion, no question, but I have never seen them suggest or imply that he was a dishonest person as many IDists do–supporting evolutionary theory in order to be accepted by the academic world.
To be sure, this is the usual contempt for theistic evolutionists that “intelligent design proponents” exhibit. It has much to do with the fact that they want to attack evolution as “atheistic” (in a way that the rest of science supposedly is not–functionally, all of science could be considered atheistic in a manner, while not so from other perspectives), and scientists like Collins as betraying their religion.
But this attack is neither supported by evidence, nor obviously true from any other considerations. That it drips with contempt for Collins and his theistic cohorts should not be missed by anyone who is not committed to misrepresenting scientific support for science theories.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



report abuse
 

Steve

posted May 18, 2009 at 9:42 pm


I wrote: “Second, the closer in time that two species first appeared on earth, the more similar their DNA is.”
That is not right. For instance, some fish species first appeared within the last 20,000 years. And the first humans lived on earth about 250,000 years ago. And I’m sure that any and all fish species that first appeared within the last 20,000 years are more similar genetically to the very first species of fish that lived on earth than they are to any human. So, let’s me make a different though similar point.
If organisms X and Y and more genetically similar than organisms X and Z, then the first organisms to live on earth that were very similar to X and Y lived closer in time than did the first organisms to live on earth that were very similar to X and Z. For instance, I’m more similar genetically to any chimpanzee than I am to any fish. And the first humans lived closer in time to the first chimps than the first humans did to the first fish. This helps me know that common descent is true, because I know that, when organisms reproduce, the offspring tends to be more genetically similar to its parent(s) than it is to any organism that lived thousands of years before it.



report abuse
 

gordo

posted May 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm


BSD
Your pouty self-righteousness speaks for itself, with the kipah issue an excellent case in point. You have set yourself up as the super-guardian of a set of idiosyncratic beliefs most Jews –
including the highly observant – would hardly recognize.
(If your noggin actually were covered when the photo was taken, you would have said so- but you didn’t, and got caught, and so were forced to resort to some lame rationalization to cover your tracks.
And, by the way, if you are truly Orthodox, the spelling is G-d
vice God.)
You smugly deride compliance with the Divine ordinances of the Torah as measured by halachah as little more than matters of “elaborate religious costume” or a “stereotyped pattern” and “nonsense bickering”- thus spitting in the face of the gdolim
like Rabbis Feinstein and Soloveitchik- while claiming to be a Torah-true Jew. Would that you showed the same respect and deference to the gdolim as you show to the Catholic Church, the Bible Beltbuckles and Mel Gibson!
You claim that the purpose of this blog is to address
the consequences of ideas, and “how they relate to the worldview expressed in the Hebrew Bible.”
There is no better instantiation of the amorality which you identity as a social implication of Darwinism than the ‘dog-eat-dog’ ethos of secular (meaning, G-dless), materialist, free-market capitalism. But that is not discussed by you: even though Scripture (Judg. 21:25) takes up this ideology – “every man did what was right in his own eyes” – only, in its own idiom, to categorically reject it : “there was no king in Israel” (i.e., top-down regulation is needed).
There is also the Biblical matter of redistribution of wealth – dare we apply the term ‘socialistic’ ? – of the Jubilee Year (Lev. 25: 10, 13).
Instead you mock the prophets’ concern with social justice as a liberal mythology, and denounce modern science and evolution in the same vein.
I can guess why. It is because you draw your paycheck from
the Discovery Institute, which is funded by conservative Christian
Gordon Geckos.
Deleting this posting would constitute a plea of nolo contendere on your part.



report abuse
 

lapin

posted May 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm


Inspiration: Michael Steele
1. When you outlaw evolution,
Only outlaws will evolve.
2. Bernie Madoff, Jack Abramoff and David Klinghoffer
are riding on a donkey up a mountain.
The donkey falls off a cliff.
Who got saved?
Orthodox Jewry of America



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Kingdom of Priests. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Kabballah Counseling Happy Reading!

posted 11:24:22am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Animal Wisdom: The Voice of the Serpent
Our family watched Jaws together the other evening -- which, in case you're wondering, I regard as responsible parenting since our kids are basically too young to be genuinely scared by the film. The whole rest of the next day, two-year-old Saul was chattering about the "shark teeth." "Shark teeth g

posted 3:56:33pm Mar. 16, 2010 | read full post »

Reading Wesley Smith: Why the Darwin Debate Matters
If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn't receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven't grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from a journalist whom I'd queried on the subject. "All told

posted 5:07:12pm Mar. 15, 2010 | read full post »

The Mission of the Jews
Don't miss my essay over at First Things on the mission of the Jews to the world. This, I think, the key idea that the Jewish community needs to absorb at this very unusual cultural moment, for the time is so, so right. Non-Jews are waiting for us to fulfill the roll God gave us in the Torah. Please

posted 6:14:16pm Mar. 05, 2010 | read full post »

Darwin at the Mountains of Madness: Evolution & the Occult
Of all the regrettable cultural forces that Darwinism helped unleash, perhaps the most surprising and seemingly unlikely is its role in sparking the creation of modern occultism. Charles Darwin himself could not have been less interested in the topic. But no attempt to assess the scope of his legacy

posted 2:04:11pm Mar. 04, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.