Ask an Evolutionary Creationist: A Q&A with Dennis Venema

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September 7, 2011 Tags: Education

Today's entry was written by Rachel Held Evans and Dennis Venema. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Ask an Evolutionary Creationist: A Q&A with Dennis Venema

This week, BioLogos senior fellow Dennis Venema participated in Rachel Held Evans' ongoing "Ask a..." series for her website (where these answers were first posted). After asking her readers to suggest questions they had about science, faith, and evolutionary creation, Rachel selected the seven best for Dennis to respond to. Below are his answers, which Rachel describes as "challenging, accessible, and full of grace." For more from Rachel's "Ask a..." series, be sure to visit her website.

1. From Scot: Could you explain the difference between creationism, intelligent design, and "evolutionary creationism"?

“Creationism” is one of those words that almost always needs clarification. For many, “creationism” is synonymous with Young-Earth Creationism, the view that the Genesis narratives are to be taken literally. This view holds that the entire cosmos is around 6,000 years old, that the fossil record was laid down almost in its entirety during a literal, global worldwide flood, that God created humans directly out of dust, and that Adam and Eve are the progenitors of the entire human race. The organization Answers in Genesis is probably the best-known proponent of this view.

Old-Earth Creationism typically holds to a local flood, and accepts Big Bang cosmology. Despite agreeing with mainstream science on these issues, they deny evolution: they believe that the vast majority of species (and especially humans) were independently created by God during earth’s long history. Old-earthers also hold to a literal Adam and Eve as the progenitors of our entire species. Reasons to Believe is the best-known organization that promotes this view. You can read one of my (somewhat technical) critiques of their anti-evolutionary genetics arguments here.

Intelligent Design (ID) is a view that many feel is a form of creationism, though the ID Movement itself often rejects the label, claiming that it is strictly an alternative scientific view. The ID Movement is a “Big Tent” approach for all and sundry who reject at least some part of evolutionary biology. As such, there are Young-Earth Creationists, Old-Earth Creationists, and others within the movement. The main ID view is that some features of life are too complex to be the result of evolution, thus indicating that they were “designed” – a word that functions as the equivalent of “created” within this group. The Discovery Institute is the best-known organization for promoting ID. I’ve spent a lot of time critiquing the ID movement, and you can find much of that material on the BioLogos web site (do an author search there using my name).

Despite their (large) differences, all of the above positions deny some aspect of modern science. The only Christian perspective on origins that fully accepts mainstream science is the Evolutionary Creation / Theistic Evolution view. This view holds that science is not an enemy to be fought, but rather a means of understanding some of the mechanisms God has used to bring about biodiversity on earth. This view accepts that humans share ancestry with all other forms of life, and that our species arose as a population, not through a single primal pair. There are different views within the EC community on whether there was a historical couple named Adam and Eve – some hold that there was, and that they were selected by God from a larger population as representatives. Other folks in the EC community feel that Adam and Eve are typological figures, such as a representation of the failure of Israel to keep the covenant. The science (human population genetics) is clear that our species arose as a population, and that is what I have focused on (since that is my area of expertise). I try to leave the theology to others, but often folks want to talk theology on these points, not science.

2. From Paige: What has been the most compelling evidence for you personally that has solidified your position as an evolutionary creationist?

Well, the evidence is everywhere. It’s not just that a piece here and there fits evolution: it’s the fact that virtually none of the evidence we have suggests anything else. What you see presented as “problems for evolution” by Christian anti-evolutionary groups are typically issues that are taken out of context or (intentionally or not) misrepresented to their non-specialist audiences. For me personally (as a geneticist) comparative genomics (comparing DNA sequences between different species) has really sealed the deal on evolution. Even if Darwin had never lived and no one else had come up with the idea of common ancestry, modern genomics would have forced us to that conclusion even if there was no other evidence available (which of course manifestly isn’t the case).

For example, we see the genes for air-based olfaction (smelling) in whales that no longer even have olfactory organs. Humans have the remains of a gene devoted to egg yolk production in our DNA in exactly the place that evolution would predict. Our genome is nearly identical to the chimpanzee genome, a little less identical to the gorilla genome, a little less identical to the orangutan genome, and so on – and this correspondence is present in ways that are not needed for function (such as the location of shared genetic defects, the order of genes on chromosomes, and on and on). If you’re interested in this research, you might find this (again, somewhat technical) lecture I gave a few years ago helpful. You can also see a less technical, but longer version here where I do my best to explain these lines of evidence to members of my church. For those wanting even more info, a few years ago I recorded a series of lectures given to my non-majors, intro biology class that explored evolution and Christian responses to it in depth.

3. From Rob: I have trouble with randomness in natural selection. Why is it essential in scientific terms that evolutionary development is random? How does that fit with the notion of a God who is involved in the world? …Random evolution would not be theism (or it wouldn't Biblical Christianity). It would be deism; the Great Clockmaker who set everything in motion and then kept hands off. Why is randomness essential scientifically, and how does a Christian accept it theologically?

I think you mean randomness in mutation: natural selection is anything but random (it’s a process whereby certain variants in a population reproduce more successfully than others). Evolution has a random component (mutations arise that may be detrimental, neutral or beneficial) and an emphatically non-random component (the different variants within a population do not all reproduce at the same frequency, meaning that the next generation will not be exactly like the previous one). So, as a whole, evolution is not random since it has a strongly non-random component. Evolution is actually remarkably good at producing similar results over and over again: consider how similar ichthyosaurs (descended from terrestrial reptiles) and dolphins (descended from terrestrial mammals) are. That’s the non-randomness of evolution at work. Some evolutionary creationists have argued that this non-randomness of evolution is a way that God uses evolution to shape His creation (the best work on this topic is Life's Solution by noted Cambrian paleontologist Simon Conway Morris).

4. From HMV: I agree with you that the evidence seems to point to evolution being true. I've read Biologos and the old Evolution and Evangelicals blog. I've read books where people try to rework theology in light of this scientific knowledge. And yet, I'm left feeling confused and unsatisfied about doctrines like sin, the Fall, salvation, etc. What about you--have you found a satisfying way to maintain your evangelical theology in light of evolution?

This is a tricky question, because it hinges on the inherently subjective term “satisfying.” What I might find satisfying you might not – and in order to answer the question I have to guess at what you mean by it.

Personally, the concept of Divine accommodation has been helpful to me. This is a theology that has a long heritage in Protestant circles (e.g. Calvin). In a nutshell, it’s the idea that God, in his grace, brings himself down to the level of the audience he is communicating with. For Genesis, that audience is an ancient near-eastern culture, not our modern scientific one. For Genesis, my view is that God wants to communicate that he is the Creator of all that there is, that he has given humanity a special image-bearing role within it, but our sinfulness has broken that relationship, et cetera – but that he doesn’t see a need to give them a science lesson first. I would recommend Denis Lamoureux’s book I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution and, though not directly related to science, Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation may also be helpful to you (it certainly was to me).

5. From Chris: From the perspective of an evolutionary creationist, what meaning and value do you extract from the creation accounts in Genesis and why would they be important for the Christian faith if they can't be taken literally?

See the answer above – I see the Genesis narratives as God graciously reaching down to an ancient culture in order to communicate to them that he is their creator, that they are alienated from him, and that he desires that they be restored to fellowship through his offer of covenant with him (ultimately pointing to the need for God to step into history himself as the One who can keep the covenant on our behalf).

6. From Paige: I'll never forget sitting in one of Dr. Charlie Liebert’s classes several years ago and hearing him ask the question: "What came first, death or sin?" If we believe that there was no death before sin, it causes a wrinkle in our ability to hold to the theory of evolution. As a scientist, this question caused him to reexamine the evidence. How have you personally dealt with this "wrinkle?"

Yes, if you believe that no death of any kind (plant, animal, bacterial) occurred before human sinfulness, then this precludes an evolutionary view, since the fossil record is (obviously) a record of things, well, dying. If you hold that no human death came before sinfulness, then it depends on what you call human (there is a gradation of forms leading up to the modern human skeleton in the fossil record, as well as the overwhelming genetic evidence that we arose through an evolutionary process) and what you consider sin (i.e. when did we become accountable to God for our actions?). There is also the long-standing observation that God decrees that Adam and Eve will surely die the day they eat of the fruit – and then they live for several hundred years after the fact. I’d also recommend reading through Romans 5:12 – 8:17 (which, as you know, is all about Adam, sin and Christ as the second Adam) and making a mental checklist of how Paul uses the term death in this passage. References to physical human death are in the minority – suggesting that Paul’s understanding of what is going on in Genesis has a lot more nuance than a simple literal reading would imply.

7. From Jane (from her husband, an atheist): All of the questions posted so far approach the topic from the viewpoint of assuming belief in a god. As an atheist, I don’t share that assumption. (For those who might not appreciate it, evolution offers a mechanism for understanding the existence of living organisms that doesn’t require the existence of a god.) If you transitioned from an anti-evolutionary/pro-intelligent design view to an evolutionary creationist view a few years ago,” why didn’t you keep going and just embrace evolution and drop the theistic aspect?

Your question implies that there is a natural trajectory from accepting evolution to rejecting God. As a theist, specifically an evangelical Christian, I don’t agree with this point, though I understand where you are coming from. Let me explain.

Your assumption, that “evolution offers a mechanism for understanding the existence of living organisms that doesn’t require the existence of a god” holds weight only if one has the view that “natural explanations” and “theistic explanations” are a zero-sum game. This is a God-of-the-gaps approach, where God has less and less to do as we understand more and more how nature works (and a view I reject). Logically, if I held this view I would view science as an inherently evil activity, since any natural explanation diminishes the activity of God from this viewpoint. Your view is also one that science cannot establish as correct, since science cannot speak to the absence of divine action in an observed phenomenon.

If, on the other hand, one believes that “natural explanations” reveal the means by which God ordains and sustains his creation, then “natural explanations” are not a threat to theism at all, but rather a window into the ways God acts in the world. This is the view I hold, and it too is a view that science cannot establish. Both theistic evolution and atheistic evolution are philosophical / theological interpretations of what science can establish: evolution.

As for “drop(ping) the theistic aspect” – this would imply that my faith was based on a particular understanding of creation such that I would question my faith when I questioned the mechanism of creation and/or my interpretation of Genesis. This wasn’t really an issue for me, since my faith was, and is, based on believing that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the resurrected Lord of the entire world (to roughly paraphrase how N.T. Wright puts it) and that the resurrection is God the Father’s vindication of Jesus’ messiahship (as a sinless, suffering servant that, mystery of mysteries, turns out to be God Himself, incarnate). None of that belief was ever predicated on a specific interpretation of Genesis with respect to scientific details, and as such, accepting evolution as a mechanism by which God creates did not alter those beliefs. (If you’d like to see a rational, historically-rooted investigation of the credibility of the resurrection, N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God is the standard by which others are judged.)


Rachel Held Evans is a self-described "writer, skeptic, and Christ-follower" from Dayton, Tennessee—home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Her first book is a spiritual memoir entitled Evolving in Monkey Town. She enjoys speaking, blogging, traveling, playing poker, and talking theology over coffee.
Dennis Venema is professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He holds a B.Sc. (with Honors) from the University of British Columbia (1996), and received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2003. His research is focused on the genetics of pattern formation and signaling using the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Dennis is a gifted thinker and writer on matters of science and faith, but also an award-winning biology teacher—he won the 2008 College Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers. He and his family enjoy numerous outdoor activities that the Canadian Pacific coast region has to offer. Dennis writes regularly for the BioLogos Forum about the biological evidence for evolution.


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CF - #64550

September 7th 2011

One additional question I’ve heard is, how could God use natural selection as a creative mechanism since the weak are slaughtered, which seems against his loving character.

The best answer I’ve come up with is as follows.

God has the power and authority to construct his creation however he wishes, and, as C. S. Lewis (a theistic evolutionist) puts it in his space trilogy, God has the right to “unbody” us whenever he wishes.

(When he does wish to unbody us, note that it amounts for us—but probably not for most other animals, perhaps not even other hominids—to downloading our “software” onto his “hardware” until the new heavens and new earth when he gives us “new hardware”—Polkinghorne’s analogy.)

Similarly, I might write two AI computer programs which have some degree of randomness and freedom from me and compete with each other in order to continue developing (cf. genetic algorithms, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm), but I am the author and have the authority to modify or terminate them at my sovereign discretion. I am the potter, and they are the clay, as it were.

Moreover, I hold to a literal Adam and Eve, though I don’t think they were necessarily the only hominids around at the time (cf. Cain’s wife and cities). What happened in their special story I can only guess, but it seems that God did something different since they became his image bearers in a distinct way.

Perhaps part of this was the new gift of mature moral agency and responsibility that previous hominids didn’t have. And perhaps part of this new moral responsibility was caring for the weak (as we see is a priority throughout the OT and NT), a responsibility perhaps not incumbent on other hominids, at least not to the same extent.

Thus by this gift of moral agency and commands to care for the weak and powerless, God put the brakes on evolution and natural selection for us, not eliminating it in every way but limiting it in some important ways.

What do you think?


Ashe - #64571

September 8th 2011

I found an interesting discussion in i>Anarchy Evolution by the lead singer of the punk band Bad Religion. He’s a biologist as well. He has an entire chapter called “The False Idol of Natural Selection”, in which he suggests that sexual selection was more important during evolution. 


RBH - #64553

September 7th 2011

CF wrote<blockquote>One additional question I’ve heard is, how could God use natural
selection as a creative mechanism since the weak are slaughtered, which
seems against his loving character.

...

What do you think?</blockquote>
I think the Old Testament provides ample evidence that Yahweh was not at all averse to slaughtering the weak.  A whole lot of corpses of Canaanite men, women, children, and infants testify to that (see Deuteronomy for the body counts).


CF - #64554

September 7th 2011

RBH: “I think the Old Testament provides ample evidence that Yahweh was not at all averse to slaughtering the weak.”

And, along the same lines as C. S. Lewis’s line above, he has the right to do so in righteous judgment, and he exercised painful judgement against his disobedient chosen people too—not implying that the nation he used as his axe were more righteous than the ones punished by it (see, e.g., Is. 10:5-7ff,15ff).

To return to my point, the Bible is replete with commands to care for the widows, orphans, strangers, etc. as the righteous way to behave, the way God requires.


glsi - #64556

September 7th 2011

“Well, the evidence is everywhere. It’s not just that a piece here and there fits evolution: it’s the fact that virtually none of the evidence we have suggests anything else.”

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__________________________________________________________________________
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Oh really.  Where is the evidence for chemical evolution?  Doesn’t  “nowhere” describe it more accurately  than “everywhere”?  Where are the “vast piles” of transitionary fossils that Darwin said needed to be found to keep his theory afloat?    Hardly everywhere.  If the evidence is  everywhere why not bring forth giraffe fossils instead of whales every time?  Why do the fossils which are found everywhere exhibit stasis  rather than the gradual change predicted by Darwinism?  How does “everywhere” describe the evidence Darwinism lacks for the Cambrian explosion?
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If your evidence were  “everywhere”  surely you could easily put these questions to rest, but in fact, the evidence is slim to none if you are honest about it.  Far from being “out of context” or “misrepresented” issues as you claim, these are simply bedrock questions of missing evidence that you seem to have conveniently ignored.   

PNG - #64564

September 8th 2011

As for chemical evolution, I agree, the evidence is largely lacking. As for the rest of evolution, there are billions and billions of base pairs in the databases that you are ignoring.


glsi - #64579

September 8th 2011

Oh, I was responding to the authors’ claim that “virtually none of the evidence we have suggests anything else”.   Hogwash, to put it politely.


It’s interesting.  The DNA studies do appear to point to common descent if it’s being read correctly.  (Keeping in mind the so recent episode of most geneticists’ failure to read “junk DNA” for what it was)

On the other hand the fossil record is very unconvincing as evidence for Darwinism.  As you know, the record overwhelmingly shows stasis rather than the slow progressions necessary for evolution via mutation and natural selection.  Punctuated Equilibrium is devoid of any turbo-charged mechanisms with power to explain the sudden emergences we see in the factual evidence.  Even in the much-trotted-out whale specimens you do not see a continuum  of gradually evolving animals.  What caused these jumps?  Certainly, no unbiased jury would call it Darwinist evolution.

A mystery!  And again; how uncharitable of the authors to call these questions “misrepresentations”.



John - #64590

September 8th 2011

gisi:

“Hogwash, to put it politely.”

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You’re anything but polite.

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“It’s interesting.”
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Yes, your lack of faith and fear of the evidence is fascinating.
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“The DNA studies do appear to point to common descent if it’s being read correctly.”
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Here’s the interesting part, gisi: you can analyze the data for yourself. Virtually all of the sequence data and the tools with which they can be analyzed are freely available, but you lack the faith to examine the evidence for yourself. 
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Therefore, your “if it’s being read correctly” is a silly dodge.
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You resort to hearsay every time, and the Bible is very clear about using hearsay to judge.
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”(Keeping in mind the so recent episode of most geneticists’ failure to read “junk DNA” for what it was)”
br>
The vast majority of junk DNA remains junk, gisi. You can examine the evidence for yourself, but you won’t. You lack faith in what you are promoting.
br>
“On the other hand the fossil record is very unconvincing as evidence for Darwinism.”
br>
How would you know? Even then, your position is based on hearsay.

Uncle Bonobo - #64612

September 9th 2011

“The DNA studies do appear to point to common descent if it’s being read correctly.”
 
Which ends the discussion.  Is the fossil record consistent with the DNA evidence even if it’s as incomplete as you represent?  The answer is yes.

“Even in the much-trotted-out whale specimens you do not see a continuum  of gradually evolving animals.”

Patently false.


Ronnie - #64558

September 7th 2011

The only aspect of modern science that creation (specifically YEC) rejects is the notion that science confirms long ages and an evolutionary development of life.

As far as the claim that genetics naturally leads one to conclude this evolutionary development, this assumes evolution is the method responsible for the genome and excludes the more plausible possibility that God created the genome in each created kind with the innate ability to adapt to their environment instead of giving the environment (i.e. natural selection) this “ability” change the genome. To rule out special creation as a starting point for the genome is not a scientifically honest approach.


Uncle Bonobo - #64611

September 9th 2011

The only aspect of modern science that creation (specifically YEC) rejects is the notion that science confirms long ages and an evolutionary development of life.

Well we know that’s a false statement.  The age of the earth and long evoutioanry development are confirmed independently by several scientific mechanisms in classical physics, nuclear physics, astronomy, geology, paeleotology, dendrology, botany, mircrobiology, genetics, chemistry, oceanography, meteorology and zoology.  Other than the rejection of nearly all of science,  YEC is fully compatible with science.


Chip - #64567

September 8th 2011

Hi Dennis,

Your response to question 2 is typical of much of the stuff that BL puts out:  while the question asked about evolutionary creation, your answer emphasized the former and ignored the latter. 

Where is the evidence that God has employed this mechanism as his preferred means of intentional creation, when all the mainstream literature insists again and again that the undirected and goalless forces of time, chance, natural law and necessity do it all?


Brad Anderson - #64569

September 8th 2011

Dennis, I’ve enjoyed your series here and your responses on Rachel’s
blog very much.  You have a great “reasonableness” about you that
suggests gentleness and charity, clear fruits of the Spirit.  Thanks for
your wisdom in this discussion.


PNG - #64574

September 8th 2011

We don’t rule out special creation from the outset. We just go look at the sequences in detail and the huge literature on them and find that common descent is a straightforward way of accounting for the evidence. You can invoke miracles if you want but you have to invoke countless millions of miracles (not just the creation of each species, but the exact transposition of millions of transposable element copies in exact parallel. The evidence indicates that the vast majority of these events have no functional effect. They aren’t adaptations to an environment. They are just neutral changes. And if they were adaptations, why are 99.7% of them the same in chimps and humans? Are our environments that similar?


Plausibility is in the eye of the beholder. To me it’s a lot more plausible that evolution happened than that God used a “special create and then massively mutate in a pattern that looks exactly like evolution” method. It’s not a matter of assuming one thing or another (the deductive, rationalist approach). It’s a matter of looking carefully at the details, lots and lots of them.

 


Ronnie - #64580

September 8th 2011

PNG

you don’t think its feasable that God created the genome with the ability for adaptation, variation and speciation? These would not be miracles but a functionability designed into the genome when it was created.

You’re right, plausibility is in the eye of the beholder. However, a scientist should look at the evidence from all angles. To reject the Genesis account of creation rules out:

1) recent special creation as opposed to the long ages assumed by evolution,
2) the curse on the earth and the introduction of death
3) a worldwide flood
4) the dispersion and confusion of languages at Babel

All of these would have had an impact on the human genome that an evolutionary viewpoint may not consider. The reason it “looks like evolution” is because its the only method that is considered.


PNG - #64628

September 10th 2011

“The reason it “looks like evolution” is because its the only method that is considered.”
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That is simply not the case. I started out 35 years ago without a committment on the matter. It was doing actual biochemical research and reading the literature for many years (the former helps a lot with the latter) and repeatedly asking myself what hypothesis best accounted for the evidence that led me to my conclusions. None of the 4 Biblical factors you list has the slightest relation to the absolutely specific targetting of mobile DNA elements that would be required to account for the evidence in the genomes by special creation. The only hypotheses that I can think of to account for the evidence are common descent or millions of miracles. The known characteristics of the transposition enzyme-systems make it clear that they do not have the absolute locus-and type specificity, varying in a precise way over time that it would take to account for the evidence. So, it’s miracles or common descent, unless you have some new idea that no one else has thought of. Ideas about a vague “functionality” are untestable.

Its isn’t the folks at BioLogos who are pre-committed to a hypothesis. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s you.

Mazzeratti - #64598

September 9th 2011

Hey Dennis,

Apparently the folks over on the ID side think you and other BioLogos people don’t know what you’re talking about…

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/cudworth-dennis-venema’s-christian-darwinism-is-an-alarming-symptom-but-only-a-symptom-of-a-much-bigger-problem/


bornagain77 - #64604

September 9th 2011

CMI has finally uploaded some videos from its ‘Super Creation Conference’. Of particular note is the video entitled, ‘Are All From Adam and Eve?’ by Dr. Carter, at the bottom of the list of videos after you click on the ‘Super Conference link,,,, Dr. Carter does an excellent job of countering Francis Collins and Dr. Venema’s claims
http://www.biblediscoverytv.com/

Here is the related article to the video:

Human DNA points to historical Adam and Eve
The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve! - Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos
http://creation.com/historical-adam-biologos


freetoken1 - #64607

September 9th 2011

 bornagain77 writes:

div>“Dr. Carter does an excellent job ...”


sy - #64614

September 9th 2011

I have taken a look at Cudworth’s article attaking Dennis Venema, and found it unconvincing. There has been a good deal of discussion about ID, both pro and con on this Biologos site, but one problem is that the ID concept remains ill defined, or at least so broadly defined as to render it difficult to understand. Most of Cudworth’s complaints about “Christian Darwinists” relate to the Biologos failure to characterize ID properly. For example, it is claimed than many IDers accept common descent. But others dont. Or didnt.

I happen to think that it is perfectly fine for ID to be struggling to find a final coherent, and defensible comprehensive viewpoint. After all, a case could be made that Biologos and others who are seeking the true path of Christian worship in the context of a scientific world, are facing the same struggle. But I dont think it makes sense for anybody to demean or attack fellow Christians whose ideas (at the moment at least) dont conform to their own. We are all in this together, and I believe the Lord is smiling on our efforts. The truth will eventually come to be known, and the only thing I am certain of is that it will be surprising to all of us.


beaglelady - #64616

September 10th 2011

I happen to think that it is perfectly fine for ID to be struggling
to find a final coherent, and defensible comprehensive viewpoint.


Yes, but if they want to convince scientists they should be doing research to find positive evidence for ID.


Nancy R. - #64619

September 10th 2011

What would “positive evidence for ID” look like? It seems to me that the only evidence that can support ID is negative evidence - the alleged irreducible complexity of certain cell structures, and the blood-clotting mechanism, for instance. The absence of a purely material explanation for such things seems to be the only evidence that supports ID - and it’s generally highly contested, and temporary, evidence. Once there’s a generally accepted explanation for the development of such structures and processes, the “evidence” for ID evaporates. By its very nature, ID isn’t science, at all; it depends solely on an incomplete understanding of science.


beaglelady - #64627

September 10th 2011

Good question, Nancy.  With any luck you’d catch the designer in the act of designing, assuming he/she is still active and you know what to look for.

Another question is how you’d seal out the designer’s influence in current experiments.



Bilbo - #64622

September 10th 2011

I haven’t read Cudworth’s attack on Dennis.  My own attack on Dennis is very short and to the point.  Dennis attacked Behe indirectly by claiming that there was a stark contrast between the way Behe generally argued in EoE and the way a 2005 Nature argued.  The Nature paper argued for common descent by comparing the genomes of chimps and humans.  The irony is that Behe did exactly the same thing in EoE: argued for common descent by comparing the genomes of chimps and humans.  This would seem to undermine Dennis’s contention that there is a stark contrast between the way Behe argued and the way the 2005 Nature paper argued.  So far, Dennis has failed to admit this point.  All he has admitted is that Behe accepts common descent.  But  my point was not that Behe accepted common descent.  My point was that Behe argued for common descent in exactly the same way that the 2005 Nature paper did.  I suspect that Dennis will continue to fail to admit this point.  Which leads me to doubt Dennis’s honesty.


beaglelady - #64655

September 11th 2011

Dr. Venema put out some PSAs on this but they were aired only in Canada,  not here in the USA. Bad Dennis! Bad Dennis!


Bilbo - #64623

September 10th 2011

Nancy: “What would “positive evidence for ID” look like? It seems to me that the
only evidence that can support ID is negative evidenc….”

It’s a good question, Nancy.  I suggest that positive evidence for ID [in biology] would look like positive evidence for intelligent design in other areas.  Take, for example, SETI.  What would “positive evidence” for the intelligent design of a radio signal from outer space look like?  First, there would be the “negative” evidence.  Do we know of a non-intelligent way of producing the signal?  SETI is looking for a narrow-band radio signal, because we know of no non-intelligent way of producing it.  Suppose they find such a signal.  Then what?  Then there is the positive evidence.  Does the signal show other signs of being intelligently produced, such as a long mathematical pattern, say the prime numbers from 2 to 101?  Such a pattern could be produced by someone who knows enough math and how to build a radio transmitter, but not easily produced by a non-intelligent source.  Does the signal come from a location where there is likely to be intelligent life, such as an earth-like planet revolving around a sun-like star?  

I think evidence such as this would count as “positive” evidence.

Does similar evidence exist for the origin of life?  I think so.  Does it exist for the evolution of life?  To a lesser extent, I’m inclined to think so, also.


PNG - #64630

September 10th 2011

You have to remember that these people have a website called “Uncommon Descent” and on that website they admit that common descent is compatible with ID. So, shouldn’t they change the name of the website? At least to Uncommon Dissent, or perhaps more accurately to Common Dissent, since their point of view would no doubt win a poll in the evangelical world. 

I have to admit, though, the world would have less unintentional humor if they weren’t around.


PNG - #64633

September 10th 2011

My comment above was meant to respond to Mazzeratti on page 1. Sorry for clicking the wrong reply button.


MrDunsapy - #66902

January 2nd 2012

NacyR wrote.

What would “positive evidence for ID” look like? It seems to me that the only evidence that can support ID is negative evidence - the alleged irreducible complexity of certain cell structures, and the blood-clotting mechanism, for instance. The absence of a purely material explanation for such things seems to be the only evidence that supports ID - and it’s generally highly contested, and temporary, evidence. Once there’s a generally accepted explanation for the development of such structures and processes, the “evidence” for ID evaporates. By its very nature, ID isn’t science, at all; it depends solely on an incomplete understanding of science.
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Nancy,  The ‘evolutionary’ scientist, has designed their method of research not to detect for ID.  So what that means is that , if I gave them a loaf of bread, they could not detect that it took ID to make it. What  would happen  is that, they could tell you all the materials in a loaf of bread. But would theorize on how it could happen naturally, but never be able to prove it.  That is like ‘abiogenesis’ and ‘evolution’.
There is an easy way to to detect ID. Lets do a little experiment.
1-Find some rock or ocean with no organic compounds in it.  Isolate it. Or go to another planet, and see if life is there. ( if they did find life you would still have to prove that it happened on its own). Now watch it to see if life could just happen.
2- the second part of this experiment, is to gather all the materials you need and try to build life in a lab. Now record all the thinking, all the instruments used,  and materials, and experience,  necessarily to do it. 
Now what you do is compare the results.  #2 is all ID.

This is not negative evidence this is positive evidence. You are recording all that it took to create life or even a loaf of bread. The materials are really the least important part of this. It is what you do with the materials, that counts. 
To carry this a step further, watch that loaf of bread or life and see if it “evolves” .  Or do you need to make another type of bread or life,  through intelligence and skill to do it?
This is positive evidence, and it is why the scientists really have no evidence at all. What they use as evidence  is their hypothesis on ‘abiogenesis’ and ‘evolution’. That is not scientific and is circular thinking.
http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/

ChrisMuriel - #66910

January 3rd 2012

My only grouse with Science is: How does Science explain Joy or any other emotion, for that matter? It simply cannot. How then does it explain things like creation, supposing that a creator were involved? In 2000 in Bangalore I had a very strange experience. My house was situated near a Cemetery. One night i was woken up in the middle of my sleep by invisible intruders. I went outside like a fool and heard what sounded like the noise of 100 or more people running away from me, climbing over and jumping across the parapet wall (i.e., into the cemetery). I even saw the dust they raised. I have shared this experience with many of my ‘educated’ and well-meaning friends. The best reply i received so far is “You are mentally deranged”. Its not unlike the best answer science has for certain things…like UFOs for e.g.


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