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Evolution Basics: Artificial Selection and the Origins of the Domestic Dog

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April 4, 2013 Tags: Genetics, History of Life
Evolution Basics: Artificial Selection and the Origins of the Domestic Dog

Today's entry was written by Dennis Venema. You can read more about what we believe here.

Note: This series of posts is intended as a basic introduction to the science of evolution for non-specialists. You can see the introduction to this series here. In this post, we examine how artificial selection shaped the dog genome during the early domestication process.

In the last post in this series, we looked at how artificial selection played an important role in Darwin’s conception of natural selection. One example of artificial selection that Darwin drew upon was the domestication of dogs – a process that has recently been greatly informed by genomics comparisons between dogs and their closest wild relatives, wolves. 

(Slowly) becoming man’s best friend

The domestic dog has the distinction of being the only known animal to be domesticated by humans prior to the advent of agriculture. As such, dogs are not only man’s best friend in the animal kingdom, but also his oldest one. Though the precise origin of dogs was a mystery in Darwin’s day, Darwin drew on them as an example of artificial selection that would be familiar to his readers, since the practice of shaping breeds over time was familiar to his audience:

But when we compare the dray-horse and race-horse, the dromedary and camel, the various breeds of sheep fitted either for cultivated land or mountain pasture, with the wool of one breed good for one purpose, and that of another breed for another purpose; when we compare the many breeds of dogs, each good for man in very different ways… We cannot suppose that all the breeds were suddenly produced as perfect and as useful as we now see them; indeed, in several cases, we know that this has not been their history. The key is man’s power of accumulative selection: nature gives successive variations; man adds them up in certain directions useful to him. In this sense he may be said to make for himself useful breeds.

Note that Darwin is careful to point out that the variation itself is due to heredity: while humans can “add up” variation over time through selective breeding, they cannot produce the variation upon which they act. This point was important for Darwin to make, since he would later argue that natural selection also acts on that same heritable variation over time in a cumulative way.

Darwin’s use of dogs as an example was hindered, however, by his not knowing whether all dogs were descended from one ancestral species or if different breeds had been independently domesticated from different species. Darwin (erroneously, as we will soon see) suspected the latter, perhaps in part because of the dramatic morphological differences between dog breeds. He does, however, contemplate the possibility that some widely divergent dog breeds were derived from a common stock, and notes that, if demonstrated, such a finding would be significant evidence that “closely allied” species in nature were, in fact, related:

When we attempt to estimate the amount of structural difference between the domestic races of the same species, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they have descended from one or several parent-species. This point, if it could be cleared up, would be interesting; if, for instance, it could be shown that the grey-hound, bloodhound, terrier, spaniel, and bull-dog, which we all know propagate their kind so truly, were the offspring of any single species, then such facts would have great weight in making us doubt about the immutability of the many very closely allied and natural species—for instance, of the many foxes—inhabiting different quarters of the world. I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that all our dogs have descended from any one wild species; but, in the case of some other domestic races, there is presumptive, or even strong, evidence in favour of this view…

The whole subject must, I think, remain vague; nevertheless, I may, without here entering on any details, state that, from geographical and other considerations, I think it highly probable that our domestic dogs have descended from several wild species.

As it turns out, Darwin was wrong on this point—we now know that all dog breeds are derived from only one wild species, the gray wolf (Canis lupis). Genome sequencing studies place dogs and gray wolves as extremely close relatives, which is hardly surprising, since they remain fully capable of interbreeding. Beyond establishing wolves as the closest wild relatives to dogs, genome comparisons are also beginning to reveal how human artificial selection brought dogs into being.

Teasing out the genetic basis for the domestication process has become increasingly possible now that the dog genome has been completely sequenced (published in 2005). This complete sequence allows for detailed comparisons between dogs and gray wolves, as well as comparisons between dog breeds. Both studies shed light on how artificial selection shaped dogs over their shared history with humans. Comparisons to wolves allow us to determine what selection steps took place during the early domestication process, whereas comparisons within breeds allow us to examine the selection steps that gave each breed its unique suite of characteristics.

From wolf to dog: the early domestication process

Though the wolf and dog genomes are overwhelmingly similar to one another, there are subtle differences between them. Recent research has sought to identify regions of the dog genome that were selected for during the domestication process. These regions are expected to show less variation than what is seen in the rest of the dog genome at large. Recall from our prior discussion that selection reduces the variation in a population by picking out certain variants and favoring their reproduction over others. As we scan through the dog genome, we can thus look for regions that show very little variation (i.e. all, or almost all, dogs have the same sequence in that area) in contrast to other regions where dogs, as a population, have more variation present. We can also then compare these putative selected regions with the wolf genome, to find the regions that not only have reduced variation within dogs but also differ from what we see in wolves (since we are interested in regions that contribute to the differences we see between wolves and dogs). Having found the regions of the dog genome that meet these criteria, it is then possible to examine the sorts of genes found in them, and generate hypotheses for why selection on those specific genes may contribute to the morphological and behavioral differences we observe.

The results of this analysis were striking in that the main category of genes found in such “candidate domestication regions” were genes involved in nervous system development and function. These results support the hypothesis that the primary focus of the early domestication process was selecting for behaviors, such as reduced aggression and willingness to submit to an altered, human-dominated social structure.


Image from Webster’s New Illustrated Dictionary, published 1911.

Small genetic changes add up

At both early stages of dog domestication (and as we will see, at later stages of breed creation), similar conclusions can be drawn: small changes at the genome level can have very large effects on morphology and behavior for the organism as a whole. We have discussed this point before in the context of comparing the human and chimpanzee genomes, and drawn the same conclusion—small perturbations to a complex system can effect substantial change over relatively “short” timescales. (By short, I mean short from a geological perspective.) Dogs and wolves have been in the process of separating for about 100,000 years, meaning that the dog domestication process and the subsequent creation of dog breeds occurs in a blink of an eye geologically speaking. If future paleontologists were to find a dachshund in the fossil record, it would seem to appear out of nowhere and have only a distant relationship to wolves, despite the fact that we know dogs and wolves are part of the same species (with all the inherent “fuzziness” that the term “species” entails).

Selection, artificial or natural, is selection

The power of artificial selection was a useful argument for Darwin in the 1850s, since it demonstrated the remarkable flexibility a species could have under differing selective environments, and revealed the inherent variation within populations that could be acted on to drive significant change over time. Here in the early 21st century we are beginning to see the genetic underpinnings of artificial selection at a genome-wide level, and the results are absolutely in keeping with Darwin’s ideas: that populations contain significant diversity, and that artificial selection can act on that diversity over time to promote the reproduction of certain variants over others, and thus shift average characteristics of a population. And just as Darwin drew parallels between artificial and natural selection, so to can we: the evidence we have suggests that natural selection acts in essentially the same way as artificial selection—by favoring the reproduction of certain variants over others.

In the next post in this series, we’ll examine how artificial selection shaped the creation of specific dog breeds, and examine how natural selection has also shaped the dog genome during the domestication process.  

For further reading:

Lindblad-Toh, K., et al. (2005). Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature 438; 803 – 818 (link).

Axelsson, E., et al. (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature 495; 360 – 364 (link).

 

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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Seenoevo - #78997

April 23rd 2013

Lou Jest,

You wrote to me:

“I will have to thank you, though, for confirming my hypothesis that you, as a fundamentalist, would be a climate-change denier as well as an evolution-denier.”

You’re welcome. (Although I don’t consider myself a “Fundamentalist”. If you insist on giving me an “ist” label, I’ll take “Realist”.)

And thank you for acknowledging that our climate can change all on its own, and has in the past, even before the advent of factories, SUVs, and exhaling tread millers.

And I agree that this may not be the best place to be getting into the details of “global warming/now climate change” (GWNCC). (Although it is “science”, and BioLogos is all about all matters dealing with “science”.)

And GWNCC isn’t of the highest interest to me. It’s also become of less interest to a lot more people:

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/green-fatigue-sets-in-the-world-cools-on-global-warming-8513826.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/161501/gov-budget-healthcare-join-economy-top-concerns.aspx

 

Remarkable that one of our ex-Vice Presidents won a Nobel Prize for his efforts in this field, yet now, may be having a tougher time getting speaking engagements. Well, at least he’s made a ton of money. He know how to work “it”.

http://brie-hoffman.hubpages.com/hub/Does-Al-Gore-Benefit-From-Global-Warming

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/al-gore-mitt-romney_n_2432534.html

Seenoevo - #78998

April 23rd 2013

Beaglelady,

Come on. Participate in the hypothesis testing. This goes very quickly. And it’s fun. Just look – melanogaster even joined in the exercise, unbidden.

And lickety-split, five “Yes”s. Done. (A swift sweep which was no surprise to me nor, I think, to anyone else.)

Although, maybe T.M.I. (too much information)? Apparently, in melanogaster’s new testament only the gospels count. Nix the epistles, or at least Paul’s.

Interesting.

Lou Jost - #79009

April 24th 2013

I’d have done the opposite. Nix the gospels, stick with Paul, who is the only alleged direct evidence we have of the apostles and hence of Jesus. The later Gospels are not known to be even second-hand; maybe third-hand, or maybe legend.

Oh, and can I play? Five “yes” too.

Eddie - #79003

April 24th 2013

Why don’t you just answer my question about the elephant?  I asked you first.

But of course, everyone here knows what you believe about the elephantoids:  God didn’t plan them; they were just an accident of evolution.  Like man.

Good, sound, Christian doctrine there.

beaglelady - #79015

April 24th 2013

And guinea worms were part of God’s plan just as much as anything else.   He’s the gamemaker in The Hunger Games.”

Eddie - #79018

April 24th 2013

Yes, guinea worms were part of God’s plan.  And if that’s the Christian teaching, are you going to abandon Christianity rather than believe that?  

beaglelady - #79031

April 24th 2013

“If” that’s the Christian teaching?  Is it the Christian teaching?

Eddie - #79046

April 24th 2013

It is the Christian teaching that God creates some things that are harmful.  (Isaiah 45, for starters.)  Your implicit objection to the proposition that guinea worms were planned by God (an objection which you don’t have the theological courage to state openly) is based on the premise that God would never create anything harmful.  But that is a non-Biblical premise, straight out of the Enlightenment. 

Now, do you accept the Christian teaching on this point, or do you reject it?  Do you say that guinea worms were not part of God’s plan, on the grounds that they are harmful?  If so, justify that theologically, in terms of an orthodox understanding of God.  And I want to see Biblical texts and major figures—Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Hooker, etc.—in your answer.

hanan-d - #79024

April 24th 2013

Why wouldn’t guinea worms be part of God’s plan?

You stated early that God intended for creatures to come out that he would have a relationship with? Does this mean man? In other words, as far as TE is concerned, it seems to me there are couple of different ways to approach it. Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller have two different ways of looking at this (and correct me if I am wrong). In his book, Collins says God is above all space and time, so while he selected evolution he knew exactly the outcome and its intent on man eventually evolving. Miller on the other hand seems to beleive that God rolled the dice with the intention that something would evolve to have a relationship with.

So when you say God had an intention, what does this mean? Was there a specific plan, or was it arbitrary for something to come about? Is planning the same as design? I don’t know. 

Please don’t feel that this is some sort of witch hunt. These are obviously important question no less then any evolutionary question. This site is clearly about TE and i know it would help me in my own life to understand TE a little better if someone from TE would just answer these important questions. 

PS- If I recall, you asked Eddie if God had placed Earth in the habitable zone? Was this sarcasm? Why WOULDN’T God had meant for earth to be in the habitable zone? Or again, do you believe more like Miller that God had set the initial creation with a hope that something would arise somewhere? 

 

Beaglelady, in short, either we, and everything around us are part of a plan (whatever that plan may be) or God hit the jackpot and he can now safely uncross his fingers?

 

I think if you would just answer these questions I think the constant fighting would cease. 

thanks

Hanan

Eddie - #79026

April 24th 2013

Thanks, Hanan.  Your comments on the differences between Miller and Collins are good, and you have sized up the problem with beaglelady just right.

Perhaps she will respond more readily to you than to me.

beaglelady - #79028

April 24th 2013

Perhaps you, Eddie,  will tell us if God placed the earth in the habitable zone of the solar system.   And how old the earth is, too.

Eddie - #79029

April 24th 2013

beaglelady:

Perhaps you aren’t checking for my answers.  I told you the age of the earth on the previous page.  And I dealt with the other question in the same place.  Go back to the spot, and place any further answers there.

Jon Garvey - #79027

April 24th 2013

Hanan

Re tapeworms (and indirectly, therefore, guinea worms, I suppose) I recently heard a tapeworm researcher (TV or YouTube - can’t remember) being asked if she didn’t dislike her subjects. She got a little heated and quite defensive and said they were wonderful creatures…

I worked with tapeworms for a few months at a more superficial level, and couldn’t say they became part of the family as they have for her - but they were interesting and actually quite beautiful.

So I wondered whilst walking the dog today if we should eradicate them because they can harm humans, or respect them more because they’re wonderful creatures. Or perhaps control their harm whilst respecting them too. I imagine it depends, partly, on whether you feel they’re all God’s creatures or just the blunders of the Evolution Demiurge.

beaglelady - #79030

April 24th 2013

How would you “respect” them?  They are not free-living creatures and will not live without a host, any more than guinea worms will.   Do you want to volunteer yourself as a host or should we use African children as feeder mice?  If they are intentionally and directly created by God, then he targets poor people and those in the midst of war.   

beaglelady - #79032

April 24th 2013

Hanan,

Are you familiar at all with the guinea worm and its effects on people?  Have you looked into it at all? Do you think that efforts to get rid of it are misguided if God intentionally created it?

 

And no, the constant fighting would not stop.  Eddie keeps getting banned, comes back under a different name, and starts badgering me all over again.   To Eddie, I represent all that is bad in the world:  evolution, Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, almost all biologists, the Public Broadcasting Station,  natural history museums, and so on.  And I’m an easy target.

hanan-d - #79036

April 24th 2013

>Have you looked into it at all? Do you think that efforts to get rid of it are misguided if God intentionally created it?

Is the tapeworm any different then any OTHER natural evil that exists on earth that make man suffer? This ends up being a question for both us since we both profess a God. Unless what you really believe in is a deistic God that simply let things roll. 

 

>And no, the constant fighting would not stop

Fine. So just answer my above question. I certainly don’t consider you to have the mark of Satan. But you have to admit that your answers can be rather vague, espcially since you consider yourself a Christian. Now, if you have no problem putting people like Eddie under the spotlight in regards to evolution, I see no problem putting you under it for theological issues. Again, I don’t consider it a witch hunt, but if all you want to talk about is biology, then you might as well go to PZ Myers blog. Half of biologos IS about the theology no? 

beaglelady - #79040

April 24th 2013

Is the tapeworm any different then any OTHER natural evil that exists on earth that make man suffer? This ends up being a question for both us since we both profess a God. Unless what you really believe in is a deistic God that simply let things roll.

 

False dichotomy here.  You think that either God does everything or God does nothing—no middle ground.  That’s fundamentalism.   

Do you think that God directly causes all earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, asteroid strikes, etc.? Is the “act of God” phrase the insurance company uses a reflection of what’s actually happening?   Did God make Sandy trash the East Coast?  Did God direct the deer to eat my hostas?

Why do the poor suffer disproportionately directly at the hand of God, since the wealthier nations can afford vaccines, buildings to withstand earthquakes, etc.?      

Is there really no point in studying emerging infectious diseases and trying to do something about them, if  nothing can be done about them  since they WILL emerge according to God’s predetermined plan? 

Why can we do genetics, and calculate probabilities, and do genetic counseling, if outcomes are grimly pre-determined?  Is meiosis random? Does God game our gametes?

And who says all I want to talk about is biology? I’ve been on this blog since it began. 

 

 

 

hanan-d - #79042

April 24th 2013

I will answer these questions knowing you will return the favor and answer mine above. 

 

>False dichotomy here.  You think that either God does everything or God doesnothing—no middle ground.  That’s fundamentalism. 

I do not believe it is a false dichotomy to our particular discussion. We aren’t talking about what God actively CAUSES now, but whether God built a world knowing these things will exist and, even more important was not just a roll of the dice but (sadly) planned it that way.

I believe in natural law. The deer ate your hostas because he was hungry (natural law). The tapeworm infected a child because perhaps the child ate something infected (natural law) But that is after the fact of a deer or tapeworm existing. So an earthquake and tapeworms exists because God wanted natural evil to exist. If you have a better explanation I would appreciate to hear it. Was God surprised at the first earthquake? Was God shocked to know viruses came into being? 

Now, that does not mean we should not eradicate infections anymore than we should not help people trapped in the rubble of large earthquakes. 

beaglelady - #79061

April 25th 2013

You haven’t answered my other, more important questions. 

Does God intend for poor people to suffer disproportionately?  

Isn’t my question about emerging infectious diseases important, at least to an informed citizen who might take some part in policy decisions?  If a disease emerges because God ordains it, there is no point in trying to stop similar things from happening, is there? And the CDC’s activities are futile.

hanan-d - #79065

April 25th 2013

I will answer you, but I think it’s your turn to respond to my question first. It’s been up for a couple of days now. 

Eddie - #79073

April 25th 2013

Yes, beaglelady, answer Hanan’s unanswered questions before you post new ones of your own.

Eddie - #79037

April 24th 2013

Quite wrong, beaglelady.  If you just owned up to your true religious beliefs, I would stop badgering you.  It’s the fact that you conceal the extent of your unbelief in traditional Christianity that offends me.

I’ve said repeatedly that I have no problem with heretics who are open and honest about it.  Polkinghorne, for example, knowingly rejects the mainstream tradition about God’s foreknowledge.  But he’s not devious about it, so that’s OK with me.  You, on the other hand, believe that God left most if not all of the results of evolution to chance, but won’t say it outright, because you know that such a doctrine is unorthodox, even in relation to the teachings of the church you currently attend.  If you’d say:  “Yes, I reject traditional doctrine on many points, and if I had my way Christian theology would be rewritten to say THIS ....”  I could understand your position.  I might even agree with some of your objections to traditional theology.  But when you write duplicitously (as you have all along), I can’t tell whether I agree or disagree; all I can tell is that you aren’t being honest with me and with the readers here.  And I don’t like being manipulated by insincere statements—having my chains yanked, being dragged off on wild goose chases in argument, trying to guess what beliefs lie behind your sarcasm and your sneers.

It’s your choice, beaglelady.  You can keep sarcastically jabbing at all kinds of traditional Christian beliefs, and refusing to explain yourself when questioned, or you can make a clean breast of things, setting forth your position, warts and all, for people to assess.  I recommend you do the latter; it will clear the air, and save much time and friction.  

beaglelady - #79041

April 24th 2013

For one thing, evolution isn’t random.  But what is the orthodox doctrine of evolution?  What exact percentage of evolutionary outcomes must one believe are not due to chance in order to be orthodox?   

For another thing, why do you try to sic me on atheists to defend the faith, if you think I’m a heretic?  That makes no sense to me. 

hanan-d - #79043

April 24th 2013

>For one thing, evolution isn’t random.

I think to a certain extent it is, and to another it isn’t, no? Meaning, if you were to turn the clock back again, would you get the same results?

beaglelady - #79060

April 25th 2013

Some components are random (genetic drift, mutations) but natural selection is not random. So evolution is not random.

 

If you turned the clock back you would get some similar results, I would think. 

hanan-d - #79066

April 25th 2013

Well then, I think this answers my question then. If you believe that mutations are truly random, then you DON’T believe in guided evolution then. Meaning, the mechanism that help man evolve (mutations) was just random and indeed, a very smart octopus could have evolved to have a relationship with God. God, truly had no idea what would come out. 

So you follow Miller’s view. Ok. Fine. That’s your right. I have no idea how exactly one can call themselves Christians with a view that existence was God simply rolling the dice in hope of something, but it is certainly your right. 

But the same way you view the process of evolution, you really should view ALL of cosmology. I mean, why not take it to the logical conclusion. If mutations are random and all outcome was really random with God not having any specific plan, then why say that God created the universe with intent that creatures would arise? Who afterall says that the building blocks of life were guaranteed to arise at all on some habitable planet? Let’s just say God pressed the Big Bang button in hope that a particular supernova would occur somewhere that would ultimately lead to the creation of some habitable planet. 

beaglelady - #79101

April 26th 2013

Well then, I think this answers my question then. If you believe that mutations are truly random, then you DON’T believe in guided evolution then. Meaning, the mechanism that help man evolve (mutations) was just random and indeed, a very smart octopus could have evolved to have a relationship with God. God, truly had no idea what would come out.

 

But I just got through explaining that evolution isn’t random.  And God knows what will come out.  God has determined what can  happen in structuring the universe in a particular way.  And how specific do you want to be with humans? Is God really our breeder?  Are we products of artificial selection?

So you follow Miller’s view. Ok. Fine. That’s your right. I have no idea how exactly one can call themselves Christians with a view that existence was God simply rolling the dice in hope of something, but it is certainly your right.

So now you’re preaching about what is acceptable in Christianity?  Has Eddie got you in front of a teleprompter?

If there is no chance, how can we do genetic counseling or program genetic algorithms?  

 

 

hanan-d - #79108

April 26th 2013

> God has determined what can happen in structuring the universe in a particular way

What can, or what will? There is a big difference.

 

And yes, you can thrown the tape worm in the mix. Did he want man or didn’t He?

 

>Are we products of artificial selection?

You mean, did God tinker with his process in order to bring man? I don’t know. That is a question for you to answer. Because if the process from the get go was for man to eventually come about, then no, there is no need for artificial selection. If on the other hand you simply believe God determined what CAN happen, then sure, he mind need to start tinkering. I suggest you think about that. 

 

>If there is no chance, how can we do genetic counseling or program genetic algorithms?  

 

Excellent question. So were humans a chance happening?

Eddie - #79113

April 26th 2013

Excellent responses, Hanan.  We’ll see if they bear fruit.

beaglelady - #79131

April 26th 2013

if the process from the get go was for man to eventually come about, then no, there is no need for artificial selection

 

But you have to tell us what the process was, not the goal.  Doesn’t a breeder select for heritable features he/she wants? That’s what artifical selection is all about.  And that makes God our breeder.  Or is he really our genetic engineer, tinkering with our DNA, which throws into question the use of DNA evidence  for paternity testing?  

Excellent question. So were humans a chance happening?

Again, if chance is not involved,  how can we do genetic counseling or program genetic algorithms?

hanan-d - #79132

April 26th 2013

So we WERE just chance. Ok. Thank you.

hanan-d - #79134

April 26th 2013

Beaglelady,

It’s really quite simple. This isn’t a complex equation. It’s a philisophical question

Did God INTEND for us to be here or are we just chance? That’s all. 

Now, you said it was chance. Ok. Fine. So I guess we are done. 

 

>Or is he really our genetic engineer, tinkering with our DNA, which throws into question the use of DNA evidence  for paternity testing?

This is YOUR problem, not mine. Because I can say that God always intended for man to arise which means the process was already “fixed” so to speak. Hence no tinkering. You don’t seem to realize you are the one against the wall here because it seems that you are the one saying it was chance. If it was chance, then God must have been quite surprised at our being here. If it was chance, but he WANTED us to be here THEN he would require tinkering. This is your bind not mine. I mean, you do realize aside from man evolving, a great big meteor had to kill off the dinosaurs for us to flourish was this just chance too? 

beaglelady - #79189

April 27th 2013

We aren’t really done.  You haven’t answered the questions.  I believe that  God created a universe where intelligent creatures were bound to appear.

Not all of the ID leaders believe that God designs  asteroid strikes/extinction events.   But if he does, how would we tell which ones are sent by God? It’s an important consideration, before we spend untold millions to deflect threatening asteroids, right?  Or is money the best way to counteract God?

Eddie - #79210

April 28th 2013

beaglelady:

There is no need for us to guess which asteroid is meant to destroy us and which we are meant to divert.  We simply try to divert them all, and leave the outcome to God.

Of course God expects human beings to use their intelligence to divert asteroid strikes, if they can.  And he may well permit us to save ourselves, e.g., by diverting an asteroid with a nuclear warhead.  But if God ordains that some day an asteroid strike should destroy all human life on earth, then human intelligence will fail at that point.  And in either case—whether humans succeed or fail—the outcome is part of God’s plan.

So should we try to divert threatening asteroids?  Of course!  Will we always succeed?  That’s in God’s hands.  

I think that you have not grasped the fundamental meaning of a line read every week, in every Anglican/Episcopal church in the world—“Thy will be done.”  Nobody interprets “thy will be done” to mean we should not go to a doctor when we are ill; what it means is that the success or failure of the doctor’s intervention is in God’s hands.  And it’s exactly the same with asteroid strikes, disease control, and all your other examples.  No one is preaching passivity.  We’re simply acknowledging that man’s limited control is always encompassed within God’s fuller control.

As for your first paragraph, how do you come up “bound to appear”?  There is nothing in the argument of any of the people you apparently agree with—Miller, Collins, etc.—that would warrant “bound to appear.”  There is nothing in any of your own statements about evolution that would warrant “bound to appear.”  You’ve explicitly or implicitly denied that life was bound to appear, that elephantoids were bound to appear, etc.  

Your beliefs are thus an inconsistent mess. Your notion of origins is highly contingent (we can’t tell what species will pop up) yet certain species (intelligent ones) are “bound to appear.”  Have you ever studied Logic for even a few hours?

hanan-d - #79287

April 30th 2013

I haven’t answered? I don’t think you should be pointing fingers as to who is answering or not answering. But duck, dodge and deflet….duck, dodge and deflect seems to be your stragedy. I will have no part in it any longer in your games. I have no problem answering your questions but you don’t seem to be curtious enough to do the same. You ignore half the questions asked and the other half decide to answer it very vaguely even though it was asked of you to be a little more specific. I mean, why bother bringing up questions to you if you just decide to ignore it?

I would ask you to show some humilitiy. Your answers to theology seems to contain just as much  mental gymnastics and lacking much substance as you accuse your anti-evolution opponents. 

It doesn’t matter anymore. You answering my question to it’s fullest. If you believe mutations are random, then I can extrapolate that the mutations that brought us HERE was random and God was surprised to see us. If “intelligent creatures” (your words) was all he was thinking of, then Lou is correct. GIven that you agree mutations are strickly random, then God would have had to settle on an intelligent octopus. Since intelligence is no real big deal. 

hanan-d - #79288

April 30th 2013

My comment was for beaglelady

beaglelady - #79342

May 1st 2013

Does God cause all mutations?

hanan-d - #79343

May 1st 2013

See my comment#79287

Once you are curtious enough to answer other people’s question, they will return the curtousy.

beaglelady - #79348

May 1st 2013

If God causes all mutations, why can we hold Him off by wearing sunscreen, or by shielding our reproductive organs with a lead apron when we have our teeth x-rayed? 

hanan-d - #79353

May 1st 2013

See my comment#79287

beaglelady - #79357

May 1st 2013

Which questions have I left unanswered?

hanan-d - #79362

May 1st 2013

Actually none. You made it quite clear that we we just chanced to be on this earth and God was quite surprised to see us here. 

beaglelady - #79367

May 1st 2013

Are you going to answer all my questions now that I’ve answered yours?  btw, where did I say that God was quite surprised to see us here?  

hanan-d - #79393

May 2nd 2013

I have repeatedly asked you whether you believe we were a surprise to God. You never replied

My question stemmed from your own responses, particularly bringing up the fact of: chance (your worlds) and mutation being random (your words).

Now, this is simple arithmatic. If you believe in the process was random and chance was involved, then how can one logically reach a conclusion that God wasn’t surprised to see us?

If you are going to respond with another vague question, then don’t even bother.

beaglelady - #79395

May 2nd 2013

I don’t believe we were a surprise to God. He is sure to know what his own creation can do. And how many times do I have to say that evolution isn’t random?

So now you can answer my questions.

Eddie - #79397

May 2nd 2013

See below for fresh start with wider columns.

Lou Jost - #79067

April 25th 2013

We have a little bit of evidence that helps answer that question. Intelligence has evolved on earth independently at least twice: (at least) once in land vertebrates and at least once in octopus. These groups occupy very different environments, so intelligence does not require highly specific conditions. It seems associated with predatory habits.

Predation arose very early on earth, around the time of the Cambrian explosion. This suggests that if we rewound the tape to just after the Big Bang (so initial conditions and physical laws were the same as in our actual universe), even though there would be no earth, there would be planets somewhere that were enough like earth to produce intelligent beings.

The idea that god specifically pre-determined that there would be humans on earth, with no tinkering after the Big Bang, is not valid, because of the amount of quantum randomness involved in forming galaxies, etc. Denton’s suggestion (via Eddie) that if we played the tape enough times, there would be some earthlike planets somewhere, producing something like humans, might be ok (depending on what we meant by “like humans”). On the other hand, it seems  nearly certain that intelligence itself would evolve in some organism or other (regardless of shape), so I think this is the  position that better matches what we know.

It seems to me quite silly that a god would care about how many legs an intelligent being had. Surely he or she would not be prejudiced by little physical details like that.

hanan-d - #79068

April 25th 2013

>It seems to me quite silly that a god would care about how many legs an intelligent being had. Surely he or she would not be prejudiced by little physical details like that.

You are assuming intelligence means “having a relationship with God” Also, you are missing the greater point of inquiry. Did God just roll the dice in hope that something would pop up, or was there a plan for something specific and have forthought of what it would be? 

Lou Jost - #79070

April 25th 2013

No, I am addressing the exact point of inquiry. If you ran the tape over again, you would not get humans on earth, nor would there even be an earth. Yet intelligence would very likely arise on many planets. Fit your theology into that framework any way you want.

Eddie - #79074

April 25th 2013

What seems to you silly, Lou, is irrelevant to the discussion here.  The discussion here is focused on what beaglelady in fact believes about God’s role in evolution and whether that belief is consonant with Christian tradition.  The question whether the Christian tradition is true or false, silly or serious, is not pertinent.  It is quite possible that Christianity is utterly false and that beaglelady is a heretic or infidel by Christian standards.  The two conclusions are logically quite compatible.

And you may not realize it, but you are in fact engaging in theology in the last paragraph.  You base a conclusion on what God must be like, or would have to be like, if he existed.  And your conception is derived (likely unconsciously) from post-Enlightenment thinking about God, not the Bible or pre-Enlightenment Christian thought.  And this is so typical of modern atheists:  “The God I don’t believe in would never have…”  It is interesting that they so often feel the need, not merely to say that God does not exist, but to instruct the world about what sort of things God should think or feel or intend.

Lou Jost - #79076

April 25th 2013

You on the other hand don’t have any hesitation to “instruct the world about what sort of things God should think or feel or intend.”

My comment was an observation about what kind of god would be consistent with the notion of naturalistic evolution of the universe. Since this is the kind of universe we seem to live in, if you were interested in finding a theology that is actually true rather than merely “orthodox” or consistent with the thinking of medieval apologists, you ought to take this into account.

Eddie - #79078

April 25th 2013

If beaglelady wishes to make the argument:  “I cannot believe in the traditional Christian account of creation because it is not consistent with what we know from science” she is quite free to do so.  But so far, she does not have the personal or intellectual courage to make the first statement.  And that is the issue here.  We are analyzing beaglelady’s views, not yours.

But in fact your statement that God “would not be prejudiced by little physical details like that” goes well beyond the question of “what would be consistent with the notion of naturalistic evolution in the universe.”  It offers a characterization of God that is purely theological.  For all we know, God is prejudiced by little physical details.  Maybe both a cephalopod and a hominid are both capable of evolution to the point of being capable of fellowship with God, but God doesn’t like cephalopods as well as hominids.  To assert that he would have no preference is to theologize in a modern mode, as if we could know God is animated by the egalitarian, “inclusive” spirit of, say, the motherhood statements of the United Nations.  Of course you have the right to theologize any way you want, but don’t tell me that you aren’t theologizing.  

Lou Jost - #79084

April 25th 2013

Eddie, don’t get so flustered by a little statement of opinion, clearly labelled as such: “It seems to me quite silly ....”

Eddie - #79091

April 25th 2013

I’m not flustered, Lou.  Your comment, it turns out, is revelatory, because, as our subsequent discussion has shown, it springs from an implicit theology, one which many atheists share in common with many TEs, i.e., the theology of “God wouldn’t ...” (wire the retina backwards, make the chromosome look as if it had fused, create something as evil as malaria or guinea worms, prefer an intelligent human to an intelligent octopus, etc.)  Both the rejection of God by atheists and the rejection of the specifically Biblical God by many TEs are driven by theological expectations of what God ought to be like.  And those expectations are that God ought to be the tidy rational God of the Enlightenment and the “kinder, gentler” God of liberal secular humanism.

Atheists handle the disappointed expectations logically and consistently; they abandon belief in God.  TEs—at least, many TEs—handle the disappointed expectations inconsistently.  They decide, privately, that large parts of the Bible and of the Christian tradition are simply false.  But because many of them belong to evangelical churches that are watching their every move, they cannot say that outrightly, so they have to resort to strained Biblical exegesis to make out that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, and to desperate proof-texting from a handful of passages from Augustine and Calvin to make out that the Christian tradition doesn’t say what it does about origins.  

Beaglelady is freer to let her heresies bubble closer to the surface.  Her church is the church of Spong and Robinson.  In that church, you can believe pretty well anything and never be censured for heresy.  Thus, even if she were completely  honest with us all here, though she would lose credibility as a TE, she would suffer no consequences from her local or national church or its hierarchy.  But if any of the BioLogos columnists were nearly as frank as beaglelady is even in her evasive statements, they would be in deep trouble with their home churches.  So they have become masters of equivocation whenever the question of divine action in evolution is raised.

All this would be funny if it weren’t pathetic.

Lou Jost - #79100

April 26th 2013

Just a quick reminder, once again, that I (and all other atheist I know) would  reject the concept of a personal god no matter what (non-vacuous) characteristics were ascribed to him, even if those characteristics conformed to my expectation, because there is no evidence for such a god. Atheists reject not only crude gods but also benign ones.

You keep bringing this up; I guess you don’t understand atheism.

Eddie - #79110

April 26th 2013

Lou:

I understand what you are saying.  But you have not understood my more limited point here, i.e., that you were theologizing in the remarks in question.  

I actually understood atheism quite well.  Your problem is that you subscribe to Anglo-American scientistic/positivistic atheism—a shallow and popular form of atheism which does not realize how much it unconsciously owes to the Christianity it rejects.  Some day you should read some German atheists, and learn what the real thing entails.

beaglelady - #79320

April 30th 2013

I guess God is mainly interested in what we look like!  He’s like a judge at a livestock show.  There are stringent standards for physical appearance,  and deviations will not be tolerated. 

Eddie - #79323

April 30th 2013

Actually, in the Deuteronomic laws, God is very concerned with how things look.  He will not accept a blemished animal for sacrifice.  And Jesus restores the skin of the lepers to its natural look.  So the idea that God does not care about appearances at all is not Biblical.

Regarding the creation of man, versus some other sort of intelligent creature, note that the Hebrew language is quite capable of yielding a sentence such as:

“Let the living things bring forth a new living thing which has a heart and can learn wise counsel.”

Yet Genesis is much more precise:

“Let us make man ...”

It appears that the view that God wanted only “some sort of creature intelligent enough for fellowship with him” is not the view of the Biblical writers.  He may not have specified curliness of hair or eye color, but the natural sense of the text would suggest that he intended something very close to the genus Homo.

beaglelady - #79414

May 2nd 2013

The biblical writers knew nothing about ancient hominids or  the genus Homo.    

Eddie - #79426

May 2nd 2013

beaglelady:

I never said that they did.  Read my sentence again:  ”... intended something very close to the genus Homo.”  Read in context, and in conversational good faith, giving the other person credit for intelligence, that means:  “intended something very close to [what we would now call] the genus Homo.”

It’s pretty clear that you know you’ve lost on the main point, beaglelady, when you have to start trying to “catch me out” on petty points of wording.  The main point is that the Biblical writers intended to say that God intended, and made, man—the creature they knew as ‘Adam—not some indefinite “creature intelligent enough to have fellowship with him.”  

You don’t seem to have any natural attraction to the Biblical teaching, beaglelady.  As far as I can tell, the God of most of the Bible repels you, and many if not most of the stories you seem to consider as either false or as fairy tales.  You seem to think that about three-quarters of historical Christian teaching (which is Biblically based) is false.  (I base that inference on the fact that you issue sarcastic and mocking one-liners when various people here defend various aspects of that historical teaching, combined with the fact that all-out attacks on Christian teaching by atheists here are never challenged by you.)  So why bother being a Christian at all?

 

beaglelady - #79617

May 7th 2013

He may not have specified curliness of hair or eye color

Well, that’s Enlightenment thinking for you

beaglelady - #79619

May 7th 2013

 ...He may not have specified curliness of hair or eye color,


No, that’s exactly what he wanted.  You are tainted by the Enlightenment. 

Eddie - #79641

May 7th 2013

Actually, the Bible insists that “man” was planned, but does not specify skin color, hair curliness, or other minor features.  So if you wanted to argue that God planned only the main features of man, and left the rest to variation and selection, you would not be necessarily in conflict with Christian faith.

But of course, that does not help you, because you refuse to acknowledge that even the major features were planned.  

Note also that I used the subjunctive expression  ”may not have specified”—not the indicative expression “did not specify.”  It is logically possible that God controlled even the tiny details, and I don’t set limits to the power of God.   I used the word “may” to indicate my lack of dogmatism, and also to give some scope for your neo-Darwinian examples of microevolutionary differences.

Nope, no Enlightenment assumptions in my remarks.  Lots in yours.  Best wishes.

Eddie - #79044

April 24th 2013

The reason I try to “sic” you on the atheists is to give you a chance to prove to me that my suspicions are wrong.  :-)

But seriously, I’ve never tried to “sic” you on anyone.  I’ve merely asked you why you have never opposed any statements by atheists here.  If a devout Christian like Behe or Meyer suggests that there is design in nature, you jump down their throats, but if Lou says that Christianity has no credibility, is the religion of savage goatherds, etc., you remain silent, and have only words of praise for his scientific contributions to the discussion.  As if this web site is dedicated only to the discussion of science, and not equally to the discussion of religion, and as if it is not dedicated to Christianity in particular!  A very, very, strange behavior pattern for someone who (a) claims to travel an hour every Sunday to go to a particular Episcopal Church; and (b) admires John Polkinghorne, who has on many occasions rebutted charges of atheists that science has disproved Christianity.  Something does not fit.

The answer to your numerical question is:  first of all, the attempt to quantify such a matter is ridiculous; and second of all, if numbers were relevant, the number would have to be, at a minimum, greater than zero.  And zero is the number of outcomes of evolution that you have admitted that God plans.

According to the sum of all the statement you have ever made on Biologos:  (a) God did not plan the first cells; (b) You refuse to answer whether he planned any creature between the first cells and man; (c) In place of man, you say he planned for the universe to spit out some sort of creature capable of fellowship with him, though he wasn’t fussy what it was.  

Now, either you really believe that this position is Christian—in which case you are utterly ignorant of both the Bible and the Christian theological tradition on the subject of creation; or you know that this position is not Christian, and therefore are being evasive so that no one will realize it.  My service to this site has been to expose this fact.  Everyone reading our exchanges will now strongly suspect that you are either an atheist in hiding or a heretic in hiding, and this will severely damage any credibility you once might have had as a representative of any religiously orthodox TE position.

If I am wrong, you have the power to disprove me in two or three paragraphs.  All you have to do is say that God definitely planned at least some of the specific outcomes of evolution, and indicate a few examples of outcomes that God planned, while providing some general discussion of how you determine what God planned versus what he did not.  

I asked you about elephant-type animals.  You asked me to define the term.  I did.  You did not respond even after I defined the term.  This tells me that you never had any intention of providing an answer.  There is no point repeating the question for other mammalian orders or suborders or families, or for creatures from other phyla.  Either you come clean, or you don’t.  But if you don’t come clean, everyone here will know what to think anyway, so I see no point in any further delay.

 

 

beaglelady - #79059

April 25th 2013

... I’ve merely asked you why you have never opposed any statements by atheists here.

Ah, but I have!

 

If I say that God intended the universe to be fruitful, then of course I mean that God intended for creatures to arise. I am not familiar with any theology of elephants,  but if that is a specific goal, it appears that God had no idea of what kind of elephant he wanted. He  now appears to have lost interest in the project, because  we’re down to just two species, and they appear to be on the way out.

It is true that official, orthodox church teaching once included special creation of kinds.  And geocentrism.  And the idea that Judaism was a failed religion, totally replaced by Christianity. 

Would I really be more orthodox if I claimed that God specifically intended for there to be (1) labradoodles  (2) bullfrogs (3) cuckoo birds?  Somebody else might come up with a different list. 

You can call me a heretic if you want.  I beleve that every Christian on earth would be considered a heretic by at least one other Christian.    If only ordained Roman Catholic priests can say Mass, then I have never really had communion.  That would go for most of the readers of this blog.

btw, why does Behe get a free pass as a devout Christian when he has agreed under oath that the original designer might be dead now?

 

 

 

Eddie - #79077

April 25th 2013

“Ah, but I have!”

No, you haven’t.  Merely indicating belief in some vague sort of God who creates in some vague sort of way is not to oppose particular statements made by atheists here.

The context of all my remarks has made it very clear that I have been talking about direct assaults on Christian theology and ethics by Lou, Papalinton, and others.  You have never responded to any of those assaults.  The most natural inference is either that you agree with the criticisms of Christianity that these people have written, or that you at the very least are not much offended by the criticisms.  

You cannot say that it is timidity, or a natural inclination on your part to avoid conflict, or respect for the views of others, or tolerance, that has caused you to hold back from indignantly refuting the atheists.  You have not shown such timidity, tolerance, respect, etc. for the views of Behe, Meyer, etc., which you have attacked savagely, with sarcasm, insulting language and so on.   

No, it’s clear that you have no objection to the presentation, on a Christian web site, of aggressive denunciations of fundamental Christian teachings, whereas you do have objection to the presentation of standard Christian understandings of the doctrine of creation, i.e., that God planned some or all of its specific outcomes, and acted to ensure those outcomes.  It’s clear what your priorities are for your activities on this site.

Further, you appear to mute your Christian views when you are over on Panda’s Thumb.  What’s the reason for that?

You comment about Behe is disgraceful.  Behe was expositing the theory of intelligent design, not Christian theology, or his own personal religious views, when he made that statement.  How can you be so dishonest as to try to misrepresent that in order to score a debating point here?

Your argument about heresy amounts to:  since lots of Christians have been accused of being heretical about lots of things, then I don’t have to worry about whether or not my views are heretical.  That’s pathetic.  Also an illogical inference, but pathetic is the more important thing to note.

You’ve shifted your language on elephants.  “It appears that God had no idea of what kind of elephant he wanted.”  The expression is somewhat muddy, but the normal inference would be that God intended elephants, but didn’t specify the kind.  Is that your position?  If so, why have you been implicitly denying all week that God intended the elephant “kind”?

So let’s have a clear answer:  did God intend the elephant “kind”, the monkey “kind”, the horse “kind”, the oxen “kind” (and you never acknowledged your error about the meaning of the word “oxen,” by the way), etc.?  

I’ve already answered your question about species extinction.  There is no logical inference from species extinction to the sort of conclusion you and Lou are trying to get out of it.  All that species extinction tells us, from an orthodox theistic point of view, is that God willed that species should not live forever.  And he might well have willed that some should become extinct through natural causes, and some through the intervention of man.  This is why all your statements about not eradicating disease etc. are silly.  There is no contradiction between the idea that God willed the existence of horrible diseases, and that God willed the creation of man who was smart enough to eradicate them.  From a Biblical point of view, man might well be God’s tool for ending the existence of certain species.  But the Biblical point of view is nowhere evident in any of your postings over the past five years.

You appear not to want to believe in a God who intends anything specific.  Perhaps you believe that a God like that would cramp your freedom.  If so, you wouldn’t be alone among the TEs, in fashioning a mockery of a God to suit your own wishes about how the world should be.  In traditional Christian terms, this is known as idolatry.

beaglelady - #79102

April 26th 2013

No, you haven’t. Merely indicating belief in some vague sort of God who creates in some vague sort of way is not to oppose particular statements made by atheists here.

 

Not true. I tried to explain that there is no need for Polkinghorne to accept Hinduism just because it allows for deep time.

 But I’m curious why you think that I should defend orthodox Christian belief since you think I’m a heretic and likely an atheist. Do you want me to go preach Islam?

Further, you appear to mute your Christian views when you are over on Panda’s Thumb. What’s the reason for that?

 

I don’t see you, Garvey, Behe, Dembski and all the rest over  there promoting the Christian view.  And why do we see ID people pretending that ID is not about religion at all?

But again since you think I’m not an orthodox Christian and might be an atheist, I’m wondering why you expect me to do what even you guys won’t do.  

 

Eddie - #79112

April 26th 2013

beaglelady:

Can you not tell the difference between Hinduism and atheism?

And what Hindu has attacked Christianity on this site?  No defense of Christianity against Hinduism is necessary here.

Beaglelady, I don’t object if you’re a heretic or an atheist. I do object to the fact that you are evasive about your religious views.

If you really believe the teachings of the genuine Episcopal church—the doctrines it is historically supposed to teach, not the travesty it teaches under the regime of Schori, Robinson, Spong, etc.—you should have strong objections to many of the things Lou has said here, and should not be content to endure them in silence.  Others from the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, e.g., C. S. Lewis, would have vigorously challenged Lou.  But you are missing in action.

And if you think that a good bit of the traditional Christian understanding is false, you should say which parts are false, so that everyone here knows what sort of “Christian” position you are coming from.

A good start would be to say which parts of the traditional understanding of creation are false.

For example, is it false to say that God intended any particular species, or even any particular family or order or class?  Is it false to say that God intended man, in the sense of the genus Homo?  Is it false to say that God intended the structure of the first cell?  Is it false to say that God ensured that the first cell would come into being?  

More generally, does the Bible teach some things that are false?  Which things are false?  Should Christianity be reformulated with the false parts of the Bible purged from its doctrine?  

I do not expect answers to any of my questions, but I am willing to be pleasantly surprised.

 

beaglelady - #79116

April 26th 2013

Can you not tell the difference between Hinduism and atheism?

My purpose was to explain that Christianity was compatible with deep time.

Beaglelady, I don’t object if you’re a heretic or an atheist. I do object to the fact that you are evasive about your religious views.

So why are ID people so careful to conceal the religious nature of the ID Movement?  They don’t seem to like talking about it. Why not just say that the designer is God?

And if you think that a good bit of the traditional Christian understanding is false, you should say which parts are false, so that everyone here knows what sort of “Christian” position you are coming from.

A good start would be to say which parts of the traditional understanding of creation are false.

For example, is it false to say that God intended any particular species, or even any particular family or order or class

Well now, if we’re supposed to believe in creation of biblical kinds, then you should be willing to give us a precise definition of what a biblical kind is, and how biblical scholars arrived at that definition.

btw, you seem to enjoy slamming my denomination. Please tell us the name of your own church. I’d also like to know if you attend weekly.

 

 

 

Eddie - #79142

April 26th 2013

beaglelady wrote:

“My purpose was to explain that Christianity was compatible with deep time.”

No one here was talking about that question.  We were talking about whether the products of evolution were the product of luck or of planning.  That’s the question you keep trying to avoid, by speaking of Hinduism and Behe and everything else you can think of, because you don’t want us to know your view.

No one has insisted upon Biblical kinds.  We have asked you to explain how you think God is involved (if at all) in controlling the outcomes of evolution.  We will deal with the relationship of your view to the Bible after you have stated your view.  But so far you have refused to state it.

I did attend an Episcopal church weekly for many years.  I left it for other religious settings when that church ceased to be Christian in many of its fundamental affirmations.

beaglelady - #79191

April 27th 2013

Please tell us about your current church. Do you have a church you regularly attend?  Are you a member?

beaglelady - #79117

April 26th 2013

Should I assume that you, Garvey, Dembski, and Behe will be on the Panda’s Thumb to defend Christianity?

Why, if you think I’m a heretic, would you expect me to defend Christianity? Does that make sense? And let me remind you that there is a world outside of cyberspace.

  

 

beaglelady - #79128

April 26th 2013

This is why all your statements about not eradicating disease etc. are silly. There is no contradiction between the idea that God willed the existence of horrible diseases, and that God willed the creation of man who was smart enough to eradicate them. From a Biblical point of view, man might well be God’s tool for ending the existence of certain species.

Actually the question has perplexed believers over the years, especially since the poor are usually in the cross hairs. Maybe disease is God’s way of getting rid of the poor? (Can Satan cast out Satan?)

But the Biblical point of view is nowhere evident in any of your postings over the past five years.

 

Completely false. Not too long ago I pointed out on this blog that Jesus really was a human infant at one time. You left comments on that thread, so I know you saw my remarks.

 

Eddie - #79144

April 26th 2013

Of course Jesus was a human infant.  Only an idiot would deny it.  Affirming that doesn’t make your theological understanding of Jesus in line with that of the Gospels.  And affirming that God in some vague way “brought forth” something doesn’t make your understanding of Creation in line with Genesis or the Christian tradition. 

beaglelady - #79190

April 27th 2013

I was trying to show that your charge that  the Biblical point of view is nowhere evident in any of your postings over the past five years.  And I succeeded.   

Eddie - #79211

April 28th 2013

No, you didn’t succeed at all.  You have never advocated “the Biblical point of view” on any topic whatsoever here.  You have advocated the secular humanist point of view—with a very thin, almost transparent, Christian coat of paint over it.

 You think that saying:  “Jesus was a baby once” shows that you stand up for orthodox Christian theology?  Do you take the people here to be idiots, that they would count you orthodox because you admit that Jesus was once a baby (which even the atheist Bart Ehrman admits), while you deny the foundational Christian understanding of Creation?  No reader here is that stupid.  Who are you trying to kid?

beaglelady - #79237

April 29th 2013

No, it was relevant in that particular post.   It’s part of Christian teaching that Jesus was a genuine human infant, and didn’t just appear to be one.

Eddie - #79242

April 29th 2013

Anyone might happen to agree with one or two points of Christian doctrine without being Christian.  A Jew would certainly agree that Jesus was a genuine human infant at one point in his life.  There is nothing specifically Christian in affirming that.

Now affirming that Jesus was also the Logos through whom the very world itself was created—that is specifically Christian.  I haven’t heard you affirm that one.  Or the relationship between the Logos and the plan of creation—no doubt because you don’t want to affirm anything that might be interpreted as design.  Randomness and natural selection are your Creators.  You want to keep the words “design” and “God” as far apart from each other as you possibly can.  Which of course means that you do not speak from a Biblical point of view.

beaglelady - #79313

April 30th 2013

Anyone might happen to agree with one or two points of Christian doctrine without being Christian.

The question was whether I ever brought up the Biblical point of view.  And I have.  And you keep denying it.   

Eddie - #79317

April 30th 2013

I did not say that you never “brought up” the Biblical point of view.  Anyone can “bring up” the Biblical point of view.  Richard Dawkins does that!  My exact words were:

“the Biblical point of view is nowhere evident in any of your postings”

and what I meant by that is that you do not seem to speak out of a Biblical point of view.  You very infrequently quote or even paraphrase the Bible, and its themes are rarely present in your comments, and when others here say something that sounds Biblical—for example, when they suggest that maybe God acts directly in the world of nature (as he often does in the Bible) you often seem to respond with sarcasm or at least skepticism.  Perhaps your position is not skeptical, but that is certainly the position you project, by your conversational style.


beaglelady - #79238

April 29th 2013

What church do you attend regularly? I’m curious to know what particular church  you consider acceptable enough to make it your home church.   

Eddie - #79244

April 29th 2013

I split my time between the Anglican Church in North America (which is the true Anglican Church, not led by John Spongs and Gene Robinsons), and a Baptist-like evangelical church.  In both of them Christian doctrine is derived ultimately from the Bible, not from the Enlightenment fancies of liberal evangelicalism and mainstream Protestant churches.  But I certainly respect all other Churches who maintain orthodox teachings, e.g., the Roman Catholic, the Eastern orthodox, the traditional branches of the Reformed and Lutheran, etc.  I also respect those of other faiths such as Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, who try to remain true to those faiths and don’t try to water them down to make them more modern and up-to-date.  Modernity has been a great corrosive of both Christian and non-Christian faith, and that corrosion is seen clearly in many of the comments made on this site.

Lou Jost - #79249

April 29th 2013

 ”I certainly respect all other Churches who maintain orthodox teachings… I also respect those of other faiths such as Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, who try to remain true to those faiths and don’t try to water them down to make them more modern and up-to-date.”

You’ve put your finger on the difference between a reasonable person and a closed-minded one. Do you really think humanity has not learned anything important in these subjects in the last several thousand years?

Lou Jost - #79250

April 29th 2013

Eddie, even you use current knowledge to inform your understanding of the source documents of your religion. You accept evolution, and this affects your reading of Genesis. You surely don’t believe in Noah’s global flood, and this also affects your reading of the Bible. This is reasonable. So surely deep down you do see the value of updating and modifying one’s understanding as we learn more, right?

Eddie - #79257

April 29th 2013

No.  You misunderstand the motivation I have for reinterpreting Genesis.  I do not reinterpret it in order to harmonize its teaching with that of modern science.  Science is tentative, and religious belief is too important to bargain away for the approval of the latest tentative hypothesis, which may change tomorrow.

From Weismann on, it was a dogmatic belief of evolutionary biology that acquired characteristics could never be inherited; but in recent decades we have learned that sometimes they can be.  (Cf. Shapiro etc.)  To have changed Christian theology to agree with Weismann would have been a huge mistake.  Just as to have changed Christian theology to accommodate the steady state theory, or the ether, or the Bohr atom, etc., would have been a mistake.  Christian theology can do the world no good by chasing after the latest “consensus” scientific view, and eagerly offering to rewrite itself, reinterpret the Bible, even scrap parts of the Bible, when scientists snap their fingers.  That will just lead the world to have contempt for Christianity.  (As indeed, Coyne and Dawkins have contempt for Miller, Collins, BioLogos, etc.)

I’ve changed the way I read Genesis because I’m a highly trained literary scholar, and I now think that, even if evolutionary theory had never come along, Genesis 1-11 was read the wrong way by the Church (and perhaps also by the synagogue, though I have less expertise on that point) for most of its existence.  

If we found the Cambrian rabbit tomorrow, and evolutionists all threw in the towel, would I go back to reading Genesis as a factual chronicle of the creation of the world?  No.  My reading of Genesis has nothing to do with evolution, or with anything discovered by modern science.  

Your remark would be better directed to beaglelady.  She appears to have modified her theology drastically precisely because of science, and to have sought out different readings of Genesis only because she wants to hang onto some vague form of Christian teaching.  For me, the order was the reverse.  I had already made up my mind about the non-historical character of Genesis as an undergrad; my first cautious objections to Darwinism did not surface until later, became strong only many years later, and became very strong only in the past decade.    

So you’ve read me wrong.

Lou Jost - #79261

April 29th 2013

Alright, I have it backwards. I was trying to be generous. I could not imagine you really believed what you had written. Now I know you would not update your reading of the Bible based on new knowledge. You insist that  this is a virtue, because knowledge changes. You will not admit that the Bible was itself written by humans, and that we have learned something since then. Yes, we might be wrong, but we know the writers of the Bible were definitely wrong about many things.

Understanding is hard, and fallible. That is inevitable. It seems bizarre to think you can avoid this problem by simply insulating your brain from new knowledge. It is like a child closing his eyes to keep from seeing a scary dog runnng towards him.

Eddie - #79276

April 29th 2013

No, Lou, you still don’t understand my position.  You are still trying to pigeonhole me as someone who operates under blind faith.  You are responding to me as a member of some class you have formed in your mind:  “IDer” or “creationist” or “fundamentalist” or whatever.  You are not responding to me as an individual with individual views.
 
You must first make a very elementary distinction which you (along a with a good number of other people from all camps in these debates) are failing to make:  the distinction between “what the Bible teaches” and “whether what the Bible teaches is true.”
 
It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to try to change what the Bible teaches, in order to guarantee that the Bible remains true.  I refuse to engage in such dishonesty.  If I think that the message that the Bible intended to teach was X, and that very good science or historical study has established not-X, I would not try to “save” the Bible’s truth by forced or strained exegesis which clearly violates the original intent of the author; I would say that the Bible was false.
 
So, if I thought that the Bible taught that the earth was created in six days, I would not try to “update” my reading of the Bible based on new knowledge (e.g., interpreting “days” as “eras”); I would do something quite different.  I would say that the Bible was false.
 
The same with the Flood.  If I thought that the author of the Flood story intended us to understand that there was a flood that covered Mt. Everest, and that we were being commanded to believe that such a Flood took place in the 3rd millennium B.C., I would say that the Flood story was false.
 
Another way of putting it:  if these early stories from Genesis are meant to be understood as accurate chronicles of events, I would say that they are not only in principle falsifiable but in fact false.
 
Is that “open-minded” enough for you, Lou?  And is it clear enough for you as well?
Lou Jost - #79280

April 29th 2013

Yes! But what about gray areas? You can’t always be sure what the intentions of the writers were. Wouldn’t you let information about reality inform your interpretation (a la Augustine)?

But fine, I actually like your attitude. I wonder if you are really serious about it, though. It is hard to imagine how you could have thus far avoided the conclusion that the bible is false, while wading through its minefield of false or contradictory claims.

Eddie - #79298

April 30th 2013

This is too skinny.  See new start below.

beaglelady - #79314

April 30th 2013

Historically, Christians believed that the flood story was literally true.

Eddie - #79318

April 30th 2013

I know that.  But that does not prove that they correctly understood the intention of the Biblical writer.

Eddie - #79252

April 29th 2013

As usual, Lou, on my discussions with beaglelady, you miss the point.  The point is about intellectual and religious integrity.  

Certain notions that happen to have been held by religious people can be wrong, without sacrificing the core of the religion; e.g., the notion that the earth is motionless, held by most Christians until modern times, is not essential to Christian teaching.  But certain other notions are central to religious faith, and cannot be abandoned without abandoning or at least maiming the religion itself.  For someone to say:  “I’m a Buddhist, but I reject the teaching that all life is suffering, because of what neurology has now revealed about suffering” is idiotic.  If neurology has really revealed that all life is not suffering, then the person should stop being a Buddhist, not try to rescue Buddhism by sacrificing its fundamental insight.

The notion that man is the intentional creation of God cannot be sacrificed without scrapping Christianity and Judaism.  Attempting to modify this teaching by saying that man is an accident of evolution, who need not have appeared (it might have been an intelligent octopus instead, or there might have been no higher life at all), but that God is still somehow vaguely responsible, is simply cowardice.  If beaglelady believes that evolutionary science has proved that God did not plan or design any of evolution’s results, she should openly deny the Christian doctrine of creation.  She should have the courage of her logic.

You don’t lack the courage to say this, Lou.  Beaglelady does.  The issue between beaglelady and myself is about intellectual morality, personal theological integrity.  It has nothing to do with you.

If beaglelady would publically jump ship, and join your side, I’d leave her alone.  But she makes mock of the doctrines of the Church of my upbringing by offering a travesty of its teachings in order to fancy herself up-to-date in science.  I have every right, and duty, to challenge her when she does that.  You are currently outside of Christian faith, and so, frankly, my dispute with her is none of your business.  Come back to the fold, and then I’ll hear what you have to say about the Christian view of creation.  Until then, your side-comments are entirely irrelevant to our dispute.

beaglelady - #79266

April 29th 2013

Cyber stalker!  You have a problem.     

Eddie - #79277

April 29th 2013

The one who has the problem here is the one who equivocates regarding the Biblical and Christian doctrine of creation.  I would suggest that this person take to heart Revelation 3:15.  It is not I with whom she has to deal, but the person who is speaking there.

beaglelady - #79315

April 30th 2013

How specific were God’s plans for man? How did he bring his plans about?  Breeding? Artificial selection?

Eddie - #79319

April 30th 2013

The dodge of answering a question with a question is useless, beaglelady.  I won’t bite. 

You are the one who is advancing the thesis that God used a process involving a good deal of blind chance to create life, species, and man.  You are the one who has to explain how this method of creation squares with the traditional understanding of God’s providence, will, etc.

I don’t think that evolution occurred in the the way you think it did, so I don’t have any apparent contradiction to answer for.  I suspect that there was front-loading and/or direct steering involved, and those methods are quite compatible with traditional Christian and theistic understandings of creation.  But you appear (though you are vague and elusive) to deny both direct steering and front-loading; hence, you place yourself in a theologically difficult position. I didn’t put you there.  I just asked you to explain yourself.  And you still haven’t.

beaglelady - #79351

May 1st 2013

How do you guarantee results with front-loading? What methods does God use in direct steering of evolution?  Is genetic engineering one of the methods? Maybe  selective breeding?

Eddie - #79358

May 1st 2013

beaglelady:

Why are you prolonging the conversation?  You’ve now admitted that, with elephants and everything else, including man, God rolled the dice.  He wasn’t in charge, wasn’t in control.  You therefore deny the orthodox or traditional Christian view of creation.  Q. E. D.  The conversation is over.

 

beaglelady - #79383

May 2nd 2013

How specific were God’s plans for man? How did he bring his plans about?  Breeding? Artificial selection?

beaglelady - #79123

April 26th 2013

You comment about Behe is disgraceful.  Behe was expositing the theory of intelligent design, not Christian theology, or his own personal religious views, when he made that statement.  How can you be so dishonest as to try to misrepresent that in order to score a debating point here?

 

So why can’t he be more clear about what he actually believes?  It’s of no concern to make that clear?

Eddie - #79145

April 26th 2013

He has stated repeatedly that he is Christian, Roman Catholic, and believes that the designer is God.  He has also stated that the identification of any designer as God is not a scientific conclusion, but a philosophical or religious one.  What could be more clear?

It is you who are unclear.  It is you whose religious allegiances are very nebulous, whose commitment to the Bible and tradition is very suspect.

beaglelady - #79124

April 26th 2013

Your argument about heresy amounts to: since lots of Christians have been accused of being heretical about lots of things, then I don’t have to worry about whether or not my views are heretical. That’s pathetic. Also an illogical inference, but pathetic is the more important thing to note.

 

Wrong. I want for us to look at the big picture.

 

beaglelady - #79125

April 26th 2013

You’ve shifted your language on elephants. “It appears that God had no idea of what kind of elephant he wanted.” The expression is somewhat muddy, but the normal inference would be that God intended elephants, but didn’t specify the kind. Is that your position? If so, why have you been implicitly denying all week that God intended the elephant “kind”?

 

Obviously I meant that “If God intended for there to be elephants…” Besides, I need a definition of “biblical kind.”

Eddie - #79143

April 26th 2013

You don’t need a definition of Biblical kind.  I never asked you if God planned the Biblical kinds.  I asked you if he planned the elephant kind, and I gave you a biological definition of that kind.  You still refuse to answer.

You know exactly what I mean, you know exactly the information I am asking for, and you withhold it.

beaglelady - #79188

April 27th 2013

Are we supposed to believe in the creation of Biblical kinds?

Eddie - #79212

April 28th 2013

beaglelady:

Are you deaf, or are you dense?  

How many times do I have to shout it:

I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT BIBLICAL KINDS.  I HAVE NEVER TALKED ABOUT BIBLICAL KINDS.  IT IS YOU WHO KEEPS TALKING ABOUT BIBLICAL KINDS.  I ASKED YOU ABOUT THE ELEPHANT KIND, AND I DEFINED THAT KIND IN TERMS OF MODERN BIOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION.  

Was that loud enough to penetrate, beaglelady?  

If you are not going to answer the question about elephant-like animals, just say so.  Stop wasting everyone’s time.

beaglelady - #79236

April 29th 2013

Why are we not talking about Biblical kinds?  

Eddie - #79279

April 29th 2013

Because they are irrelevant to the question you were asked, which was about the elephant type as defined in modern biological terms.  Did God plan and guarantee the existence of that type, or not?

There are two possible answers: Yes, and No.

A non-answer, in this context, means No, since no one who thought the answer was Yes would have any reason to conceal it, whereas someone who though the answer was No would have reason to conceal it.

For over a week now, you have chosen the non-answer, i.e., the No which dares not speak its name.

beaglelady - #79285

April 30th 2013

Can the elephants evolve?

Eddie - #79293

April 30th 2013

That’s irrelevant to the question asked.  God either planned and guaranteed the emergence (by whatever means, evolutionary or other) of the elephant type of mammal, or he did not.  

You have an opinion; you can share it, or you can withhold it.  If you withhold, I will make the appropriate inference, and will not pursue the matter further. 

beaglelady - #79312

April 30th 2013

God made the evolution of elephants possible, of course, but I don’t believe he guaranteed their evolution.  I don’t think God had rigid cookie-cutters for every beast.   btw,  at what resolution do you believe that God planned critters? The species level? Individual animals?  Something else?  And how do you know?  

If we bring back the mammoths back from extinction,  would that be God’s plan?

If we drive extant elephants to extinction,  should we conclude that God has finished his evolutionary plans for the elephants, coinciding neatly with their demise? 

hanan-d - #79321

April 30th 2013

>I don’t think God had rigid cookie-cutters for every beast.   btw,  at what resolution do you believe that God planned critters? The species level? Individual animals?  Something else?  And how do you know?  

I am tempted to point out the contradiction there. So did God have rigid-cookie-cutter for SOME beasts? And if he did, would you answer your own question please? Did he plan those ones at the species level?

But I won’t.

beaglelady - #79339

May 1st 2013

  I didn’t imply that God had rigid cookie cutters for any beast.   He’s not in the animal cracker business.  Maybe you could tell us at what resolution God plans critters.  Does the environment have any effect on the animals that will evolve? Is genetic drift random?  

If we drive extant elephants to extinction,  should we conclude that God has finished his evolutionary plans for the elephants, coinciding neatly with their demise? 

 

Eddie - #79322

April 30th 2013

You finally answered the question you could have answered right off the bat, without making me pull teeth—God did not guarantee the evolution of the elephantoid type of mammal.

I notice that you did not answer the other part—whether God planned for that type of mammal to exist.  Since you have denied that he guaranteed it, it would be very strange if you thought he planned it—that would make God an irresolute or ineffectual creator, to plan something but not guarantee that it would happen!  So I take it that you deny that God planned the existence of the elephantoids, as well.

By logical extension, he did not plan or guarantee the existence of weasel-like animals, seal-like animals, turtle-like animals, butterfly-like animals, or even ape-like animals—which means that man was not a sure thing, and probably wasn’t even planned.  (Even though the Bible says “Let us make man…”)

If you do not contradict the conclusions of the above paragraph, I shall assume that you accept it as a correct inference from what you have already admitted.

It seems to follow that you hold to a non-traditional understanding of creation, in which God is only remotely and indirectly involved in whatever comes out of the process.  So I don’t think my inferences—that you have sharp differences with both the Biblical and traditional theological accounts of creation—have been unfair.

Given that the purpose of BioLogos is to provide a forum where Christians can think out together the relationship between scientific truth and theological truth, and specifically between evolution and creation doctrine, it seems to me that you should welcome inquiries into how you put together the chanciness and contingency of evolution (as you understand it) with the notion that God is in firm control of creation (as the Bible and tradition have declared).  The fact that you don’t want to have an open discussion about this, in which you lay your theological position out for all to inspect, strikes me as most puzzling.

beaglelady - #79340

May 1st 2013

Since you have denied that he guaranteed it, it would be very strange if you thought he planned it—that would make God an irresolute or ineffectual creator, to plan something but not guarantee that it would happen!  So I take it that you deny that God planned the existence of the elephantoids, as well. 


My Jumbo theology is apparently bad.    Creation is more wonderful than you could ever imagine.  What has appeared is only a tiny subset of the possibilities. 

Is the environment a factor is determining the animals that evolve? 


Eddie - #79361

May 1st 2013

“My Jumbo theology is apparently bad.  Creation is more wonderful than you could ever imagine.”

I guess you are right, since creation produces marvels such as malaria, guinea worms, bubonic plague, earthquakes, asteroid strikes destroying dinosaurs, etc.

But wait!  Haven’t you steadily argued that God wouldn’t produce such things?  So then God is not the creator of everything, but only of some things?  Only the nice things?

“Jumbled theology” is more like it.

beaglelady - #79382

May 2nd 2013

No, I said that he wouldn’t directly create those things.  We already know that Creation has a dark side. 

Eddie - #79392

May 2nd 2013

So your view is that God indirectly creates malaria, guinea worms, etc.?  How does his indirect creation of these things exonerate him from the blame you would heap on God if he created them directly?  

(That you would blame God for creating them directly is clear from the scoffing and sarcastic remarks you offer every time anyone here suggests that God might have done so.)

hanan-d - #79347

May 1st 2013

>You finally answered the question you could have answered right off the bat, without making me pull teeth—God did not guarantee the evolution of the elephantoid type of mammal.

 

EXACTLY! Why all this run around, I don’t know.  God just guaranteed a universe with a possiblity that some intelligent creature might arise. As Lou said, intelligence is not exclusive to man. So all God could have gotten is a smart octopus. The logical conclusion to her answer is that God was really, really surprised when we cam along. He didn’t see that one coming. 

Now, I have no problem with her believing this. But this sounds more like deism-light, then any sort belief in the Christian God. Sure, theology is flexible, but there are certain standards to every religion. Her’s just doesn’t pass the smell test. I think she is simply deluding herself. Frankly, I find it intellectually dishonest

beaglelady - #79349

May 1st 2013

Do you think that Christianity is true? 

beaglelady - #79126

April 26th 2013

I’ve already answered your question about species extinction. There is no logical inference from species extinction to the sort of conclusion you and Lou are trying to get out of it. All that species extinction tells us, from an orthodox theistic point of view, is that God willed that species should not live forever. And he might well have willed that some should become extinct through natural causes, and some through the intervention of man.

 

Disturbing.

Eddie - #79146

April 26th 2013

If you think that is disturbing, beaglelady, then you think the overall teaching of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation is disturbing, because my remarks are based on the Biblical conception of God.  You, however, appear to believe in the Enlightenment conception of God; that would explain why you are so offended when Christians argue from the Biblical conception.  You have a deep problem, an inner contradiction which needs resolution.  You cannot continue to serve two Gods.

beaglelady - #79187

April 27th 2013

You mean that Genesis teaches that God might have willed that man should drive particular creatures to extinction?    

Eddie - #79213

April 28th 2013

If you mean, was it the intention of the author of Genesis 1 to teach that, the answer is no.  I doubt that the author of Genesis 1 was thinking about extinction; his purpose was to explain creation, not extinction.

However, if you take the overall arc of Biblical teaching, it is clear that no species has the “right” to live forever; species exist only at God’s pleasure.  (Just as nations exist only at God’s pleasure.)  So God can, at will, set a term to the existence of any species, and bring about its end by any means he chooses—through competition from other species, through some cosmic catastrophe, or through the actions of man.  If God wants smallpox extinguished, for example, he can use man as his agent for that task—if he so wills.

What you cannot grasp is that God is not bound by your conceptions of the good of the cosmos.  You and Lou have said that extinction counts as bad design.  But it does not—not if God intended extinction as part of his plan.  But you cannot accept extinction as part of God’s plan.  You cannot believe that God might sometimes be a destroyer as well as a creator.  And that’s because your God is more an Enlightenment God than a Biblical God.

You are presumptuous to presume that God would never have designed the world so that many species would become extinct.  You do not know the mind of God.  But like so many TEs, you write as if you do.

beaglelady - #79235

April 29th 2013

What you don’t realized is that the idea of extinction troubled Christians in the past.

Eddie - #79246

April 29th 2013

Christians in the past have believed all kinds of un-Christian things.  Many American Christians believed that slavery was justified because “the Negro is under the curse of Ham.”  I don’t say that such Americans weren’t faithful Christians in intent, but many of their theological beliefs were not Christian.  A person can be devout yet theologically ignorant or heretical.

The only Christians who were troubled by extinction in the past were those who were influenced by Enlightenment or other rationalist assumptions about what God would have done or about what a good world should look like.  There is no reason to suppose that God intended all species to live forever, any more than that God intended all nations or kingdoms to live forever.

If it was God’s will that the dinosaurs should live for a time, then perish, who are Christians to say that God should have willed otherwise?  If it was God’s will that smallpox should have its day, and then be wiped out by the hand of man, does smallpox have any right to complain, given that it was only by God’s grace that it enjoyed life in the first place?  

But of course, many TEs like to talk about what a good God (by their lights, not Biblical lights) would have or should have done, so it’s not surprising that they are always sitting in judgment on God, in a way that neither ID folks nor creationists do.

I’ve already sufficiently answered all your questions about asteroids, diseases, etc. in relation to extinction.  Your position, Biblically, doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  But of course I’ve for a long time realized that the Bible is not terribly important for the form of Christianity (so to speak) which you embrace.

beaglelady - #79239

April 29th 2013

Oops, I meant: What you don’t realize is that the idea of extinction troubled Christians in the past.

Eddie - #79247

April 29th 2013

beaglelady:

There are a lot more important corrections to make in your posts than typographical ones.  If were as zealous to expunge your heresies as your typos, you would be better off.  (And so would we.)

 

beaglelady - #79265

April 29th 2013

Better read this post again!

Seenoevo - #79052

April 25th 2013

Thanks to one, and all, for participation in my hypothesis testing: christian beaglelady, atheist Lou Jest and       a melanogaster.

 

Finches of a feather.

melanogaster - #79054

April 25th 2013

So let’s get back to the data figure that you claimed was interpretation, not evidence. You asked for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it’s right there.

But you’re afraid…

Seenoevo - #79079

April 25th 2013

Some re-runs from this blog:

Me: “I think this real answer is that beaglelady configures a non-traditional, non-prescriptive, laissez-faire god because she likes to live her life, particularly in regards morality, in ways which are non-traditional, non-prescriptive, laissez-faire.”

 

Eddie: “You [beaglelady] appear not to want to believe in a God who intends anything specific.  Perhaps you believe that a God like that would cramp your freedom….In traditional Christian terms, this is known as idolatry.”

 

Beaglelady: “So you’re hinting that I’m a slut now?”

Seenoevo - #79080

April 25th 2013

Melanogaster,

You wrote: “So let’s get back to the data figure that you [me] claimed was interpretation, not evidence. You asked for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it’s right there.”

For purposes of dialog, let’s hypothesize that

1) You are an intelligent, reasonable and genetics-knowledgeable human being, and that

2) I’m not nearly as intelligent as you, but have the capability of reasoning and even of learning about genetics, and that

3) I’m consequently in need of being instructed by you (i.e. not instructed by someone else or by some article; need YOUR distillation and explication).

Please distill and explicate so that I (and any other reasonable, semi-intelligent human being) will see that that data figure (or any other data) provides “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that evolution is true, that only evolution could have produced such data.

Have at it. I’m all ears and eyes and got my thinking cap on. (And I actually was a half-decent student in school.)

Again, these will be YOUR words. No cutting and pasting or hyperlinking. KISS. Keep It Simple, for the Stupid. Like me. 

While you’re preparing your perspicuous presentation, please feel free to notify me of anyone who’s received a Nobel Prize for his conclusive, evolution-confirming analysis of this data. I like something to lighten my days as much as the next person. Nobel awards have made me smile before (e.g. Albert Gore, for his inconvenient “truth” telling; Barack Obama, for something, less than 9 months into his first term; Robert G. Edwards for in vitro fertilization.).

“Be not afraid.”

melanogaster - #79095

April 25th 2013

“For purposes of dialog…”

My hypothesis is that you are afraid to engage in actual dialog. It’s supported by the following facts:

1) You called this figure an interpretation and then said that you hadn’t looked at it. One of those two statements has to a false one with intent to deceive.

2) You have ducked a simple question that would start a dialog: what does the scale bar at the bottom of the figure mean?

3) You are trying to get me to reduce the evidence to rhetoric.

All of those scream that you are afraid. Back to your flimflam:

“…, let’s hypothesize that 1) You are an intelligent, reasonable and genetics-knowledgeable human being, and that 2) I’m not nearly as intelligent as you, but have the capability of reasoning and even of learning about genetics,”

Then read the Figure 1 legend and ask me intelligent questions that show your ability and willingness to learn, reason, and engage in dialog.

“and that 3) I’m consequently in need of being instructed by you (i.e. not instructed by someone else or by some article; need YOUR distillation and explication).”

Then ask questions instead of demanding an essay. The legend is clear about what the figure means.

“Please distill and explicate…”

The evidence has already been distilled to a graphical form. The opposite of distillation is required on your part, which in turn requires engaging with the evidence.

“... so that I (and any other reasonable, semi-intelligent human being) will see that that data figure (or any other data) provides “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that evolution is true, that only evolution could have produced such data.”

No, the bar is set at evolutionary theory predicting these data, and neither you nor anyone else can produce a plausible competing hypothesis that predicts these data. That’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt, especially when you multiply the data in Figure 1 by tens of thousands of additional trials. You can even do one of your own! Are you ready or afraid?

When I mean the data, what’s most significant are the differences. I propose to ban any form of the word “similar” in our dialog. Are you game? I predict that you’re anything but.

“Have at it. I’m all ears and eyes and got my thinking cap on.”

Then use your eyes to look at the scale bar and legend and use your thinking cap to engage with the evidence presented.

“Again, these will be YOUR words. No cutting and pasting or hyperlinking. KISS. Keep It Simple, for the Stupid. Like me.”

Why do you insist on rhetoric? What’s the matter with evidence?

“While you’re preparing your perspicuous presentation, please feel free to notify me of anyone who’s received a Nobel Prize for his conclusive, evolution-confirming analysis of this data.”

Instead, I’ll feel free to notify you that Nobel Prizes are awarded in Physiology and Medicine or Chemistry or Physics, not Evolution. I can point you to a relevant one in chemistry, but let’s get through this evidence first.

“Be not afraid.”

But you clearly are with your desperate need to set the bar at rhetoric instead of evidence and your false claim that evidence is interpretation. Where is your faith that you can explain this evidence and predict evidence that is unavailable to you?

Seenoevo - #79162

April 26th 2013

Part 1 of 2

Melanogaster,

First a little cleanup.

I think you have your facts and figure wrong.

You wrote to me: “You called this figure an interpretation and then said that you hadn’t looked at it. One of those two statements has to a false one with intent to deceive.”

Wrong. I did look at, and comment on, the figure (“Figure 1: A phylogenetic tree” from the Nature article Lou Jest linked). What I didn’t look at, and I said so, was the Jon Garvey article noted by Eddie.

And the only one who is deceiving here is the one who says that drawn tree is evidential only, and not interpretive. The truth is, that tree reflects someone’s interpretation of evidence. Other’s looking at the same evidence have a different interpretation, and no tree at all. But the data, and the math, and the lines, and the methodological results, do not speak for themselves. They’re all subject to, or the result of, someone’s interpretation.

In fact, you admitted as much when you wrote: “You’d know that if you read the figure legend and methods instead of reading the interpretations in the text.”

Exactly.

You say Figure 1 is “simply a mathematical graph of the sequence evidence.” The Figure 1 I’m talking about is not a mathematical graph. It’s a branching diagram with pretty little animal pictures. Perhaps the artist thinks Figure 1 is based on, and representative of an interpretation of, mathematical sequence data. But it’s not a mathematical graph.

[Perhaps you were talking about Figure 2. I wasn’t. It’s not clear to me what Figure 2 means and I made no comment about it.]

melanogaster - #79174

April 27th 2013

“First a little cleanup.

“I think you have your facts and figure wrong.”

Let’s see.

“You wrote to me: “You called this figure an interpretation and then said that you hadn’t looked at it. One of those two statements has to a false one with intent to deceive.”

“What I didn’t look at, and I said so, was the Jon Garvey article noted by Eddie.”

Seeno,
You are fudging. What you wrote 78872 was (caps mine), “Disclosure: I haven’t read the subject Jon Garvey article, nor physically ‘“Got my mit uns” on ANY of the data/data analysis/evidence YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.”

The Garvey article is about the paper that includes Figure 1 that I was talking about. And you’ve left yourself no wiggle room based on your false claim that Figure 1 is interpretation, because you even included “data analysis.”

So I’m not wrong at all. Maybe you didn’t mean what you wrote, but that wouldn’t make me wrong.

“And the only one who is deceiving here is the one who says that drawn tree is evidential only, and not interpretive.”

That’s what I’m saying, and I’m not deceiving. You’re also desperately trying to move the goalposts, because you claimed that it simply was interpretation only and wasn’t evidence. Your claim is completely false.

“The truth is, that tree reflects someone’s interpretation of evidence.”

No, the truth is that the tree is not interpretation, but simply the evidence in graphical form. This relates to your ignorance of the strength of the evidence.

“Other’s looking at the same evidence have a different interpretation, and no tree at all.”

The tree is not an interpretation. It is a graph of the evidence.

“But the data, and the math, and the lines, and the methodological results, do not speak for themselves. They’re all subject to, or the result of, someone’s interpretation.”

No, there is zero interpretation in Figure 1. It is a graph. Why not learn instead of repeating your false claim?

“In fact, you admitted as much when you wrote: “You’d know that if you read the figure legend and methods instead of reading the interpretations in the text.”

An admission of what, exactly? The figure legend explains the graph, the text (not the figure legend) contains interpretations. Do you understand that we real scientists read these papers by going through the figures, with the text being secondary?

“You say Figure 1 is “simply a mathematical graph of the sequence evidence.””

I do indeed. You say it is not evidence, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“The Figure 1 I’m talking about is not a mathematical graph. It’s a branching diagram with pretty little animal pictures.”

It is simply a graph of the evidence. Zero interpretation.

“Perhaps the artist thinks Figure 1 is based on, and representative of an interpretation of, mathematical sequence data. But it’s not a mathematical graph.”

It is entirely a mathematical graph. That’s why it has a scale bar that gives any thoughtful person an idea of how it graphs evidence.

“[Perhaps you were talking about Figure 2. I wasn’t. It’s not clear to me what Figure 2 means and I made no comment about it.]”

Nope. Figure 1 is a graph with no interpretation. The little drawings are superfluous. Try to learn before coming to a conclusion. You just look silly and fearful of participating in the hypothesis testing.

Seenoevo - #79163

April 26th 2013

Part 2 of 2

Melanogaster,

“You have ducked a simple question that would start a dialog: what does the scale bar at the bottom of the figure mean?”

Do you mean the Figure 1’s little horizontal line, above which is written “0.1 substitutions per site”, and the caption underneath it which reads:

“Multiple sequence alignments of 251 genes with a 1:1 ratio of orthologues in 22 vertebrates and with a full sequence coverage for both lungfish and coelacanth were used to generate a concatenated matrix of 100,583 unambiguously aligned amino acid positions. The Bayesian tree was inferred using PhyloBayes under the CAT + GTR + Γ4 model with confidence estimates derived from 100 gene jack-knife replicates (support is 100% for all clades but armadillo + elephant with 45%)48. The tree was rooted on cartilaginous fish, and shows that the lungfish is more closely related to tetrapods than the coelacanth, and that the protein sequence of coelacanth is evolving slowly. Pink lines (tetrapods) are slightly offset from purple lines (lobe-finned fish), to indicate that these species are both tetrapods and lobe-finned fish”  ?

I don’t know.

I was hoping you’d tell me. That’s why I asked for you to distill and explicate with a perspicuous presentation in your own words. But you just direct me back to the artist’s tree (and I guess artist’s bar. I need a drink, artist!)

If you were a teacher, an employed teacher, and this was your teaching method, I’d think, “Man, that’s a nice easy gig.” If someone asks you a question or for help, you keep your mouth shut and just direct them back to the text book or article or send them back to the lab or drop a box of fossils in front of them or gently place some petri dishes of DNA goo in front of them, and then open your mouth to say “You asked for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it’s right there.” [‘And now it’s time for recess in the playground, my silly stupid children.’]

“Then read the Figure 1 legend and ask me intelligent questions…”

What legend? I don’t see any legend. Or do you mean the entire article is a legend? That, I see.

“No, the bar is set at evolutionary theory predicting these data, and neither you nor anyone else can produce a plausible competing hypothesis that predicts these data.”

No. Creation (i.e. the Genesis kind) meets the same bar of predicting this data. With creation we would expect (predict) to find many genetic similarities and many genetic differences between many similar and many different kinds of living things.

“That’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt, especially when you…”

You have a very low bar for being amused. Or convinced.

“When I mean the data, what’s most significant are the differences. I propose to ban any form of the word “similar” in our dialog. Are you game?”

Am I game? No. Not when I recognize it’s a fixed game:

- Heads you win, tails I lose. Evolution wins coming and going.

- Evolution is “confirmed” with similarities (e.g. chimps look so much like us, and their DNA is ninety-something percent the same!).

- But evolution is also “confirmed” with the significant “differences” (apparently this is where the real, cutting-edge action is).

- Evolution explains the coelacanth which hasn’t substantially changed in an alleged 400 million years, but it also explains how a goat becomes a whale in an alleged 15 million.

- [A bit like global warming (now climate change) explaining floods but also droughts, extremely shivery winters but also extremely scorching summers. Even when the global temps don’t change for decades:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/16/us-climate-slowdown-idUSBRE93F0AJ20130416

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/twenty-year-hiatus-in-rising-temperatures-has-climate-scientists-puzzled/story-e6frg6z6-1226609140980 ]

 

“I’ll feel free to notify you that Nobel Prizes are awarded in Physiology and Medicine or Chemistry or Physics, not Evolution.”

No Nobel, not even in evolutionary biology? I wonder why?

Well, maybe someday they will. After all, they gave one to Al Gore for the “science” of man-made global warming (now climate change).

In fact, I expect a Nobel, or some type of prestigious prize, to be awarded any day now. Since this Nature article was published, the TV news and the newspapers and the web have been bursting with lead stories and 24/7 coverage on how this article (with its trees and bars and legends) has finally confirmed the truth of evolution. I think I saw a Wall Street Journal or New York Times headline the other day that even used the phrase “proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s right there!”  (And Gallup is rushing to conduct a new poll on belief in evolution and confirm the drastic change in opinion.)

Maybe you’ll be the one, or one of the ones, winning the big prize. If you see Al, please congratulate him for me.

 

P.S.

Two other questions of mine which you’ve never answered:

1) Three or four times I asked “What did YOU mean when YOU said “Conservatively, that investment returns >25% interest”. WHAT is “that investment” and WHAT is the CALCULATION supporting the claimed 25% return or interest?”

2) My question about the fruit fly (drosophila melanogaster): “Given enough time, and considering the vagaries of evolution, do you think melanogaster could ever become an intelligent human being?”

melanogaster - #79179

April 27th 2013

“Do you mean the Figure 1’s little horizontal line, above which is written “0.1 substitutions per site”,”

I do indeed.

“… and the caption underneath it which reads:”

No, I asked about the scale bar, not the figure legend. But let’s start anyway.

“Multiple sequence alignments of 251 genes…”

Let’s break it up. Do you understand this phrase?

“I don’t know.”

You don’t know? Then how could you have possibly honestly written, “Of course it’s interpretation, not evidence” if you don’t know diddly about it?

“I was hoping you’d tell me.”

But you’ve already told me that it’s interpretation, remember? It’s a little late for any phony humility now.

“That’s why I asked for you to distill and explicate with a perspicuous presentation in your own words.”

The evidence is already distilled. You need to unpack it and examine it instead of misrepresenting it as “not evidence.” You’re just scared.

“But you just direct me back to the artist’s tree”

No, the tree was not drawn by an artist. Why don’t you stop telling me falsehoods?

“If you were a teacher, an employed teacher, and this was your teaching method, I’d think, “Man, that’s a nice easy gig.” If someone asks you a question or for help,…”

You’re not asking for help. You’re making false claims and showing complete fear of the evidence.

“What legend? I don’t see any legend.”

More false claims. You cut and pasted it!

legend |ˈlɛdʒ(ə)nd|
noun
3 an inscription, especially on a coin or medal.
• a caption: a picture of a tiger with the legend ‘Go ahead make my day’.
• the wording on a map or diagram explaining the symbols used: see legend to Fig. 1.

“No. Creation (i.e. the Genesis kind) meets the same bar of predicting this data.”

Really? But how could you possibly know that creation predicts the data if you can’t even grasp that you were looking at the actual data and falsely calling it “interpretation, not evidence”?

As for your questions, I told you that I clearly stated the antecedent of “that investment” and that you had misrepresented it. The second is idiotic, as evolution isn’t linear. And calling D. melanogaster “THE fruit fly” also is idiotic, but I suspect that you know that and your fear drives you to do it anyway.

Seenoevo - #79199

April 27th 2013

Melanogaster,

If you’re at any of the upcoming parties celebrating the final conversion of the masses to evolution (or at least 99% of them, per the soon to be released Gallup poll), due primarily to the groundbreaking “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” for all to see in that Nature article, then have a drink on me.

I’ll be having a good time elsewhere, good teacher.

Any desire to delve and dialog with you has daily and dreadfully diminished.

I think we’re done.

 

P.S.

Thanks again for not answering the question for the fourth or fifth time:

“What did YOU mean when YOU said “Conservatively, that investment returns >25% interest”? WHAT is “that investment” and WHAT is the CALCULATION supporting the claimed 25% return or interest?”

melanogaster - #79208

April 27th 2013

“If you’re at any of the upcoming parties celebrating the final conversion of the masses to evolution (or at least 99% of them, per the soon to be released Gallup poll), due primarily to the groundbreaking “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” for all to see in that Nature article, then have a drink on me.”

People deny all sorts of things when motivated by fear, like you. We both know that evolution denialism correlates very highly with many other false beliefs about things that are purely factual, like:

the number of 9/11 terrorists who were Iraqi
the president responsible for the first >$1T budget deficit for fiscal 2009
the performance of the stock market under Bush vs. Obama
whether “Arab” means the same thing as “Muslim”

“I’ll be having a good time elsewhere, good teacher.”

You’ll continue to live in fear. I don’t call that a good time, phony student.

“Any desire to delve and dialog with you has daily and dreadfully diminished.”

It never existed. If it had, you wouldn’t have lied so much at the beginning.

“I think we’re done.”

We always were! You were always afraid and you continue to be. Your faith is weak.

beaglelady - #79234

April 29th 2013

I think you are right about the lack of faith.  When the Harold Camping end-of-the-world mania was in full swing, a lawyer friend from church met a Camping follower in Grand Central Station.  My friend tried to get the guy to agree to buy him a drink if the world did NOT come to an end, but the guy wouldn’t agree to the deal!

Lou Jost - #79240

April 29th 2013

I always offer to give these guys something useful now, in return for signing over their property to me effective the day after the world is supposed to come to an end. They never do. Even Camping, it turns out, had saved up a lot of money in case the world didn’t come to an end.

beaglelady - #79294

April 30th 2013

Yes, money that he tricked his gullible followers into contributing.   It’s very sad.

melanogaster - #79243

April 29th 2013

The lack of faith certainly explains the pathological avoidance of evidence, dunnit?

hanan-d - #79316

April 30th 2013

Melanogaster,

Did I see some comment somewhere that you are a believing church-goer?

melanogaster - #79336

May 1st 2013

Yes. 

hanan-d - #79345

May 1st 2013

Odd.

I have read Francis Colllins book. You two see eye to eye in regards to evolution and the false claims of ID and YEC. Yet, he isn’t condescending to his opponents. He sees them as brethern. Well intentioned (but wrong) brethern. He seems to define himself more with his faith and what he has in common with his scientific opponents. You on the other hand come out as some condescending jerk to those you see who just can’t grasp the evidence. Is evolutionary biology the greatest truth you learn at church? Are these the sort of character traits you learn at church?

beaglelady - #79352

May 1st 2013

Where did you learn to call people condescending jerks?

hanan-d - #79354

May 1st 2013

brilliant response beaglelady

melanogaster - #79366

May 1st 2013

“You on the other hand come out as some condescending jerk to those you see who just can’t grasp the evidence.”

Condescending to those who CAN’T? Never. To those cowardly hypocrites who run from the evidence while pretending to follow it? Always. There’s a huge difference between “can’t” and “won’t.”

Does the irony of some using the handle “Seeno…” claiming that his “eyes are wide open” escape you?

If you want condescending, you should look to Eddie.

hanan-d - #79394

May 2nd 2013

Melanogaster,

It could be you are right. They “won’t.” But it changes nothing I said. I expect this level of condescending remarks from atheists, who hold evolutionary education above all. But you claim to be a believing church goer. This means that there is something above evolutionary biology. This is why I brought up Collins who is no different than you in your views of evolution yet is quite thoughtful towards his opponents. I never said you should stop in educating others, but really, it is the manner in which you do it. Again, I expect those sort of manners from atheists, not from believers. 

melanogaster - #79433

May 2nd 2013

“It could be you are right. They “won’t.””

I think we both know that’s true.

“But it changes nothing I said.”

It changes everything. The difference between “can’t” and “won’t” is enormous.

Let’s use an example:
Eddie in 77969 on whale evolution:
”…a hypothetical pathway—one that could have done it—any evolutionary biologist—at least whose specialty is mammalian evolution—should be able to supply.”

Me:
“This is easily testable by applying what developmental biologists have learned about limb development to whale limb remnant development: pnas.org/content/103/22/8414.full

“This paper provides Eddie’s hypothetical pathway for one of the largest differences between cetaceans and their artiodactyl relatives. It’s a trivial change at the genomic level, producing neither new proteins nor new binding sites.”

Where’s the condescension in showing the data to those who make sweeping claims without ever looking at them? Who are clearly afraid to look?

Reread Eddie’s initial claim. Regardless of veracity, is it condescending?

“I expect this level of condescending remarks from atheists,…”

So Eddie’s an atheist?

“… who hold evolutionary education above all.”

Where did you get an insane idea like this, hanan? There are many, many atheists who could care less about evolution.

“But you claim to be a believing church goer. This means that there is something above evolutionary biology.”

Indeed.

“This is why I brought up Collins who is no different than you in your views of evolution yet is quite thoughtful towards his opponents.”

By what empirical method did you determine that Collins is no different from me in our views of evolution? It looks to me like you’re just making things up to assist in lumping people together using false criteria.

“I never said you should stop in educating others, but really, it is the manner in which you do it.”

Look at the manners in the example above.

“Again, I expect those sort of manners from atheists, not from believers.”

So Eddie’s not a believer?

“Quite wrong, beaglelady. If you just owned up to your true religious beliefs, I would stop badgering you. It’s the fact that you conceal the extent of your unbelief in traditional Christianity that offends me.”

No condescension there?

“Your beliefs are thus an inconsistent mess. Your notion of origins is highly contingent (we can’t tell what species will pop up) yet certain species (intelligent ones) are “bound to appear.” Have you ever studied Logic for even a few hours?”

Or there?

“I actually understood atheism quite well. Your problem is that you subscribe to Anglo-American scientistic/positivistic atheism—a shallow and popular form of atheism which does not realize how much it unconsciously owes to the Christianity it rejects. Some day you should read some German atheists, and learn what the real thing entails.”

Or there? These are from this page only!

beaglelady - #79400

May 2nd 2013

We should not be implying that all atheists are condescending.

hanan-d - #79462

May 3rd 2013

Where did I say all atheists are condescending? But where you do find such condescending tone in favor of evolution, I have usually seen it from atheists (plenty of blogs to demonstrate that). They turn it into the greatest value above all and anyone arguing is spoken to as beneath a child. I don’t expect this from a faithful believer. I expect it from atheists. Collins and Melagonster have the same views on evolution yet I see a much more kindly approach from Collins. 

So Eddie is condesnding when the discussion is about faith? Well, let me put it this way. In my opinion, that would make more sense since to a man of faith, the issue of FAITH is of the greater importance. Meaning, to melagonstar which is of the higher to put more of your “wrath”? Is it to elevate some standard of faith or to elevate evolution? Now, they aren’t mutually exclusive, but I am certainly not the first to notice Melagostar’s tone when he argues against anyone he finds not wanting to look at the evidence? But he remains - from what I have seen- near silent on any issue where it comes to theology. 

Or, maybe I am just being over sensitive

beaglelady - #79469

May 3rd 2013

If you expect condescension from atheists, you are implying that they are usually condescending. 

 

Do you want to talk about theology? Is Christianity true?

hanan-d - #79476

May 3rd 2013

>If you expect condescension from atheists, you are implying that they are usually condescending. 

No. That is not what I said. Anyone can be condescending. I stated specifically in relation to evolution. That if, someone were to be condescending on this topic, it is usually atheists. 

beaglelady - #79480

May 3rd 2013

But he remains - from what I have seen- near silent on any issue where it comes to theology. 

That’s not true, either, unless you haven’t been reading too carefully.


Eddie - #79485

May 3rd 2013

I disagree, beaglelady.  Hanan is right.  Melanogaster has said almost nothing about theology the whole time he has been posting here.  I have seen only a couple of repeated cliches (“Your God is too small”), accompanied by precisely zero elaboration—and even those are rare.  He won’t even discuss the teaching of his church on moral matters when asked about it directly.  99% of what Fruitfly posts here is attacks on ID and creationist people over biological matters.  It appears that his main motivation for posting here is to engage in combat over evolutionary biology, not to talk about theology.   If you didn’t know what site you were on here, you might think that his posts were written for Panda’s Thumb or Pharyngula.  But this site is dedicated to the interface between science and theology.  Fruitfly is a bug out of his element here.

melanogaster - #79505

May 3rd 2013

“But where you do find such condescending tone in favor of evolution, I have usually seen it from atheists (plenty of blogs to demonstrate that).”

In response to…?

How is it that so many evolution denialists try to misrepresent the modesty of scientists’ conclusions in the primary literature (the opposite of condescension) as evidence supporting their claims, while ignoring all the evidence in the primary literature?

I think you’re reading too many blogs.

“They turn it into the greatest value above all and anyone arguing is spoken to as beneath a child.”

Are those they are arguing with arguing from evidence or from hearsay?

“I don’t expect this from a faithful believer. I expect it from atheists. Collins and Melagonster have the same views on evolution…”

Yes, and I challenged you on that, but you didn’t respond. How do you know so much of people’s views when you are so busy misrepresenting them?

“… yet I see a much more kindly approach from Collins.”

Does it work on Eddie?

“So Eddie is condesnding when the discussion is about faith?”

Not just faith! Everything, including the evidence. Does the PNAS paper not contain precisely what Eddie falsely claimed no one had provided?

“Well, let me put it this way. In my opinion, that would make more sense since to a man of faith, the issue of FAITH is of the greater importance.”

But if one has FAITH, one should not fear any EVIDENCE, correct? One should have a hunger for it.

“Meaning, to melagonstar which is of the higher to put more of your “wrath”?”

Faith! Which is why I’m always tying them together.

“Is it to elevate some standard of faith or to elevate evolution?”

It is to elevate a standard of true faith that doesn’t make one fear the evidence about anything. It’s to elevate a standard of faith that doesn’t put hearsay far above evidence, as Eddie does.

“Now, they aren’t mutually exclusive,…”

I’d say that they are inseparable! If you’re afraid to examine the evidence, you clearly don’t have any real faith in your position, scientific or theological.

“…but I am certainly not the first to notice Melagostar’s tone when he argues against anyone he finds not wanting to look at the evidence? But he remains - from what I have seen- near silent on any issue where it comes to theology.”

Then you haven’t been looking. On the other thread, I posted this:

“Schweitzer’s first forays into paleontology were “a total hook,” she says. Not only was she fascinated by the science, but to her, digging into ancient strata seemed like reading the history of God’s handiwork. Schweitzer worships at two churches—an evangelical church in Montana and a nondenominational one when she is back home in North Carolina—and when she talks about her faith, her bristly demeanor falls away. “God is so multidimensional,” she says. “I see a sense of humor. I see His compassion in the world around me. It makes me curious, because the creator is revealed in the creation.” Unlike many creationists, she finds the notion of a world evolving over billions of years theologically exhilarating: “That makes God a lot bigger than thinking of Him as a magician that pulled everything out in one fell swoop.””

I agree with her theologically; I find God in biology, not hearsay written about biology by anyone who is himself afraid of the evidence. Why would anyone with real faith prefer to learn about God’s handiwork from people instead of from His evidence in nature?

beaglelady - #79509

May 4th 2013

It’s sad that so many fundamentalists have no interest in discovering how wonderful creation really is, rough edges and all.   

Eddie - #79519

May 4th 2013

No, what’s “sad” is that so many nominal Christians have so little interest in carefully studying the Bible, determining what it teaches, and making that teaching regulative of their lives, including their opinions regarding origins.  And what’s sad is that so many theistic evolutionists think that their main job is to rewrite the Bible and Christian tradition in order to harmonize them with an anti-teleological version of evolution which makes God a do-nothing spectator of the process.

Lou Jost - #79522

May 4th 2013

What’s sad to me is that people would still, in 2013, take the bible, or the quran, or some other old book, as an explanation of origins rather than as an origin myth, which they obviously are.

Eddie - #79528

May 4th 2013

Give it a rest, Lou.  I didn’t say that the Bible offered a scientific explanation of origins.  I said that the opinions of Christians about origins ought to be regulated by the teaching of the Bible—and I made it clear to you elsewhere that I don’t consider the teaching of Genesis 1 to be a scientific one.  The teaching of Genesis 1 is, among other things, that (however things might have occurred physically) God was in control of the outcomes of creation.  Beaglelady has steadily denied this, sometimes by implication, sometimes directly.  I don’t see how anyone can make this denial and remain a Christian or Jew.

I’m well aware of the literary character of Genesis.  I’ve translated it from Hebrew and have read, I would wager, considerably more of the scholarly literature on it than you have.  This applies also to the Greek and many other origin myths, which I have often translated and many times taught at the university level.  But myths still have teachings.  So call Genesis 1 “myth” if you like; the point is that beaglelady denies the teaching of the “myth.”  To that extent she believes that the Bible teaches falsehood.  But she won’t say that in so many words.

And this is the problem, with her, and with many other TEs.  Many time, on many questions, they will not say what they truly think.  The friction between many ID people and many TE people lies here, in this fundamental lack of straightforwardness, this fundamental unwillingness of some TEs to say that in some cases both the Bible and the Christian tradition are just plain wrong.  This is why it grates on ID people here and elsewhere when they hear TE people lecturing them on what Christianity teaches, when they know that in many cases the TE people in question are concealing a massive number of doubts and in some cases denials about the Bible and orthodoxy.  It’s not a fair game when one side lays all its cards on the table and the other plays most of them close to the vest.

But none of this concerns you, Lou.  You turned your back on Christianity long ago.  So don’t let this intra-Christian argument worry you.  We can conduct our debate over what the Bible and tradition teach without your help.

beaglelady - #79532

May 4th 2013

Then why doesn’t the ID movement come out and admit that it’s all about religion?

Eddie - #79541

May 4th 2013

Because it isn’t.  I became an “ID” person long before I ever heard of ID, or Behe, or Discovery, or the Dover Trial, etc.  And I became one for philosophical and scientific reasons, not religious ones.  And many ID people—not usually the most famous ones, but lots of their followers—have similar stories to tell.  However, there is one famous example:  Antony Flew, one of the world’s leading atheists, became an ID supporter but never adopted any revealed religion—which shows that Christianity wasn’t the motive.

So, are you going to make an explicit statement that you don’t accept certain parts of the Biblical and traditional teaching on creation?  That’s all I’m asking for.  Then I will respectfully beg to differ and leave you be.

PNG - #79535

May 4th 2013

Eddie, I think you ought to give BL a break on this one. I agree with you about teleology (although not on its scientific detection) but she is right that it is sad that evangelicals are so ambivalent/hostile or whatever it is to science. Biologos posted a graphic a while back reporting (if I remember right) that evangelicals go into science at about a 20x lower rate than the rest of the population. Whatever the reason for that, it’s a really sad state of affairs. 

Eddie - #79540

May 4th 2013

PNG:

Thanks for your respectful comment.

What beaglelady mentioned was fundamentalism.  I though I had made it sufficiently clear to beaglelady and everyone else here that I am not a fundamentalist and dislike the anti-science, anti-educational attitudes of many fundamentalists.  I have nothing against teaching fundamentalists about fossils or radioactive dating etc.

But this thread, if you look up, is on Hanan’s questions to beaglelady, which she is steadily evading, and on my earlier questions to beaglelady, which she has also evaded.  And neither Hanan nor I have taken the side of the fundamentalists.  We are asking what is the relationship between God’s will and God’s action and the evolutionary process.  

My point all along has been that you don’t have to throw the Bible or orthodox Protestant evangelical theology under the bus in order to believe in evolution.  All you have to say is that God knew what he was doing and did what was necessary to make sure that evolution produced the results he wanted it to produce.  

Beaglelady won’t say that.  She pictures evolution as a chancy process with a potential for all kinds of results, which God (maybe) foreknows but (apparently) does not determine.  And she won’t explain how the emergence of anything in particular, even man (or even some hypothetical intelligent being she considers an acceptable substitute for man) could be guaranteed to emerge from the process.  She leaves open the possibility that God’s wishes could have been thwarted if the ball bounced the wrong way.

It’s this slipperiness, this unwillingness to attempt even a crude, rough-sketch account of the relationship of evolution to God’s omnipotence, omniscience, providence, etc., that is frustrating so many people here, in different ways—myself, Hanan, Jon.  

And beaglelady is only the most extreme example of evasiveness on this point.  When asked whether God directs or controls or pre-plans evolution, some TE leaders respond with fuzzy statements about not being Calvinists or about God not being a tyrant but giving “freedom” to nature; and if pressed for an explanation of their passionate concern for the liberties of nucleotides, they become vague and evasive, and are prone to quickly change the topic or abandon the discussion.

Jon Garvey has written some wonderful stuff about this on his site.  Jon accepts evolution, but is determined to see it formulated in orthodox Christian terms.  

PNG - #79545

May 4th 2013

For what it’s worth, I’ve recommended to the Biologos powers that be that they have Jon write a post or series on this issue (“freedom” of creation vs. historical view of Providence.) Of course I have no leverage with them, but maybe it would help if some of the rest of the chorus chimed in. In the meantime Jon is writing good stuff at his blog.

PNG - #79859

May 11th 2013

I should correct myself here. Evangelicals make up 28% of the population but only 4% of scientists. 7x 

On the other hand, Jews make up 2% of the population and 8% of scientists. 28-fold difference in the two groups - culture sure does matter.

Eddie - #79517

May 4th 2013

So, Fruitfly, let me get this straight:  only once in the past three or four years that you have been posting here have you offered prose as long as a few sentences expressing a theological opinion, and that has occurred only in the past few days (I have no idea where “the other thread” is, but normal usage here suggests a recent discussion), and it’s a quotation from someone else, and your own contribution to the theological exposition consists of “I agree with her.”

That doesn’t contradict Hanan’s point; it confirms it.

GJDS - #79473

May 3rd 2013

You have ‘hit the nail on the head’ - the fact is that Darwinian thinking has been the major belief by both atheists and the liberal theologians, and this has been an on going effort for many years. The attitude of these people has been that Darwinian explanations come first, and biblical understanding is modified as a result - the next step is to develop a suitable theology for the gullible, and call it Chrisitianity, or thesitic evolution (even the term they use makes this obvious).

The reaction against this by those in the Protestant tradition(s) has led to the ‘culture wars’ and the now derogatory terms used against the more orthodox Chrisitans in the USA - who do not believe in evolution/Darwin; they are deniers, do not see the magical evidence for Darwin, flat earthers, non-scientists, and so on. The Orthodox traditions (i.e. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and the Protestant Orthodox (sometimes termed evangelical orthodox by some)) have instead looked at ALL of science and philosophy, as an exercise in reason, than identified the certainties from these fields, and have shown these are in harmony (or in accord) with the Chrisitian faith.

I find it astonishing that these Darwinists still claim to be Chrisitian, especially since they can easily avail themselves of the great effort regarding faith and reason amongst the Christian traditions. I also get the impression they seem to prefer siding with atheists to ensure they are not given over to doubt regarding Darwin, instead of embracing the teachings of the Chrisitan faith.

GJDS - #79474

May 3rd 2013

This is a reply to hanan-d 79462; I do not know how it ended up here?

Seenoevo - #79200

April 27th 2013

Beaglelady,

In #79101, you responded to hanan-d with

“So now you’re preaching about what is acceptable in Christianity?”

I figure this means one of two things, in your view:

1) preaching about what is acceptable in Christianity is itself unacceptable.

2) preaching about what is acceptable in Christianity is OK, but only preaching by certain people, not to include hanan-d.

 

If 1), how does one learn the truth about Christianity, and from whom or what would one learn it? And why would these sources be “acceptable”?

If 2), what are the criteria for an acceptable preacher or acceptable preaching? And in what ways does hanan-d not meet these criteria?

beaglelady - #79233

April 29th 2013

Sorry, I have no interest in discussing this with you.

Seenoevo - #79267

April 29th 2013

Hanan-d,

Beaglelady won’t answer the questions I posed her in #79200. Perhaps she would answer them if you asked her. Again, they relate only to the question beaglelady asked you, namely

“So now you’re preaching about what is acceptable in Christianity?”

This may work, since beaglelady is always ready and willing to explain fully what she means by what she says. Kind of like the way melanogaster is always providing her own explanation and support for what she says (e.g. when melanogaster explained “Conservatively, that investment returns >25% interest”).

Eddie - #79299

April 30th 2013

Lou (in response to your 79280 above):

Lou:

1.  I agree that there are gray areas.  There is room for difference in interpretation.  So one shouldn’t be dogmatic about one’s own interpretation.  So my views on Genesis (and on any work of literature) are subject to correction; however, my best efforts to date indicate to me that the stories in Genesis 1-11 were not written as “history” in the modern sense.
 
2.  I’m glad that you like my attitude.

3.  I am serious about it. 
 
4.  “The Bible is false” makes no sense to me.  “The description of how rain occurs given in the Flood story is meteorologically false” makes sense to me.  “The genealogies of Matthew and of Luke cannot both be historically correct” makes sense to me.  But I don’t see how a hundred such detailed “errors” prove something as vast and general as “the Bible is false.”  There are anachronisms regarding armor in Homer’s Iliad, but they don’t make the Iliad “false”—unless the Iliad is being evaluated by irrelevant criteria.  The question has to be:  what is this particular part of the Bible trying to teach?  And it’s that teaching, whatever it is, that must be evaluated as true or false.  I think the account of creation in Genesis 1 is true in what it teaches, though certainly I do not think it describes the actual sequence of events by which matter in the universe was arranged.   
Eddie - #79398

May 2nd 2013

Above (79395), beaglelady wrote:

“I don’t believe we were a surprise to God. He is sure to know what his own creation can do.”

“Can do” is not the same as “will do.”  Unless he knows not only what his creation “can do” but also what it “will do,” the outcomes of evolution will be a surprise to God.

You appear to be denying that God knows the results that evolution will produce.  

Certainly, for several weeks now, you have been very carefully choosing your words so as to avoid saying that God knows what evolution will produce—though you have been given dozens of opportunities to clearly say it.  Such a studied and prolonged evasion of a conclusion implies the denial of that conclusion.  It also implies that one does not want that denial to be clearly perceived as a denial; i.e., it implies deliberate concealment.  And there can be no orthodox Christian motive for concealment in this case.

beaglelady - #79399

May 2nd 2013

God knows the future.

Eddie - #79403

May 2nd 2013

beaglelady:

First, Polkinghorne does not appear to believe that, so do you disagree with him?

Second, if you truly believe that, then why have you not followed through on the implications of it for God’s design—both of life in general and of particular evolutionary outcomes?  Or do you think that the future God knows is one which he neither designed nor planned nor did anything to realize—one which just happened to turn out that way?

beaglelady - #79413

May 2nd 2013

I don’t think that Polkinghorne believes that God knows nothing about the future.  I think he just believes that he might choose not to know certain aspects of the future.   I believe that God does know the future. It’s his universe, but I don’t believe he runs it like a puppet theater.

Eddie - #79427

May 2nd 2013

So, speaking for yourself and not for Polkinghorne, in your view, did God choose not to know which creatures evolution would produce?  Did he choose not to know whether man would be produced?  And when he said “Let us make man in our image,” was he expressing a hope that man might exist, rather than a determination that man would exist?

Why would determining that certain creatures should emerge from evolution be “running the universe like a puppet theater”?  God determined that Israel should emerge safely out of Egypt; was he “running the universe like a puppet theater” when he made that come to pass?  Should he have left it to chance whether or not Pharaoh caught the escaping Israelites, in order to avoid being charged by you with “running the universe like a puppet theater”?

 

Jon Garvey - #79435

May 3rd 2013

If running non-rational parts of creation (such as the evolutionary process) as a puppet theatre is reprehensible, then running a puppet theatre as a puppet theatre is also reprehensible, is it not? Same universe, same materials, same non-rationality. It’s not a metaphor, but the same reality.

Is Pinocchio non-fiction, then?

beaglelady - #79446

May 3rd 2013

Why does it have to be God does everything OR God does nothing at all?  I don’t think I would compare God’s actions in salvation history with the evolution of the happy-face spider.  I think that God makes some things come to pass, and other things just happen, and there’s a great deal where we just don’t know.  That’s fine!  I’m not a fundamentalist so I don’t have to know everything.

And I’m not on The Truman Show. I don’t think that everything is grimly pre-determined, and that means that my life is an authentic one, and that the choices I make in this life really do matter.  

Jon Garvey - #79448

May 3rd 2013

beaglelady

I’m sure that if the God of love determined anything, it wouldn’t be grimly determined, but lovingly determined. That’s what Scripture says, anyway.

But I deliberately steered my question clear of the choices of people, about whose freedom I have never had any doubts. The issue I’ve been following in the posts above is about how creatures come to be what they are.

Who is making the choices that matter in that? I’d suggest that those matter least as much as any choices you or I might make in life - particularly when it comes to the configuration of the human race.

I’m not a fundamentalist either, which is why coherence matters to me in theology. It seems to be a fairly significant issue, not a mere detail, to have at least a broad idea of what God brings to pass, and what he doesn’t. Where does one draw the line, so as to know what to thank God for and what to curse creation for, if not what Scripture reveals? How much does God have to stop doing before nature is sufficiently free for him not to be a puppet-master? Why doesn’t infinite love mean infinite hands-off (as Howard Van Till says)?

None of us knows, or wants to know, everything. But knowing that God doesn’t plan mankind, or elephants, or any part of what is called “God’s creation” specifically is quite a big thing to be confident in, unless it were just a guess.

beaglelady - #79510

May 4th 2013

Draw the line? People can figure out for themselves what to thank God for.  Generally, I’d say it’s spontaneous and heartfelt.   I’ve never even heard of cursing creation.   

Eddie - #79521

May 4th 2013

No, people don’t have to figure it out for themselves.  The Bible indicates what we are to be thankful for.  Your individualistic “spontaneous and heartfelt” is a product of Romanticism, which is itself a product (by negation) of the Enlightenment.  

In the meantime, you continue to duck the questions of Jon and myself regarding the so-called “puppet theater”—which is not surprising, as the phrase “puppet theater” has become a rhetorical trope, used for argumentative advantage rather than to promote intellectual clarity.  Jon Garvey has demolished the “theology of freedom” that lies behind this cliche very ably on his website, Hump of the Camel.

I recommend Jon’s site for its presentation of a historically informed and non-heretical Christian theology.  It shows the right way to put together traditional Christian theology with evolution.  One can bring the two together without throwing the Bible and the orthodox tradition under the bus, which is what is done here by the majority of commenters.

beaglelady - #79543

May 4th 2013

Gee, now I don’t even give thanks correctly!         

Eddie - #79549

May 4th 2013

You can give thanks with as much spontaneous and heartfelt emotion as you like, beaglelady.  Nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  But that cannot be the basis for acknowledging gratitude.  If someone you don’t particularly like saves your life, you may continue to dislike the person, but you still owe the person gratitude.  My point was that you may sometimes owe thanks for something for which you don’t feel any spontaneous or heartfelt emotion, but which the Bible tells you to be thankful for.  So if, for example, the Bible indicates you should be thankful for the sun and the moon, you should express thanks for them even if they don’t particularly move you, as compared with, say, flowers.

beaglelady - #79546

May 4th 2013

Okay, so how did God configure the human race, if He has to get the physical  appearance exactly right?  Selective breeding or genetic engineering?   How did he get just the right amount of Neandertal DNA into us (some of us, anyway)?  Please be specific.   Did the environment have any effect on our evolution?  Are people who have adult lactase persistence drifting from God’s ideal, since originally nobody was like that?   What physical defects would disqualify an individual from this halter class?

Eddie - #79550

May 4th 2013

We’re not the ones who made the claim that God created through a blind and unguided process, beaglelady, so we aren’t the ones who have any explaining to do.

In any case, the details you are asking about are not theologically important, so there is no reason we should let you divert us from the subject with them.  I can tell a man from an intelligent beaver or an intelligent octopus or an intelligent eagle, and the Bible and tradition tell me that God planned and actualized man.  That’s the theologically important point.  I don’t need to know any fine biological detail to understand this, and neither do you, which is why your protests are in vain.

What you are doing, essentially, is making biological excuses for why you believe God had no plan and no mechanism for realizing anything in particular.  And if you believe that, fine. Just say that biology has proved some of the teachings of the Bible and some of the teachings of the Christian tradition regarding creation to be simply false.  Then we’ll all know where we stand.

I shouldn’t have pursued this for so long; lengthy discussion is only fruitful when both sides are interested in coming to a constructive resolution.  But you’ve been blocking dialogue all along by posing counter-questions instead of offering answers.  I’m letting this go now, beaglelady.  Hanan can carry on if he wishes.

Jon Garvey - #79438

May 3rd 2013

Hi Beaglelady.

I’m trying to bottom out what P means by “choosing not to know certain aspects of the future”. It’s clear that, unlike some versions of open theism, he gives God some kind of choice, not denying that, by nature, he is omniscient. “Knowing all” combined with “choosing not to know” is a bit of a paradox to me.

So would the picture be a bit like my “choosing not to know” how much I owe the power company by leaving their bill unopened in a drawer when I receive it? The information would be in my possession, but I’m choosing not to access it. Or another picture: I know that I can find some information online, but though I have the URL, I decide not to surf to it. Is that the sort of thing he has in mind?

Jon

beaglelady - #79442

May 3rd 2013

You could always works by Fr. Polkinghorne to learn more about his views. Ted Davis is discussing one of his books now.

Jon Garvey - #79449

May 3rd 2013

I’ve read several works by P, as well as what Ted has pointed to. He doesn’t seem to make it very clear, so I thought you might have understood him better than I have, having the benefit of past acquaintance.

By the way, I’m grateful that you’ve been more willing to defend Polkinghorne’s thought on here than anyone else, and taken stick for it. I’m surprised not to find other spokespersons for these ideas here - perhaps I’m not the only person who finds them mysterious.

Eddie - #79459

May 3rd 2013

You answered my question about Polkinghorne, but did not answer the more important questions in the second paragraph, especially the last question.

You also didn’t answer my question about the problem of evil, above, in 79392.

Do fundamental theological questions make you uncomfortable?  You seem to prefer to skirt them whenever possible.

Eddie - #79461

May 3rd 2013

Sorry, Jon; these nested replies get confusing.  I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation with beaglelady.  My comment directly above (79459) was addressed to beaglelady, and it was a followup to my 79403 and beaglelady’s partial answer, 79413.

hanan-d - #79463

May 3rd 2013

In responding to an earlier comment

 

>I don’t believe we were a surprise to God. He is sure to know what his own creation can do. And how many times do I have to say that evolution isn’t random?

Then you are confusing us. You say chance is invovled and the mutations are random. Then you say it’s not random. Then you say we aren’t a surprise to God, yet God only knows what CAN happen. Not WILL happen. 

Can you please clarify?

thanks.

beaglelady - #79467

May 3rd 2013

 You say chance is invovled and the mutations are random. Then you say it’s not random.

Point me to where I say that mutations are not random. You know, you can take a free course on Genetics and Evolution, taught by a professor at Duke.  Any interest?

hanan-d - #79470

May 3rd 2013

You see, you just proved my point. There is a greater point to my inquiry and you decide to tackle one particular thing out of that greater point. 

>Point me to where I say that mutations are not random.

YOu didn’t. You said it was random. 

Meaning, it was random to God, no?

But you also say evolution is not random,

So does that mean God KNEW what would come out?

Can you see where the confusion lies?

So please clarify

 

 

beaglelady - #79478

May 3rd 2013

 You say chance is invovled and the mutations are random. Then you say it’s not random.


But I never said that mutations are not random.  I said that mutations are random.  I said that evolution is not random.  

hanan-d - #79481

May 3rd 2013

That’s what I said. YOu may have simply misunderstood. 

beaglelady - #79483

May 3rd 2013

This is what you said,

. You say chance is invovled and the mutations are random. Then you say it’s not random.

You are implying that I said that mutations are not random. It’s not totally clear what you are saying. 

hanan-d - #79486

May 3rd 2013

You say on one hand that mutations are random and chance is involved. 

You say that evolution is not random. 

Now, obviously, mutations are part of evolution, so if chance is involved, how can you say God was not surprised at us, if the mutations were random? Random means random…..even to God. 

Or

Or

Are we back to God knowing with WILL happen vs. what CAN happen?

beaglelady - #79491

May 3rd 2013

Why does it have to be either/or?

hanan-d - #79557

May 5th 2013

Good question

Can=Deism

Will= Theism. 

You profess the Christian religion along with it’s God. Therefore, it has to be theism which means there was a certain plan. Now here is the important part: It’s not just that the plan was that SOME certain intelligent creature (as you said) might arise, because goign back to what Lou said, statistically some intelligent creature would arise. So that means nothing. Was there a plan for US to eventually arise? This is the important question. 

So its a matter of you deciding. If you are going with the “CAN” option for mankind, then that is deism which means God had no idea we were coming along. 

You seem to lean more toward deism, which is fine. But you can’t have it both ways. Unless of course, instead of simply asking questions to answer other people’s questions, you actually describe your theology. Unless you have already by saying “God created a universe and knew what CAN arise.” Ya, that’s not theism.

beaglelady - #79560

May 5th 2013

You profess the Christian religion along with it’s God.

Sure do, but actually the  same God is  worshiped by Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

Before you start to lecture me (again) on Christianity, tell me if you think it is true.  Is it fair to make me answer questions without a chance to ask you some?


hanan-d - #79561

May 5th 2013

Well, it would be fair…...if you ever openly explain yourself without us having to read between the lines for one. I mean, just take a look at your comment. You ask me why does it have to be either/or. I respond to you. You totally ignore the distinction I made for you, yet you are the one that asked for it. Instead you latch into one aspect of it that begs the question how you believe in this theistic diety.

beaglelady - #79563

May 5th 2013

God knows both what can happen and what will happen.   

Eddie - #79566

May 6th 2013

I’m returning tentatively, beaglelady, because you have finally given an answer which potentially advances the discussion.

I offer one complaint, and one further question.

The complaint is:  so why didn’t you add “what will happen” right from the start, beaglelady, instead of making us pull teeth (since April 26th) to get that answer out of you?  Do you make difficulty on purpose, withholding answers you could easily give, just for the sake of frustrating your questioners?

The further question is:  does God only know what will happen in evolution, or does he also determine what will happen in evolution?

For example, say that evolution could have produced ten very different creatures, each having the intelligence and other relevant qualities which you would deem worthy of “fellowship with God.”  But it produced man, not an intelligent beaver or octopus. So did God determine that result?  Or did God merely foresee that it was the one that evolution would spit out?

So far, everything you have said during this conversation, and all past conversations on this site, indicates that you believe that God left the results of evolution indeterminate (a la Gould), and only foresaw (passive relationship toward nature) rather than determined (active relationship toward nature) what would happen.  Here is your chance to clarify if you have created the wrong impression in everyone’s minds.

If you answer this very clear question with another question, or otherwise evade it, I’m gone again.  

beaglelady - #79568

May 6th 2013

I don’t understand why I’m not allowed to ask questions.  

Eddie - #79570

May 6th 2013

You understand perfectly well why you are not answering questions.

Based on my extensive study of your past responses, I’ll supply the answer you are consciously withholding:  you believe that God foreknew but did not determine the outcomes of evolution.  And this is the difference between ID folks, on the one hand, and a good number of TEs, on the other:  ID folks—those who are Christian, that is—aren’t averse to believing that God determines anything, whereas many TE folks are.  And this goes back to my old refrain about whether one’s primary theological allegiance is to the Bible or the Enlightenment.

An ID person will say:  “Of course God determined that there would be turtles, lizards, monkeys, cats, dogs, elephants, whales, and human beings.  What’s the big deal?  Next question, please.”  Many TEs, on the other hand, will waffle.  The idea that God would control anything is repulsive to them.  They want a God who doesn’t control things.  

Sometimes I think that many TEs grew up in overly-authoritarian homes and/or churches, and that this disposes them to believe in a non-authoritarian God, as a reaction.  This might be understandable if the issue were only human free will.  But it’s only TEs—not atheists, not ID people, not OECs, not YECs—who are concerned to give mushrooms and nucleotides their “freedom.”  This obsession with the “freedom” of nature (against the sovereign will of God) suggests a resentment against authority, even divine authority, that is pathological rather than rational.  It’s well-known that many TE leaders grew up as fundamentalists, so the hypothesis is plausible.  

Anyhow, my clear and easily-answered question wasn’t answered, so I’m gone again.  You have your wish.  I leave you to the ministrations and judgment of Hanan.

beaglelady - #79571

May 6th 2013

You’ll probably be back again, too.

hanan-d - #79582

May 6th 2013

Of course you are allowed to ask whatever you want. Not sure why you don’t feel you should answer very specific questions leveled to you. If someone asks you whether you believe God planned that man should exist, why can’t you just say yes or no, instead of something like “God knows what will or can happen.” That is a fine answer, but not to the question posed. 

melanogaster - #79569

May 6th 2013

“You say on one hand that mutations are random and chance is involved.”

Except that mutations are random in ONLY ONE RESPECT. Fitness.

Try to get this completely empirical finding through your thick skull, OK? It’s not only empirically important, I’ll show you how it falsifies the theological sophistry you are heaping on Beaglelady.

“You say that evolution is not random.”

What she says isn’t important. We KNOW that evolution is not random because selection is not random.

“Now, obviously, mutations are part of evolution,…”

I don’t see how that’s obvious to, but then I’m a geneticist.

If it was obvious, how did Darwin figure anything out without knowing a thing about mutations? The only thing that is obvious is that individuals vary and some of that variance is heritable.

“… so if chance is involved, how can you say God was not surprised at us, if the mutations were random?”

Can you grasp and admit three simple facts, Hanan?

Mutations are NOT random wrt location.
Mutations are NOT random wrt direction.
Mutations are ONLY random in one respect: wrt fitness.

This is extremely important theologically. Shall we proceed?

“Random means random…..even to God.”

Baloney. Randomness is a negative empirical finding. That’s the less-important aspect of the false equivocation you’re selling here, that making something random is the equivalent of finding something to be random. You are doubly wrong. Now on to the other, more important part:

“Or

“Or”

You’re stuttering.

“Are we back to God knowing with WILL happen vs. what CAN happen?”

No, your theological conclusion does not follow from your premises, and I’ll show you why.

What’s sad is that the good people at Biologos have explained this in great detail, but people like you and Eddie and Jon completely ignore the theological implications of this completely empirical knowledge.

It requires admitting the empirical truth about the very limited extent of randomness in the genetic mechanisms that generate heritable variation. Do you have the integrity to do so? Then I’ll take you on a walk through theologically-relevant reality. Even if you won’t give up the idea that “Random means random…..even to God,” you’re still wrong on a much more important point. 

Even better, you’re wrong even if we start from the premise that God personally wrote every letter of your genome.

Do you have children, Hanan?

hanan-d - #79583

May 6th 2013

>Do you have children, Hanan?

Yes I do.

And I am more then happy for you to tell me where I am wrong. I also don’t see where the people in Biologos have explained any of this in great details. I admit to being new here, but I have repeatidly asked posters these questions and even emailed them to no avail. So where is the “great detail.” 

For example, this page in Biologos has yet to be updated

http://biologos.org/questions/evolution-and-divine-action

So yes, please walk me through it. Because to me, there is a differnece between CAN and WILL. 

 

>Mutations are NOT random wrt location.

>Mutations are NOT random wrt direction.

>Mutations are ONLY random in one respect: wrt fitness.

>This is extremely important theologically. Shall we proceed?

 

If you can explain these things to an amateur and how it relates theologically without it sounding dishonest and contrived, then please do so. 

hanan-d - #79584

May 6th 2013

>Baloney. Randomness is a negative empirical finding. That’s the less-important aspect of the false equivocation you’re selling here, that making something random is the equivalent of finding something to be random. You are doubly wrong. Now on to the other, more important part:

You’ll have to explain that one. Are you saying something like, that just because it appears random to us, it isn’t random to God?

melanogaster - #79599

May 6th 2013

“And I am more then happy for you to tell me where I am wrong.”

I don’t get that vibe from what you write.

“I also don’t see where the people in Biologos have explained any of this in great details.”

That’s because you’re not looking. You’re desperately trying to pretend that empiricism cannot inform theology. It’s also because you’re using the term “random” in multiple ways, many of them incorrect.

“So yes, please walk me through it. Because to me, there is a differnece between CAN and WILL.”

Indeed there is. But the good people at Biologos have already shown you in great detail how a system that randomly generates variation leads to something YOU empirically view as certain—in real time. No theory, entirely empirical.

>Mutations are NOT random wrt location.
There’s nothing controversial about this. Some parts of the genome have more mutations than others. Some are more likely to break. Some are more likely to recombine. This is all relatively easy to measure.

>Mutations are NOT random wrt direction.
Same here. Gs mutate to As more frequently than Gs mutate to Ts or Cs. Tandem repeats tend to expand, not contract.

>Mutations are ONLY random in one respect: wrt fitness.

“If you can explain these things to an amateur and how it relates theologically without it sounding dishonest and contrived, then please do so.”

See above. Do you understand the explanations? I think you should review your own equivocations on “random” and see how obviously dishonest and contrived they appear.

“You’ll have to explain that one. Are you saying something like, that just because it appears random to us, it isn’t random to God?”

I’m saying we don’t empirically observe any directionality. It’s a negative.

“Like I said, evolution über alles.”

Nope, REALITY uber alles.

“Is it known NOW? I’m having this conversation with beaglelady NOW right? Exactly.”

You’re equivocating. It doesn’t matter whether it’s known. You were going on about it being “part” in 79486, remember?
>“Now, obviously, mutations are part of evolution, so if chance is involved, how can you say God was not surprised at us, if the mutations were random?”

I can say it in the same way that I can show that variation that is random wrt fitness leads to an outcome at which none of us, including you and Eddie, is surprised. Your extrapolation is gobbledygook, both empirically and theologically, because mutation is not a necessary component of Darwinian evolution. We know that only heritable variation is required. This is the reason why I am saying that my theological point stands even if we stipulate in advance that God personally dictated every letter (base) in your genome.

“How do we know it’s not random.”

Selection is not random by definition! We can measure it too. In real time. You just switched definitions of “random,” btw.

“We today are the benefactors of millions of years of evolution.”

As I clearly stated, that’s completely irrelevant to my theological point. Maybe you should try learning instead of lecturing?

“So, by you saying selection is not random, does that mean that what we have today is the only route selection could have gone?”

It means that I don’t know. It’s irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make, though. You’re now switching horses from randomness to selection because you really want to crucify Beaglelady, right?

Concentrate. In 79287, you wrote, “If you believe mutations are random, then I can extrapolate that the mutations that brought us HERE was random and God was surprised to see us.”

You can’t make that extrapolation, Hanan, simply because you don’t. I am going to show you how YOU have passed on precisely that extrapolation in your everyday life—in a case in which making the extrapolation might have had grave consequences for your own child.

hanan-d - #79623

May 7th 2013

>I don’t get that vibe from what you write.

What vibe? No vibe. I am open to what you have to say.

>That’s because you’re not looking.

Untrue. A good example is Applegate’s last post where she never replied to questions directed to her. 

>You’re desperately trying to pretend that empiricism cannot inform theology.

Um no. I am looking for sensical theology. And just because you claim to have theology that is informed with empiricism doesn’t mean it is coherent or absolved from criticism. You have indeed followed my debate with Beaglelady. Does it look to you that she has been forthcoming or deflecting any tough question directed at her belief?

>It’s also because you’re using the term “random” in multiple ways, many of them incorrect.

Where? I have only repeated where beaglelady has used the term ‘random’ and then followed through the philisophical consequence to what she says. Where are the multiple ways?

>I think you should review your own equivocations on “random” and see how obviously dishonest and contrived they appear.

You offered to show where my equivocations is wrong. So show it. Don’t tell me to go back and reread what I have stated. If part of that evolutionary mechanism is random mutation how pray tell is my equivocation wrong?

>I’m saying we don’t empirically observe any directionality. It’s a negative.

I apologize. I am no scientist. What does this mean, and what does this mean to the greater theologic issue?

>Nope, REALITY uber alles.

I would hope, in your case, a person that claims to be a belief church goer, that part of that REALITY would combine some level elevated discourse toward those you wish to educate. You lack that. So your REALITY must not combine any sort of kindness toward those, I would assume you share more incommon then evolution.

>As I clearly stated, that’s completely irrelevant to my theological point.

You have made several scientific points. You have yet to make a single theological point. 

>You just switched definitions of “random,” btw.

How could I possible even do that by simply asking “How do we know it’s not random.”

>You’re now switching horses from randomness to selection because you really want to crucify Beaglelady, right?

I switched from randomness to selection? No, I am sorry. You are reading into comments something else entirely. If beaglelady makes a valid claim that mutations are random (her words), then I am simply moving on to the consequences to that claim. You have yet to show where that extrapolation is wrong theologically. You keep saying I am wrong, but not explaining how I am wrong. 

>It means that I don’t know.

Oh. Then I think that is a problem because it is quite relevent to the greater subject at hand. If selection is not random, what is the theological consequence to that? This is my point which you have yet to respond to. You keep wanting to talk like a scientist. You want to talk about a) randomness b) selection. I want to talk about the theological consequence of all the put together. I could care less at this point of you harking selection is not random and that mutation is random. Great. Fantastic. Now what does this mean theologically? If selection is not random, but part of the mutation (that moves selection) is random, then does this not mean that given another whirl, evolution would have produced different things on earth? Is that a correct or incorrect statment? If it is correct, please explain the theologic (let alone Christian) consequence to this that does not appear to be simply deistic-light?

 

>in a case in which making the extrapolation might have had grave consequences for your own child.

I’m not interested. Stick with the issue. If mutation is random (even if it only is an issue of fitness), then how is it not random to God? IF then it is random to God as well, then how was God not surprised that we got here? 

hanan-d - #79634

May 7th 2013

I wrote:

If selection is not random, what is the theological consequence to that?

I think I should clear that up. I mean’t, if you say it is NOT random, yet the results can vary, then what is the theological consequence to that. 

hanan-d - #79625

May 7th 2013

>But the good people at Biologos have already shown you in great detail how a system that randomly generates variation leads to something YOU empirically view as certain—in real time. No theory, entirely empirical.

What on earth does this have to do with the theological issue? This is actually no different than any atheistic biological statement. Did I deny we can see variations empirically? But as Dawkins once said, and ear doesn’t know it’s an ear. Obviously variation will lead to SOMETHING - in real time. The theological question is, was there a plan for this “system that randomly generates variation” to eventually “generate” a human being? Was this God’s plan?

This is where “God knows what WILL” happen is different than “God knows what CAN” happen. Obviously something CAN happen. 

melanogaster - #79668

May 7th 2013

Let’s start over. I have posted a response to this at the bottom. In the meantime, please reread what I wrote above and think before reflexively arguing.

hanan-d - #79629

May 7th 2013

>It means that I don’t know

Correct me if am wrong, isn’t this statement the most important? If selection is not random, yet you saying you don’t know to whether what we have today was the route selection was supposed to take, an admission that the results on this planet are random? (including man). I think you get boggled down with scientific terms like “selection” but ignore the bigger picture. If there are mutations that are indeed random, then earth could have look and contained many different things no? 

So to bring this back around, if this is so, then this is not theism. This is deism. 

hanan-d - #79585

May 6th 2013

>Try to get this completely empirical finding through your thick skull, OK?

Did I mention earlier you were a jerk? Ya, I think I did. Like I said, evolution über alles.

hanan-d - #79586

May 6th 2013

>I don’t see how that’s obvious to, but then I’m a geneticist.

Is it known NOW? I’m having this conversation with beaglelady NOW right? Exactly.

hanan-d - #79587

May 6th 2013

>We KNOW that evolution is not random because selection is not random.

Good. 

How do we know it’s not random. We today are the benefactors of millions of years of evolution. So, by you saying selection is not random, does that mean that what we have today is the only route selection could have gone? 

beaglelady - #79618

May 7th 2013

How do we know it’s not random

Because selection is not random.  Did you read the statement you were responding to?  Here it is agaiin:

“We KNOW that evolution is not random because selection is not random.”

 

hanan-d - #79622

May 7th 2013

>Did you read the statement you were responding to?

Yes I read it hence my question. But asserting it is not random does make the claim so, right? HENCE, my question. And, more important in proper context which you ommitted. 

beaglelady - #79630

May 7th 2013

By definition. A trait is selected for if it gives the animal an advantage,  provided that it can pass the trait on to its offspring.    Do you understand about selection?   Have you been reading Dennis Venema’s posts? Here’s some info:  http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

hanan-d - #79631

May 7th 2013

::head to wall::

Look at what I just wrote to you beaglelady. You have made it an almost calling card of yours to ignore most of what is commented and reply to a portion. I said:

“And, more important in proper context which you ommitted.”

And what was the context you ommitted? Here it is: 

“So, by you saying selection is not random, does that mean that what we have today is the only route selection could have gone?”

This is the important part of asking whether selection is random or not. The implication is obvious. If it is NOT random (as you say), was there a particular plan (i.e. guided evolution) or not? If chance is involved (your words), then how can one believe in TE? I want you to home on this like a lazer beam. If you believe chance is invovled, then saying evolution is not random, may mean something from a scientific  POV, but it is meaningless from a theological POV. Now, unless you can show me where I am wrong without replying with another vague question, then just skip it. 

beaglelady - #79635

May 7th 2013

Shouldn’t we understand exactly what selection is scientifically before moving on?    

hanan-d - #79637

May 7th 2013

No. Actually we don’t. The reason is because there is a lot of info on these blogs detailing selection but nothing in how it relates to theology. I want to know how chance relates to theism (not deism…I said theism)! That is all. 

And beaglelady, I will be very frank with you (and Melangonstar). I don’t come here to pick fights. I come here to strenthen my own faith. I hope that well informed people like you can actually give good coherent reasons for faith. I wish people like you could strengthen me. So far, I see you are quite informed on biological evolution, but when it comes to theology you are quite weak. You believe in chance yet somehow God knew (umm??). You believe in a theistic diety but yet a God that just basically threw the dice. Mutations are random, yet the results were what exactly? If mutation is random how could there be any assurance to what God wanted? DID God want us?

Do you understand why intelligent people like you that claim faith in theism yet have no way of defending that theism, end up sound like deists? Do you understand why in the end of the day you make me think that perhaps Lou is correct that all this is just a bunch of mental masturbation?

beaglelady - #79644

May 7th 2013

Okay, so you don’t want to know what selection is about.    Or even randomness.   You don’t want to even try to understand.   You like to twist everything I say and get angry at me and throw furniture.   But you don’t pick fights.  Whatever!

 

hanan-d - #79647

May 7th 2013

But you already gave me a link to learnmore. And haven’t you noticed that we aren’t talking about biology Alone but the theological consequences? If you believe in chance and that mutations are random, that means that even though selection is not random the results are random. How does this reconcile with theism? Lets asume you and i are in perfect accord with biology….the theological implication still needs to be addressed

beaglelady - #79653

May 7th 2013

No, we have to understand what words mean first before we can mean any progress.    

hanan-d - #79656

May 7th 2013

I don’t see what difference it can make. The theological implication is still there (I mean, geez, afterall, it seems like finding a believing biologist is more rare then winning the lotto). Will you be explaining what the term “chance” means?

beaglelady - #79665

May 7th 2013

Understanding what words mean won’t make a difference?

hanan-d - #79666

May 7th 2013

I will answer you question with my comment once again:

“I don’t see what difference it can make. The theological implication is still there”

So, are you saying it WILL make a theological difference?

GJDS - #79447

May 3rd 2013

Reply to hanan-d #79394

I have read the paper “Developmental basis for hind-limb loss in dolphins and origin of the cetacean body plan” by J. G. M. Thewissen et al., PNAS, May 30, 2006, vol. 103, no. 22; pp 8414–8418. I am impressed with the quality of the work and the forthright manner these authors have presented their work. I am also convinced the ‘blustering’ of the posts by the person nicknamed “fruit fly” is so extreme that I hesitate at providing an adult discussion on this site. Suffice it is to say that if I reproduced all of the sentences in this paper that include, “we hypothesise”, “we speculate”, and the “data is consistent with”, those of us who value reason would easily see, that even if these matters are in various specialised fields and may be difficult to understand to the final detail, the authors are providing a vastly differing impression than that put forward in the offensive manner by ‘the fruit fly’.

Even though it may be heavy going for some, I recommend that interested parties read this paper to obtain a balanced view of the subject – it is by no means dogma or so settled by such absolute so called evidence that no-one may question various assumptions in the thinking of this particular work, and more generally that ofevolutionists. In short hanan-d, I endorse your description of the ‘fruit fly’ as a ‘jerk’. Everyone should exercise a healthy scepticism when confronted with hypothesis and speculation in any of the sciences. It is not a case of people who close their eyes – it is the opposite as others think that blustering and aggression would progress correct scientific thinking – the opposite is most often the case

melanogaster - #79608

May 6th 2013

“I have read the paper “Developmental basis for hind-limb loss in dolphins and origin of the cetacean body plan” by J. G. M. Thewissen et al., PNAS, May 30, 2006, vol. 103, no. 22; pp 8414–8418. I am impressed with the quality of the work and the forthright manner these authors have presented their work.”

And the existence of said quality work, and the fact that it has been repeatedly provided to Eddie, falsifies his claims about what has been provided to him. Thanks for the confirmation.

“I am also convinced the ‘blustering’ of the posts by the person nicknamed “fruit fly” is so extreme that I hesitate at providing an adult discussion on this site.”

You seem to have failed in this post, as you’ve entirely missed the point.

“Suffice it is to say that if I reproduced all of the sentences in this paper that include, “we hypothesise”, “we speculate”, and the “data is consistent with”, those of us who value reason would easily see, that even if these matters are in various specialised fields and may be difficult to understand to the final detail, the authors are providing a vastly differing impression than that put forward in the offensive manner by ‘the fruit fly’.”

Suffice it to say that you’re confused. EDDIE stipulated (caps added), ”…a HYPOTHETICAL pathway—one that could have done it—any evolutionary biologist—at least whose specialty is mammalian evolution—should be able to supply,” to which I replied, “This paper provides Eddie’s HYPOTHETICAL pathway for one of the largest differences between cetaceans and their artiodactyl relatives. It’s a trivial change at the genomic level, producing neither new proteins nor new binding sites.”

So you pointing out that the authors are hypothesising falsifies Eddie’s claim.

“Even though it may be heavy going for some, I recommend that interested parties read this paper to obtain a balanced view of the subject – it is by no means dogma or so settled by such absolute so called evidence that no-one may question various assumptions in the thinking of this particular work, and more generally that ofevolutionists.”

That makes no sense.

“In short hanan-d, I endorse your description of the ‘fruit fly’ as a ‘jerk’.”

Because I was right and Eddie was wrong?

“Everyone should exercise a healthy scepticism when confronted with hypothesis and speculation in any of the sciences.”

Here we have a case of Eddie denying that he had been presented with a mechanistic hypothesis when I had provided him with one.

“It is not a case of people who close their eyes – it is the opposite as others think that blustering and aggression would progress correct scientific thinking – the opposite is most often the case”

Eddie closed his eyes to the literature on cetacean evolutionary pathways. You have confirmed that his eyes are closed.

PNG - #79627

May 7th 2013

I’d just like to point out something that may not be obvious to the non-biologists, and that is that any work on the developmental genetics of porpoises/whales and their relatives like hippos is necessarily going to be somewhat speculative and thus contain a good of expression of uncertainty. This is because no one in their right mind is going to use these large, long-lived animals to do the experiments in genetics that would remove the uncertainty. (It would be entertaining to see the reviews of that grant proposal where you asked for millions to house and maintain a bunch of these animals.) They can make good guesses about what the  genome sequences imply because the genes that control development are widely shared among animals and generally have very similar roles even in very different species. So they can make good guesses about how things work in porpoises based on how things work in mice and even in fruit flys, but some element of uncertainty remains when you can’t actually do the genetic experiments in the species you are talking about.

PNG - #79628

May 7th 2013

should have been “a good bit of expression…” in the third line.

If anyone wants a good non-biologist’s intro to the developmental toolkit of animals and how it is varied in evolution, Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a good book and Carroll is one of lead researchers in that field. 

beaglelady - #79632

May 7th 2013

And science is understood to be tentative, as scientists make inferences to the best explanation.  This site has explained that most adequately, if only people will read the  posts.   Analagously, nobody has ever directly observed a star from its formation to its “death,”  but we can see other stars in various stages and make inferences.    

Eddie - #79639

May 7th 2013

beaglelady:

So glad to hear you say that “scientists make inferences to the best explanation.”  That could easily be a direct quotation from Stephen Meyer, who has said it hundreds of times.  Also from any number of ID folks.  It’s the first thing I’ve agreed with you on for a long time.

Now apply that to the origin of life.  (Leave out biological evolution, just focus on the origin of life.)  It’s clear that the “best explanation” for the origin of life that we have at the moment and based on our current knowledge is that design was somehow involved.  That might change as our knowledge changes, but right now, that is the situation.  So the rational, non-biased scientist will incline to the view that design was involved.  Not hold it dogmatically, but incline to it. But of course the uniform reaction of the atheists, and the near-uniform reaction of the TEs, to this “inference to the best explanation” is hostility.  There is a strong desire to exclude design explanations, even when they are the best explanations.  And this is essentially a metaphysical prejudice.

I wouldn’t use the star analogy if I were you, beagleday.  It has been pointed out to you and others many times that the astrophysicists aren’t afraid to offer tentative stepwise accounts of the evolution of a star throughout its career, whereas no TE or atheist on the planet will venture a tentative stepwise account of the evolution of the whale all the way from artiodactyl ancestor to modern cetacean.  And there’s a reason for that.

Notice that I’ve made no comment here on your theology.  Hope that’s a relief to you.  Best wishes.

beaglelady - #79642

May 7th 2013

It’s clear that the “best explanation” for the origin of life that we have at the moment and based on our current knowledge is that design was somehow involved.

Clear to whom?  It might seem clear to you and the ID people.  

Eddie - #79662

May 7th 2013

It’s clear to anyone who is intellectually honest.  No scientist on earth can outline a coherent pathway by which existing mechanisms could have put together a first cell from simple molecules, without a planning intelligence to coordinate the assembly.  Not even those who specialize in the origin of life.  The most reasonable conclusion at the moment—which anyone not dogmatically opposed to design for metaphysical reasons would come to, or least not actively oppose—is that design was involved in the emergence of the first cell.

I don’t say that is a proof; it is the best conclusion based on current data.  Therefore, by your own account of science, you should at present be inclined to the view that the first cell involved design.  But your partisan and ideological commitments prevent you from adopting that view.  Those of us who are free to consider both non-design and design answers are not bound by by such partisan and ideological commitments.   We can look at the evidence on both sides, weigh it, and go with either answer, letting the chips fall where they may.  You, on the other hand, can’t allow the chips to fall on “design.”  

If I’m wrong, beaglelady, it is easy for you to show me how.  Tell me how the first cell could have come into being without design.  And give me details, not vague generalities about lots of opportunities and lots of time and the marvelous powers of randomness.  What would have combined first with what?  And how was it prevented from dissociating?  What prevented cross-reactions before the first cell wall existed to shut out interfering chemicals?  How do you get the protein-DNA cycle started, when both are necessary to life as we know it?  Have you got an alternative?  No, don’t go looking up desperately for answers on the NCSE web site or Panda’s Thumb; that would be an admission that you haven’t thought about this and therefore have believed in chemical evolution on sheer faith.  Give me your own reasoned account, without looking to anyone else for help.  Do you have one?  Or is it just dogma for you that life arose by the accidental mingling of molecules in the ancient oceans?  Do tell.

beaglelady - #79697

May 8th 2013

  Give me your own reasoned account, without looking to anyone else for help.

How reasonable.   Maybe we should assume that dark matter  is God Himself, since nobody has an explanation for it.  

Eddie - #79724

May 8th 2013

I’ll take that evasive and deliberately obscure answer to mean:  “I don’t have a clue how the first life could have originated without design, but—despite the fact that even hardcore anti-design folks like Dawkins admit that living things seem designed—I simply affirm, as an assertion of sheer personal preference, that the first life wasn’t designed.”

beaglelady - #79807

May 10th 2013

The problem with “God did it” explanations is that it uses God as a  a temporary placeholder for scientific ignorance. Furthermore, unexplained does not mean unexplainable.   Besides, if there is a  naturalistic explanation for the origin of life, scientists are only going to find it by rolling up their sleeves and looking for it using methodological naturalism.  

Eddie - #79815

May 10th 2013

beaglelady:

And you completely overlook (or willfully suppress) the other side of the story, which is that, if the origin of life does not in fact have a natural explanation, naturalistic research will bang its head against the wall forever trying to do something which science is incapable of doing.  And mislead the public as it does so.  There are therefore intellectual risks on both sides (assuming natural causes only for origins, and not making that assumption), but you choose to emphasize the risks on one side only.  This shows a metaphysical/epistemological bias.

I never said “God did it”—in the crude sense that you mean.  (Though if God did act in that crude sense, it would be completely in accord with both the Bible and all the orthodox theologians of the Christian tradition.)

I have said not that “God did it” but that “God designed it.”  And you have steadily, sometimes directly and sometimes by implication, denied that God designed anything.

Your position is not Christian.  I do not mean you do not have personal faith in Jesus, or that you do not conceive of yourself sincerely as a Christian.  I mean that your belief about Creation, your doctrine, your teaching, is not the historical Christian one.  That is why I oppose it on a Christian web site.  You are misleading the faithful with a false (from a Biblical/traditional point of view) understanding of God—an understanding that makes the Lord of nature and history into a passive observer of natural laws and contingent events, a near-nonentity, a ceremonial head of nature who is not worthy of the title of Creator.

beaglelady - #79817

May 10th 2013

You’re obsessed. There is nothing wrong with seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena.   

Eddie - #79825

May 10th 2013

But what you cannot seem to grasp is that you don’t know, in advance of the investigation, whether the origin of life was in fact a natural phenomenon.  This is a point which any bright philosophy or theology sophomore can grasp instantly, but which TEs and atheists with Ph.D.s biology and biochemistry just don’t seem to “get.”

But back to the main point:  I’m not “obsessed” but I am intellectually persistent.  (And how typical it is of modern people to try to deflect an argument by psychologizing it away; not “you keep arguing that way because you believe you have logical grounds for doing so” but “you keep arguing that way because you are obsessed.”)  And in my persistence, I have just stated plainly that your position on creation is not Christian.  You have not contradicted the charge.  And if you disagreed, you would surely mount a defense, in terms of Bible and tradition, showing me that your view is in fact Christian.  Yet you remain silent.  I shall take it that silence implies consent.  

beaglelady - #79829

May 11th 2013

 If there is a  naturalistic explanation for the origin of life, scientists are only going to find it by rolling up their sleeves and looking for it using methodological naturalism.   It’s an active area of research.

Eddie - #79834

May 11th 2013

Yes, and I already acknowledged that side of the argument.  But you haven’t acknowledged the other side.

Let’s say you find a dead body.  You call a coroner and asked what caused the death.  The coroner checks for evidence of heart attacks, stroke, appendicitis, etc.  He finds nothing.  He checks out natural cause after natural cause.  He still finds nothing.  You suggest to him that maybe the cause was not natural, e.g., maybe it was murder.  Suppose he dismisses the idea, saying that as a scientist he is bound to consider only natural causes, not causes by intelligent agents.  Human bodies, he argues, are natural, and what happens to them must be natural, and therefore only natural causes are appropriate explanations.

Now if the person was in fact murdered, the coroner could carry on the search for a natural cause of death for 10 million years and would never come up with the right answer.  So not only would he hold a theoretically wrong idea in his head about the cause of death, but he would waste a lot of society’s time and money out of his “methodological stubborrness.”

Now you will say that no coroner would proceed in that way.  Of course not.  Coroners are not idiots, blinded by a mechanical methodological program.  They leave the question—natural or not-natural—open, treating each as a real possibility.

It should be the same with the origin of life.  The possibilities of a natural and a not-natural origin for life should be entertained as real possibilities.  “Methodological naturalism” rules out one possible answer by not even allowing the question to be asked.  Methodological naturalism therefore guarantees that scientists will continually come up with wrong answers if it should turn out that the origin of life was not natural.  Only someone who thought that “science” was more important than Truth would mechanically defend “methodological naturalism” in such a situation.

Just out of curiosity, would you have tried to find a scientific explanation for Jesus’s resurrection if you were one of the Twelve and he appeared to you?  Would you have insisted on withholding belief until you had conducted a scientific investigation (in hopes of finding a non-miraculous explanation for what your senses were showing you)?  Would you drag Jesus into a major research hospital and put him through x-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, urine tests (“take this little bottle into the bathroom on the left, Mr. Ben Joseph”), fingerprint verification, etc.?  And if you wouldn’t insist on a scientific explanation in that case, why would you insist on one for the origin of life?  Why wouldn’t you regard the miraculous origin of life as a very real possibility, a priori at least as likely (if not more likely) than a purely natural origin of life?  Where would your prejudice against direct divine involvement come from?

In any case, I have flat-out charged you with holding a theological position (on God’s action in evolution) that is not Christian.  I am now asking you to do one of three things:  (1) Concede that I am right; (2) Try to prove I am wrong, from the Bible and traditional authorities; (3) Say that you disagree, but at the moment have no defense of your position and will have to come back with your defense later.  If you aren’t going to do one of these three things, I would ask you not to reply further here, as I won’t be responding.

melanogaster - #79713

May 8th 2013

“It’s clear to anyone who is intellectually honest.”

Lame, Eddie.

“No scientist on earth can outline a coherent pathway by which existing mechanisms could have put together a first cell from simple molecules, without a planning intelligence to coordinate the assembly.”

For starters, name a scientist in the field of abiogenesis who hypothesizes that the first life was cellular.

If you were intellectually honest, you wouldn’t have to misrepresent the hypotheses.

“Not even those who specialize in the origin of life.”

You don’t have a clue. Name one such specialist who hypothesizes that the first life was cellular.

“The most reasonable conclusion at the moment—which anyone not dogmatically opposed to design for metaphysical reasons would come to, or least not actively oppose—is that design was involved in the emergence of the first cell.”

The most reasonable hypothesis is that the first life wasn’t cellular.

“I don’t say that is a proof; it is the best conclusion based on current data.”

Eddie, you’re afraid of the data.

“If I’m wrong, beaglelady, it is easy for you to show me how. Tell me how the first cell could have come into being without design.”

More importantly, tell us why you think that the first life was cellular.

“And give me details, not vague generalities…”

Yes, you do that. But you won’t. Give us the details of your conclusion that the first life was cellular.

“…about lots of opportunities and lots of time and the marvelous powers of randomness. What would have combined first with what? And how was it prevented from dissociating? What prevented cross-reactions before the first cell wall existed to shut out interfering chemicals?”

None of this makes any sense.

“How do you get the protein-DNA cycle started, when both are necessary to life as we know it?”

What is the “protein-DNA cycle,” exactly?

Eddie - #79723

May 8th 2013

Fruitfly:

I never said that the first life was cellular.  But the prokaryotes and eukaryotes we know today descend from cellular life, and the origin of cellular life—even if it came from pre-cellular life—is unknown.  My statement that even the specialists in the origin of life field don’t know how the first cells came to be remains entirely correct.  I realize that this is disappointing to your materialist, reductionist worldview, but it’s the case.  Live with it.

If you don’t know what the protein-DNA cycle is, you aren’t competent to say anything about biology at all.  But perhaps the word “cycle” confused you.  I’m talking about the circular interdependence of protein and DNA.  DNA needs protein machines to manufacture amino acids and hence new proteins, but those protein machines need DNA (aided in turn by earlier protein machines) to come into existence.  The two are locked together in mutual co-production—in current life-forms, anyway.  If there were earlier life-forms for which this wasn’t the case, we don’t know what they were, and we have no proof or even strong evidence that such forms existed—only conjecture, driven by a desire to find an origin of life that does not involve design.  Until a credible non-design narrative for pre-cellular to cellular life is provided, the rational person would infer (tentatively and non-dogmatically) that design was likely involved.  But neither you nor beaglelady would even make that inference, because of the massive metaphysical biases which govern your “science.”

melanogaster - #79786

May 9th 2013

“My statement that even the specialists in the origin of life field don’t know how the first cells came to be remains entirely correct.”

It’s utter nonsense without the assumption that the first life was cellular! If one is a specialist in the origin of life and work to test the hypothesis that the first life was not cellular, studying the first cell clearly wouldn’t be studying the origin of life!

“I realize that this is disappointing to your materialist, reductionist worldview, but it’s the case. Live with it.”

Eddie, I’m laughing.

“If you don’t know what the protein-DNA cycle is, you aren’t competent to say anything about biology at all.”

I’m laughing even harder now. Hanan, take note—your buddy Eddie is being condescending about science when has no idea what he’s talking about. Try googling “protein-DNA cycle” if you are skeptical.

“But perhaps the word “cycle” confused you.”

I’m not the confused one.

“I’m talking about the circular interdependence of protein and DNA.”

Just those two?

“DNA needs protein machines to manufacture amino acids…”

Really? Manufacture amino acids? You’re very confused. How many of the 20 amino acids can your body manufacture, Eddie?

“…and hence new proteins,”

How are amino acids bound together to make proteins, Eddie? It’s an enzyme called peptidyltransferase, and it is made of what, exactly?

“… but those protein machines need DNA (aided in turn by earlier protein machines) to come into existence.”

You’re not making any sense. Have you heard of influenza virus? Any DNA there? Is peptidyltransferase a “protein machine”?

“The two are locked together in mutual co-production—in current life-forms, anyway.”

The two? No. You can’t explain the significance of the third, so you pretend it doesn’t exist. Examples:

Every time a peptide bond is formed in your body to make proteins, the enzyme catalysing it is made of _____.

When one of your cells divides, the initial step in DNA replication involves a primer made of ______.

“If there were earlier life-forms for which this wasn’t the case, we don’t know what they were, and we have no proof or even strong evidence that such forms existed—only conjecture, driven by a desire to find an origin of life that does not involve design.”

We have very strong evidence and testable hypotheses, Eddie, and you don’t seem to be aware of them at all. Try filling in the blanks above to start.

“Until a credible non-design narrative for pre-cellular to cellular life is provided, the rational person would infer (tentatively and non-dogmatically) that design was likely involved.”

A rational person wouldn’t be compelled to fabricate the data and leave out one of the three major players in the Central Dogma of molecular biology, though. How many of the 20 amino acids can your body manufacture?

“But neither you nor beaglelady would even make that inference, because of the massive metaphysical biases which govern your “science.””

You mean that nonfabricated data and hypothesis testing represent metaphysical biases? 

Eddie - #79788

May 9th 2013

I’ve explained sufficiently what I mean about the origin of life, but you have trouble connecting the dots.  It does your argument no good to divide up the problem into “origin of the first, pre-cellular life” and “origin of cellular life as we know it, given some previous form of pre-cellular life,” because the specialists can’t account for either.  And until they have a plausible non-design explanation for both, the most reasonable hypothesis is that design was involved somewhere along the way.

You’re trying very hard to find some little technical error in my vocabulary regarding protein machines, so that you can try to discount my argument.  But if you understand the substance of the issue, you know perfectly well that the historical origin of the mutual relationship between proteins and DNA in current living systems remains unexplained—and you know that even the specialists in the field don’t claim to be able to explain it.  And that burns your reductionist fanny no end.  But that’s life.

You can always prove me wrong by publishing an article explaining the origin of the current system.  You’ll get a Nobel Prize for it.

Of course, no Christian would be the slightest bit offended if it turned out that the origin of life (for either or both of the two phases I’ve mentioned above) required design, which is why it is utterly bizarre that you and beaglelady are offended by that prospect.  But I think everyone who reads this site has figured out  by now that that if they want a good, solid, defense of standard Augustinian or Thomistic or Calvinistic or Lutheran or Eastern Orthodox Christianity, they are not going to get it from you two.

melanogaster - #79969

May 13th 2013

“I’ve explained sufficiently what I mean about the origin of life, but you have trouble connecting the dots.”

“What you mean” about the origin of life is a straw man. You are afraid to examine the evidence, so you fabricate and falsely attribute your fabrication to others.

“It does your argument no good to divide up the problem into “origin of the first, pre-cellular life” and “origin of cellular life as we know it, given some previous form of pre-cellular life,” because the specialists can’t account for either.”

Such a global negative claim requires a lot of looking. You’re afraid to do any. Again, if you’re ranting about “the first cell,” you aren’t talking about any modern abiogenesis hypothesis. You’re tilting at windmills.

“And until they have a plausible non-design explanation for both, the most reasonable hypothesis is that design was involved somewhere along the way.”

Until you bother to accurately represent what scientists know and don’t know, the most reasonable hypothesis is that you fear learning because you have no faith in your position. If you had faith, you would not relentlessly and deliberately misrepresent science the way you do.

“You’re trying very hard to find some little technical error in my vocabulary regarding protein machines, so that you can try to discount my argument.”

No, I’m calling you out on your arrogant claim that “If you don’t know what the protein-DNA cycle is, you aren’t competent to say anything about biology at all.” You don’t know what you’re talking about.

“But if you understand the substance of the issue,…”

Oh, but I do, and you don’t. That’s why I asked you two questions to call your obvious bluff:

1) Every time a peptide bond is formed in your body to make proteins, the enzyme catalysing it is made of _____.

2) When any one of your cells divides, the initial step in DNA replication involves a primer made of ______.

“… you know perfectly well that the historical origin of the mutual relationship between proteins and DNA in current living systems remains unexplained—and you know that even the specialists in the field don’t claim to be able to explain it.”

A lot more has been explored and explained that you care to admit. If you disagree, simply answer the questions above. Then explain them in the context of of a mechanistic ID hypothesis.

“And that burns your reductionist fanny no end. But that’s life.”

Life is that you relentlessly and deceptively argue for ID but you lack sufficient faith to lift an empirical finger to test it. If you’re even 10% right, think about all the glory for you—and for your theology! But neither you nor anyone else has the faith to roll up your sleeves and do anything. It’s all just talk. What I find fascinating is that you don’t even attempt to refute this.

“You can always prove me wrong by publishing an article explaining the origin of the current system. You’ll get a Nobel Prize for it.”

Your ignorance is showing. A Nobel Prize was already awarded for the answer to my question #1, which exposes the component you’re omitting because you can’t explain it.

“Of course, no Christian would be the slightest bit offended if it turned out that the origin of life (for either or both of the two phases I’ve mentioned above) required design, which is why it is utterly bizarre that you and beaglelady are offended by that prospect.”

I wouldn’t be offended if science (testing hypotheses empirically, not debates in the literature or at church) suggested or showed that. What’s offensive is your relentless mendacity and laziness when it comes to evidence. Both are predicted by a hypothesis that you lack faith.

“But I think everyone who reads this site has figured out by now that that if they want a good, solid, defense of standard Augustinian or Thomistic or Calvinistic or Lutheran or Eastern Orthodox Christianity, they are not going to get it from you two.”

So, you’re on record as claiming, “If you don’t know what the protein-DNA cycle is, you aren’t competent to say anything about biology at all.” If you had the slightest faith that your claim was true, you wouldn’t be frantically trying to divert the debate to who knows more about theology.

1) Every time a peptide bond is formed in your body to make proteins, the enzyme catalysing it is made of _____.

2) When any one of your cells divides, the initial step in DNA replication involves a primer made of ______.

Eddie - #79977

May 13th 2013

Fruitfly:

I already implicitly agreed to drop the exact phrase “protein-DNA cycle” as possibly confusing, and I already explained the cellular systems that I had intended to include by my use of the phrase.  You have no explanation for how those systems first arose.  This is not surprising.  The scientists who specialize in origin-of-life have only weak and sketchy notions of how they might have arisen—and you are not in that specialized area.

Neither of the questions in your silly little quiz is about the origin of life, which is the subject at hand.  You don’t appear to have studied the scientific literature on the origin of life.  Maybe you rely too much on Scientific American for summaries.  You should do what Stephen Meyer has done, and carefully read the technical literature in the field.  Then you would realize how little is firmly established when it comes to the origin of life.

melanogaster - #80046

May 14th 2013

“I already implicitly agreed to drop the exact phrase “protein-DNA cycle” as possibly confusing,…”

It’s not “possibly confusing,” Eddie, it’s stupid and wrong.

“... and I already explained the cellular systems that I had intended to include by my use of the phrase.”

No, you didn’t, because your “explanation” left out a central theme that you can’t explain.

“You have no explanation for how those systems first arose.”

Yes, I do. Hence the questions, each of which is about the “cellular systems” that YOU brought up!

“This is not surprising. The scientists who specialize in origin-of-life have only weak and sketchy notions of how they might have arisen…”

They have testable (and tested) hypotheses and the courage to test them further, which is much more than you’ll ever have. You’re left with pathetic misrepresentations about what is known.

1) Every time a peptide bond is formed in your body to make proteins, the enzyme catalysing it is made of _____.

2) When any one of your cells divides, the initial step in DNA replication involves a primer made of ______.

“Neither of the questions in your silly little quiz is about the origin of life, which is the subject at hand.”

Both are and you know it.

“You don’t appear to have studied the scientific literature on the origin of life.”

How would you know?

“Maybe you rely too much on Scientific American for summaries. You should do what Stephen Meyer has done, and carefully read the technical literature in the field.”

If he has “carefully read the technical literature,” he’s lying in his book. I’m much more honest than that.

What does Meyer’s book say about my question 1, Eddie? Could a reader of his book answer it correctly?

“Then you would realize how little is firmly established when it comes to the origin of life.”

1) Every time a peptide bond is formed in your body to make proteins, the enzyme catalysing it is made of _____.

2) When any one of your cells divides, the initial step in DNA replication involves a primer made of ______.

PNG - #79650

May 7th 2013

“no TE or atheist on the planet will venture a tentative stepwise account of the evolution of the whale all the way from artiodactyl ancestor to modern cetacean.  And there’s a reason for that.”

Eddie, I explained above the practical reason that any such account will always have to be couched in some uncertainty. It’s pretty obvious that the evo-devo project is a long term one and you won’t get the 400 page review you demand for some decades, even for the species which are experimentally tractable. What I don’t understand is, if you are really interested in that project (and not just in predicting its ultimate failure) why don’t you do the obvious. Instead of demanding references from commenters on a blog, buy a graduate text on developmental biology and read it. That and a few recent reviews would tell you where the project stands. It wasn’t my field, but I can tell you that evo-devo is not without some revealing results even now. I’d like to know if your demand is really just a forecast that the project will fail, and science will have to punt and invoke miracles. I have the impression that there are a few philosophers who actually look at science in detail. If this is a major interest of yours, isn’t that what you should do?

Eddie - #79657

May 7th 2013

PNG:

No, my point is not and has never been that science should “punt and invoke miracles”—and I don’t know how you could possibly take that out of my words.  I have said only that there is no detailed account—even a hypothetical one—of how the standard neo-Darwinian method—random mutations plus natural selection—could turn an artiodactyl into a whale in the timeframe given.  I did not say that there was no possible naturalistic evolutionary account for such a transition.

Indeed, I have indicated many times that a number of evolutionary biologists and other biologists interested in evolutionary theory, e.g., Shapiro, Newman, Denton, Sternberg, have proposed naturalistic models of evolution which are non-Darwinian.  I have met with only scoffing on this site when I have mentioned these alternative naturalistic forms of evolution—scoffing from those with professional commitments, it seems, to the biological status quo, the existing paradigm.  Yet none of the scoffers, it seems to me, is a full-time evolutionary biologist—i.e., someone whose scientific specialization is conceiving of and testing potential evolutionary mechanisms and pathways.  How can such people utter such quick dismissals of Shapiro, Denton, etc.—often without having even read them?

Your comments appear to confuse “developmental biology” in general with “evo-devo” in particular.  A “graduate text on developmental biology” would cover much more than “evo-devo” and so most of it would not answer my question; it would make more sense for me to read a book specifically on “evo-evo”; and indeed, I intend to read something by Carroll in the future.  But note that Carroll has never been showcased on this site; indeed, I’m not sure evo-devo has ever received more than a passing reference by any columnist here.  Indeed, most of the interesting ideas in evolution over the past 50 years have been completely ignored by every columnist on this site.  No serious attention has been paid to the critique of gradualism by Gould and Eldredge—the presentation here is unrepentant gradualism via small genetic changes.  Margulis’s work is snubbed.  Shapiro is ignored.  The Altenberg movement is ignored (and bear in mind that the Altenberg folks actually publish papers in specialized journals of evolutionary biology—something no columnist here has ever done).  So even if we are talking about purely naturalistic evolution here—no miracles—this site has been very, very poor at covering the theoretical alternatives, and the serious debates between evolutionary specialists regarding these alternatives.  I consider this inexcusable for a site which purports to be educating the public about evolutionary theory.  

In any case, I have never objected to scientists for not being able to give a full account of anything.  My objection has been to their failure to frankly admit that they can’t give a full account of something, while repeatedly insisting that their speculations are as certain as gravity or the germ theory of disease.  I’d like to see evolutionary theorists—or at least their popular champions—dial down the rhetoric, drop the pose of certainty, drop the pretense of knowing more than they do.  I’d like to see one, just one TE or atheist commenter here say:  “To be honest, the steps in whale evolution, while understood in a vague general way, are on the level of detail still very poorly understood and are likely to remain so for some time.  We have no proof that random mutations, natural selection and drift alone are capable of effecting the transition.  Nor do we have proof even that these things can account for most of the transition.  For that matter, we cannot rule out the possibility of teleological tendencies in evolution.  The means of evolution are still a wide-open field, and we should not dogmatize.”  

I repeat, over and over again.  I’m not against evolution.  I’m against the neo-Darwinian account of evolution (even if it is supplemented by “drift”).  I think it is incapable of producing what it claims to be able to produce.  I’ll believe otherwise when someone provides the detailed (hypothetical) evolutionary pathways.  And it’s not my job to find them.  It’s the job of those who are boasting about what they “know” about evolution.  Show me the books where the pathways are given.  I accept the hypothetical pathways offered for stellar evolution; I’ll accept such pathways for biological evolution, when they have achieved the same rigor as the physicists’ accounts.  Not until.

melanogaster - #79781

May 9th 2013

“I have said only that there is no detailed account—even a hypothetical one—of how the standard neo-Darwinian method—random mutations plus natural selection—could turn an artiodactyl into a whale in the timeframe given.”

pnas.org/content/103/22/8414

The title is, “Developmental basis for hind-limb loss in dolphins and origin of the cetacean bodyplan.” It’s exactly what you’re claiming doesn’t exist.

And there are easy ways to find other papers that cite it, such as this one, titled “Development and evolution of the unique cetacean dentition.”

Yet you claim that such things don’t even exist—without looking for them!

“…Here we show that pigs, a cetacean relative with regionalized tooth morphology and complex tooth crowns, retain the typical mammalian gene expression patterns that control early tooth differentiation, expressing Bmp4 in the rostral (mesial, anterior) domain of the jaw, and Fgf8 caudally (distal, posterior). By contrast, dolphins have lost these regional differences in dental morphology and the Bmp4 domain is extended into the caudal region of the developing jaw. We hypothesize that the functional constraints underlying mammalian occlusion have been released in cetaceans, facilitating changes in the genetic control of early dental development.”

There we go. Two major morphological (oops, “new body plan”) differences. Obviously minor genetic changes. Since we know that development doesn’t work by “bolting parts together,” changing temporal or spatial expression of a few genes is what we expect to find. No new binding sites. No new proteins. No new parts. Just real data that lead to testable hypotheses.

Science—the thing you despise because it exposes your lack of faith.

Eddie - #79789

May 9th 2013

I never said that development works by “bolting parts together.”  Indeed, the notion of “bolting parts together” is very close to the original notion of Darwin and of the later neo-Darwinists, and of all popular expositions of evolution until very recently.  (“Suppose a mutation made a bit of membrane started growing—then suppose some other mutations made it slowly turn into an air sac—this could have been useful as a swimming bladder—then maybe new mutations added connections to the heart, etc. and lo and behold, the swimming bladder became a lung in a full-blown cardiovascular system.”)  That was the popular conception of evolution, taught in virtually every exposition I saw growing up, and many of those were written by people with Ph.D.s in various sciences.  It’s precisely that mechanical, atomistic notion of evolution that has been under attack for a few decades now, but the old guard neo-Darwinists are still talking about minor tweaks to the genome from copying errors which add new functions etc.  

Other biologists, such as the ID folks, Shapiro, the Altenberg group, etc. find the “additive” notion of evolution far too crude.  And my point has never been that you need to find a single mutation to account for each physical change en route to a whale.  My point has been that each physical change has to be accounted for—whether by single mutations, series of mutations, switches that activate alternate developmental routines, or other heritable alterations.  

The piddling small examples you are giving me (which even the authors of the articles—more modest than you in their claims for what evolutionary theory can explain—regard as hypothetical or possible rather than demonstrated or sure) do not show that the whole process from A to B is possible by the means indicated.  They may in the long run, put together with other explanations of other details, succeed in doing so.  But they haven’t done so, so far.

But why are we having this discussion?  You aren’t an evolutionary biologist, and neither am I.  The real breakthrough work won’t be done by commenters like us, nor will it be done by Christian cell biologists or Christian geneticists who have decided to dedicate the majority of their non-teaching time to convincing fundamentalists of the fact of evolution.  The real work will be done by the people workng full-tilt at research in evolutionary biology.  People like Shapiro, and Carroll, and the Altenberg group, etc.  And the people trained to think like Mayr and Dobzhansky and Dawkins—they aren’t going to be part of the solution, because they are part of the problem—they are far too atomistic and “gene-focused” in their conception of evolutionary change, and not oriented enough to systems, feedback mechanisms, self-organizing capacities, etc.  The evolutionary theory of the 21st-century is going to make the evolutionary theory pushed in the columns here seem like a Daimler car of the 1890s in comparison with a Toyota of today.  Clunky gene manipulations won’t do it.  We have elaborate systems which can make major changes that go far beyond what would be predicted from mere nucleotide substitutions.  And those elaborate systems are more and more looking like something designed, not something cobbled together by accident.

But of course, the idea of God designing anything is blasphemy in your version of Christianity.  I wonder why.

melanogaster - #79970

May 13th 2013

“I never said that development works by “bolting parts together.””

You said:
“They should be able to build a whale from an artiodactyl before my eyes, step by step, the way a good mechanic could turn one kind of machine into another, by substituting and rearranging parts.”

Mechanics work by bolting parts together. Now, if that’s not what you meant, just explain it mechanistically instead of metaphorically.

“And my point has never been that you need to find a single mutation to account for each physical change en route to a whale.”

No, your point is that “substituting and rearranging parts” accounts for the physical changes. As these papers show, no substituting and rearranging parts is going on in two major examples. Nor do those of us who are familiar with developmental mechanisms expect there to be substantial “substituting and rearranging parts” going on. Unless you have a novel definition of “parts.”

Maybe, instead, you should gather your nonexistent courage and offer an empirical prediction. This means what we will actually, directly observe, with all of the interpretation done prospectively, as we real scientists do, not retrospectively, as cowards who have no faith in their hypotheses pretend we do.

“My point has been that each physical change has to be accounted for—whether by single mutations, series of mutations, switches that activate alternate developmental routines, or other heritable alterations.”

My point is that those papers account for two of the most important the physical changes.

“The piddling small examples you are giving me (which even the authors of the articles—more modest than you in their claims for what evolutionary theory can explain—regard as hypothetical or possible rather than demonstrated or sure)”

What a hypocrite! YOU set the bar at hypothetical:

“It would be unreasonable to demand the actual pathway, which is unique and irrecoverable, but a hypothetical pathway—one that could have done it—any evolutionary biologist—at least whose specialty is mammalian evolution—should be able to supply.”

That’s precisely what these papers supply, and you’re afraid to even look. You’re so afraid that you dishonestly move the goalposts from “It would be unreasonable to demand the actual pathway” to “piddling small…hypothetical or possible rather than demonstrated or sure”. So why are you being unreasonable?

You’re just making things up, Eddie, because you are afraid of what God is showing you in the real world.

“… do not show that the whole process from A to B is possible by the means indicated.”

Your pretension that these things have to be amalgamated before you will lower yourself to looking at them is pathetic, Eddie. Really just cowardly.

“They may in the long run, put together with other explanations of other details, succeed in doing so. But they haven’t done so, so far.”

They clearly ARE doing so in your mind, as you are frantically moving the bar you set.

“…The real work will be done by the people workng full-tilt at research in evolutionary biology. People like Shapiro,…”

Shapiro quit doing any full-tilt work years ago. His musings inspire neither him nor you to do real work. He’s just repeating the same old change to terminology. Why don’t you apply to the U of Chicago grad school to work with him? Or as a postdoc?

“But of course, the idea of God designing anything is blasphemy in your version of Christianity. I wonder why.”

It isn’t.

I wonder why the idea of examining God’s actual creation for real evidence of design and construction (because design is not a mechanism), instead of ranting and misrepresenting the work of those of us who aren’t afraid to look, is blasphemy in your strange version of Christianity.

I’m not the one claiming that mountains of evidence don’t exist without ever looking for them, Eddie.

Eddie - #79978

May 13th 2013

Fruitfly:

I understand how my statement about the mechanic misled you.  I was trying to be crudely pictorial, because you, like so many other biologists who are defensive of neo-Darwinism, seemed to be slow to grasp my point about showing steps from A to B.  I meant that you should show me a hypothetical evolutionary pathway, step by step.  So if you don’t like the “building” metaphor, give me instead a hypothetical series of “transformations” between artiodactyl and whale, and specify the mechanism underlying these “transformations.”  This you have not done, nor has anyone else.

You also bypass the fact that neo-Darwinian exposition in the 20th century did in fact frequently speak as if evolution proceeded part by part, adding proteins, organs, systems etc. on a piecemeal basis, with natural selection testing each new addition at the level of the organism, to see if it helped or hindered survival.  Anyone who studies ID literature, or indeed non-ID literature criticial of neo-Darwinism, will see that this notion has been under attack for a few decades now, and especially in the past couple of decades.  So the thing you are criticizing me for, you should be criticizing past biologists for.  It’s the picture of evolution they tried to sell the public on, and the one they transmitted to generations of students.  And it still can be seen in the exposition of many Darwinians today, including the ones on this site.  Your attempt to pretend that neo-Darwinism was really about holistic developmental changes all along does not bear historical scrutiny.  Nor is it the case that “evo-devo” is the universal approach today.  

Regarding Shapiro, since he has real accomplishments in evolutionary biology, and you appear to have none, I can only infer that your disparaging remarks spring out of jealousy.

You say we should examine God’s actual creation for real evidence of design and construction.  Of course many people have done this and are doing it.  Paley did it at the macroscopic level.  In modern times, Behe, Meyer, Dembski, Nelson, Axe, Gauger, and many others are doing it at the microscopic as well as macroscopic level.  You can disagree with this or that argument for design, but you can  hardly pretend that they have not been trying to do exactly what you have just asked for.  

You say that the idea of God’s designing anything is not blasphemous to you.  Very well, what aspects of life and living things, in your view, did God design?  None?  Some?  Many?  Which ones?  Did he leave other aspects of life and living things to chance?  Which ones?  See if you can be less vague and evasive than beaglelady.

melanogaster - #80047

May 14th 2013

“I meant that you should show me a hypothetical evolutionary pathway, step by step.”

And you have papers with two of the hypothetical steps. But then your rank hypocrisy kicked in and you moved the goalposts, whining that they were hypothetical or possible rather than demonstrated or sure,” right?

“So if you don’t like the “building” metaphor,…”

It doesn’t reflect how development works and how evolution affects it. No new parts, no new binding sites. That’s what the examples show. You bumbled into making an empirical prediction from your ID hypothesis and it’s wrong.

“… give me instead a hypothetical series of “transformations” between artiodactyl and whale, and specify the mechanism underlying these “transformations.” This you have not done, nor has anyone else.”

This is precisely what I’ve given you.

“You also bypass the fact that neo-Darwinian exposition in the 20th century did in fact frequently speak as if evolution proceeded part by part, adding proteins, organs, systems etc. on a piecemeal basis, with natural selection testing each new addition at the level of the organism, to see if it helped or hindered survival.”

Nope. You wish.

“So the thing you are criticizing me for, you should be criticizing past biologists for.”

Nope. I’m going from the data, not hearsay.

“Your attempt to pretend that neo-Darwinism was really about holistic developmental changes all along…”

Wow! Another surprise! Eddie tries to weasel with yet another straw man! I’m showing you reductionism. Simple genetic changes cause much more complex developmental changes.

“Regarding Shapiro, since he has real accomplishments in evolutionary biology, and you appear to have none, I can only infer that your disparaging remarks spring out of jealousy.”

<yawn>

“You say we should examine God’s actual creation for real evidence of design and construction.”

And I taunt you for your fear of doing so.

“Of course many people have done this and are doing it. Paley did it at the macroscopic level. In modern times, Behe, Meyer, Dembski, Nelson, Axe, Gauger, and many others are doing it at the microscopic as well as macroscopic level.”

Eddie, none of them are doing squat. For example, Dembski’s “Explanatory Filter” is now, what, 10 years old? When has Dembski applied his filter to data from the real world?

“You can disagree with this or that argument for design, but you can hardly pretend that they have not been trying to do exactly what you have just asked for. “

No pretension, just fact. They have yet to produce a single test of an ID hypothesis. They are afraid, as are you. Your ego just gets ahead of you and you blurt out your suppositions about how development works as fact. They’re wrong, and they are clear predictions of your hypothesis.

Flail away, Eddie. Your blunders are more scientific than anything you write here.

Eddie - #80062

May 14th 2013

Fruitfly:

You may know a great deal about medical or pharmocological genetics.  However, your knowledge of evolutionary theory per se seems close to nil.  Your comments appear to betray the typical arrogance of the geneticist who thinks that, because he understands genetics, he is an expert on evolutionary theory, as if evolutionary theory is little more than a subset of genetics.  That kind of arrogant imperialism has been typical of geneticists who talk about evolution since about 1930, but fortunately it has been challenged in recent decades by discoveries in molecular biology, information theory, etc. which are now showing that evolution requires much more than genetics to understand and that a purely genetic account is seriously misleading in many ways.    

You might actually learn something about evolutionary theory if you would read Shapiro, a man who knows far more about the subject than you do—and far more about it than any columnist who has ever posted here.

You seem to next to nothing about the scientific discussion around the origin of life, based on what you have written here.  Your lack of perception of the conundrum posed by the protein-DNA system shows that you don’t understand even the problem, let alone possible solutions to the problem. 

I’m not going to argue with you any longer, Fruitfly.  You know more about genetics than I do, but you’re clearly a dabbler in evolutionary theory and origin of life theory, and I don’t see why I should waste my time with dabblers.  I want to hear from people who are actually working in these fields.  And that doesn’t include you.

melanogaster - #80156

May 16th 2013

“You may know a great deal about medical or pharmocological genetics.”

Hi Eddie!
We weren’t discussing how much I know, we were discussing your claim that “substituting and rearranging parts” accounts for the physical changes between whales and their closest relatives. As these papers show, no substituting and rearranging parts is going on in two major examples. What I know isn’t relevant to that point.

“However, your knowledge of evolutionary theory per se seems close to nil.”

Yet when you requested “a hypothetical series of “transformations” between artiodactyl and whale, and specify the mechanism underlying these “transformations,” I did that for two of the most important ones, yet you frantically moved the goalposts, bizarrely complaining that they didn’t count because the authors presented them exactly as you requested: “as hypothetical or possible rather than demonstrated or sure.” Again, what you think I know isn’t relevant to that point.

“Your comments appear to betray the typical arrogance of the geneticist who thinks that, because he understands genetics, he is an expert on evolutionary theory, as if evolutionary theory is little more than a subset of genetics.”

No, Eddie, I simply gave you exactly what you requested and you moved the goalposts.

“That kind of arrogant imperialism has been typical of geneticists who talk about evolution since about 1930, but fortunately it has been challenged in recent decades by discoveries in molecular biology, information theory, etc. which are now showing that evolution requires much more than genetics to understand and that a purely genetic account is seriously misleading in many ways.”

Eddie, I gave you exactly what you requested. The Christian response would have been, “Thank you,” not a rant.

“You might actually learn something about evolutionary theory if you would read Shapiro, a man who knows far more about the subject than you do—and far more about it than any columnist who has ever posted here.”

I’ve read his papers. His musings inspire neither him nor you to do real work. He’s just repeating the same old change to terminology. If you think he’s the bee’s knees, why don’t you apply to the U of Chicago grad school to work with him? Or as a postdoc?

“You seem to next to nothing about the scientific discussion around the origin of life, based on what you have written here.”

How would you know, Eddie? Do you have anything to offer other than desperate ad hominems?

“Your lack of perception of the conundrum posed by the protein-DNA system…”

Yet you just wrote, “I already implicitly agreed to drop the exact phrase “protein-DNA cycle” as possibly confusing,” how many days ago? Now, how does “protein-DNA system” improve it? To which of the following 4 papers are you referring, exactly?
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=“protein-DNA+system”

“…shows that you don’t understand even the problem, let alone possible solutions to the problem.”

How are amino acids bound together to make proteins, Eddie? It’s an enzyme called peptidyltransferase, and it is made of what, exactly?

“I’m not going to argue with you any longer, Fruitfly.”

Promises, promises…

“You know more about genetics than I do, but you’re clearly a dabbler in evolutionary theory and origin of life theory, and I don’t see why I should waste my time with dabblers.”

Why don’t you apply to the U of Chicago grad school to work with Shapiro? Or as a postdoc?

“I want to hear from people who are actually working in these fields. And that doesn’t include you.”

The papers I pointed you to are people in those fields. We both know that my expertise has nothing at all to do with the simple fact that I supplied you with exactly what you demanded.

Do you realize that 100% of your rant was virtually unadulterated ad hominem?

melanogaster - #79783

May 9th 2013

“…I’d like to see evolutionary theorists…”

I’d like you to see the existence of the far larger number of evolutionary empiricists, but doing so would expose you to the reality that there’s no one on your side, including you, who finds the thousands of pages of ID rhetoric to be sufficiently inspiring to produce an ID empiricist—That is, get you to DO anything in the lab or the field to test an ID hypothesis.

“I repeat, over and over again. I’m not against evolution.”

You’re against science, because your faith is so weak.

“I think it is incapable of producing what it claims to be able to produce. I’ll believe otherwise when someone provides the detailed (hypothetical) evolutionary pathways.”

No, you’ll just pretend that they haven’t been provided, because you know that it is capable.

“And it’s not my job to find them.”

If you had faith, you’d be eager to find them.

If you say that something doesn’t exist, it’s your ethical obligation to show that you’ve looked. We all know you haven’t.

melanogaster - #79784

May 9th 2013

“It’s the job of those who are boasting about what they “know” about evolution. Show me the books where the pathways are given.”

They won’t be in books. They’ll be in the primary literature, the meat and potatoes of science. People who pretend that biology is about dueling books are silly. Books are appetizers. When was the last time Behe or Shapiro produced some meat or potatoes?

melanogaster - #79719

May 8th 2013

“What I don’t understand is, if you are really interested in that project (and not just in predicting its ultimate failure) why don’t you do the obvious. Instead of demanding references from commenters on a blog,…”

It’s worse than that! Eddie demands references and then ignores them because he can’t explain them. Or, maybe he’s afraid to even look once because he has no faith in his position.

“... buy a graduate text on developmental biology and read it.”

Good point. I predict that Eddie won’t answer directly.

But there’s more to add: if Eddie is really interested, what is preventing him (or any IDer) from working in the field? By working, I mean producing new knowledge for mankind.

beaglelady - #79652

May 7th 2013

I meant that nobody has been around to see the birth, life, and death of any single star.  We simply see stars in various stages of their lives.   

melanogaster - #79688

May 8th 2013

“They can make good guesses about what the genome sequences imply because the genes that control development are widely shared among animals and generally have very similar roles even in very different species.”

They can do much better than that, PNG. these are testable hypotheses.

“So they can make good guesses about how things work in porpoises based on how things work in mice and even in fruit flys, but some element of uncertainty remains when you can’t actually do the genetic experiments in the species you are talking about.”

You’re leaving out the temporal order of things and the power of prediction. The mechanistic hypotheses (which Eddie claims don’t even exist) from the data in the PNAS paper PREDICT what one will directly observe in knockin mice with the whale changes engineered in. While this would have cost >$100K three years ago, with new technology like TALENs it can be done much more cheaply today. I would give you 1:3 odds that someone is doing it now. I’ll give you 10000:1 odds that no one in the ID movement has the courage to do it.

By describing these as mere guesses and not noting that they make empirical predictions, you are helping Eddie in his misrepresentation of science as one group of people arguing about the interpretation of a body of evidence produced by another group of people.

The reality is that there aren’t separate groups of people. The people doing the experiments are almost entirely the same group as those advancing the hypotheses. The reason why they are the same group of people is simple: they want to learn the truth, whether the hypothesis is correct or incorrect.

Eddie misrepresents like this to conceal the lack of faith that pervades the ID movement, a lack of faith that he shares. One can test this empirically by noting that Eddie is afraid to read this PNAS paper.

(Oh, and Eddie, by “read” I mean in the scientific sense of analyzing the data presented, not the insipid textual analysis offered up by GJDS and the aptly-named Seenoevo.)

GJDS - #79691

May 8th 2013

My main point regarding Darwinian evolution has been to emphasise that a great deal of it (perhaps by necessity) is specualtive. It is wrong to than assume that I have dismissed, out of hand, this view - in fact I have stated the obvious, that it is the current paradigm in the bio-sciences. It is the exaggerated emphasis given to it, and the often used phrase - a fact of science- along with other hyperbole (on a par with bonding theory etc) that mis-states the position of Darwinian thinking within all of the sciences. Thus, no-one in physics, chemistry, maths, engineering, and so on, ever refers to Darwins theories - however all science in some manner depend on to varying degrees, for example, on chemical bonding theory.

This exaggeration imo may stifle thinking that seeks to go past Darwin and perhaps lead to a much better theoretical framework for the bio-sciences.

GJDS - #79692

May 8th 2013

I simply cannot get this reply scheme - my #79691 is means as a reply to PNG #79627

Seenoevo - #79479

May 3rd 2013

To continue GJDS’s point above, and to repeat what I said earlier:

Other extracts from the pnas abstract (with my EMPHASES):

“Interpreting our results in the context of both the cetacean fossil record and the known functions of Shh SUGGESTS that reduction of Shh expression may have occurred ≈41 million years ago…

“The total loss of Shh expression MAY account for the further loss of hind-limb elements …

“Integration of paleontological and developmental data SUGGESTS that hind-limb size was reduced by …”

 

MAY I SUGGEST that if this is supposed to be “one of the most important details” supporting billy goat-to-wally whale evolution, you got trouble in River City.

Seenoevo - #79578

May 6th 2013

Beaglelady discloses that “God knows both what can happen and what will happen.”

No argument there.

But Beaglelady will not say that God made man, or made any living thing, at least not in the immediate, “hands-on” sense that Genesis 1 gives.

Perhaps beaglelady could be coaxed to say God “made” man, but using super-dark quotation marks around “made”, and with her many trickles of oblique, fuzzy, (read-between-the-) lines to follow.

Disclosure: I am not Francis Ford Coppola.

But I know what filmmakers can do and I know what will happen in The Godfather, in case you haven’t seen it or never heard of it, and you want me to tell you about it.

I can do that.

Beaglelady, could you be thus coaxed to say that Seenoevo “made” The Godfather?

Seenoevo - #79579

May 6th 2013

“This obsession with the “freedom” of nature (against the sovereign will of God) suggests a resentment against authority, even divine authority, that is pathological rather than rational.”

Odd that this issue of authority appears so often in Scripture, and that it appears so “divisive”.

“I write this while I am away from you, in order that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.” [2 Corinthians 13:10]

“Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” [Titus 2:15]

“and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones” [2 Peter 2:10]

“I have written something to the church; but Diot’rephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority.” [3 John 1:9]

“Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones.” [Jude 1:8]

Seenoevo - #79593

May 6th 2013

Melanogaster: “Do you have children, Hanan?”

Melanogaster, did you ever win a “Teacher of the Year” award?

Seenoevo - #79612

May 7th 2013

Melanogaster wrote to hanan-d in #79599:

“Your extrapolation is gobbledygook, both empirically and theologically, because mutation is not a necessary component of Darwinian evolution. We know that only heritable variation is required.”

This may be news, I don’t know anymore.

Melanogaster appears to be saying that genetic mutations are not needed in evolution, that the first life form (i.e. bacteria or something small and “simple” like bacteria) contained all the ingredients necessary to lead eventually to eggplants and elephants and egg-headed …

Just add water and mix [i.e. Just have some genetic drift and/or genetic loss and/or genetic recombination, some of which survives to be reproduced (i.e. is non-randomly selected, naturally.).].

P.S.

I anticipate someone responding with ‘must distinguish between Darwinian and neo-Darwinian (& neo-neo Darwinian)!’. I don’t think it matters. Unless melanogaster believes in, and insists on, Darwinian. I don’t know.

Lou Jost - #79614

May 7th 2013

“Melanogaster appears to be saying that genetic mutations are not needed in evolution, that the first life form (i.e. bacteria or something small and “simple” like bacteria) contained all the ingredients necessary to lead eventually to eggplants and elephants and egg-headed “

Actually that is what many ID people believe.

Melanogaster correctly said that mutations are not the only sources of heritable variation.

hanan-d - #79638

May 7th 2013

From Jerry Coyne site (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/shoot-me-now-francis-collinss-new-supernaturalist-website/)

22. Did evolution have to result in human beings?

Because evolution involves seemingly “random” mutations, it seems that the Earth could have been the home of a different assortment of creatures.  But belief in a supernatural creator leaves the possibility that human beings were fully intended.  An omniscient creator could also have created the Universe’s natural laws so as to inevitably result in human beings.

I love the louded words: “Leaves the possbility..” Meaning, the people at the helm of BioLogos believe  in the empirical evidence showing evolution is aimless towards any progress nor cares for what creatures come about…....yet, they still want to have faith otherwise. I guess as long as there is a “possiblity” that is enough to call oneself a theist…..and, a Christian.

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