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From Intelligent Design to BioLogos, Part 5: Epilogue

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August 25, 2011 Tags: Design, Lives of Faith

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

From Intelligent Design to BioLogos, Part 5: Epilogue

For those familiar with my work here at Biologos, it might come as a surprise to know that until relatively recently I was a supporter of the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM). In this series of posts, I tell the story of my transition to the view that God uses evolution as a creative mechanism.

In the fourth post in this series, I described my second encounter with the work of Michael Behe, and my subsequent rejection of the Intelligent Design Movement’s arguments. In this final post, I consider some of the theological factors that eased my transition to an Evolutionary Creationism viewpoint and recount how I was able to right an old wrong from my antievolutionary past.

Theological tools for the journey

As I related in my last post, my transition from aligning myself with the Intelligent Design Movement to accepting evolution was rather sudden. Looking back on this transition, I realized that a few factors had helped. Of course, my training as a geneticist had been invaluable: most evangelicals cannot read the primary scientific literature on evolution as part of their own journey, and as such they are beholden to how other Christians represent (or misrepresent) it. Yet beyond this obvious advantage, there were other factors that helped from a theological perspective. One such factor in easing the shift was the rich theological material that I had spent years listening to as a graduate student. Through that material I had learned that the simple, straightforward, Sunday-school approach to the Bible that I had learned as a child and teenager was merely a façade: Scripture was interwoven with mystery, tensions and scholarly issues that are simply not discussed in the average evangelical church. Though many pastors learn about these issues in seminary, most will never mention them from the pulpit for fear of unsettling the faith of their congregations. Discovering them, and then working through some of these issues had slowly, but surely, washed away tendencies of rigid thinking: I now knew that Scripture had widely varied genres within it. I now knew that the opening chapters of Genesis had the hallmarks of an ancient near-eastern worldview. As such, the realization that evolution, including human evolution, was a well-supported scientific theory did not precipitate a theological crisis for me. Ironically, what many pastors fear to touch in a Sunday morning sermon was just what I needed to handle this shift. This did not mean, of course, that I had everything worked out theologically then (or that I do now). Rather, it had created habits of mind that were more at ease with exploring uncomfortable questions, and reevaluating long-held assumptions.

An additional factor that eased this transition was the fact that my experience of God had grown and deepened over my undergraduate and graduate school years. Specifically, I had come to experience the power of God the Holy Spirit in ways that I had not during my, until then, relatively conservative church experience. As such, my relationship with God was not tied to a specific interpretation of Genesis or literal mode of Biblical interpretation, because I was experiencing His power and presence personally. That experience did not suddenly evaporate the moment I understood the evidence for our evolutionary history. Instead, God’s empowering presence continued to be part of my life as I explored a method of His creative activity that I had previously denied.

Making amends

In 2009, I had an unique opportunity. That year was the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s opus Origin. It was also the year I was to host an annual meeting of biology instructors from universities and colleges all over British Columbia for a professional development day. Accordingly, I needed to arrange a plenary speaker. The theme, given the year, was an easy one. As I wracked my brain for a local speaker with expertise in evolution, Dolph Schluter came to mind. Dolph does internationally-known work on the evolution of freshwater sticklebacks, small fish that are descended from sea-living ancestors. There are multiple coastal lakes in British Columbia that were colonized with marine sticklebacks in the last 10,000 years, making my home province a natural laboratory for adaptive radiation. As I recounted in my first post in this series, Dolph’s research was also once the target of my antievolutionary views as an undergraduate, some twelve years prior. Dolph would be perfect for this talk, in more ways than one. Would he remember? Would he be willing to come?

Wonderfully, Dolph was available and more than happy to come out. As I introduced him to the crowd of faculty and students that attended his lecture, I recounted the story of our previous encounter and some of my personal transition to accepting evolution. His talk (and other talks given that day on teaching evolution and interacting with students threatened by it) generated much helpful discussion. All in all it was a very enjoyable day, and a significant milestone on my journey.

Conclusion

Like evolution itself, my path was at times slow, and other times rapid. Small changes, whether in my thinking or in my experiences, later combined to produce larger effects. Through it all, I have no doubt that this journey was ordained and sustained by my Creator, as He patiently led me into a deeper understanding of His creation. As I mentioned in a recent NPR interview , this understanding is to be welcomed, not feared. All truth is God’s truth, and the book of His works is one that He desires us to take, read and celebrate.


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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beaglelady - #64235

August 25th 2011

Very good series, Dennis.  But you forgot a popup stating that Behe accepts common descent.  Try to do better next time, okay? 


Dennis Venema - #64296

August 27th 2011

Hi beaglelady,


Reprimand duly noted.

I certainly did not want to leave an impression that Behe denies common ancestry. I was intending only to contrast what I saw as defects in his core arguments (about his proposed “edge” of evolution) with the evidence I saw for evolution in the mainstream scientific journals. 

beaglelady - #64299

August 27th 2011

That’s just it. You didn’t give any impression that Behe denies common ancestry. 


paul.bruggink1 - #64236

August 25th 2011

Thank you for taking the time and effort to write a very helpful series.


Olavi - #64238

August 25th 2011

“That experience did not suddenly evaporate the moment I understood the evidence for our evolutionary history.”

I can very much relate to this part. After reading umpteen books about the origin of Christianity and its many and variegated scriptures (of which few became orthodox) I eventually came to the realization that Christianity was another religion alongside others, with its unique but not “supernaturally special” history. In no way did this new understanding diminish what I called the feeling of the Holy Spirit, which I now placed in a wider context of a universal humanity.

Leaving Christianity as an organized religion allowed me to finally live with humility, as I could now see Hindus, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians as brothers and sisters in humanity, not as outsiders in need of being saved. I am certain that people of all nations and creeds have similar emotions to which they attach particular cultural labels. For me the Holy Spirit was only a label, and recognizing it as such did not make the thing the label represented any less significant.

The formula works: study, question, revise assumptions, apply critical thinking, learn, learn, learn, and inevitably one comes to a wider and greater understanding than if one resolved to remain ignorant. Why not continue with this winning formula? Go to the heart of the matter—look at Christianity in all its peculiar origins. Bravely question previously unquestioned assumptions, and have “faith” that the truth is the truth is the truth, and whatever it is, there is nothing to fear from it.

Some Christian colleges require their faculty to strictly adhere to young Earth creationism. When I list all the reasons why such a requirement is a mistake, I can’t help but apply those reasons to other views. Isn’t is always wrong to tell people—especially faculty members—not to question? Or if they do question, to fire them unless they reach a predetermined answer?


Cal - #64239

August 25th 2011

“Leaving Christianity as an organized religion allowed me to finally live
with humility, as I could now see Hindus, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians
as brothers and sisters in humanity, not as outsiders in need of being
saved.”

This attitude may belong to the monstrosity called “Americanevangelicalism” but I don’t see how this has anything to do with leaving Christ.

Each religion and philosophy has its own “Supernatural history”, but what the Scriptures demand is a very historical question: Did Jesus rise from the dead? The crux (pardon the pun) of the matter lies on this.


tokyojim - #64423

September 2nd 2011

But Cal, why would you accept the very anti-scientific miracle of the resurrection while you reject the clear teaching of Genesis?  What is the difference here?  Both views go against accepted science.  Why do you have the courage to go against science when it comes to the resurrection, but feel you have to use science to correct God’s Word in Genesis?  Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

When Olavi rejected the Bible as the revelation of God’s truth, he went off the deep end and strayed from his only hope of salvation - Jesus, as you pointed out.  He thinks he now has a better more firm foundation in science.  He thinks he can find truth in science, but science cannot tell him anything about God.  We need a revelation from God if we want to know anything concrete about Him.  Reject the Bible, and we lose everything.  Rejecting the Bible begins by rejecting Genesis and for many people, it is a downward slippery slope from there.

I think it is better to recognize that God’s Word is just as accurate on page one as on page 1001(or whatever) where it talks about the resurrection. It is just as accurate when it touches on science as when it touches on spiritual matters.  Jesus said that if you don’t believe Him when He speaks of earthly things, (ie science, weather, things of this world), then how will we believe him when it comes to spiritual things that we cannot verify?  Good question!  He is the Creator and I think He knows what He is talking about, even in Genesis.

I think this was Olavi’s problem.  He felt he couldn’t accept what Jesus said about this world so he rejected what he had to say about unverifiable things as well.  At least he is consistent.  Wrong, in my opinion, but consistent.


Ashe - #64437

September 2nd 2011

If Jesus’s body were found, we would have no choice but accept that the Resurrection did not occur. Just like we have no choice but to accept that the Genesis arrangement does not match the geologic record.


PNG - #64249

August 26th 2011

“Isn’t is always wrong to tell people—especially faculty members—not to question? Or if they do question, to fire them unless they reach a predetermined answer?”

br>
The trouble with this is that institutions are started and built by people who have a definite point of view and pour their lives and resources and those of supporters who agree with them into building the institution. If they don’t adopt some kind of anchor that represents the core of what they are committed to, within a couple of generations the institution can wind up utterly hostile to the goals of its founders. All the sacrifices of the founders and early supporters can be hijacked to be used against what they believed in. If you want to see how this works in detail, read “The Soul of the American University” by George Marsden.
br>
For Christian institutions, the anchor, in my opinion, needs to be Christ and the historical understanding of Him as the God-Man and the basis for forgiveness of sins, and the One who can be known. With this anchor, a lot of peripheral things can change. There is freedom to question and seek the truth. Only if you conclude that Jesus in not the way, the truth and the life should you be asked to leave.

G8torBrent - #64268

August 26th 2011

What about living out Christianity requires a lack of humility? Rather, I think it just the opposite. To be in Christ is to be aware that everyone (whether churched in their upbringing or Hindu or Muslim or atheist or whatever) is separated from all the goodness God intends for humans and in need of something—or rather, Someone—to break the cycle of sin and condemnation. No offense, but I think it is the height of pride to “reject” Christianity because you cannot accept its origins for what they are: supernatural.


Olavi - #64283

August 27th 2011

I don’t know why you put “reject” in scare quotes, especially since I did not use that word.

Indeed I accept a great of the ethical principles in Christianity—those which are wholly divorced from the in-group/out-group tribalism mentality. I have simply culled away those egotistic projections which are, ironically, at odds with the best of Christian ethics.

The first step in humility is the utter acceptance of my own fallibility, and that fallibility extends equally to those things to which I have an emotional attachment—those ideas and feelings which make me feel “special” and “chosen”. When I strip away those barriers and examine things closely, I see that my beliefs are contingent upon my culture and upbringing without much else to justify them.

To conclude that one cannot be mistaken—to accept one’s tribal affiliation as unassailable truth—is to take a dark path with regard to the well-being of outsiders. In a limited sense it can be good for the insiders—presumably it was especially so during the Pleistocene era—but in a global culture it is not justifiable or sustainable.

The horrors really come when we place faith in the inerrancy of institutions, which has been tried several times before with catastrophic results. PNG has not made a convincing case for ignoring those lessons of history.


Cal - #64286

August 27th 2011

Olavi, Christ is more than a mere philosophy. The same Disciples who testified to such great an ethic as Love (agape) also said the same Teacher rose from the dead. Not metaphorically, not symbolically, though both genres of writing are employed in other dimensions.

The single solitary question remains, Did Jesus rise from the dead? And that shapes the rest of history.


Olavi - #64306

August 28th 2011

Cal, you have to examine what you are saying from an outsider’s perspective. Do you lose sleep at night pondering whether or not Joseph Smith found golden plates in upstate New York and translated them using magical “seer stones”? Whether or not Allah rode to heaven on a winged steed? Whether or not Cronos impregnated Rhea who gave birth to Zeus?

For each of these questions, there are many who will swear to us that the answer is absolutely, unquestionably, unassailably, yes. Moreover, they will die for their convictions. The first two questions are positively attested to by 14 million and 1.5 billion people, respectively, while only a few (if any) will say yes to the last one, but that is only because we are living in the 21st century instead of Ancient Greece.

Human beings are prone to fall into a “closed loop” of evidence-seeking. They look for evidence which affirms their beliefs and they ignore evidence which runs counter to them. An example of this behavior is happening right here, right now, on this thread with Ronnie (assuming he’s being serious). He doesn’t take the initiative to learn about evolution. He doesn’t type in “evidence for evolution” into Google, or if he does, he only trusts creationist responses. He doesn’t evaluate the evidence for himself, unbridled from his predetermined conclusions.

The method which turns creationists into evolutionists, and IDists into evolutionists, is critical thinking. It’s having the courage to doubt what you “know” to be true, and having the humility to admit that you could be mistaken. Ronnie doesn’t have that humility. He knows he’s right. Evidence won’t change his mind, nor will we.

This is a lamentable aspect of human nature. The best we can do is to understand it thoroughly and to build strategies to guard against it. The first guard is to develop the humility to accept the possibility of being mistaken, and the next is to pursue that possibility. If something’s true then it will hold up to the harshest scrutiny. Don’t do what Ronnie does—don’t just amass a dusty warehouse full of arguments which affirm your own beliefs. Have the courage to question.


Ronnie - #64311

August 28th 2011

Olavi: “Ronnie (assuming he’s being serious).”

I am serious.

Olavi: “The method which turns creationists into evolutionists, and IDists into evolutionists, is critical thinking.”

I disagree. Critical thinking turned me from a belief in evolution to a belief that the Genesis account of creation is true. I was taught evolution all through school, not directly but it was assumed to be true. Years later, while studying the bible, I always became stumped in the first chapter. I was attempting to interpret the creation account using evolution as the standard. When studying the evidence for creation, I again compared that evidence against the “evolution standard” that my education taught me was factual. It took years to learn the fallacy of this method. As I have said in several posts here on BL over the last year or so, evolution and creation are religious beliefs, both require faith, faith that deep time and naturalistic processes are responsible for what we observe today, or faith that all things were created by an omnipotent, eternal God, and us in His image. We also have his word, in Genesis, which gives an account of this (if you believe Gods Word). Evolutionists like to claim evolution is science, creation is religion. Not true. Both practice operational science but when scientific findings are extrapolated to explain the unobserved past, it becomes historical science, open to opinion and interpretation. I don’t claim creation can be proved scientifically, however, neither can evolution. If either one could, there’d be no debate. This is critical thinking. Humility has nothing to do with it. Beaglelady told me straight to my face (virtual face that is) that I read garbage, or “non factual information”. Is this a proper thing to say to someone? I simply asked for a few examples to explain why. I have yet to get a reply. Now you have asserted that I haven’t examined the evidence for myself. A little presumptuous don’t you think? I’ll ask you the same question, give me a few examples instead of making a blanket statement.

In conclusion, I say unapologetically that I believe in the Genesis account of creation. It fits with what we see in the world around us, or better yet, what we see in the world around us fits the Genesis account. Life has special meaning knowing God specially created all things and that I am created in His image, and that he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins so we can have eternal life. I hope you, Olavi, know Jesus. I hope Beaglelady knows him, as I do everyone here. The creation account is central to the gospel message. Evolution is not only contrary to the creation account, it negates the gospel message as well. This is why evolution and the Christian faith are not compatible.


PNG - #64340

August 29th 2011

“The creation account is central to the gospel message. Evolution is not only contrary to the creation account, it negates the gospel message as well.”

br>
Neither of these is true. It is true that “God is the creator,” is an essential and, I think, implicit part of the gospel, but the details of a particular interpretation of Genesis are not essential to the gospel. No one is going to be turned away from Heaven because they get the specific interpretation of Genesis wrong, or any other point of theology. 
br>
He is either going to say, in effect, “I knew you, you are forgiven,” or “I never knew you. Depart from me.” It is all about what has or hasn’t gone on between you and God.
br>
div>We are sinners who need forgiving. That is true whether evolution happened or not. God is both our judge and the only one who can forgive us. That is true whether evolution happened or not.

Olavi - #64348

August 29th 2011

Ronnie, I said you were not aware of the evidence because that is the most generous interpretation of your position. I believe if you made a sincere effort to educate yourself while resisting the temptation to let your preconceived beliefs dominate, then your mind would change.

You have responded with platitudes and such, but you haven’t given us anything concrete. What pro-evolution books have you read, and what specifically did you reject in them? If you can’t be specific then conversation is futile.


Ronnie - #64367

August 30th 2011

Olavi:
So you are saying if I’m educated, I’ll realize evolution is true.

I could easily say the same to you about creation.

As far as anything concrete, these two are studies in history, unobserved history. There will be no concrete evidence, as any evidence can and does get interpreted in different ways.


tokyojim - #64422

September 2nd 2011

Ronnie,

You can’t convince someone of evidence for the biblical account of creation if they start by accepting current scientific materialistic interpretations of nature as dependable truth.  We start with the revealed Word of God as truth. They start with materialistic scientific interpretations of nature as truth.  Therein lies the difference.
A good illustration of this lies in how one approaches the fossil record.  The Bible is clear that a worldwide flood occurred.  So, we start with that knowledge.  We then proceed to interpret the fossil record in light of that geological event.  They don’t accept a worldwide flood because it doesn’t agree with their views on evolution.  A worldwide flood would wipe out the evidence for billions of years of evolution they claim they see in the fossil record.  What they refuse to recognize is that God has told us a worldwide flood took place. 

Do we take God at His Word and look at the fossil record in light of what God says or do we accept current interpretations of nature by materialistic geologists which automatically rules out a supernatural event like the worldwide flood, and then go back to the Bible and say “A worldwide flood is impossible.  Never mind that the Bible seems to indicate it was a worldwide flood.  Science gives us the truth so we’ll just interpret the Bible to fit with what we know to be “true.”“
This is the problem. 

Biologos rejects the clear teaching of Scripture in favor of what they view to be the much more dependable conclusions of  “science”.


Ronnie - #64430

September 2nd 2011

tokyojim

You are correct. My point was since creation and evolution are both historical philosophies any ‘evidence’ for either is subject to interpretation, and ones starting point, whether biblical or naturalistic, influences that interpretation. Proponents of evolution are wrong in their claim that their interpretation of evidence for evolution is verified scientific fact, or by their own concensus, so overwhelming it must be true. Both require faith.

About the fossil record, I’d like to add that the fossil record is a result of the Genesis flood. Fossils are formed catastrophically, quickly buried to be preserved. While local floods may be able to do this, the worldwide fossil record is evidence of a worldwide flood. Otherwise there would be no fossil record or a very scant one.

Again, you are correct to say it begins with ones starting point. I appreciate your comments, they are needed here on BL.


PNG - #64339

August 29th 2011

I wasn’t trying to make a case for the inerrancy of institutions. Institutions change over time because the people who run them change with time and with ensuing generations. There is no absolute fix for that. 


The Catholic church tried to fix it with bishops and the apostolic succession. Evangelicals try to fix it with the Bible. If you make Christ the center, you at least create a situation where you can only get to evil (beating up on the out-group as you say, there are other evils, too) by disobeying something that He taught and lived and died for and established by rising from the dead.

That is as good as you can do. Given enough time human beings will spin off that center and make a mess, and repentence and forgiveness and rebuilding will be required. That’s how this world is.

PNG - #64343

August 29th 2011

The utter acceptance of your fallibility is skepticism. It is utter self-defeating. When you choose to value “objectivity” or “non-parochialism” you have already rejected your own “utter acceptance of my own fallibility.” It only lasted an instant, and thank God for that.


Objectivity is not a worthy ultimate stance, but it is a step up from skepticism.

Olavi - #64346

August 29th 2011

The problem with simply assuming that you’re right is that anyone can play that game. If Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are all simultaneously right, then what?

The only sane approach is to admit your own fallibility: that you could be mistaken. Like the billions of non-Christians who you believe to be mistaken, you could also be mistaken. I could be mistaken, and you could be mistaken. Would that really be so bad?


PNG - #64357

August 29th 2011

Absolute fallibility is absolute skepticism. No one would know anything. Can you not see that? You don’t believe in universal fallibility anyway. You just think you do. You believe that kindness is better than genocide. You are quite certain of it, and you are right. So, see,  you don’t believe that you are completely fallible


Olavi - #64365

August 30th 2011

That is a goalpost shift. We were talking about the historical question which you brought up: “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” Being a matter of history, there are standards of evidence which historians use to judge claims. Did the Battle of Hastings take place in 1066 or 1266? The answer to an historical question is not simply a matter of personal opinion. Just because it happened in the past does not give us license to answer it any way we wish. There is evidence involved, and the evidence points to the answer of 1066, not 1266.

Now, is it possible for you to be mistaken about an historical question, or are you claiming to possess some kind of infallibility?


PNG - #64368

August 30th 2011

You are mistaking me for someone else. I believe in the resurrection, but I’m not the one who brought that up. Do I believe that the resurrection can be made an objective matter of history in the same sense as the battle of Hastings? No, I think there is quite a lot of suggestive evidence, but some doubt would remain for the objective historian, if there were such a thing. It is also not possible to disprove the resurrection unless you simply assume that it is impossible.


I believe that the resurrection in fact makes it possible for anyone to get to heaven, but there will plenty of people who will get there who didn’t know about the resurrection. 

Olavi - #64391

August 31st 2011

Yes, sorry, you aren’t Cal.

Your response is still puzzling, however. Obviously some questions have a clear evidential basis while others are harder to pin down. When I asked if it’s possible to be mistaken, I was certainly not referring to questions like “Is vanilla the best flavor of ice cream?” or “What is good?” Like your other puzzling comment—the non sequitur about love—it looked like you made a half-hearted punt.

When one examines the spectrum of beliefs—ESP, crystal healing, UFO abductions, psychics, Scientology—it is pretty clear that humans are prone to fall into a kind of “closed loop” of belief which can only be maintained by actively avoiding evidence. So when I ask if it’s possible if you could be mistaken, I am referring to the plethora of textual criticism and historical knowledge which has accumulated over the last few centuries. We know a lot about the writings which were rather arbitrarily collected under the title of the Bible. Evidence-based critical thinking suggests answers which are at odds with quite a few commonly held beliefs.


tokyojim - #64425

September 2nd 2011

Olavi, if we give up the inspiration of the Word of God, then we have nothing left.  We don’t know what is true and what is not.  It sets us adrift in a sea of uncertainty that God never intended us to be lost in.  He gave us His Word so that we can “know that we have eternal life” so that we can know what is true and what is not.  Otherwise, we have no way of knowing.  So in accepting your ideas, we snub Jesus’ words and choose to live in a world where we can know nothing.  Yes, that would really be bad because now no one knows how to get to heaven or even if there is a heaven or even if there is a god.  Yes, rejecting God’s revelation has very negative consequences.


tokyojim - #64424

September 2nd 2011

Olavi,

Who appointed you the judge of what is true and what is not true in the Bible?  The Bible says there is only one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save and destroy.

It is the height of ignorance and foolishness to pick and choose what you like and reject what you don’t like as if truth is something you can decide for yourself.  No, Jesus does not allow us that option when it comes to His Word.  He tells us it is truth and that it will never pass away.  What standard do you use to judge whether a certain teaching of Scripture is true and dependable or not?  Your own opinion and feelings?  Somehow I think we need a different standard.  Jesus said His Word is truth and so it becomes the standard.  Not even science can trump His Word.


tokyojim - #64247

August 25th 2011

First of all, I’m very disappointed to hear that Trinity Western is buying into the Biologos view of evolution.  Now students will be taught indirectly not to trust God’s Word, but rather, that science is the ultimate authority.  So sad about that!

A few comments on Venema’s epilogue:

He claims his training as a geneticist has been invaluable to his switch from creation to evolution and that since most evangelicals can’t read the primary scientific literature on evolution  they must rely on how others represent or misrepresent it.

Here is that wild claim again that we find so often on the Biologos website. What he is really saying is that those of us who are not scientists trained in evolutionary theory are not capable of proper biblical interpretation!

I’m sorry, but this is a ridiculous claim and is totally contrary to the doctrine of perspicuity that says the meanings of the text can be clear to the ordinary reader, that God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His person and will. Also that the witness of the Church throughout the ages is that ordinary people, who approach it in faith and humility, will be able to understand what the Bible is getting at, even if they meet with particular points of difficulty here and there.  But like I said, Venema wants us to think that we need an education in contemporary evolution to properly interpret the Scripture, meaning that for centuries, the Church has misunderstood the basic doctrine of creation which under girds all of Scripture.  Sorry, but I don’t buy it.  If God created life the way Venema wants us to believe, then His writing skills leave much to be desired. If we can’t understand what God meant on the first few pages of the Bible without knowledge of evolution and the Biologos understanding, then what other teachings of Scripture need to be enlightened by other secular based theories like psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, linguistics, etc etc?

The surface claim here is true.  Many Christians have not been education in evolutionary theory to the point they can read the current evolution journals and so forth, but that doesn’t make his education true.  Others who have been so educated have come away with a totally different view than he has.  (By the way, one good example for those interested is the crev dot info website - creation evolution headlines website.) Accusing them of misrepresenting it is a bit of a low blow.  Chances are they actually disagree with it. Besides, doesn’t it seem strange that Venema would allow his secular education in evolution based on a materialistic worldview that writes off God and his role in creation from the start, to inform his interpretation of the Word of God?  No matter how he may protest, his actions speak louder than his words and this is clear evidence of his low view of Scripture - at least in practice.

Somehow I don’t think it was God’s intention when He gave us His Word to have us trust certain 21st century scientists to come up with the proper interpretation of Genesis.  Just doesn’t add up.


Ashe - #64251

August 26th 2011

Evangelical Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser once said “Not all cookie jars are on the same shelf. Some jars are real low, other jars are really high.”


Arnold Sikkema - #64354

August 29th 2011

As a physics professor at Trinity Western University, with an office down the hall from Dennis, I need to correct the statement that “Trinity Western is buying into the Biologos view of evolution.

br>
Dennis has already clearly stated that TWU has at least one faculty member who is an ID proponent. I don’t recall if Dennis ever mentioned this, but there are also a few of our colleagues (yes, even in the sciences) who believe that the earth is young. TWU does not “buy into the Biologos view” but is an academic institution with academic freedom and real discussion, and a University solidly committed to the Scriptures (but not simply to a “traditional” interpretation).

tokyojim - #64426

September 2nd 2011

I apologize for the false assumption and accusation I made!  So glad to hear that.  Personally, I think the biologos stance is too far outside the Bible to have a guy on staff, but I recognize the right of Trinity Western to handle it their way.  


tokyojim - #64248

August 25th 2011

Venema mentions that his deepening experience with God and his experience with the Holy Spirit played a role in his transformation from creation to evolution.  That is funny.  I’ve heard many more people say the opposite! I’m glad he has had such an experience, but it doesn’t give his ideas any more validity than other brothers who also seem to know God, such as Michael Behe. 

Remember the Apostle Paul?  In Acts 17:11, the believers in Berea who had heard him speak were commended for searching the Scripture to see if what Paul was teaching was right or not.  Just because Venema is a Christian does not mean that we should take his opinions and beliefs at face value.  No, we too are to check his teachings against Scripture.  He may be a knowledgeable scientist, but his theology fails the Scripture test.  His ideas of evolution do not jive with either the OT or with Jesus’ teachings.  Working with faulty theology will lead any scientist, Christian or not, to anti-biblical conclusions.

V: “Instead, God’s empowering presence continued to be part of my life as I explored a method of His creative activity that I had previously denied.”

Hmm.  What is this method of God’s creative activity that he had previously denied?  Evolution!  Here is a good description of this creative method that God is supposed to have employed.  It is a quote taken from a recent article written by an atheist in the Washington Times.

“Not only does evolution not need to be guided in any way, but any conscious, sentient guide would have to be a monster of the most sadistic type: for evolution is not pretty, is not gentle, is not kind, is not compassionate, is not loving. Evolution is blind, and brutal, and callous.  It is not an aspiration or a blueprint to live up to (we have to create those for ourselves): it is simply what happens, the blind, inexorable forces of nature at work. An omnipotent deity who chose evolution by natural selection as the means by which to bring about the array of living creatures that populate the Earth today would be many things - but loving would not be one of them. Nor perfect. Nor compassionate. Nor merciful.”

I wonder what new insights about God Venema has found as he has begun researching this previously rejected method of God’s creativity.  This lady may have described Venema’s God, but not the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible created everything perfect.  When sin entered the world, the whole creation suffered and it too is waiting redemption along with the saints.  It will one day be restored to it’s original state of perfection, where there will be no death, no pain, no tears, and no sin.  Fortunately, the god this lady is criticizing is not the Creator God of the Bible.

Venema ends with this claim: “All truth is God’s truth, and the book of His works is one that He desires us to take, read and celebrate. ..... this understanding is to be welcomed, not feared.”

We all agree that all truth is God’s truth, but we can’t use extra-biblical revelation to contradict biblical revelation.  Is “nature” the “book of His works” that Venema is referring to?  If so, he would do well to remember that nature too needs to be interpreted.  Take the fossil record for instance.  Do you interpret it in light of the biblical worldwide flood or do you interpret according to evolutionary theory?  How do you decide when to allow science to inform the Bible and when does the Bible inform science?  The Bible gives us valuable information (like that of the worldwide flood) that we need to know in order to properly interpret nature correctly.  Venema wants to reject this revelation and begin with nature, and use it to re-interpret God’s Word.  I disagree.  Nature, properly interpreted, will never contradict God’s written revelation.


Ashe - #64254

August 26th 2011

The first amphibians looked more like the fish that preceded them in the geological record than any other amphibian thereafter. It’s hard to seriously interpret that as the result of a catastrophic event. 


tokyojim - #64277

August 26th 2011

Ashe, fish were created on day 5 and amphibians on day 6 of creation
according to the Creator.  There was no evolution between the two as
they were created to reproduce after their kind.  Certainly there were a
lot of changes within their kind, but evolution is limited to the
boundary of the original kinds.



Fish to amphibian evolution has some insurmountable problems:

fins to legs, fish skin to frog skin, etc.  For instance frogs use
sophisticated structures like mitochondria and active transport systems
in their skin that fish do not.  Fish skin is totally anchored to the
bone in a very elegant way using sheets of arranged collagen fibers to
enable their extremely quick swimming capability. Frogs breathe mostly
through their skin, although they also have lungs. Evolutionists cannot
come up with credible mechanisms to explain the loss of gills, the loss
of collagen sheets for support and swimming, the loss of a direct
connection between skin and bone, the transfer to skin as a main
respiratory organ, the formation of lungs, etc.  These huge changes just
cannot be explained by some kind of a slow gradual random process.  You
need a way to come up with completely new software in the DNA to code
for these new abilities and a partly formed lung, or skin respiratory
organ would seem to me to be useless.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.



Plus, much interpretation and guesswork is involved in paleontology as
well.  Perhaps these  “amphibians that looked more like fish than
amphibians” were actually fish.  Or perhaps they were a kind of animal
like the platypus, simply a creature that God created as is.  Evolution
is inferred more from one’s worldview than from the extremely scant fossil
record.  There should be literally billions of transitional forms all
over the fossil record if evolution really happened.  Even today, 150
years after Darwin, we only have a handful of disputed transitional
fossils.


Ashe - #64284

August 27th 2011

Yes in Genesis, it says God created the fish and the birds on the fifth day, and ground creatures on the sixth. However, the flood is supposed to have occurred some time afterwards right? So how does that explain the arrangement we see in the geologic record? 


If you look at primitive actinopterygians, you find limb-like patterns of  bones and expression than more derived ones like teleosts. Fossils like Tiktaalik and Sauripterus already have bones that look like autopodial ones. Genetic discoveries show that key parts of the autopod were already there in fish fins before the origin of tetrapod limbs.

Also I’m pretty sure fish skin , or at least most groups of fish, have mitchondria-rich cells (MRC), like lungfish, mudsucker, zebrafish, etc. 


JonPS - #64252

August 26th 2011

@tokyojim
This is exactly the kind of mindset I now believe to be not only counter productive to the church but also dangerous to society as a whole.

Countless Christians place the fullness of their trust in the Bible when there these and more problems with it:

-It was written by people of another time and place with completely different worldviews and ideologies than what we have today.
-Our lack of understanding of the times in which these works were written lead us to misinterpret and misread the stories told.
-We have no guarantee at this point that the compilation of works that made it into the Bible are even complete or accurate or if what is written there truly is divine revelation or simply the insight of men.

I believe in a God of truth. Like Thomas Aquinas explained on the unity of truth: religion and reason must find alignment. If there is conflict between what we observe from science and what we understand from religion, there we are either dealing with bad science or bad religion.

Don’t forget that the theology and philosophy of today is radically different to what was a mere 200 years ago, let alone the 2000 years since Christ or the over 5000 since Abraham.

I think we tend to forget that the compilation we know as the Bible wasn’t always around during the Church’s existence. Perhaps we might do well to stop giving it the misplaced authority we’ve given it over the years. Maybe if we stopped looking so much at a book that wasn’t written with our generation in mind and instead started looking more to God and to each other, we wouldn’t be in this mess.


tokyojim - #64280

August 27th 2011

JPS: This is exactly the kind of mindset I now believe to be not only
counter productive to the church but also dangerous to society as a
whole.


Jim: Well, Jon, you can take that up with Jesus.  He is the one who told us
that God’s Word is truth.  He also said, speaking of Moses “But if you
do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Jon, perhaps you are not a believer - sounds from this like you aren’t,
but if you were, telling your kids that the writers of the Bible can’t be
trusted, that they didn’t know what they were talking about, and that
evolutionary science based on a worldview that writes off God from the
start trumps the Creator’s Word,  chances are very good that they will reject God & His Word.  If you think that is best,
well, be my guest and give it a shot, but I’m sure you will be
disappointed.  This attitude will also lead to our churches becoming
cold, dark, and empty, just like happened in Europe.


Jon: Countless Christians place the fullness of their trust in the Bible when there these and more problems with it:

-It was written by people of another time and place with completely different worldviews and ideologies than what we have today.

ME: The Bible is a much better place for our trust than the guesses of fallible men who were not there to see evolution take place in the past but insist on only materialistic causes for the universe.   So Jon, I guess you do not believe that the Holy Spirit guided the process so that the finished work was an error free accurate account of what God wanted to communicate to us.  Basically you are saying that the Bible is from man instead of from God, even though we are told that All Scripture is inspired by God.  Like I said, Jesus tells us that God’s Word is TRUTH.  I wonder what that means…. 
 

Jon: -Our lack of understanding of the times in which these works were written lead us to misinterpret and misread the stories told.

JIM: This is true to some extent, but you are using this to basically say that we can’t trust the Bible or ever hope to really know what it says.  If that were true, God would never have bothered to give it to us.  I wonder what cultural factors there are that we need to consider in trying to figure out if there was a global flood or not.  I mean why even build a boat, why bother to take animals onto the boat if it was just a local flood?  How could the waters cover the highest mountains with the boat resting on the mountains of Ararat if it was a local flood?  Foolishness.  The Bible clearly teaches a global flood.  If it is wrong, what else is it wrong about?   Jesus said “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe(ie a global flood took place), how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”  If we reject a global flood, we must reject the views of Jesus, Matthew, Luke, and Peter as well.  When you compromise in Genesis, it has huge implications for how we interpret the rest of the Bible.  We have to find a way to twist every passage that comes along to make agree with our interpretation of Genesis and that gets pretty difficult, at least to do honestly.
 

Jon: -We have no guarantee at this point that the compilation of works that made it into the Bible are even complete or accurate or if what is written there truly is divine revelation or simply the insight of men.

Jim: If that is your view of the Bible, then no wonder you believe in evolution.  You do not believe it is God’s inspired Word.

 


tokyojim - #64281

August 27th 2011

Jon: I believe in a God of truth. Like Thomas Aquinas explained on the unity
of truth: religion and reason must find alignment. If there is conflict
between what we observe from science and what we understand from
religion, there we are either dealing with bad science or bad religion.



Jim:  This is very interesting.  Why in the world would you believe in a
God of truth?  Where would you ever get that idea?  Certainly not from
His Word which you are so quick to criticize and treat as irrelevant! On
what basis do you believe this?  Your own personal feelings or wishes? 
How trustworthy are they?  Wishing something to be true does not make
it true.  If you reject God’s Word, you have no absolutely no basis
whatsoever for believing in a God of truth!  You even reject the
statements in His Word that claim it is true and you treat it as not
true. I can’t figure you out! 

I agree with Aquinas by the way.  God tells us that a worldwide flood
took place in His Word and we reject that testimony and proceed to make
up a story of evolution to explain the rock layers.  So yes, in this
case, it is bad science. Aquinas was right.



Jon: Don’t
forget that the theology and philosophy of today is radically different
to what was a mere 200 years ago, let alone the 2000 years since Christ
or the over 5000 since Abraham.



JIM: Yes, because we have given up our belief in the Bible as God’s
trustworthy Word.  You might as well just throw it out and forget about
it.  As is, you probably just pick and choose whatever you want to
believe and ignore what you don’t want to believe.  That is making a
mockery of God’s Word.  You are setting yourself up as an authority over
it and determining what is and is not true.  Sorry.  I don’t think I
want to believe your bible.  I’ll stick to God’s Word.  When you treat
the Bible like that, you make it totally meaningless and irrelevant.



JON: I think we tend to forget that
the compilation we know as the Bible wasn’t always around during the
Church’s existence. Perhaps we might do well to stop giving it the
misplaced authority we’ve given it over the years. Maybe if we stopped
looking so much at a book that wasn’t written with our generation in
mind and instead started looking more to God and to each other, we
wouldn’t be in this mess.



Jim: Jon, listen to yourself.  Misplaced authority?  forget the Bible
because it wasn’t written in our generation?  Actually, that might be
good advice for Darwin, but not for God’s Word.  The Bible says this:
“heaven and earth may pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” 
Somehow I think that God’s truth superintends generations, cultures, and
languages.  I believe God was able to give us a revelation that we can
read and understand - even the untrained person - doctrine of
perspicuity. 



Our refusal to receive God’s Word as truth will not solve any problems,
but lead us further away from him and deeper into trouble as we begin to
rationalize more and more things that God, for our own benefit, places
restrictions on.



God is good and perfect and creating with the cruel process of evolution does not fit with the Creator of the Bible.


Chip - #64259

August 26th 2011

Tokyojim’s quotation actually came from the Washington Post (not the Times), and can be read in its entirety here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/evolution-threatens-christianity/2011/08/24/gIQAuLVpbJ_blog.html

But he omitted the best part, in which Kirby says:

That’s not to say it poses a problem for all Christians, since many Christians happily accept evolution: they see Genesis 1 as merely a metaphor, and declare that if God chose to create us using evolution, that’s fine by them. I used to be this kind of Christian myself; but I must confess that my blitheness was only possible because I had only the vaguest possible idea of how evolution works and certainly didn’t know enough about it to realize that unguidedness is central to it. While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject.

I have to say Kirby seems to be spot-on. 

Unguidedness is central to it. This has always been my understanding, it is repeated again and again by the experts and by their journalistic spokespersons, and as such continues to be the elephant in Biologos’ room.  If this fundamental assumption is true, the whole BL position is a non-starter.  If its not true, BL needs to at least attempt to explain the basis for believing that an apparently-arbitrary, seemingly-random and decepitvely-unguided process was the deliberately selected means of intentional creation by an intelligent and loving God.  And no, yet another creative reinterpretation of Genesis or polemic against orthodox views of inspiration, cannonicity or inerrancy by the theological arm won’t meet this challenge.


Ashe - #64260

August 26th 2011

I don’t particularly agree that evolution is all those things, but even if that interpretation turns out to be correct, Michael Ruse and Mike Gene have made that a non-issue see here:


Jon Garvey - #64271

August 26th 2011

Ashe, do you realise that Mike is completely dismissing Michael Ruse’s position in that post? Mike’s position is thoroughly teleological, rather than Ruse’s rather perverse idea of God producing random universes in infinite numbers until at last one has the good sense to do what He wants and produce humanity.

That sounds like the politician who’s so sold on representative democracy that he holds compulsory elections every day until by chance (or desperation) he gets elected.

Mike’s idea of a particular Universe chosen from infinite possibilities to perform exactly as God wishes is indistinguishable from design. It’s the way you write a book or a symphony.


Ashe - #64272

August 26th 2011

My bad.

Darrel Falk - #64263

August 26th 2011

In response to Chip (above), I would strongly encourage those who care to think about this issue to read this series by Oxford scholar, Ard Louis.  http://biologos.org/blog/addressing-christian-concerns-on-the-implications-of-biologos-science-1


Kirby is an atheist.  She wants Christians to think that there is no choice—believe in evolution and you have to reject Christianity—she says.  She illustrates well one of my biggest concerns—that people (some of whom contribute to the comments section on our site) will listen to the views of atheists, rather than the views of those who are brothers and sisters in Christ, but also happen to be scientists.  Regardless of how such commenters personally feel about evolution, we urge them to respect those of us who do not buy into Kirby’s line of thinking…and we especially ask that they become well-informed, by reading articles like the one to which I refer above.  Whether they personally change their minds or not, is not the issue. I respect the challenges they face.
 I simply request that they understand that for many evangelical Christians, a gradual creation view enriches the faith and thereby draws us even closer to the Creator.  Reach your own conclusions, but hopefully you will come to appreciate that seeing the earth as old and God having created through a gradual process does not make one less of a Christian.  

Kirby is not “spot on.”  Her atheistic thinking is deeply flawed. I wish Christians would stop listening to people like her.

Olavi - #64285

August 27th 2011

“Kirby is an atheist.”

“Her atheistic thinking…”

“I wish Christians would stop listening to people like her.”

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Or woman, in this case.

No, you should wish for people to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints so that they may make up their own mind. You should wish for people to have the courage to question, to self-educate themselves into a greater understanding of the world, which necessarily requires leaving the cuddly safe haven of provincialism. Thomas Paine would have scoffed at your response. Perhaps he already has—I hear the deistic heaven is filled with MacBook Pros.

It should be perfectly obvious that any argument can and should be judged only on its own merits alone. In Falk’s post I see some or all of the following logical fallacies: appeal to the person (ad hominem), appeal to authority, and appeal to loyalty.


PNG - #64342

August 29th 2011

Sorry, I can’t resist. As I heard Joseph Sobran say once, “the ad hominem argument is the profoundest argument of all. It is God’s argument.”


We are not disembodied arguments. We are people and God is a person. Thinking the right thoughts is good, but it isn’t going to save anyone. 

The deepest natural thing in this world is the love that we have for each other. The deepest supernatural thing is the love that God has for us that makes it possible for us to love Him and for our love for each other to survive beyond death. 

Loyalty and authority are not fallacies in any deep sense, but they are less deep than love. Truth without love is the religion of the Pharisees, whatever the particular “truth” is that is worshipped.

Olavi - #64347

August 29th 2011

I did not argue against love, of course. It’s hard for me to tell whether or not you are joking around.


tokyojim - #64427

September 2nd 2011

Agreed.  But don’t forget the reverse is also true.  Love without truth is meaningless and misleading.  Both love and truth are necessary and sometimes the loving thing to do is take a stand for the truth so that people can make their choice.

Jesus was a perfect mixture of truth and grace.  John 1 we’re told that He was full of grace and truth.  He never compromised the truth.  He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  Even his love that led Him to the cross to die for sinners could not lead Him to compromise the truth to help others feel good.  He loved people to the very end, while remaining true to God’s truth.

It is a fine line to walk, but it is the line we are called to walk as His followers as well.


tokyojim - #64278

August 27th 2011

Thanks Chip for pointing out my mistake!  I apologize for that.

Good post!


PNG - #64341

August 29th 2011

The prosaic answer to your challenge is of course in the myriad details of countless scientific papers, which, no, can’t really be interpreted however one wants to, unless one stays at a superficial level of understanding.

But I’m going to try something different. Your comments here repeatedly seem to assume that for a Bible believing Christian there should be no mysteries left. All questions should have been answered. I would think that the book of Job would be enough to lay that belief to rest, but since it apparently doesn’t, I direct you to another more contemporary work of art that can be given one pass in a few minutes.

Listen to the track “Show the Way,”
http://davidwilcox.com/index.php?page=cds&family=&category=03—CDS&display=299

The preceding track is the verbal intro to the song.

I don’t expect this to change your mind, but at least it might give you an inkling of an idea of why we should expect surprises even about Creation.

Chip - #64267

August 26th 2011

Hi Darrel,

Thanks for your response. 

I wish Christians would stop listening to people like her.

I have to say I couldn’t disagree more.  This kind of refusal to engage opposing views would absolutely kill the church (far too many xians have done this already).  And this was the point of introducing her into the conversation:  if you’re so sure her thinking is flawed, apply your expertise and make an argument; don’t just wish her away. 

And just to clarify, I didn’t mean she was spot on in the sense that I think she’s right, but that she is accurately representing the view typically articulated by most evolution advocates—namely, that unguidedness is central to the theory. 

And while I appreciate the reference to the article, I don’t think it answers Kirby’s objection.  Perhaps you would argue that guidedness is central?   

I will offer a quick response to one of the elements in Lois’ piece.  In it, he laments “the idea that an unbiased observer should be able to use science to find unambiguous evidence for God’s existence is remarkably resilient among Christians.”

Indeed yes—unless my verson of Romans 1 is markedly different than his. If Paul’s audience of first century lay persons is expected to draw the conclusion that God created the earth and everything in it—the evidence of which is so utterly overwhelming that those denying it are said to be “without excuse”—what about having the tools of modern science at our disposal would  make such a conclusion less likely?


PNG - #64344

August 29th 2011

” If Paul’s audience of first century lay persons is expected to draw the conclusion that God created the earth and everything in it—the evidence of which is so utterly overwhelming that those denying it are said to be “without excuse”—what about having the tools of modern science at our disposal would  make such a conclusion less likely?”

br>
It shouldn’t be expected to make it less likely, but it shouldn’t be expected to make it more likely either. You miss the point that Paul was making - that everyone HAD missed it, despite the fact that it was intuitively obvious. We should expect the same thing today, that without the Holy Spirit opening our eyes, we will miss the obvious. Self delusion is the supreme human talent. Contra Dembski et. al, modern science shouldn’t be expected to make “His eternal power and divine nature” any more obvious than it has always been. If it did, God would be giving those of us who live late in history, or have an opportunity for a scientific education, an unfair advantage over everyone else who has ever lived.
br>
No matter when you live, the outcome depends on what and whom you seek and whether you ask and obey and love and when you get around to doing it. The question we should be asking ourselves is not, “what are those other bozos missing?” It is “what am I missing?” What essential thing am I missing?
br>
Seek and ask! On the most essential thing, don’t ask me - I might be able to help on some peripheral matter like science, but on the most essential matter, God has left it as an exercise for the student (I think He will take questions.)

Chip - #64353

August 29th 2011

PNG,

Fair enough.  Certainly you are correct—there many people out there who reject this line of evidence—they did then; they do today too.  Trouble is, I don’t expect the most vocal objections to come from people claiming to be xian theists. 

If we accept that evidence from science, and biology in particular, doesn’t make the case a slam dunk, would you at least accept that such evidence is admissible?  I ask because my consistent impression is that BL will always interpret the data from science in general and biology in particular, as being fully explainable through completely naturalistic means.  I expect this sort of thing from the likes of Dawkins and Dennet, but it’s a little disconcerting to consistently hear it from Collins and Falk.  Certainly there must be something in the biological realm that BL can point to that unguided naturalism alone can’t account for. 

But no—when push comes to shove, they always seem rush to the defense of de-facto naturalism, and in the end, their consistent attempt to work both sides of the ideological street just doesn’t work.


glsi - #64276

August 26th 2011

br>

        ”...most evangelicals cannot read the primary scientific literature on evolution as part of their own journey…”
___________________________________________________________________________
br>
Yes, Dennis, but even in our  ignorance we still  know that fully formed animals with eyeballs appeared in the Cambrian with nothing preceding them except tiny, soft-bodied creatures. 
br>
Given a complete picture of the fossil record even a simpleton would notice stasis and abrupt emergence rather than the gradual small steps of change predicted by Darwinism.
br>
Given Darwin’s theory of Pangenesis alongside  his earlier “opus”  Origin,  even a high school student  would understand Darwin had no idea what he was talking about.
br>
Given the simple facts even a child would know that something smells bad in the Darwinism.
br>
And scientific literature aside, I cannot tell you how sad it was to read about a Christian making amends and personal reconciliation in observance of the birth of Darwin.
br>
br>

beaglelady - #64294

August 27th 2011

Of course, my training as a geneticist had been invaluable: most
evangelicals cannot read the primary scientific literature on evolution
as part of their own journey, and as such they are beholden to how other
Christians represent (or misrepresent) it.

They can’t read the primary scientific literature; they chose not to read Scientific American or Natural History with intelligence, they rarely visit legitimate natural history museums, but boy, they sure can hit creationist sites and spread garbage around.  


beaglelady - #64295

August 27th 2011

[Let’s try that again.]

“Of course, my training as a geneticist had been invaluable: most

evangelicals cannot read the primary scientific literature on evolution

as part of their own journey, and as such they are beholden to how other

Christians represent (or misrepresent) it.”

They can’t read the primary scientific literature and they choose not to read Scientific American or Natural History
with intelligence, they rarely visit legitimate natural history
museums, but boy, they sure can hit creationist sites and spread garbage
around. 


Ronnie - #64297

August 27th 2011

Beaglelady:

This is the second time in as many days you’ve called creationist literature ‘garbage’. That’s fine if you feel that way but can you could give a valid reason why?


beaglelady - #64298

August 27th 2011

Because what I’ve seen of it is simply not true.


Ronnie - #64301

August 27th 2011

OK, well, its easy to ‘say’ its garbage, or its not true, but what makes it ‘garbage’, or ‘not true’? Can you give some reasons?


beaglelady - #64302

August 27th 2011

By “not true” I  mean it’s factually incorrect


Ronnie - #64304

August 27th 2011

OK, could you list a few facts you say are incorrect?

You have made the general statement that some of us read garbage, I want to know what you think this garbage is.


beaglelady - #64308

August 28th 2011

Certainly.  You see, these tired old creationist arguments are constantly being recycled.



Your comment #64258: 

     

August 26th 2011


   

   

Those fall under the historical sciences and are subject to interpretation since there wasn’t anyone there to record when the rocks were laid or ice was formed. Radiometric dating of rocks of known age (from Mt. St. Helens and other volcanoes) give dates orders of magnitude higher than their known age, seriously questioning the validity of these methods.



Ronnie - #64310

August 28th 2011

Beaglelady, if you can refute these “tired old creationist arguments” with some facts, please do.


beaglelady - #64312

August 28th 2011

On the other thread, in comment  #64264 (August 26th) I said,

“Talkorigins.org has a nice index to creationist claims. Please refer to it.”

Since you can’t or won’t look up your claim, here’s a direct link:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD013_1.html



Ronnie - #64315

August 28th 2011

Beaglelady:

My response to radiometric dating (the subject of the article in your link) is that it assumes:

1) that the object being dated began with 100% parent element and 0% daughter element, and,

2)that the decay rate has always been constant in the past.

These assumptions can and do lead to inaccurate conclusions. But you’ll probably say I’m just repeating what is on a creationist site.

If you, Olavi and Terrance believe wholeheartedly that creationism is ‘garbage’ or ‘non-factual’, misleading or misrepresents “real” research and hold the position that evolution is the superior model, then educate us, give us something we can sink our teeth into as to WHY our position is wrong. All I have so far is the link you gave me, the rest is only opinion.


beaglelady - #64316

August 28th 2011

You are out of touch with reality. If I proclaim that the earth was created yesterday and that our memories are implanted, and our minds are being  manipulated,  what could you say to that?   Wouldn’t you have to make some assumptions?

As I said before, I’m sticking with reality.  We’re recovering from an earthquake and a hurricane/tropical storm.  We desperately need the good scientists who made it possible to give us advance warning of hurricanes.

 And while scientists can’t yet predict earthquakes, they are working on it. My prayer is that God will bless their efforts.  But then again, perhaps tectonic plate theory is bunk. After all, aren’t these the same geologists who tell us the age of the earth?  Maybe earthquakes are caused by giants playing leapfrog.


tokyojim - #64429

September 2nd 2011

Whoa Ma’am!  You are making some uncalled for conclusions here.  First of all, if you say the earth was created yesterday and that other garbage, I’d say you’re nuts because I was here yesterday and it was not created then.

You claim our minds are being manipulated?  Fine.  You have no evidence to support that, but you are welcome to believe whatever you want.  Can’t refute it except that it seems from our experience that we truly have free will as opposed to the Darwinistic view that everything is determined by the chemical reactions in our body and brain.  That is a very similar claim to “our minds are being manipulated.”  If you are comfortable with believing that when experience and God’s Word clearly point a different way, when materialistic science cannot explain our minds to begin with, hey, feel free, but don’t expect us to jump on the bandwagon.

You are sticking with reality, are you?

Reality is that randomness cannot ever account for specified information needed for life to occur.  That is a hard and fast law of information that is validated in 100% of human experience.  Intelligence is necessary when it comes to programs and codes like we find in our bodies.

Life only begets life.  There is no such known exception to this law of nature.  Call it spontaneous generation or a new thangled thing like abiogenesis, but it is irrational to believe such a thing.  It’s no wonder OoL scientists keep finding themselves further and further behind the 8 ball as new scientific discoveries of layers of complexity are revealed.  Miracles are impossible in Darwin land.

Why do you pray?  I thought you were sticking to reality?  How do you know there is a God?  How do you know He answers prayer?  Why do you call that “reality”?


beaglelady - #64436

September 2nd 2011

Whoa Ma’am!  You are making some uncalled for conclusions here.  First
of all, if you say the earth was created yesterday and that other
garbage, I’d say you’re nuts because I was here yesterday and it was not
created then.


But with implanted memories you might believe you were here yesterday. You could even be a robot programmed to believe you’re human. 


Ronnie - #64440

September 2nd 2011

And you say I’m out of touch with reality?


beaglelady - #64443

September 2nd 2011

Ronnie, that was a “what if” obviously!

Let me tell you how at least some Evangelicals are badly out of touch with reality. I live in Connecticut, and last week we were warned that we were in the path of a dangerous hurricane, Irene, set to strike us on Sunday.  Reasonable people took no chances:  most churches cancelled services, including my new church. Our police blasted a phone message to everyone in town telling us to stay inside.   NYC even shut down the MTA.   

So anyway, I used to attend a very nice evangelical church, and I’m still on their emailing list.  The day before Irene struck, I received an email from them saying that they were going to go ahead and hold services!!! Not brilliant. They said to use good judgement, but for pete’s sake, if you have good judgement you don’t invite families out in a hurricane!!! 

And the hurricane was hell!  There were downed power lines, downed trees blocking major roads, flooding, evacuations etc. I don’t know if anyone went to that church’s services; I certainly hope not.


   


Ashe - #64448

September 2nd 2011

I kinda underestimated that hurricane and have a broken leg to show for it. 


beaglelady - #64449

September 2nd 2011

I’m so sorry! Where do you live, and how did you get the broken leg?

I almost had an accident from Irene. I decided I could dash down my stairs to just get something from my garage.  It took only a few seconds, but a tree branch fell on me mid-flight..good thing it was the leafy end of the branch that hit me.




Ashe - #64451

September 2nd 2011

I live in Queens, it got hit the worst, I think, large tree limb fell on me , it happened so fast, it must have been a tornado.


Ronnie - #64456

September 2nd 2011

I’ve lived in Houston all my life so I can relate to your hurricane troubles. I hope you recover soon, it does take time.


beaglelady - #64460

September 2nd 2011

I like Texas. My father was raised in east Texas (Rusk) and I’ve spent some great summers there with his parents.  And Texas seems to be the place to find a good job these days.

My cousin in Austin says they’re having a bad drought there now. 


Ronnie - #64463

September 2nd 2011

Yes, we are something like 30” short of rainfall for the year and have had roughly 40 100+ degree days this summer. Supposed to cool down to highs in the low 90’s next week, looking forward to that.


John - #64479

September 4th 2011

So Rick Perry’s call for prayer has made the drought worse…


Ronnie - #64480

September 4th 2011

Texas is Gods country, we can deal with a little dry spell.


beaglelady - #64484

September 5th 2011

Well, you did survive the Dust Bowl.


John - #64642

September 10th 2011

Then why did Perry organize prayers for rain?


And do you think that the families of those who have died would feel comforted with your breezy dismissal, Ronnie?

Ronnie - #64650

September 11th 2011

As a Christian and the governor of Texas, he should be leading the state in prayer for rain.

As for my comment, how you can equate it with people dying is beyond me.


beaglelady - #64656

September 11th 2011

John means means that the tragedy in Austin is not a “little dry spell” any more than Irene was a “little wind.”  Both are disasters that have caused widespread hardship and suffering. 

btw, Ronnie,  shouldn’t we be thankful for the scientists who develop the fire retardant being dropped on the flames, and ask God to bless them?


Ronnie - #64660

September 11th 2011

We should and I do.


Uncle Bonobo - #64318

August 28th 2011

Here is a very detailed discussion on the foundation and the accuracy of radiometric dating which is not opinion.

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http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/wiens.html

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Radiometric Dating from a Christian perspective.

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Not an easy read for Creationists, it’s full of science and it’s 30 pages long.  All factual statements are documented with footnotes.  For those with an interest in the subject it is a fascinating and educational discussion by an expert in the field.

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Written by a Christian physicist, (Wheaton College B.S.  PhD from Minnesota) the article fairly addresses and destroys ever single creationist misrepresentation of the accuracy of radiometric dating.  For example, the article takes great pains to establish that radiometric dating does not depend on any assumptions.  Radiometic dating is cross-checked and calibrated by other known forms of dating.

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Radiometric dating is independently verifiable by a number of means.  radiometric dating does not depend on knowing how much of the original “parent” isotope exists.

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There are over 40 independent means of radiometric dating.  Oddly, they all get to the same age for the age of the earth.

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There is no scholarly equivalent article written by a creationist anywhere.

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This subect is definitely settled.  Any contention to the contrary is indeed “garbage” and “bears false witness.”


glsi - #64319

August 28th 2011

“There are over 40 independent means of radiometric dating.  Oddly, they all get to the same age for the age of the earth.”

_________________________________________________________________
br>
No kidding?  So, are we going with 58,000 to 62,000 years then which is the limit for Carbon-14 dating?

Ronnie - #64321

August 28th 2011

There is a creationist response to Wiens paper. I haven’t read either. I’ll post a link when I have time to find it. The notion that thus is settled is a bit premature.

And what’s with the garbage comment again anyway?


Ronnie - #64322

August 28th 2011

Here is the link to the response to Wiens if anyones interested:

http://creation.com/images/pdfs/other/5292wiens_dating.pdf


Peter Hickman - #64349

August 29th 2011

Walker states in his response to Wiens, ‘We know that there must be a problem with any date that contradicts the biblical record, even if we don’t know exactly what’.
This is typical of a Christian fundamentalist mind-set and lies at the root of this and many other debates. The scientific data have to accord with a particular interpretation of the Bible. Faith trumps facts. It is inconceivable that the Bible could be misinterpreted or just plain wrong. 


Uncle Bonobo - #64325

August 28th 2011

The garbage comment is there again because you offered two points of well-refulted garbage:


1) that the object being dated began with 100% parent element and 0% daughter element, and,

2)that the decay rate has always been constant in the past.

br>

Wein’s article specifically explains why you don’t need to know the starting ratios for radiometric dating to work. 

Everybody but you apparently knows that.

br>

  He also explains why the decay rate is known by careful measurement, not assumed, to be constant in the past.  

br>

You have made an assertion of fact and, when challenged, asked for evidence that you are incorrect.  You now admit you have not read the Wein article.  This article would have come to the attention of any person even casually interested in the subject of radiometric dating.  Somehow it escaped your attention, though.  The Wein article is a through debunking of all creationist claims regarding the accuracy of radiometric dating.  He demonstrates those claims are indeed “garbage.”

br>

You have promised an intllectually honest response to the Wein paper.  

br>

I eagerly await that response, but, as you can see so far, all the claims have been demonstrated to be garbage.  It’s now your job to demonstrate that creationsist criticisms of the dating of the earth are correct and not the garbage we have shown them to be.

br>

You asked for evidence that supports the “garbage” claim.  It’s been provided.  The ball’s in your court.


Uncle Bonobo - #64324

August 28th 2011

glsi,


Very obviously you didn’ tread the ASA paper.  I’ll put the following sentence in caps:  IT DIRECTLY ADDRESSES YOUR POINT.

In summary, he addresses the carbon 14 limit for dating once-living things.   Wein then goes on to discuss numerous other methods for dating the composition of the earth’s crust.  He analyses each and also explains how the carbon 14 dating is used to calibrate the dating of even older biological materials.  

But, you do have to read the article first to comment knowlegably.

Please read the article.

glsi - #64327

August 28th 2011

(lower case)—guess i missed it.   it’s just that i can’t see how you can measure the distance to the moon with a 12 foot tape measure.  here’s your asa guy: 


Calibration of carbon-14 back to almost 50,000 years ago has been done in several ways. One way is to find yearly layers that are produced over longer periods of time than tree rings. In some lakes or bays where underwater sedimentation occurs at a relatively rapid rate, the sediments have seasonal patterns, so each year produces a distinct layer. Such sediment layers are called “varves”, and are described in more detail below. Varve layers can be counted just like tree rings. If layers contain dead plant material, they can be used to calibrate the carbon-14 ages.

Another way to calibrate carbon-14 farther back in time is to find recently-formed carbonate deposits and cross-calibrate the carbon-14 in them with another short-lived radioactive isotope. Where do we find recently-formed carbonate deposits? If you have ever taken a tour of a cave and seen water dripping from stalactites on the ceiling to stalagmites on the floor of the cave, you have seen carbonate deposits being formed. Since most cave formations have formed relatively recently, formations such as stalactites and stalagmites have been quite useful in cross-calibrating the carbon-14 record.

page 14

What does one find in the calibration of carbon-14 against actual ages? If one predicts a carbon-14 age assuming that the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the air has stayed constant, there is a slight error because this ratio has changed slightly. Figure 9 shows that the carbon-14 fraction in the air has decreased over the last 40,000 years by about a factor of two. This is attributed to a strengthening of the Earth’s magnetic field during this time. A stronger magnetic field shields the upper atmosphere better from charged cosmic rays, resulting in less carbon-14 production now than in the past. (Changes in the Earth’s magnetic field are well documented. Complete reversals of the north and south magnetic poles have occurred many times over geologic history.) A small amount of data beyond 40,000 years (not shown in Fig. 9) suggests that this trend reversed between 40,000 and 50,000 years, with lower carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratios farther back in time, but these data need to be confirmed.


Uncle Bonobo - #64329

August 28th 2011

You’re almost there.  Keep reading.  Carbon 14 is not used to measure the age of the earth, so there’s no need to even discuss carbon 14 for earth dating, unless you’re intentionally being obtuse.


You aren’t being intentionally obtuse are you?

Why aren’t Iodine 129 and Calcium 41 found in nature but Uranium 235 is?

What reason is given in the Wein article for that observed fact?

glsi - #64351

August 29th 2011

Sorry, guess I misread your post.  I thought you said all the radiometric methods gave the same age for Earth.


glsi - #64307

August 28th 2011

   “...as such they are beholden to how other Christians represent (or misrepresent) it.”
____________________________________________________
Dr. Venema,

Now why would you think that?
 
For myself, I’ve read a great deal of evolutionary Darwinist works, many of which were written by non-Christians.  If you are patient over time, and as new data comes in, you can see them haw and hem.  Just watch the obfuscation and defensive anger arise if you bring up the subject of “Junk DNA”.  This is how a layperson knows when a truth has been separated from the chaff.

Or go back and look at what happened when Stephen J. Gould revised a major aspect of Darwin thought with Punctuated Equilibrium.  Scientists knew for many years that the fossil record did not support Darwinism,  but stubbornly maintained that the fossils were incomplete.  A change was eventually necessary because as additional fossil evidence arrived, Darwinism  looked less and less convincing.  

In this case, it was not new data that catalyzed the sea change and a tacit admission that Darwinism could not account for the fossil record.  It was the creative genius of Gould to “fix” things with a more convenient new theory which better fit the data.  Unfortunately for his own theory, he could not propose any new supercharged mechanisms which could account for his sudden jumps in evolution.  Still, it was enough to (temporarily) divert attention away from the obvious problems with the fossil record.

Again, you can see the truth inadvertantly come out in the writings of often-times non-Christian evolutionary writings.  


Terrance - #64313

August 28th 2011

“When studying the evidence for creation, I again compared that evidence against the “evolution standard” that my education taught me was factual.”

False. There has never been a single piece of verifiably accurate evidence for magical creationism over biological evolution, nor over any other avenue of actual science. There never has been and there never will be. You can’t study what doesn’t exist.


“As I have said in several posts here on BL over the last year or so, evolution and creation are religious beliefs, both require faith, faith that deep time and naturalistic processes are responsible for what we observe today, or faith that all things were created by an omnipotent, eternal God, and us in His image. We also have his word, in Genesis, which gives an account of this (if you believe Gods Word). Evolutionists like to claim evolution is science, creation is religion. Not true. Both practice operational science but when scientific findings are extrapolated to explain the unobserved past, it becomes historical science, open to opinion and interpretation.”

False again. I refer you to the words of Todd Wood, perhaps the only YEC biologist with any credibility at all, “Evolution… is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion.  It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power.”


Furthermore, the reason creationist apologetic literature (as opposed to some of the more scholarly research done by individuals such as Todd Wood) is referred to as garbage is because it is clearly misleading, and deliberately misrepresents real research. Pick out just about article on AIG, ICR, RTB, or the Discovery Institute site and see how they reference scientific research. The research cited almost never supports the conclusion that they claim that it does, and it many instances has absolutely nothing to do with topic of the article. They are relying on your not going back and reading the original research for yourself, and just accepting what they say and believing that they are even providing support for their claims. That is why we know you haven’t examined the evidence for yourself, you allow others to filter the facts for you.


Ronnie - #64314

August 28th 2011

Your bias is showing. This is a common fallacy, assuming evolution has been verified by the scientific method and is the standard by which all things are measured. Your mind is made up, I won’t attempt to convince you otherwise.


beaglelady - #64317

August 28th 2011

Ronnie,

Please tell us the evidence for creation you studied. 


Ronnie - #64320

August 28th 2011

Like I said before, the evidence is the same, but the interpretation different.

One of the biggest is the wonders of DNA. How can millions (or billions?) of atoms arrange themselves in an exact order, stay in the proper order, and even cause themselves to replicate when a cell divides? How does the immense amount of information that DNA has get there? When a baby is conceived, that one single fertilized egg cell has within it the entire set of instructions to grow that one single cell into a complete human being! You began life that way, I did, we all did. It is an incredibly awesome wonder that DNA can cause that one cell to grow into many cells in an exact order and arrangement with very specific functions to form a person! I attribute this to our amazing Creator who designed our bodies with precision so great the finest Swiss watch is a clunky, sloppy machine by comparison. Yet there are many who attribute the development of the amazing DNA to the blind, naturalistic, and as Chip said above, unguided forces of nature. Romans 1:20 says we are without excuse if we fail to see the invisible qualities of God in the things that are made, and DNA is one fine example.

Geneticists, both evolutionists and creationists, are making many fine discoveries. I believe they have only scratched the surface in genetic research and we will continue to be amazed by Gods creative ability as time goes on.


Karl A - #64326

August 28th 2011

Hi Ronnie,
“One of the biggest is the wonders of DNA..”
Is not what you’ve written basically an argument from incredulity?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity#Argument_from_incredulity.2FLack_of_imagination
Any positive scientific evidence you’d like to present?
God bless,
Karl


Jon Garvey - #64335

August 29th 2011

Karl

Surely the argument from incredulity depends on having shown first that what seems incredible actually has a sufficient explanation? Otherwise the person accepting the original premise is arguing from credulity: “I have sufficient imagination to believe this, therefore it must be true.”

The critique of the Neodarwinian explanation of all that DNA is that it’s the equivalent of a cave-man saying, “Look, chipping away for a few hours produces this flint scraper. If we all chip away for a long time, we’re bound to be able to make a microcomputer - you just have to use your imagination more.”


Ronnie - #64336

August 29th 2011

Karl:

Is there no positive evidence in my post above? Do you not agree that God created our amazing DNA? or would evidence have to first pass through the evolutionary filter before it is acceptable to you?


Random Arrow - #64345

August 29th 2011

Dennis, thanks. Thanks for interweaving personal religious bio with your personal science-learning bio.

I have an open (non-adversarial) question regarding your statement – “most evangelicals cannot read the primary scientific literature on evolution as part of their own journey.”

I take the ‘cannot’ literally. Cannot for lack of competence in the field. For lack of competence in the complexities in the interactions between the mathematics and the data of biology. Professional biologist have a little of this problem too, that is, reading in biology outside their narrow focus. Say like a heart surgeon may not understand much about neurosurgery. I don’t take the – cannot – as a matter of a practical lack of time because of forced professional choices (say clergy) between reading every volume of Barth instead of learning the basic languages of mathematics fitted to the data of biology. But maybe this practical kind of – cannot (not enough time) – is a part of what you meant too.

I’m asking if you could provide a little more definition to your sense of – cannot?

It seems to me that most of the basic Darwinian observations are accessible as generic observations to almost everyone (superfecundity, variation, heredity). It’s the inference of natural selection that’s a particular hang up. For those with a theological bias this – cannot – may be formidable. Or seem so. Combine a strong theological bias (was it Morris who told Dennis Miller how the story must end because the Bible says so?) and with theological bias folded into biology like a protein folding problem mixed with a lack of competence at inference-making skills and this – cannot – goes beyond formidable to nearly insurmountable. Is there a sliding scale to this ‘cannot’?

There’s another – cannot – in the idiosyncratic point in these exchanges where professional biologists just walk away from theological conversations. This is a – cannot – in terms of how expensive it is in costs of time and emotional energy to translate mathematical and empirical stuff into ordinary prose. And hope for the best.

I can’t prove that I can do this – but I hope in my small sphere of influence to help close the gaps between – cannot – and will not. As nearly as possible. Not to make more converts to Darwin (though I’m convinced). But to promote theological engagement for believers who care enough at least to do the homework required in order to give an accurate and simple paraphrase of the science itself. The basic syllogism is extremely easy to paraphrase - with a little homework. Everything else you’ve written tells me you too believe that believers – can – give at least an accurate simple restatement and paraphrase of simple definitions and the syllogism for evolution.

And who knows – maybe ID or the absurdly obtuse specified complexity genre will inch toward something testable too?

I end up feeling sometimes that this – cannot – is a mysterious floating-point factor. Like an independent variable of willingness. Hard to pin down.

But I wish you would elaborate a little.

 

Jim


Jon Garvey - #64361

August 30th 2011

RA - Do you think natural selection really is the sticking point? Most people on all sides seem to agree it’s self-evident, though they may question whether it’s more than a tautology, whether it stabilises rather than evolves and so on.

Variation seems to me the big question - not that it happens, but how and why. And critics (both from science or faith positions) are often only too aware of the detailed questions. Can changing gene frequencies alone really produce speciation? Can random mutations really produce all the sophisticated and complex material for NS to filter? Are the more recently understood mechanisms such as HGT, hybridisation, epigenetics and other complex and apparently self-organising processes really only peripheral to the good old Darwinian process? Do they not make the Darwinian antipathy to saltation seem doctrinaire? Ditto for insistence on a single common ancestor?

And most important to theists of many varieties, does not the inadequacy of the simple models and the emerging supercomplexity of the actual situation about variation make the insistence on the adequacy of chance and necessity alone (with the associated inflated metaphysical claims about teleology’s redundancy) seem blinkered?

That said your comments on interdisciplinarity echo my own thoughts. It is the job of the specialist (of any discipline) to explain not only their position but their evidence to those outside, because nobody can specialise in everything. And it is also their job to listen carefully to what those of other disciplines are explaining, without imposing their own methodology and terminology (or rejecting it because these are different).


PNG - #64370

August 30th 2011

There’s really nothing non-Darwinian abut HGT, hybridization, transposable element insertion, nonallelic homologous recombination, gene conversion or any number of other complex enzymatically mediated forms of mutation. Even point mutations are produced in their fixed form by DNA polymerases, either replicative or repair enzymes. Epigenetics is run by enzymes and RNAs that are coded by genes, just like any other enzyme or RNA.


All these forms of mutation are non-random, in the sense that all possible mutations are not-equally probable, but showing that they are directed to some end is not really something that science can address. It is a metaphysical question - a matter of intuition and interminable internet arguments.  

No one will ever demonstrate it with a rigorous statistical argument in PNAS (and that’s not just because PNAS will never publish Bill Dembski.)  :)


Jon Garvey - #64371

August 30th 2011

All these forms of mutation are non-random, in the sense that all possible mutations are not-equally probable, but showing that they are directed to some end is not really something that science can address. It is a metaphysical question

Would you say that’s true of the immune system? At the cellular level, I mean, not the theological. In other words, can we not speak of B cell hypermutation as a cell function, and therefore as teleological as the way we speak of erythrocytes function of carrying oxygen?


PNG - #64376

August 31st 2011

We can speak of it that way, but we use a lot of metaphors when we talk about science, especially when the researchers talk to the laymen, but, for shorthand, even when researchers talk to each other. 


Does immune cell hypermutation appear to be teleological. Sure. One way to put this (and the physicists and statisticians can correct me if I’m wrong) is that as scientists we can put classes of events together and show that for a class of events some variable is distributed in a way that can be fitted to some function that has a random component, and then we say that the thing happens randomly or by chance. But for any specific molecular event (a mutation in this case), there is no way to tell if it was somehow directed to some purpose by some agent.

I don’t see how science has any access to that question. We can look at the results of the whole process (countless mutations and fixations in a population of cells or multicellular organisms) and say, “that sure looks purposeful,” but then we are doing intuition or philosophy. 

And when we are doing that we have to take into account that the purposeful looking end often doesn’t happen (or the purpose looks malevelent.) The right antibody isn’t developed and the patient dies. Those purposeful-looking cytokines overreact and the patients die by the millions of influenza-induced cytokine storms in 1918. You have to take all the evidence into account. And the whole thing becomes an Escher figure-ground thing, where what you see depends on what  you (or something unconscious in your brain) chooses to emphasize.

beaglelady - #64396

August 31st 2011

And when we are doing that we have to take into account that the
purposeful looking end often doesn’t happen (or the purpose looks
malevelent.) The right antibody isn’t developed and the patient dies.



And I suppose you’d also have to consider immune system disorders, where your own immune system turns on you.


glsi - #64355

August 29th 2011

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>It is truly tiresome to keep hearing the same complaint that anyone who doesn’t buy into the Darwinist scheme is getting all of their information from Christian/creationist sources.  This is a very false assumption and shame on any scientist for making it.  Only occasionally have I visited the creationist or ID websites which have been referred to here, and most of them I’ve never seen.  Nor have I come to my anti-evolutionary position due to any religious dogma.  All of those allegations are just a load shoveled out by people who are apparently insecure in their own convictions.

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bren - #64356

August 29th 2011

Glsi,

Really?  And where, pray tell, does your competing hypothesis come from?  Is it from the scientific literature?  A tiny bit hard to believe you could derive any such ideas from this arena, since they are not discussed (even in the form of spiteful editorials) anywhere in the scientific journals (I cannot vouch for the writings of a few centuries ago).  You didn’t get it from religious dogma?  Not even from say, a fairly rigid reading of the Bible?  Are you sure?  And not from any creationist resources?  Then I am fresh out of ideas, because I highly doubt you constructed a creationist theory of biological origins entirely on your own steam.

There is simply nowhere else to go in order to develope these ideas, unless you are still perusing the scientific writings of the 1700s.  You have actually eliminated every possible source for your ideas.  Impressive.  I suppose there is one left; you may be a scientist who has discovered unimpeachable firsthand evidence that evolutionary theory is generally incorrect.  Is that it then?  If you publish, I will read with relish.

That you got your information from Christian/creationist resources can only reasonably be read as a veiled compliment, as it implies that even if you are somewhat too trusting of highly suspect sources, at least it indicates that you yourself may not have dabbled in the profound intellectual dishonesty that permeates these sources.  The use of such resources without the highly enlightening exercise of looking up the references (a fun and informative sport mentioned by Terrance above) is the only way that a sense of partial intellectual integrity can be maintained by a professing creationist.  Or don’t read any of it.  Which brings us back to: where exactly do you get your ideas and information from?


glsi - #64358

August 29th 2011

How about plain common sense?  I think most people know that dogs are all dogs and you can’t breed a moose out of a Great Dane.  Don’t tell me evolution moves too slowly to see it.  Dogs have had plenty of time to evolve into some kind of critters that aren’t dogs anymore, but they haven’t.  Because they’re dogs and they’ll always be dogs and there’s a limit to their evolution and it’s called dog.  Don’t sell common sense short because God gave you a brain to use to good purpose.


But fair enough, I think Behe pointed something about dogs in one of his books.  And yes, I did read Behe and Meyers and a couple of others.  But wait!  I was schooled in Darwinism and read Coyne and Miller and a lot of others and grew up in a church that didn’t take any issue with it and now go to a church that never talks about it.  So who are you to tell me where I got my ideas from?  Somebody just wrote on this website that I got all my ideas from J. Wells.  It’s been years since I looked at his book and I never finished it.  And believe it or not, I don’t know enough about those websites to even comment on them. 

I just learned not  long ago about Pangenesis from the Groks Science Show podcast.  It’s Darwinist through and through.  Pangenesis was a revelation.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  Darwin knew absolutely nothing about genetics, heredity or how life might evolve, but forget about that!  He needed a remedial lesson in simply observing nature!  

Read all the Darwinist stuff you want.  It’s entertaining.   Read about Punctuated Equilibrium.  There’s not a more contrived theory in science.  You can’t take it seriously.  Read all the competing theories on  chemical evolution.   They’re all fantasies.  None are based on anything real.  Read Darwinists on how birds supposedly learned to fly.  There are 2 mutually exclusive competing theories and I’ve read both sides rule the other side out based on physics.  You don’t need to go to anti-evolutionary websites because all that stuff just shreds itself.   I get a kick out of it.



bren - #64372

August 30th 2011

So dogs, which in the space of maybe 10000 years expanded their range from wolves to Great Danes and Hairless Mexicans are somehow a good example of the profound limitations imposed by some unspecified and undocumented “limitation” on potential genotypic and phenotypic change?  This of course being one of the very examples that Darwin used in OoS to demonstrate significant change based on persistant selective pressures.  Are you sure you want to go there?  Are you positive that the Saint Bernard and the Chihuahua are bound together (and for that matter, could easily mate together) by inextricable links that no amount of time or mutation rate could overcome?  Please explain the new mechanism that says THUS FAR AND NO FURTHER to potential change.  No one else has explained what wall or barrior bars the way to continued change over far more than the 10000 years that have been assayed so far in this particular experiment.

Did I also read correctly that you are blaming Darwin for not understanding genetics (no one but Mendel had any grip on the evidence for heredity and even he was ignored until the early 1900s) and for proposing a theory that didn’t work out?  And somehow suggesting that the evolutionary theory somehow sinks or swims with the theory of pangenesis?  Um.. sorry, come again?  Darwin was brilliant, and largely layed the ground work for modern evolutionary theory, but even he was quite clear that much was to be modified or discarded based on evidence that the sci community did not yet have in hand.  Such is science.  We now have much more evidence in hand, and where there was doubt before, it has now become a joke or a sign that one simply didn’t bother looking anything up when doubts are expressed.  Your doubt, as little as a century ago, would be in good company, although even then, the game would be more or less up.

And did you just call pangenesis Darwinian?  Wow.  By virtue of the fact that Darwin came up with it?  If he had a special technique for brushing his teath would that then also be Darwinian?  And would we then need to accept or reject natural selection based on the results of his next dental checkup?

Punctuated equilibrium, which in a somewhat more refined and tempered form have been accepted by most scientists, is simply a better match to the evidence and was never in any way in conflict with evolutionary theory; even Darwin stated the likelihood that evolution would progress at different rates depending on differing selective pressures (he didn’t go far down this path but we know that ecosystems in flux and displaced niches can accelarate selective pressures).  Is this really such a joke?  Now, big changes can take millions of years (cambrian explosion) instead of tens of millions of years.  Fast, but it would be silly to call it a crisis for the theory since there is nothing in the theory itself that dictates the rate to which evolutionary change must conform itself.  And that your short list of creatures “forgot to evolve is just plain silly”.  If a species is consistantly successful in a certain consistantly available niche, then it is not unreasonable to think that selective pressures will consistantly maintain a state of phenotypic stasis.  To even bring it up demonstrates that you have no actual interest in getting to know the basics of the theory that you apparently find hilarious.  Please read up on the theory you have rejected.  You have made abortive attempts from what you have mentioned to read up on ID, but in order to take any kind of a stand, you will need to go much further for evolution.


glsi - #64364

August 30th 2011

Q:  What do the nautilus, horsetail, coelacanth, horseshoe crab, hagfish, hoatzin and tree fern have in common?


A:  They forgot to evolve.

That list is from an issue of the pro-Darwinist Discover magazine.  (I don’t seem to have a copy of any Creationist magazines laying around).  And why didn’t they evolve according to Discover author Valerie Ross?  Uh, because they were good at eating and produced a lot of spores.  Utter conjecture and not what I would call science.  The truth is Ross, nor anyone else, can give a convincing answer.

What does common sense tell me?  They didn’t evolve because they don’t evolve.  I don’t need to go to a website to tell me that, but maybe Valerie Ross does. 

glsi - #64375

August 30th 2011

Thanks for your thoughtful response, bren, but I just can’t buy it.  I’m still stunned.  Pangenesis was his more mature theory.  He had years to think about it and make careful observations in building on Origin.  You’d have to ask the textbook publishers why it didn’t make it into the Darwinian canon, but it should be taught in every high school because it reveals truth and why should science be afraid of truth?


bren - #64379

August 31st 2011

glsi, I understand your shock that such a generally careful (read; self-critical) scientist would forward such a flop of a theory!  Keep in mind that for his theory of evolution by way of natural selection, he had raked up evidence from all over the globe (including his own formative travels) from a multitude of experts and travelers with whom he maintained close correspondence.  It was a mature, well developed theory by the time he realized he needed to rush it to press.  It was also a theory with obvious loose ends that he went far out of his way to point out, including the mechanism of heredity (as I mentioned; the patterns of heredity were poorly documented, giving him little to work with).  Along with his fame, the pressure mounted to tie up this loose end, and he finally proposed pangenesis as an idea in the 1868 The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, although this was not presented with nearly the amount of evidence, input or consideration that had accompanied his OoS.

In answer to your question, it didn’t make it into the textbook publisher’s Darwinian canon because the textbook publishers were publishing science textbooks, not history of textbooks.  I utterly fail to see why it should be taught in every high school when it has been proven to be wrong (unlike his central theory).  I cannot understand why you are stating that science is avoiding it due to being “afraid of truth”.  Are you now saying that it is true?  Are you saying this because it came from the pen of Darwin himself (ex cathedra you might say (-; )?  I don’t understand.  Science does not teach Darwinism per say, even if the term is thrown about loosely; it teaches common descent and natural selection.  In fact, it does not at all use him as an authority except sometimes to point out for example that even as far back as Darwin, eg the beginning of the theory, such and such was realized or anticipated.

Please allow me to make an observation here.  There is a profound difference in approach that seems to separate most scientists from most creationists in that they have a very different approach to the relevance of authority to questions of truth.  Scientists do not or should not consider any authority but the evidence and the accumulated theoretical framework established by working with the evidence (to some extent).  An appeal to authority is ultimately foreign to the turning points in the scientific decision making process.  For some reason, this doesn’t hold true for the creationist mindset, and the question of authority is often where they weigh anchor, clearly at the expense of the evidence, and with no intention of moving beyond it.  This explains the liberal use of quotes and quote mining in creationist literature, he said thus and he is an expert and therefore it is true.  It also explains why organizations like AiG like to throw around the credentials of their staff as often as possible (“our PhD scientists on staff…”) often stuffing it in to their writings in the silliest places merely in order to emphasize that they too have a measure of authority.  I would submit to you that the authority issue is the true problem you are dealing with.  You cannot get past the idea that an Authority such as Darwin, in his function as an authority, could make such a grave error (by today’s standards and today’s evidence).  Most scientists shrug it off as easily as they shrug off the mystical and absurd theological writings of Newton or the tendancy of Einstein to make random observations about God.  It is simply irrelevant.  The evidence has vindicated one thing, disposed of the rest, and everyone has moved on.  The evidence is the final court of appeal for science, which is both its strength and its limitation.


glsi - #64399

August 31st 2011

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>bren,

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>You must know it has nothing to do with today’s standards or today’s evidence.  Pangenesis is easily falsified by extremely simple observations that a child could make today or in Darwin’s day.   It does draw into serious question Darwin’s basic skill set as a scientist and his ability to draw conclusions from what he believed to be evidence.  At best you might say he was shooting from the hip.  It certainly shines a light on the body of his earlier work and I see no reason to hide it from biology students.

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>

span style=“letter-spacing: 0.0px”>I think you could be mistaken about the generalizations you’re making about the subject of authority in science and religion.  Maybe you should take another look at Dr. Venema’s post here on his observation of the birth of Darwin which reads to me uncomfortably close to veneration. 

br>

glsi - #64400

September 1st 2011

bren,


You must know it has nothing to do with today’s standards or today’s evidence.  Pangenesis is easily falsified by extremely simple observations that a child could make today or in Darwin’s day.  It does draw into serious question Darwin’s basic skill set as a scientist and his ability to draw conclusions from what he believed to be evidence.  At best you might say he was shooting from the hip.  It certainly shines a light on the body of his earlier work and I see no reason to hide it from biology students.

I think you could be mistaken about the generalizations you’re making about the subject of authority in science and religion.  Maybe you should take another look at Dr. Venema’s post here on his observation of the birth of Darwin which reads to me uncomfortably close to veneration.

beaglelady - #64414

September 1st 2011

Maybe you should take another look at Dr. Venema’s post here on his
observation of the birth of Darwin which reads to me uncomfortably close
to veneration.


This is what Dr. Venema said:

“That year was the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s opus Origin.”

Please explain how this is “uncomfortably close to veneration.” 


glsi - #64420

September 1st 2011

The context is what makes it seem so icky to me.  Making amends and reconciling oneself on Darwin’s birthday.  Christian website.  Hopefully I read it wrong.  Maybe Dennis could clarify.


bren - #64442

September 2nd 2011

Not at all clear on why you would read it this way.  He was quite clear in the article that the only reason he was revisiting the point and questioning his position is because he was asked to update a chapter decribing the christian perspective on biology and because of the perspectives he heard at the NABT meeting.  Was this unclear?  Where was the veneration you speak of?  What about the context?  He was quite clear about the sequence of events that led to his turn around.  Probably the fact that it was Darwin’s birthday increased his exposure to all things relating to Darwin, which is not exactly surprising.  And hardly icky.  There is simply nothing at all “icky” about the context unless you insist on anticipating and projecting it.  If you wish to make a decisive point, you need something more decisive than personal feelings on the matter.

As for the evidence that Darwin had in hand (what did he know at that point, forget what we know today) that proved his pangenesis theory wrong, maybe you are right, but what exactly is this evidence?  I’m curious.  Again, scientific research must be judged on its own merits, not those of the author.  It is methods, results and research that is referenced in most journals, not authoritative quotes.  Time to remember Darwin as a great scientist but forget him in relation to modern debates surrounding the theory that he did the most to advance.  Please.

The difference in approach with respect to authority in science and religion is not some well kept secret that is only now being divulged, so I’m not sure why you are surprised and doubtful.  Chapter and verse in Darwin’s OoS is not being quoted as the final say on any contemporary debate in evolutionary biology.  Not one.  Not even close.  But chapter and verse permiates the creationist “literature” and nobody is hiding the standards and authority by which such literature is to be judged.  They certainly aren’t, so why would you insist that the approach is exactly the same?  Kindof a funny point when the established standards for the publication of creationist literature are that it must fit the authoritative Bible to the letter.  Sounds like a plank in the eye.  ID is another kettle of fish; they are still only advancing negative evidence or arguments from incredulity as well as irreducable complexity and explanitory filters and other ideas that have been so repeatedly and badly mauled by critics that they are left back at square one.  The choir are the only converts left.  IDers may not quote chapter and verse, but this is for well documented legal reasons in large part, and they aren’t left with much to replace the vacuum.  Authority, scientific or otherwise has been denied to them.

Sorry about the length of my posts, but I’m very bad at self editing!


beaglelady - #64444

September 2nd 2011

No thinking person would read it that way. You’d be a good pretzel maker the way you twist everything.


bren - #64450

September 2nd 2011

Agreed.  Far simpler and more to the point than what I said.


beaglelady - #64452

September 2nd 2011

You wrote  an excellent explanation but Fundagelicals won’t read it.


bren - #64453

September 2nd 2011

Whata shame.  Note to self: short posts, anorexic on vocabulary and content are the way to go.  Appreciate the heads up.


bren - #64455

September 2nd 2011

Evangelical attention span may safely blamed on pastors who refuse to read more than 2 sequential Bible passages for fear of completely loosing their ren and stimpy audience…


PNG - #64377

August 31st 2011

I find it interesting that an account of one person’s journey of interacting with scientific evidence, theology and personal spiritual life draws so much more response than the sermons and theological-historical essays on this site. (Look at the comment counts on recent posts.)

Maybe churches would provoke more active response if they gave more time to personal testimonies and less to sermons. Of course, there might be some objection from those who train for years and get paid to give sermons (and in some cases even charge to download the sermons on the internet.)  :)

bren - #64378

August 31st 2011

You make a very good point PNG, it would be nice to see more of this, if only because it seems to generate endless (and tangential, but who’s keeping score) discussion!


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