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Monopolizing Knowledge, Part 5: Evolutionary Metaphysics

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January 3, 2012 Tags: Science & Worldviews

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

Monopolizing Knowledge, Part 5: Evolutionary Metaphysics

In his new book Monopolizing Knowledge (available for purchase now), physicist Ian Hutchinson engages with the world-view he calls “scientism”: “the belief that science, modeled on the natural sciences, is the only source of real knowledge” (page vii). In Hutchinson’s eyes, this erroneous world-view is at least indirectly responsible for the apparent friction between science and religion that many see today. In this series (taken from the larger book, which engages the topic in a much fuller and deeper fashion), Hutchinson attempts to both explain and dismantle “scientism” by examining both what we mean when we say “science”, and how the scientistic worldview oversteps this definition and becomes a philosophical and metaphysical framework. In part four, Hutchinson looked at the challenging of defining what is and isn't science. Today he challenges what he calls "scientistic metaphysics".

Evolutionary Metaphysics

Some Christians reject evolution by natural selection because of metaphysics. But it is not, I believe, Christian metaphysics that is the most important cause of suspicion of evolution. It is evolutionary metaphysics.

A 2004 paper in the journal Physical Review Letters offers a physics analysis of the optimal size of the inner ear of mammals, for the purpose of detecting sounds.1 Fair enough. The paper implies, though, that mammals all having inner ears close to this optimum supports Darwin's theory of the origin of species. Huh? Contrast the lack of any direct connection to evolution with the importance of the paper's physical theories (mechanics of motion, angular momentum, viscous fluid dynamics, structural mechanics). To imply that this analysis provides evidence for the validity of those physical theories would not even cross the mind of a competent reader. Why then, do references to evolution appear in five separate places in this physics paper? It is because of scientistic metaphysics.

The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins exhibit at the Museum of Natural History has a very attractive website attached to it. "Human Evolution Evidence", is the largest menu. Over half of its links are called "Behavior", under which are "Primate Behavior, Footprints, Stone Tools, Getting Food, Carrying & Storing, Hearths & Shelters, Burial, Recording Information, Making Clothing, Art & Music". In what possible sense is this "Human Evolution Evidence"? It provides a glimpse of the anthropologists' undisputed findings that human culture has changed over time. Perhaps the exhibit's designers think (unlike many evolutionary biologists) that insights drawn from Darwin's theory have important things to say about human prehistorical cultural development. But it is hard not to see it also as a branding move, to promote a scientistic (mis)understanding of a topic that is a good deal more history than it is natural. The spurious implication of the title that its topics offer evidence for human evolution in the sense meant by the natural sciences, is in the same category as "scientifically-proven Wizzo washing powder".

The close identification of evolutionary explanation with the metaphysics of scientism is without doubt the dominant reason for the rejection of evolution by a large fraction of the public. Biologist Kenneth Miller says, "public acceptance of evolution doesn't turn on the logical weight of carefully considered scientific issues."2 People see and resent the fact that "the concept of evolution is used routinely ... to justify and advance a philosophical worldview that they regard as hostile and even alien to their lives and values"

The National Academy of Science sought to defuse this confrontation in 1998, noting:

At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world.3

This concession, principled though it may be, does not do the trick. The only other "way of knowing" being identified is religion, which makes it sound as if religion is being given a special pass to excuse it from the rigors of scientific knowledge. This does not satisfy either side. It is not convincing to argue that there are certain (few) ultimate questions that are the province of religion while the rest of our knowledge is scientific. The faith-science culture war is not an argument between science and religion; it is between scientism and everything else. The prime movers on both sides of the battle are often equally mired in scientism. "Modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society ... We must conclude that when we die, we die, and that is the end of us.4

This is the scientistic view of atheist biologist William Provine. Philip Johnson, father figure of the ID movement, has referred to Provine (and others) as "associate members of the movement. While they differ from us on the answers, they recognize that we raise the right questions..."5 Johnson fundamentally agrees with Provine that an acceptance of evolution as the mechanism for the origin and adaptation of species implies Provine's consequences. The reason, it seems to me, is that Johnson and the ID movement in effect concede to scientism. Their focus, which is to demonstrate scientifically that there must be an intelligent designer of the universe, makes complete sense if science is all the real knowledge there is. ID advocates thereby turn what is really a metaphysical debate into an argument (to be brutally frank) between good science and bad science. They've chosen a battle they are going to lose. But it's the wrong battle. The real disagreement is not between Christianity and an evolutionary account of the origin of species, or Christianity and science, but between Christianity and scientism. The irony is that by choosing to fight on a battlefield they call science, the ID advocates have in effect already conceded the relevant debate; they have spoken and acted as if science really is the decider of knowledge; they have, perhaps unintentionally, endorsed the epistemology of scientism and strengthened its hold on both their supporters and their opponents.

All too often evolution has also been a prolific source of political, social, ethical, and metaphysical opinion. This proclivity lies at the root of the visceral reaction of many Christians to evolution. Criticism of Social Darwinism, though, comes deservedly from many different quarters not just religion. It is a world-view without a clear ideology: "the success of Social Darwinism lies in this very flexibility, in the possibilities it contained for transference to a whole spectrum of ideological positions." The results are less than salutary.

Herbert Spencer's political advocacy, backed up by evolutionary arguments (from 1852 on) was for limiting the power and interference of the state, and for economic laissez-faire. It was perhaps his books' promotion of what seemed like rugged individualism, as well as their being received as representative of the "scientific spirit of the age", that brought his writing such astonishing popularity in America. It certainly appealed to those Americans, like Andrew Carnegie, who could thereby justify their own business success - and the failure of others - as the working out of an ineluctable law of nature.

In contrast to the meteoric rise - and fall - of Herbert Spencer's popularity, the ideas of eugenics, associated most notably with Francis Galton, gained acceptance much more gradually. From his earliest commentary, Galton was concerned with what he saw as dysgenic practices: "Many forms of civilization have been peculiarly unfavorable to the hereditary transmission of rare talent."6 Eugenics, therefore, was the opposite of laissez-faire. It was consciously to select, and encourage through state support, the marriage and subsequent fecundity of youths whose children "would grow into eminent servants of the State" and to discourage breeding by the less worthy. The initial idea that "the weak could find a welcome and refuge in celibate monasteries or sisterhoods" became a more practical (and chilling) sterilization. Galton spent the last decade of his life in the promotion of eugenics, "It must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion" he said. In America, state sterilization laws were enacted starting in 1907. Virginia's law was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1927. Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes wrote for the court "It is better for the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind." The number of sterilizations in the U.S. rose to 3000 per year in the 1930s7. In Germany, eugenics got its big chance when the Nazis came to power in 1933, leading to the sterilization of an estimated 400,000 individuals. Eventually the "final solution" of the eugenic Jewish problem was approved by Hitler in 1942. About 6 million Jews, and perhaps as many again of other races, died in Nazi concentration camps. Metaphysics has consequences.

None of this is to argue against the scientific theory of the common descent of species. It is to indict its unwarranted transformation into scientistic metaphysics.

Notes

1. Todd M Squires. Optimizing the vertebrate vestibular semicircular canal: Could we balance any better? Physical Review Letters, 93: 198106, 2004.

2. Kenneth Miller. Finding Darwin's God. Harper Perennial, New York, 2002.

3. Working Group on Teaching Evolution. Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1998, p 58.

4. W Provine. Evolution and the foundation of ethics. MBL Science, 3: 25-29, 1988.

5. Phillip Johnson. Is scientific naturalism scientific? In Scott B Luley, Copan Paul, and Stan W Wallace, editors, Science: Christian Perspectives for the New Millenium, volume II, pages 79-106. Christian Leadership Ministries and Ravi Zacharias Ministries, Addison, Texas, and Norcross, Georgia, 2003.

6. Francis Galton. Hereditary talent and character. Macmillan's Magazine, 12: 157-166,385-327, 1865, p 164

7. Michael Bulmer. Francis Galton Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2003.


Ian H. Hutchinson is professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His primary research interest is plasma physics and its practical applications. He and his MIT team designed, built and operate the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, an international experimental facility whose magnetically confined plasmas are prototypical of a future fusion reactor. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Cambridge University and his doctorate in engineering physics from the Australian National University. He directed the Alcator project from 1987 to 2003 and served as head of MIT’s nuclear science and engineering department from 2003 to 2009. In addition to over 200 journal articles on a variety of plasma phenomena, Hutchinson is widely known for his standard monograph on measuring plasmas: Principles of Plasma Diagnostics. For more, see Hutchinson's book Monopolizing Knowledge.

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Roger A. Sawtelle - #66912

January 3rd 2012

None of this is to argue against the scientific theory of the common descent of species. It is to indict its unwarranted transformation into scientistic metaphysics.

The real issue is not common descent.  The question is “What is the character of Darwinian natural selection?”  Malthusian population theory is faulty.  What, if anything, has taken its place? 

If natural selection is not a demonstrable, workable process, how can Darwin’s Theory be a demonstrable workable process?  It only exists as only part of his theory, the Variation part. 


Jon Garvey - #66913

January 3rd 2012

Some very good points, Ian. My only quibble would be to ask if the metaphysical presumptions were not inherent in the ToE from the beginning, both in Darwin’s own motivations, and within the milieu in which his work appeared (so that the Spencers, the Galtons and the Haeckels both received it readily and became so popular in their turn).

Conversely, would his theory, in the form presented, have had anything like the acceptance it had without the materialist metaphysic that was already taking hold of society?


HornSpiel - #66921

January 3rd 2012

You are may be right, that others did have metaphysical motivations for embracing evolution. I am not so sure though that Darwin had that motivation as much as he considered the metaphysical implications as inevitable. This is probably due to the prevailing idea that life proves God’s existence. The God-of-the-gap trap. Once he saw this proof of God was not inevitable, it deepened his existing crisis of faith to a point from which he could not emerge.

I think Prof. Hutchinson is arguing that evolution can be metaphysically neutral if science remains limited to naturalistic descriptions of natural phenomenon. Thus, his rather trenchant critique of Johnson and the ID movement. ID, rather than simply exposing the bad metaphysics (and theology) of scientism, attempts the overly ambitious programme of making/proving science incompatible with scientism.


Jon Garvey - #66942

January 4th 2012

Hornspiel

My reading around Darwin’s life suggests to me he knew very well the metaphysical implications of his theory from the start. I’ve argued http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.uk/2012/01/04/natural-theology-paley-and-darwin/ that he consciously had Paley in mind with OoS.

That may sound as if I’m agreeing with your God of the Gaps comment, but Paley never used life as proof of God’s existence, but as evidence of his wisdom, etc, to those who already believed, or who were open to belief. Paley’s been co-opted into an argument he never made by those with a materialist agenda.

But even if Darwin only later saw the metaphysical implications as inevitable, does that not imply that it was, as he presented it, less a scientific than a metaphysical theory? Theories, after all, don’t write themselves.


Mike F - #66922

January 3rd 2012

That’s a legitimate historical question, like asking about the metaphysical presumptions or motivations of the discoverers of DNA. And perhaps the rise of the theory was catalyzed by the materialistic atmosphere already taking hold in society at the time. (this is likely the case, since backlash against the theory in our present day is based not on the science behind it but on its perceived philosophical and religious implications)


But none of this has any bearing on the applicability of the theory to reality. What
is evolution? It’s an emergent behavior of natural processes that we happen to have
given a name. It isn’t a morality; it isn’t a philosophy; it isn’t a worldview. It has no telos, no end to which it’s working. It never
says, “Yes, this is what I’ve been working for all long!” No: stuff
lives and dies, and it doesn’t care.


True, people have used evolution as a justification for nefarious ends. But this isn’t evolution’s fault. The move to ground one’s morality on an emergent behavior of natural processes isn’t philosophically justified. You can’t build morality on evolution any more than you can build it on the law of gravity.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #66925

January 3rd 2012

Mike F.,

If nature has no morality, no telos, and humanity is a part of nature, which is the whole point of Darwinism, then how can one say that humanity has a morality or purpose or meaning?  And indeed that is what many scientismers are saying.

If science is not a valid philosophical basis for morality, what is? 

Observation:  Postmodern relativism finds its basis in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity which is an understanding of gravity and how it works.  Are you saying that this is wrong?  


Merv - #66926

January 3rd 2012

Roger, you wrote:  “If science is not a valid philosophical basis for morality, what is?”

Are you implying that science *is* a valid basis for morality?  If so, I’d love to see how you defend that.

The comparison between Einstein’s relativity and moral relativity is analogical only, and the reality of one has no bearing on the reality of the other.

—Merv


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66927

January 3rd 2012

Merv,

If Jesus is the Logos of the Creation, i.e. the universe, and Jesus is the Logos of Morality, then Science is a valid basis for morality.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Light.”  Truth always must be a basis for morality, scientific truth as well as any other source of truth.  I do not handle poisonous snakes just because in one passage in the NT says I can do so without harm.      


Merv - #66930

January 3rd 2012

Truth is the material that morality has to work with, and I agree that science is a terrific tool for determining many types of “is”.  But you need more than “is” to get to “ought”, and science can’t do it.  Never has.  Never will. 

All science tells us about handling venomous snakes is what some probable consequences might be.  It tells us nothing about about any morality of such things.  (For that matter the Bible passage says nothing about the morality of it either—too busy making a different point.) 

—Merv 


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66931

January 3rd 2012

Merv,

It is true that science does not provide the ought.  Theology does provide the ought.  However the ought is that one should do right, which should be obvious.

What is not obvious is the right thing to do.  This is where science best comes in.  However one often does not have the time and the ability to do an indepth study to determine what is the best thing to do, so we act on faith and the best information (science) available. 


Merv - #66932

January 3rd 2012

Fair enough.  Although I would add that ignorance may be the smaller part of our sin (morality) problem.  I know Jesus prayed “... for they know not what they do…”  But reading the rest of Scriptures I think that we can conclude that the bulk of our problem is rebellion.  We know perfectly well what we’re doing, and we’re gonna do it anyway.  Science can help sharpen our focus on the consequences of our behaviors but it can’t change our hearts.  A car can be a finely engineered and tuned machine, every dashboard instrument reading with perfect accuracy; but when the driver is drunk, or talking on his cell phone ...

—Merv


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66939

January 4th 2012

Merv.

Morality, especially the way we carry it out is trinitarian, just like everything else in this universe and beyond.  We need body (the physical, not being drunk or otherwise physically impaired), mind (the intellectual, having a clear mind not impaired by ideology or bias) and spirit (unselfish and lovingly seeking to do right) to be in proper relationship in order to make the best moral decisions and to maintain right relationships.

Obviously we do not always make the best decisions and do our best in difficult situations, which is why forgiveness and grace are so important to Christians.   

    


Mike F - #66934

January 3rd 2012

I agree that science can help us decide what to do, but only after theology (or something else) gives us some guiding principles. The problem that has been vexing philosophers for millenia, though, is what those guiding principles are.  (The golden rule? Consequentialism? The Bible? What happens when Christians disagree on what the Bible says? The history of philosophy has no shortage of moral philosophers)


Sam Harris actually makes this point as well in a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html): he defines what is moral as that which maximizes human flourishing, and then argues that science can help us figure out what that is. Well and good, but the problem is, you can’t use science to explain why you ought to maximize human flourishing, or what exactly is meant by “flourishing.”

Jon Garvey - #66937

January 4th 2012

”...moral as that which maximizes human flourishing”

Funnily enough, such utilitarian ethics were held by William Paley well before Darwin, and are considered to be a weakness by his philosophical and theological critics.

In the first place, science cannot decide that this is the best basis for ethics. In the second, it’s actually morally trivial to provide information on “what maximises human flourishing.”

Science after all is only refined observation of the world. In a simple sense, it’s a scientific observation that “the poor” tend to look thin, dirty and naked. That may be of some help to the man who believes one should help the poor, but it does nothing towards deciding that morality in the first place.


ZeroG - #66933

January 3rd 2012

Science doesn’t provide the ought, but it can explain why we do the things we do. Language was developed so people in groups could communicate. Humans were more successful when they were part of a group. Morality is the glue that holds the group together.


Merv - #66944

January 4th 2012

Mike F., you referred to the question of how to resolve disagreements between Christians over what the Bible says, and those are there to be sure—but probably not as often as we want to think.  Often we know the good we ought to do and just don’t want to do it.  Then do we ever hide behind our equivocation to shield us from responsibility?  Not always—but that is there.  A thought attributed to Mark Twain comes to mind:  “It isn’t the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me.  It’s the parts I understand perfectly well.”  (not sure when or where he said that; I’m going off having heard it somewhere.)

Going from Harris’ suggestion “maximal flourishing of humanity” could lead people to all manner of abortion, wholesale capital punishment, etc.—crime rates were down a decade or two after Roe vs. Wade.  So putting all the “undesirables” out on the proverbial ice flow could easily maximize the flourishing of the larger remainder of humanity; making for a stronger remaining gene pool; at least according to Evolutionism.  That’s what using science as an attempted basis for morality could lead to. 

Just “going with natural tendencies” is what happens in the absence of any morality.  It is in the call to resist our nature that morality shines and is so desperately needed.  For science to invent imperative (or to give moral sanction to the natural imperative we already feel) is like ordering un-suspended objects to fall  and being morally indignant if they disregard gravity.  It’s not just unnecessary.  It’s silly—worse than that—evil.  Systems of religious imperatives, for all their [exaggerated] disagreement, are at least striving to follow a higher mandate that isn’t just a rubber stamp for “natural”.

—Merv


Jon Garvey - #66948

January 5th 2012

Merv

You’re dead right. The whole Eugenics movement was based on swallowing the distasteful task of eradicating the weak for the greater good of the species. One need hardly remind anyone of the kind of science that informed Galton’s and Haeckl’s ethics.

The Holocaust was a racial eugenics project to “purify the species”. The Killing Fields of Cambodia were for the greater good of society. Stalin’s massacres were to bring about the new, benevolent, society - admittedly including the premise that his leadership was essential for it to happen.

Traditional ethics also sometimes accepts the unpleasant for the greater good - punishment, war, etc. But hitherto these have been counterbalanced by an ethic of the God-given sanctity of human life. On the other hand, certain types of science suggest that death is value-neutral, and indeed has been the major tool in the organisation of the world.


HornSpiel - #66935

January 4th 2012

Mike,

I agree with you for the most part. I would caution you about using animistic language however, like evolution is “an emergent behavior of natural processes,” as it distracts people from your point. Evolution is a scientific theory, and as such moral questions, teleological presumptions, etc. have no proper place in its formulation. This does not mean nature is necessarily amoral, or that evolution does not serve a creative purpose, only that science in itself cannot make any moralistic or teleological claims.

Morality I would argue must be grounded in the character of God the Creator, who is Love.

Anyways, I think all your posts here are well written and well reasoned.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66940

January 4th 2012

HornSpiel,

I agree with you that morality must be based on the character of God, Who is Creator, Logos, and Love. 

However if and I believe the Bible is clear on this, if YHWH revealed Godself through through the Creation, then science can and should discover much about God in nature.  This is the concept of the two Books.  Maybe I would add a third Book as the history of humankind. 

Of course the question is not, Can YHWH reveal Godself through the universe?, because YHWH can do whatever YHWH chooses to do, but Does YHWH reveal YHWH’s character through the universe?  In my opinion the answer is Yes, and I understand the Bible, OT and NT, to affirm this. 

If you want to know how, maybe you should read my book, DARWIN’S MYTH.  

 


Jon Garvey - #66943

January 4th 2012

MikeF

To say that “evolution doesn’t care” etc is self-evident since evolution is not a person. But to conclude from that that there is no teleology, no end towards which evolution is working is beyond the evidence.

One could equally say that cooking is an uncaring process with no aims in view, but because of the agents who employ it it is part of a completely teleological order. It is simply mistaken to say that cooked food is produced without purpose; but to apply “caring” or “not caring” to the cooking process itself is just missing the boat: you’re looking in the wrong place.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66924

January 3rd 2012

Jon,

At the end of The Origin Darwin clearly says that he expects that the Theory of Evolution will be accepted like Newton’s Law of Gravity.

A large part of my critique of Darwin and Co. is that Life sciences are which deal with living nature are very different from the physical sciences which deals with non-living nature.  Now many scientists make the distinct between the hard sciences (physical sciences) and the soft sciences, but the goal of scientism is reduce all “science” the same level, the hard sciences.  This would seem to be Darwin’s ideal, too.

Of course it is ironic that today Einstein’s understanding of gravity has replaced Newton’s, while Darwinians claim that there can be only one understanding of evolution, and that is Darwin’s.  All else is anti-science.  Of course I have found that many scientismers, including Dawkins, do not think that Einstein’s understanding of gravity is basically different from Newton’s.      

  


Mike F - #66929

January 3rd 2012

Understanding 1) how evolution as a process or algorithm works, is different from 2) understanding how individual species actually evolved on planet earth. My understanding is that biology’s picture of #2 has changed somewhat since Darwin, but #1 is just an idea.

Were Newton and Einstein close in their understanding of gravity? Depends what you mean by “understanding”. Newton didn’t know what caused gravity; neither did Einstein (and neither do we today), except that mass deforms space for some strange reason—but that’s only moving the “why” one step farther. Nevertheless, Newton’s equations are a very, very good approximation of Einstein’s general relativity.

I wouldn’t say it’s the goal of scientism to reduce all “science” to the hard sciences. That’s merely the direction that science itself seems to be going. Surely one of the great feats of 20th century science is explaining life in terms of chemistry and physics, which is what paved the way for unprecedented breakthroughs in medicine. And neuroscience has only begun to explain psychology in these terms as well.

Perhaps I’m off, but I understand scientism to refer to the posture that empirical science is the authoritative truth-detection engine. Of course, this is philosophically dubious for a few reasons, one of which is that it’s immediately self-defeating.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #66938

January 4th 2012

Mike F wrote:

Newton didn’t know what caused gravity; neither did Einstein (and neither do we today), except that mass deforms space for some strange reason—but that’s only moving the “why” one step farther.

Mike, I want to thank you very much for pointing out exactly what the real problem is with our world today and that is we lost our way intellectually.  This is a criticism of science, theology, and esp. philosophy.

The issue today is not science vs theology, it is postmodernism vs modernism, which is strictly a philosophical issue, so our problems are intractible because we are not diagnosing them properly. 

Because we are not diagnosing them properly our problems are insidious because we so not take them seriously.  We spend millions ands even billions of euros and dollars on science and theology, but next to nothing on philosophy.

Mike, you point out that Einstein pointed out that mass deforms space, but instead of making this the basis for new insight into the character of Reality, you dismiss it with “for some strange reason.”  The spirit of good science, philosophy, and theology is to track down this “strange reason” until it yeilds its secret.

Instead modernists stick their heads in the sand and hold on to Newtonian absolutes even though they are scientifically untenable because Relativism is also untenable.  Postmodernists stick their heads in the sand because they see an upside to Relativism even though Relativism has nothing to do with Einstein’s theory.

Again the problems of our world arise because intellectuals like you and I do not understand or take seriously the philosophical vacuum in which we live.  Even when I reveal the “strange reason” WHY mass deforms space to cause gravity I expect you will not take it seriously. 

This is the reason, Because the nature of the universe is Relational, not physical.  That is why Scientism and philosophy do not work, and neither does theology in as far as it is based on philosophy which is always more than we suppose.  


RBH - #66917

January 3rd 2012

Prof. Hutchinson wrote “The paper implies, though, that mammals all having inner ears close to this optimum supports Darwin’s theory of the origin of species.”

I read the paper and I see no such implication.  What I do see is the argument that natural selection, said to be an optimizing mechanism invoked by the theory of evolution, explains the convergence of mammalian semicircular canals on a constant size.  That is, the convergence is not interpreted as supporting evolution, but rather is claimed to be explained by natural selection for an optimum size.

I should say that I have a substantial reservation about the article. My reservation has to do with the assertion that “... evolution can be viewed as a gradient search seeking to optimize ‘fitness’;...”.  The search metaphor for evolutionary changes in populations due to natural selection is a snare and a deception, in my opinion.  Evolution by natural selection does not seek optimum fitness—it doesn’t <i>seek</i> fitness of any level.  It occasionally <i>finds</i> (relatively) higher fitness as a by-product of the operation of the algorithmic processes of variation and differential reproductive success.


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66928

January 3rd 2012

RBH,

What are the factors that bring “reproductive success?”  Are they random or rational? 


RBH - #66918

January 3rd 2012

[test of markup]  Delete at will, please.


RBH - #66919

January 3rd 2012

Another test


HornSpiel - #66920

January 3rd 2012

Perhaps seek is being used as a metaphor for a result of natural selection—that variations in organisms tend towards the local optimal solution. It is like saying water seeks the lowest depression it can flow to.

I agree though the language is charged with metaphysical implications.


James R - #66936

January 4th 2012

Dr. Hutchinson’s article here starts out well, then loses its way.

His opening example, of the unwarranted leap from the optimal arrangement of the ear bones to the truth of Darwinian theory, is a good one.  His second example of an unwarranted leap, from the anthropological literature, is good as well.

He is also right to say that the metaphysics often promoted by biologists and their popular interpreters is a major cause of the rejection of evolution by so many people. 

His critique of the NAS statement is also good.

Where he goes off the rails is where he starts talking about ID.  
 

He writes:  “Their focus, which is to demonstrate scientifically that there must be an intelligent designer of the universe, makes complete sense if science is all the real knowledge there is.”

Though Dr. Hutchinson would lead us to believe otherwise, “makes complete sense if” is not the same as “logically implies that.”  It does not follow that one who thinks that science can provide evidence for the existence of God also thinks that science is the only source of real knowledge of God, or of anything else.  For example, there are ID proponents who believe that human moral experience provides grounds for believing in God, and most ID proponents think that revelation provides genuine knowledge of God.  But no ID proponent thinks of arguments for the existence of God based on moral experience or on revelation as “scientific.”  There are also ID proponents who “know” that abortion is murder, and that socialism is a bad economic system.  None of them suppose that these conclusions were arrived at through “science.”   Dr. Hutchinson is attacking ID for a position that no ID proponent holds.  Further, he would know that no ID proponent holds such a position, if he would take the time to actually speak to some ID proponents personally.  But he chooses instead to caricature them from a distance, based on hearsay.

Dr. Hutchinson says:  “They’ve chosen a battle that they are going to lose.”  I wonder how Dr. Hutchinson knows this.  His field is physics, not biology.  The battle that ID people are engaged in is over whether neo-Darwinian mechanisms can produce radically new organs and body plans, without any input from a designing intelligence.  Surely Dr. Hutchinson is not qualified to pronounce upon the capabilities of neo-Darwinian mechanisms?  It follows that he has adopted his opinion based on hearsay, i.e., he has accepted the judgment of his biological colleagues.  And he has every right to do this; but he cannot employ his prestige as a leading physicist to lend weight to the biologists’ judgment.    

Dr. Hutchinson goes on to say:  “The real disagreement is not between Christianity and an evolutionary account of the origin of species, or Christianity and science.”  Very good.  But he implies that ID asserts such a disagreement.  It does not.  ID proponents have been very clear—have repeated ad infinitum, apparently to deaf ears—that ID is not opposed in principle to “evolution,” but only to radically unguided or unplanned evolution.  Has Dr. Hutchinson not read these statements?  If he has not, then his criticism of ID is based on inadequate research, and is academically irresponsible. 

To be fair, what probably confuses Dr. Hutchinson is that some ID proponents have opposed not merely unguided or unplanned evolution, but evolution simply.  But even those ID proponents who do so admit that this is not required by ID per se; they speak only as individuals when they affirm that macroevolution has not happened.  For example, Paul Nelson has not denied that Michael Behe, who accepts macroevolution, is an ID proponent, and Jonathan Wells has not said that his colleague Richard Sternberg, who accepts macroevolution, misunderstands the ID position.  It is clear, then, that while some ID proponents do not personally accept macroevolution, rejection of macroevolution is not a required tenet of ID as such.  Why has Dr. Hutchinson not canvassed the ID literature sufficiently to have been able to determine this?   Surely, if he is going to publically dismiss ID in a scholarly book, he has the responsibility to make sure that he understands the position that he is dismissing.


HornSpiel - #66945

January 4th 2012

James,

Hutchinson is baldly stating that ID is bad science and that why he believes “they’ve chosen a battle they are going to lose.” The reason he can say that is because ID is really about changing the nature of (hard) science by adding teleological causation into scientific theory. I think he goes too far, by the way, in dismissing social (soft) sciences as science because they do rely on assumption of purpose in the behavior of humans and higher animals. But that’s a different matter.

Showing a particular mechanism is inadequate does not invalidate the theory. Testing and adjusting are just part of the scientific process. There may not be any scientific answer, but it cannot be proved scientificly.

I wonder though if you agree with Hutchinson’s characterization of ID: That an acceptance of evolution as the mechanism for the origin and adaptation of species implies…that there are no inherent moral
or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society. The motivation for ID should not be an issue though.

If ID science can produce better practical results that traditional science then it will win. However the assumption of design will inevitably cause ID theories to be less explanatory in a practical sense because, instead of relentlessly seeking a physical causes, ID will too often assume teleological causation. It would be the biological equivalent of going from chemistry to alchemy, or astronomy to astrology.


James R - #66946

January 5th 2012

Hornspiel:

Hutchinson can make any prediction he wants.  My point was that his prediction is not based on any personal knowledge of his own about evolutionary theory, genetics, developmental biology, etc.  He is relying on what his colleagues in the life sciences tell him.  So his opinion is derivative, not independent.  And that fact that he is a physicist of some renown lends no additional weight to any of his statements about biology.

My further point was that he does not seem to understand very clearly what ID is; he seems to have it confused with creationism.  And based on his remarks, the cause for this seems to be the usual:  insufficient study of ID writings, lack of close personal contact with ID proponents, and reliance upon hearsay coming from ID’s critics.

In response to one of your points, in the case of neo-Darwinism, showing that a particular mechanism (random mutation plus natural selection) is inadequate does invalidate the theory, because the theory is the mechanism.  If random mutation plus natural selection cannot turn a hippo into a whale in 6 million years, then Darwinian evolution is dead.  Some other model of evolution might still work, but not the Darwinian.  And it is the Darwinian view that ID attacks, not “evolution” itself.  Hutchinson fails to see this because he conflates ID with creationism.  Sometimes I get the impression that you do, too.

ID does not say that an acceptance of “evolution” implies the lack of any basis for morality.  When people like Johnson say things such as that, they are almost always attacking Darwin’s understanding of evolution, not all possible understandings of evolution.  For example, Michael Denton’s understanding of evolution would be compatible with a traditional morality. 

What counts as “explanatory” depends on what you expect of an explanation.  Dr. Hutchinson expects of an explanation only that it will yield mathematical relationships of predictive power (and hence, potential technological power); Dr. Hutchinson’s conception of science is Baconian-Cartesian.  Aristotle, on the other hand, expected more of explanation than that. 

You can, in a Baconian-Cartesian manner, explain the workings of a clock exhaustively, without any reference to the fact that they are put together in the way that they are for the purpose of telling time.  But that is hardly a satisfactory explanation for the existence of the clock.  Similarly, one day we will perhaps be able to give an exhaustive efficient-cause account of the intricate complexities of a living cell, with its interlocking systems of molecular machines, complete with feedback systems, self-repair functions, defensive functions, traffic control functions, etc., without ever raising the question why the cell should ever have arisen and become organized in this way.  That would be a Cartesian-Baconian account.  It would be sufficient for prediction and all technological applications.  But it would hardly be a satisfactory explanation of the marvel that is the cell.  ID people are looking for a full set of causes, including what one might call “informational” causes, for biological entities and systems.  If you want to label some of those causes as outside of “science,” you are welcome to, but that is merely a matter of labels.  The point is that we will never truly understand biological nature—and the purpose of the life sciences is to understand biological nature—unless we take into account the informational as well as the matter/energy causes of living things.  And if that means sometimes having recourse to teleological thinking, so be it.  I’m interested in understanding nature, not in protecting some professional body’s definition of “science.”


HornSpiel - #66957

January 5th 2012

James,

I see your point, that if the “mechanism” of evolution is “random mutation plus natural selection” then it may be possible to calculate the astronomical improbabilities of converting a “hippo into a whale in 6 million years.”

Unfortunately I do not have the time today to respond as fully as I would like to your post. Let me simply say a couple thoughts.

Evolutionary theory is defined as common decent with modifications, not any particular mechanism by which that happens. Random mutation plus natural selection is not the only mechanism by which  theorists believe evolution proceeds (e.g. genetic drift). Moreover there may be mechanisms that have not yet been identified. Therefore the idea that one can invalidate the theory by calculating that a subset of the known and unknown mechanisms cannot account for the observed data (fossil record, comparative genetics, etc) is simply wishful thinking.

I think we will just have to agree to disagree on the purpose of science. What you want science to do, I feel theology does adequately.

I hear you saying that a “satisfactory [scientific] explanation of the marvel that is the cell” would need to account for the “informational causes.” I am not sure what that means. If efficient-cause  accounts could explain the the accumulation of information in biological systems, would that obviate the need for ID science in your opinion?


Roger A. Sawtelle - #66958

January 5th 2012

HornSpiel,

If evolution means only “common descent with modifications,” then all that is written about evolution is not scientific theory, but subjective speculation, because they try to explain how this works when science can only say that it happens. 

 


Jon Garvey - #66964

January 6th 2012

I’d be more convinced by Hornspiel’s argument if I didn’t remember a time before HGT, before the neutral theory etc, and long before Dembski and ID, when critics (including mathematicians) were saying “random mutation and natural selection doesn’t stack up as a mechanism for evolution.”

I also remember the replies from Neodarwinians - “You just lack imagination”, or “that’s an unscientific way to think” or the perennial “you don’t understand evolution.”

If the science now suggests that though RM and NS are insufficient, but that there are many other mechanisms, then the correct answer to those early critics should have been, “Maybe you’re right: we’ll have to do more work before we stake our money on the theory,” or even, “You may be be right, but currently RM &NS is all we have.” In fact it was, “The theory’s fine - it’s all  the critics who are wrong.”

Even now, you’d expect some acknowledgement of former over-confidence. Instead, one sees the attitude described by J B S Haldane: “We were right all along - we never believed we had the whole story.” And we hear the same trenchant condemnations of the modern doubters - lack of imagination, bad science and lack of understanding of the theory.

And I agree with you Roger - if evolution only means “descent with modification” then Darwin was merely a latecomer on the evolutionary scene others pioneered, and his actual theory just a historical footnote, together with the Modern Synthesis.


James R - #66959

January 5th 2012

Thanks, HornSpiel.

If “the theory of evolution” means nothing more than “common descent with modification,” without commitment to any particular mechanism, then ID is quite compatible with “the theory of evolution.”  But I know of no serious version of “the theory of evolution” which does not commit itself to some set of mechanisms.  Some versions place huge emphasis on random mutations, others on selection, others on drift, others on massive recombination of genomes, others on principles of self-organization, still others on various combinations of these elements.  Some of these versions of evolution are compatible with ID; others aren’t.

The communications problem between the IDers and the TEs is that the leading TEs, for the most part, are so obsessed with refuting, ridiculing, and rejecting ID, that they haven’t taken the time to make all the distinctions necessary to sort out the complex relationship between ID and evolutionary theory.  When you have decided, either wholly on hearsay, or on a large chunk of hearsay and only a sketchy acquaintance with ID literature, that ID is creationism and that ID is inherently anti-evolutionary, you are not going to invest the time required to grasp all the nuances that are found in various ID writings.

Regarding your comment on science and theology in your fourth paragaraph, what I was speaking of was not theology.  Aristotle’s account of the four causes, for example, is not theology.  It’s an account of the many-sidedness required for true causal explanation.  (And no, I am not saying that ID people are Aristotelians.  I am giving Aristotle as an example of a philosopher of nature who disagreed with Descartes, Bacon, etc. regarding what constituted adequate explanation.  ID people don’t necessarily agree with Aristotle about the details, but they have intellectual concerns similar to those of Aristotle.)

As for your last question, the key word is “if.”  It is Stephen Meyer’s contention, for example, that the nature of the DNA-protein system is such that the informational contents cannot be explained by the restricted sort of “scientific” methods championed by Dr. Hutchinson.  He may be right, or he may be wrong; but if he is right, the notion of “science” needs to undergo expansion, NOT to include theology or questions of ultimate purpose or value (which is the usual false accusation TEs level against IDers), but to include “information,” of which the only known cause (on a large scale, anyway) is intelligence.  See his discussion in Signature in the Cell.  (And you don’t have to agree with everything in the book in order to be able to agree with his analysis of the informational structure of the DNA-protein system.)


MrDunsapy - #66960

January 5th 2012

JamesR wrote:
NOT to include theology or questions of ultimate purpose or value (which is the usual false accusation TEs level against IDers), but to include “information,” of which the only known cause (on a large scale, anyway) is intelligence.  See his discussion in Signature in the Cell.  (And you don’t have to agree with everything in the book in order to be able to agree with his analysis of the informational structure of the DNA-protein system.)
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
If you want the bottom line answers. ( I am always looking for  that). Do not ‘evolution’ and ID end up with the same outcome. The ‘evolutionary’ scientists say there is no God. The ID  scientists  say  there  is intelligent design but some don’t know  who God is.
So with both ideas, you come to the same action. If don’t take the time to find out who God is, the  bottom line is with either side, you end up not serving God.  And isn’t that the real point, it is not about the many reasons people want to distance themselves from God , but it is that they end up not serving him.  That’s the bottom line.
http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/


penman - #66962

January 6th 2012

Is it necessary to set up this stark antithesis between “TEs” and “IDers”, as though they were well-defined, mutually exclusive camps?

I put myself in the TE or Evolutionary Creationist camp, in that I accept the case for the genealogical linkage of life across geological time. (But I have no deep commitments to mechanisms. The General Theory of Evolution - life’s genealogy over geological time - was already around before Darwin proposed natural selection as a mechanism.)

But I don’t have any principled hostility to ID in either its “soft” or “hard” forms. By “soft” I just mean the general belief that the universe is the product of a designing intelligence (God) - a necessary axiom, I think, for Christian theism; by “hard” I mean the belief that this design is scientifically detectable.

I don’t see the in-built contradiction between the two positions, i.e. TE/ECism and ID. Hard ID may or may not be true. But the only thing it contradicts is the same thing that soft ID would contradict, viz. a non-Christian theism that hands the universe over to ultimate metaphysical chance or contingency. Admittedly rather too many TE/ECs do this, but it’s a theological weakness (a severe one, I judge) that has no organic connection to a belief in general evolution.

And happy new year to everyone.


James R - #66967

January 6th 2012

penman:

I agree with you.  That’s why I put the blame on the “leading TEs” rather than TEs generally.  I’ve found that among the rank and file TEs, the ones who aren’t famous as book-writers, bloggers, and prominent ASA members, there is often a willingness to look at ID and consider whether it has something valuable to offer.  Among such TEs I would include yourself, jon garvey, and a couple of others who have posted here.

Like you, I don’t see any inherent contradiction between “theistic evolution” and “intelligent design,” but to read the public statements of the leading TEs, you would think that the two were as incompatible as fire and water.  How else can one explain why Mike Behe, who believes in God and in macroevolution, is not (by most TEs) considered to be a TE?  He accepts both the “theistic” and the “evolution,” yet is a regular target of the heaviest TE artillery.  Who is responsible for the polarization there, Behe, or the TEs who have excluded him?  Clearly, for the TE leaders, TE implies something more than just “theistic evolution”; it requires other commitments, commitments that Behe does not accept.

I agree with you about the theological weakness of the position advocated by many leading TEs.  Part of the friction between ID and TE, is that ID people (and I’m not speaking just of the leading ID people here, but also of most of its supporters) tend to be pretty orthodox and conventional in their theology, whether that theology be Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, or something else, whereas many of the leading TEs seem instinctively attracted to post-Enlightenment developments in theology.

We can see this here on Biologos.  I’ve observed, over the past several months, that whenever the name of Calvin is brought up, and someone actually posts some thoughts or passages of Calvin which indicate that Calvin’s theology is not what TE columnists or commenters claim it is, the TE columnist or commenter will go silent and break off commenting on the thread.  This happened as recently as last month.  I’ve never seen:  “Hmm ... maybe you are right ... maybe I have not read enough Calvin, and have interpreted the little I have read through too liberal a filter.”  I’ve observed the same pattern when other theologians—including Aquinas and C. S. Lewis—are discussed here, or when Denis Alexander elsewhere discusses people such as Origen or Augustine.  Always the most modern-sounding or liberal-sounding parts of the theologians are cherry-picked, giving the impression that these people would have been very comfortable with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, when in fact they wouldn’t have been.  The leading TEs, and some of their supporters, seem willing to ignore or distort parts of the theological tradition in order to harmonize Christianity with certain forms of evolutionary theory that they are committed to.  

I think it would be wonderful if there were more public events where ID and TE leaders could debate or just plain discuss issues.  It would be helpful if some of those discussions focused particularly on theology.  But as far as I can tell, TE leaders prefer to debate ID people at a distance, in blogs and in books, and for the most part (Ken Miller is a rare exception) turn down opportunities to face ID people in public settings.  And in the rare cases where they do confront ID people publically, they seem to want the debate to be focused on genetics and fossils, not on theology.  When have we seen a public debate, not where TE people have teamed up with atheists to bash ID people (there have been plenty of those!), but where TE and ID people debate in a Christian context over the theology of creation?  To my knowledge, there has never been such a public event, but I am willing to be corrected if I somehow missed it.


MrDunsapy - #66969

January 6th 2012

 Hi JamesR 


I don’t think the theological, evidence is weak.? Though the bible does not claim to be a science text book, but what it does say, has always been ahead of its time. And as for traditional theology., it has followed  the pattern of of religions in the past. It started out correct but over time has ended up  actually against what the the  original  position  was..
This system of things is design to mislead. 
The bible was written about the people at that time but is for the people of our time.
Science really is just a small part of this question. If you look at it like a puzzle, the 1,500 pieces kind. Science would have a few pieces in the sky and a few in the grass.  You don’t need those pieces to see what the picture says, but  those  pieces  also have to fit. 
If you think about it, most people don’t know anything about science. And that was certainly true in the past.. But the bible has always been correct when it comes to science.
http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/
 

Douglas E - #67012

January 10th 2012

James R clearly states the problem: he supports the notion that the ID and TE folks get together to discuss theology and debate the issues.  Science is not a debate.  Science is evidence based.  Scientists can look at the same data and come to conflicting conclusions, even to the point that the incorrect understanding has a time of acceptance and even dominance.  But even well-established paradigms fall when more data are produced and new insights developed that form the basis for a new paradigm.  If ID wishes to establish a new theological and philosophical paradigm, that is all well and good.  If they want to have an impact on scientific paradigms, they will have to produce scientific data relevant to specific actions of the intelligent designer and the mechanisms used to carry out such design.  Until that happens, ID will be rightfully identified as creationism with just a different line in the sand than the one that Ken Ham draws.


James R - #67013

January 10th 2012

Douglas E:

The column we are discussing here is not about “science” simply but about the metaphysical and theological assumptions and/or implications of certain claims of science.  TEs are all Christian, and most IDers are Christian, and therefore, they should have something metaphysically/theologically in common.  My suggestion was that they get together to debate the Christian theological issues relevant to evolution. 

What you are talking about is how IDers can convince the secular scientific world of the validity of ID’s scientific notions.  That is not the subject I was addressing.

And just as an aside, for the umpteenth time:  it is not necessary to know even a single thing about a putative designer in order to determine whether or not a system is designed.  The question “whether X is designed” and the question “who is the designer of X” (as also the question “how and when was X executed?”) are logically and scientifically entirely separable.  This has been explained scores of times by scores of ID writers on just about every web site on the planet where these ideas are discussed; you must be new to the discussion, or you would have seen such explanations by now.

Another aside:  you are working with a faulty definition of “creationism.”  You’ve perhaps been reading too much NCSE material.  Creationism, as the term is commonly used in these debates, refers to the belief that the opening chapters of Genesis constitute a scientific authority regarding origins.  ID make zero use of the opening chapters of Genesis in any of its arguments.  ID makes no use of theological authority of any kind in any of its arguments.  ID proponents are in their private capacity mostly Christians, but none ever uses creationist arguments when making the case for ID.


Douglas E - #67014

January 10th 2012

James R:

Regarding your second aside, I would suggest that it is you who are working with a faulty definition of creationism.  The Genesis accounts are surely central to many ‘creationists’ beliefs, but the federal courts have determined that ID is a form of creationism and thus cannot be taught as science.  No doubt you will echo the DI stance that Kitzmiller v Dover should be ignored, but it is nevertheless the current legal definition of what constitutes creationism.

Regarding your fist aside, I don’t believe that I said that ID had to show a thing about the designer.  ID has yet to demonstrate that something has come to be that can only be explained by design theory. 

I certainly agree that most TEers and IDers have much in common theologically and philosophically and like you, would welcome respectful dialog in those areas.  I would counter your claim that the “leading” TEers are dismissive of ID by noting that the few “leading” IDers that I have met are condescending and on occasion disingenuous.


James R - #67016

January 10th 2012

Douglas E:

First, the job of Kitzmiller vs. Dover was not to legally define creationism but to legally characterize ID.  Second, technically speaking, the Dover decision only has legal force within the Pennsylvania court district it came from.  It may have a kind of deterrent force elsewhere, but its rulings certainly do not contain “the current legal definition” of anything.  Other judges in other court districts across the country are free to ignore its decision, and to permit ID policies in local school boards, if such cases come up in other places.  Third, the definition of words in a culture does not come from court decisions (even if they sometimes contribute in the long run to such definitions).  “Creationism” had a clear meaning before Judge Jones was born, and its meaning has not changed in the general culture as a result of his decision.  It refers to an understanding of origins that is governed by a literal or near-literal understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis.  Such an understanding is neither assumed nor implied by ID. 

The error of Judge Jones was not in ruling the motivations of the school board creationist (they were), nor in ruling parts of the book Of Pandas and People creationist (they were), but in rendering the blanket judgment that ID, as such, was creationist.  This was simply a factually wrong description of ID.  As I said to beaglelady elsewhere here, the judge should simply have struck down the Dover board’s ID policy on the grounds of religious motivation, and made no attempt whatever to generally characterize ID in relation to religion and science.  But of course, the whole thing had nothing to do with the truth about religion and science.  It was a culture-war show trial from the beginning.  One could learn very little about either the nature of religious questions or the practice of real science from the thousands of pages of testimony offered there.  When lawyers are in charge of anything, victory, not truth, is the goal of the proceedings.

On my first aside, you had originally written:

“If they want to have an impact on scientific paradigms, they will have to produce scientific data relevant to specific actions of the intelligent designer and the mechanisms used to carry out such design.”

Yet now you write:

“I don’t believe that I said that ID had to show a thing about the designer.”

Well, you may not have asked for an independent characterization of the designer, but certainly you seemed to be asking for a description of when and how the designer acted.  And my point was that it is not necessary to know such things (any more than it is necessary to characterize the designer) in order to know that an organ, system, or organism is designed.  (Perhaps I extended your argument a little beyond what your words said, because most critics of ID also ask for independent knowledge of the designer.)

I haven’t had the same personal experience that you have had of ID leaders.  I have found people such as Behe and Meyer extremely polite and civil in debate, sticking to the argument and not aiming at the person.  Nor have I seen the disingenuousness you speak of.  As for condescending, I suppose that condescension is in the eye of the beholder, but I have seen plenty of what I would call condescension from TEs toward ID, OEC and YEC people.  A number of atheist Darwinist writers can also be quite condescending. 


Jon Garvey - #67019

January 11th 2012

It’s certainly not helpful (in the context of James’ and Douglas’ discussion) to bandy the word “creationism” about, simply because everyone else does, to the detriment of any understanding.

If the judge in the Dover trial defined ID as “creationism” he certainly didn’t define “creationism” - what does it mean, stripped of its usual YEC/literal Genesis meaning? I can only imagine it means a belief in God as creator, which I always thought was what theistic evolutionists believe. Certainly on Jerry Coyne’s testimony, all the leading TEs are creationists.

That’s the very kind of thing TEs and IDers should be discussing: what does the Christian doctrine of creation mean, and how do we differentiate that from Creationism (big C)? If both parties were forced, for a brief while, to stop talking about Darwin and talk about God, they might be surprised at their level of agreement. If not, at least they’d have clarified the theology a bit.


MrDunsapy - #66968

January 6th 2012

HI Penman

I would go further than his, and say if there were no scientists there would be no ‘evolution’. Yes I know the hypothesis, has been around before Darwin. He was the one that popularized it.  
In other words it is not a real thing.  There is no evidence that supports it.. Actually what the scientists do, is use their hypothesis, of ‘evolution’ as evidence. What I mean by that is , ‘evolution’ is correct so these , fossils I just found have to fit that. Which is circular thinking and not scientific.
The ‘evolutionary’ scientists  themselves say that the method they use  can not detect ID, and I was told “they don’t need to.”  
But is everything the ‘evolutionary’ scientists say wrong? No! They have learned many things about the science. It is just their interpretations of the science  that is wrong. That part of it is what there is no evidence for.
There 3 facts we all know to be true
1 life comes from life
2 a human comes from humans
3 there is design in life.
The ‘evolutionary scientists go against all three. But all three support creation.
Now there is adaption, breeding, natural selection, and mutations. None of which get you new kinds of animals. In other words a human is always a human. That is why we don’t see any almost humans or do we see any ex-humans.  The scientists have never seen one become another over time. Now they use the word species, but that is their own definition, and they have at least 2 dozen ideas of what a species is. So that is also not known.
As for similarities of  life, the idea of creating life and then using that creation by using material from it, to make other life, is also possible in creation. This I call Patterns of Creation*..  The creator said he did this. So the precedent had been set thousands of years ago.
So there is a variety of humans, but there is no monkey business, involved. No ‘evolution’. And if you go strictly by the evidence we have, ‘evolution’ is not possible.
So the scientists,  hypothesis, contradicts the evidence.
*
http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/
   
     



Papalinton - #66963

January 6th 2012

There are to salient observations that encapsulates the form of discussion on this OP from Hutchionson:


As Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) so beautifully put it, “Truth, in the matter of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.”

And as Charles Darwin so insightfully reminds us, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

The grand equation on which christian apologetics is based:

Majority of opinion = theological fact.


MrDunsapy - #66970

January 6th 2012

 Hi   Papalinton

What  Oscar Wilde, wrote is wrong. It should read.
 “Truth, in the matter of ‘evolution’, is simply that it doesn’t exist..” 
The majority  of opinion , with scientists,  is that ‘evolution’ is the answer. But it is only an opinion. They really should have evidence for that opinion. It takes a lot of schooling and peer pressure for some to go against all evidence. 
It is this pressure that turns some believers in God, away from the writings that always has been proved correct.
And isn’t that the purpose of this system?
http://patternsofcreation.weebly.com/

.


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