The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (1)

This is taken from an introductory lecture in the TELOS Course “The Doctrine of  Man and Sin”

 

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. – Psalm 8:3-6

According to the Bible, man, here meaning male and female (Gen. 1:27), is a very special part of God’s creation.  According to the scientific establishment we are nothing more than advanced animals, newly arrived upon the scene of earth history, without any more significance than a trilobite or a sea-horse.

Most of us are familiar with naturalistic evolution. This is what I was taught from a young child growing up in England all the way through high school.  And when I attended college I was taught it there too, even though it wasn’t really part of the business degree that I was doing.

I wasn’t a Christian until I was 25, and was not from a particularly religious household, so I believed more or less in evolution, although always in the back of my mind I could not quite understand how life came from non-life.  Neither could I grasp how the marvelous beauty and order that we see in life could be accounted for by random unguided particles banging together. Neither could I quite understand how the theory of evolution could account for the significance that we find in our own lives. We write poetry, we write love songs, we listen to music of one sort or another that expresses our inner emotions, and what we feel about ourselves, and how important we think certain things are to the world and to life itself. We do this all the time; it’s natural for the human being to do it, and I just could not understand how this sense of significance could be part of an evolutionary process.

Why did we evolve to see our own significance and reflect upon it?  Why try to better it, critique it, and eulogize it? So there were these things that the ‘science’ did not fully explain to me.

I have listened to and read many evolutionists.  I believe that at a fundamental level, Evolution is the creation myth of the secularist, of the unbeliever.

They don’t want to believe in the Creator.  They don’t want to believe that there is a God whom they have to face.  Therefore, as theologian Millard Erickson tells us in his Christian Theology, (2nd ed. 501f.), they have a group of processes into which they pour their faith, which, superficially at least, produce and explain everything that is, including all the diversity of life.  All that is needed is ‘a combination of atoms, motion, time, and chance.’ As Erickson says, no attempt is made to account for these givens; they are simply there, the basis of everything else.

Now this is certainly true.  Anybody who believes in evolution will not even try to think behind the ramifications of what they’re saying, and will not try to give an explanation for the processes that they say delivered up to us “reality” (which they can scarcely define), as we presently experience it.  It is just there they say.  It all could have been any other way, but it just happened to be this way.  One famous scientist said that the reason that the world is the way it is, is because it was the way that it is.  In other words, just things are the way that they are and there’s no real reason behind it; no personality, no Creator to guide it or to give it any further significance than just accidental occurrences.  All of the matter and energy in the universe, and all of the different combinations of it came from a Big Bang, and the far future scenarios for the universe are either freeze or fry. We’re either going to just freeze, as entropy completely disintegrates, or we’re going to fry as the whole thing burns up.

In between the Big Bang and the big freeze there is no significance or meaning other than what we can find in and of ourselves.  We make it all up.  There is no great explanation, there is no providential plan. Life came from non-life by lightning hitting a “pre-biotic” (‘prior to life’) pond.  Scientific laws weren’t laws until after these things conveniently came together.  We should not see ourselves as anything more significant than temporary cosmic accidents.

Seven Basic (Silly) Assumptions

Someone has said that, “The basic assumptions of evolution are:

  1. Inorganic chemicals gave rise to life (belief in spontaneous generation – in modern garb).
  2. Spontaneous generation only happened once. (They believe it only happened once because it is such an astronomically absurdly impossible thing to even postulate.  Though some think it happened many times).
  3. All living organisms are therefore related (IF the first two statements are true)
  4. Single celled organisms [protozoa] gave rise to multi-celled organisms [metazoa]
  5. Invertebrates are all related
  6. Invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates
  7. From fish we get amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.”

These are taken from a book by G.A. Kerkut called Implications of Evolution.  One wonders if he really thought through the “implications”!

Those are of the seven basic assumptions that evolutionists make about evolution.  Other assumptions are made about reality.  For example, that morals, or the laws of thought are culturally-conditioned; that there is a correlation between what is in man’s mind and what is outside of man’s mind, and that correlation can be studied, analyzed, and mathematically predicted in terms of art, architecture, technology, and of course, the “science of evolution.”

But why and how did the amazing fine-tuning in the universe evolve?  A fine-tuning whereby the universe itself seems to be particularly the way it is so that life can exist upon this planet. Well, if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here asking about it!”  And that’s an answer?  These and other presuppositions evolutionists have.  They don’t really try to see the convenience of it all; let alone the significance.  They just try to ignore the coincidences and ignore the signals of design and purpose all around them while believing an incredible and oft-disproved theory.   

It boils down to this:

Incoherence evolved into coherence, yet the explanations of coherence devolve into incoherence.

 

 

Thx to Servants Place for the photo

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35 comments

    1. John,

      It is the discredited notion of abiogenesis, still clung to by most evolutionists as the only option outside of a Creator of life. Here is an example, which puts faith in Miller-Urey et all: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/spontaneous-generation.html.
      Doubtless further appeal to S. Kauffmann or Avida would be made. The fact is, life does not arise from non-life.

      I might add that there is more to the article than the incoherence of life from non-life.

  1. Abiogenesis and Evolution are two different topics. There are lots of Christians – especially Christian scientists – who accept the fact of evolution but think it was guided by God. So right off the bat you have some pretty egregious mistakes (namely #1 has nothing to do with evolution).

    “It’s also now been possible to compare our DNA with that of many other species. The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that.” – Francis Collins, Head of the Human Genome Project

    Abiogenesis has varying levels of evidence. The Urey-Miller experiment did show you can get organic matter from non organic materials, there have been much more successful experiments since.

    Also, Abiogenesis does not say “Spontaneous generation only happened once”. You found one person who said that but it’s a process to get to the very first cells, if it happened, it was not spontaneous.

    “They believe it only happened once because it is such an astronomically absurdly impossible thing to even postulate” – This is also false. We are learning more and more that life is probably more simple than we thought and thus abiogenesis might happen more often than we think and new cells are being devoured by parasites. Please read http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25471-spark-of-life-metabolism-appears-in-lab-without-cells.html

    A good site for you to check out is http://biologos.org/ it’s a biology site that is pro-evolution….that is run by Christians. So there is no atheist bent at all.

    You made some other comments that I think are wrong…about meaning and wondering about art and poetry but for now I wanted to just concentrate on the technical issues.

    But I will leave you with this quote:

    “A universe without purpose should neither depress us nor suggest that our lives are purposeless. Through an awe-inspiring cosmic history we find ourselves on this remote planet in a remote corner of the universe, endowed with intelligence and self-awareness. We should not despair, but should humbly rejoice in making the most of these gifts, and celebrate our brief moment in the sun.”
    ― Lawrence M. Krauss, Physicist, Arizone State University

    1. Ted,

      If you are a Theistic evolutionist the issue will center on the sufficiency of Scripture and your defection (or perverting of it). Were I an atheist I would question your commitment to the Bible.

      As you also quote Laurence Krauss, a rabid evolutionary atheist, I suspect you are an atheist (hopefully a civil one).

      You say the origin of life has nothing to do with evolution. That is like saying the problem of the origin of living systems, which evolved into the incredibly complex lifeforms we see, is not a question evolution needs to deal with. It is both bizarre and question-begging. Do you believe life evolved from non-life? (Matthew Powner, in the article you link to, clearly does!). If not, what do you believe about the origin of life? Plus, the guy I quoted, Kerkut, is an evolutionist.

      Further, many evolutionists (incl. Darwin) have postulated about the evolution of life. You surely know that! In fact you refer to Miller-Urey, although neither that experiment, nor any which have followed (I named a few more in my comment above) have produced living systems – or even come close. Miller produced a mixture of some left and right handed amino acids, which mixture is detrimental to life (as all proteins are strictly left-handed). Moreover, he presupposed (contrary to the evidence) that the early earth had a oxygen-free atmosphere; oxygen being deadly to the basic organic compounds that have no protection against it. But if the atmosphere was oxygen-free there would be no ozone layer and the Sun’s ultra violet rays would instantly fry any putative organisms. Catch -22. More to the point, all these experiments tinker with process. To cite Stephen Meyer,

      “Most origin-of-life researchers recognized that, even if there had been a favorable prebiotic soup, many destructive chemical processes would have necessarily been at work at the same time. Simulation experiments of the type performed by Stanley Miller had repeatedly demonstrated this. They have invariably produced nonbiological substances in addition to biological building blocks such as amino acids. Without intelligent intervention, these other substances will react readily with biologically relevant building blocks to form biologically irrelevant compounds—chemically insoluble sludge. To prevent this from happening and to move the simulation of chemical evolution along a biologically promising trajectory, experimenters often remove those chemicals that degrade or transform amino acids into nonbiologically relevant compounds. They also must artificially manipulate the initial conditions in their experiments. For example, rather than using both short-and long-wavelength ultraviolet light, which would have been present in any realistic early atmosphere, they use only short-wavelength UV. Why? The presence of the long-wavelength UV light quickly degrades amino acids.” – from Signature in the Cell.

      You say “Abiogenesis does not say evolution only happened once.” Well, you can SAY it happens all the time! Then we get this line:

      “They believe it only happened once because it is such an astronomically absurdly impossible thing to even postulate” – This is also false. We are learning more and more that life is probably more simple than we thought and thus abiogenesis might happen more often than we think and new cells are being devoured by parasites.”

      No. Actually, life is more complex than “we” thought. Far far more complex than Darwin or Huxley thought. You need to read Signature in the Cell (and Darwin’s Doubt) to get informed. But you ought at least to read this response to a critical review of ‘Signature’, which addressed the metabolism-first model: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/10/of_molecules_and_straw_men_a_r051601.html

      The quote you leave me with is philosophical nonsense. Just because Krauss is awe-inspired and thinks “A universe without purpose” does not mean we can’t invent purpose is irrelevant. Inventing a purpose is both subjective (and so without logical traction out in the world), and it is incoherent (after all, he admits there IS NO PURPOSE to our lives). He gets positively lyrical in speaking of “humbly rejoicing in making the most of these gifts”, but what does this mean, other than Krauss is feeling poetic? Why be humble? Who gave us these gifts?

      As I said, for the consistent (viz. atheistic) evolutionist: Incoherence evolved into coherence, yet the explanations of coherence devolve into incoherence.

  2. I think that you might want to split your list into a two different lists. As Ted has noted, abiogenesis and Evolution are two different topics

    The last five assumptions are actually pretty well supported, so the word “silly” does not seem appropriate here.

    With respect to the first two items on your list, abiogenesis is indeed a puzzle, but it’s not quite as “silly” as you might believe. I don’t believe that it’s accurate to describe this as a “discarded” notion as there is a lot of ongoing research in this area. Scientists usually don’t do a lot of research when notions have been discarded.

    1. Sorry, last sentence should read, scientists usually don’t do a lot of research into notions that have been discarded.

      1. David,

        You display a great deal of faith in the standard popular presentations of evolution. Please note the title of this essay. Abiogenesis is usually described (in Britannica for instance), as outmoded or discarded.

        If you would actually read the materials of Stephen Meyer et al you would not be as sure of yourself as you are. They are depicted by the establishment as near no-nothings. They are sneered at and vilified and their arguments are banned from being discussed in college classrooms. Perhaps the reason for this is NOT the pursuit of truth, but a striving to preserve what Thomas Kuhn called ‘the reigning paradigm.’?

        Evolution is a myth of materialistic atheism (among others), and it is tethered to belief in abiogenesis. Read the link Ted provided and you will see a quote which links the two things you wish to separate. It is nice to turn one’s back on questions one would rather not face. But you should face them honestly and not put up walls between evolution on living systems and evolution OF living systems (i.e. of life).

  3. “You display a great deal of faith in the standard popular presentations of evolution”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “faith” and/or “standard popular presentations of evolution”. Could you be more specific here?

    There are no absolute truths in science, but there are differences in levels of confidence. With respect, to your list of “silly assumptions”, there is a great deal of variation in the level of confidence from item to item, so it would seem appropriate to sub-divide the list into two or more categories, based on the level of confidence about a given idea.

    “Abiogenesis is usually described (in Britannica for instance), as outmoded or discarded.”

    I think that you may be thinking of the “flies from old rags” form of abiogenesis. This is different from the type of abiogenesis that is relevant to this discussion. As I said, there is a lot of ongoing research in the relevant type of abiogenesis, and so the terms “outmoded” and “discarded” would appear to be inaccurate.

    “They are sneered at and vilified and their arguments are banned from being discussed in college classrooms.”

    Very little is banned from college classrooms. I would agree that many of the arguments that you would support are not well respected arguments, but I don’t believe that they “banned from being discussed”. In addition, the vast majority of faculty that I have met are not interested in sneering at their students. I sure that there are exceptions, but as as rule, one can get into big trouble with higher-ups if one sneers at or vilifies ideas presented by students. Universities are all about “customer service” these days.

    Have you spent much time in university classrooms in which evolution is discussed?

    “Perhaps the reason for this is NOT the pursuit of truth, but a striving to preserve what Thomas Kuhn called ‘the reigning paradigm.’?”

    As rule, one does not become famous in science when one preserves the reigning paradigm. One becomes famous for coming up with new ideas which shake things up a bit. Of course, the new idea has to be extensively tested and confirmed before fame follows.

    “Evolution is a myth of materialistic atheism (among others), and it is tethered to belief in abiogenesis.”

    Well, they can be linked as both represent possible events in the history of the planet, but they don’t have to be. For example, God could create the first cell, and then naturalistic evolution could follow. So, it’s certainly possible to decouple the two events.

    Also, would mind defining the term “myth” as the word can take on different meanings and connotations.

    Finally, I assume that you are a young earther? Just wondering where you stand here.

    1. David,

      I appreciate your civil manner, but you are wasting my time, and are taking us off topic.

      You can do your own research by becoming acquainted with these works:

      Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell & Darwin’s Doubt (which are fully documented and up to date)

      Jonathan Wells: Icons of Evolution

      You need to watch Ben Stein’s ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’

      The next installment will (DV) be next week.

      1. I didn’t mean to take anything off topic. Perhaps I have focused too much on just one aspect of this post and/or on some of the items in John and Ted’s comments and in your initial response to my comments.

        I haven’t read Meyer’s book, but I’ve read most of Wells’ book and I saw Stein’s movie.

        From what I recall of Wells’ book, he seemed to spend a lot of time attacking straw men and caricatures of evolutionary theory, and at times, seemed rather ignorant of the subject he was discussing. However, I don’t mind the suggestion that we could do a better job of teaching evolution. I just wish that we were to free to really teach evolution in this country; in many school systems, pressure from creationists leads high school teachers to spend as little time as possible on the subject.

        Hate to say this as I do try to be civil, but Stein’s movie was utter garbage. No other word for it.

      2. Okay David,

        I have more to say on the subject of origins and will then say something about evolutionary biology and naturalism. But you will have to be more specific rather than asserting your opinions.

        Which part(s) of Icons were straw men?

        And which bit of ‘Expelled’ was garbage?
        – the evidence about the treatment of Sternberg and others?
        – the link to Eugenics?
        – the link to Nazism?
        – the clips of Dawkins saying life originated with aliens (ditto Hoyle, Crick), or Ruse claiming it came from crystals (which ignores the problem of complex specified information)?

        You say “there are no absolute truths in science”. Well, scientific laws are as absolute as any materialist can have anything. Plus, for most evolutionists, “Evolution” IS an absolute truth! And therein lies the problem.

        I defend your right to demur, but what are your reasons? Surely you see that in order to define science as methodological naturalism (which was not held by the founders of modern science), you have to defend the philosophy of naturalism?

        PH

    1. You can teach creationism is schools in philosophy, religion and literature classes. However, since it’s not science, you can’t teach it in the science classroom. See Kitzmiller v. Dover.

      At the same time, pressure on teachers and school systems from parents offended in some way by evolution has made it difficult to teach this area of science in the science classroom.

      1. But David, Creationism IS science! The very idea of going to court to define science is preposterous. By the present naturalistic definition none of the Founders of science were scientists! It’s just not science to the beat of philosophical naturalism. Anyway, this will be covered somewhat in other posts.

  4. Let me ask you something. What is the purpose of hypothesis testing?

    Just so I understand where you are coming from, are you a young earther?

    1. “Just so I understand where you are coming from, are you a young earther?”

      David,

      you need to stick to the subject of THIS post. Knowing that someone is or is not a young-earther does not tell you anything about “where the’re coming from” on this issue. Questions about the age of the earth are just fine, but not on this meta.

      1. “By the present naturalistic definition none of the Founders of science were scientists!”

        When the “founders of science” were doing science, did they insert miraculous or supernatural explanations into their theories? If they didn’t, then yes, they were indeed doing science by the present naturalistic definition of science. No need for modern science or modern scientists to toss out the founders.

        “But David, Creationism IS science!”

        Well, first, I’m wondering about which version of creationism we’re talking about here. Creationism is a very broad term used in many different ways by many different people. (Hence, many question about young earth). For example, would you consider the various creation stories of the Native Americans to be science? Before we can teach creationism as science, we need to know which version of creationism we are talking about. (Think of how long it would take to fairly present every culture’s version of creationism.)

        Now, how can we tell someone is doing science? Well, scientists do hypothesis testing. One of the keys to doing hypothesis testing is accepting the possibility that your hypothesis might be disproved.

        Is it possible that your particular hypothesis about the origin of species could be disproved? Do you think it possible that your version of creationism is wrong? What would you accept as evidence that your version of creation is wrong? Do you need to introduce miracles or supernatural events into your version of creationism? These are some means by which we can determine if something is science or not.

        “Which part(s) of Icons were straw men?”

        Example? Haeckel’s embryos.

        http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/02/15/wells-and-haeckels-embryos/

        “And which bit of ‘Expelled’ was garbage?

        Where to begin?

        “The evidence about the treatment of Sternberg and others?”

        Yes. Left out LOTS of key information about these cases.

        “Eugenics? Nazism?”

        Please. A gross, gross, gross oversimplification of history. Darwin is not responsible for Nazi Germany. Ideas such as racial superiority and human breeding pre-date Darwin by centuries, if not millennia. For example, take a look at the ante-bellun South (in U.S.); good Christians with ideas that any Nazi could love.

        In addition, the movie skips over the really, really important point that the way a scientific is abused has no bearing on whether or not the theory is right. If life on Earth is the product of evolution, then that’s the way it is, no matter what humans do with that idea.

        “The clips of Dawkins saying life originated with aliens (ditto Hoyle, Crick), ?

        Dawkins didn’t say that life originated with aliens. If you think that this is what Dawkins said, then this is an excellent example of distorted propaganda of Expelled in action.

        “You say “there are no absolute truths in science”. Well, scientific laws are as absolute as any materialist can have anything. ”

        There are laws about which scientists have a high degree of certainty, but there are no absolute truths. ANY law, theory, hypothesis, etc., could potentially disproved tomorrow.

        “Plus, for most evolutionists, “Evolution” IS an absolute truth!”

        I don’t believe that this is accurate. How many evolutionary biologists do you know? I think that you’re conflating cases in which scientists have a high degree of confidence in a theory with cases in which someone claims to have an absolute truth. Now, it’s true that there are scientists who come across as holding evolution to be an absolute truth, but you can’t do science unless you acknowledge the possibility that you might be wrong.

        “I defend your right to demur, but what are your reasons? Surely you see that in order to define science as methodological naturalism (which was not held by the founders of modern science), you have to defend the philosophy of naturalism?”

        Not true. Plenty of Christians do science by the rules of methodological naturalism without any need to hold to or defend philosophical naturalism.

        (And founders are not gods, they’re humans. Their words are not sacred, and their methods are not flawless.)

      2. David,

        1. I’m afraid you are not thinking through your statements. Kepler, Newton, Ray, Boyle and many more did praise God for what they found by doing science. They often invoked design arguments as the basis of their investigations INTO the world. You misunderstand the philosophical problems with naturalism. Theism provides a brief for scientific investigation and an expectation of discovery. If I design and make something and someone studies what I’ve done and figures it out (or a part of it), he is doing science whether or not there is an intelligence (me) behind it. Same thing with God. We are not looking for miracles (a rather dumb proposition if you know anything about miracles), but rather we are looking for mechanisms. We want to know how God put it together. Thus, a scientific procedure is and has been performed because of Theistic belief. Faraday, for instance, used to do public experiments for just this purpose. So, no, as anyone can show, the founders of science did not do their science naturalistically.

        Also, your statement shows a neglect or even ignorance of naturalistic presuppositions. I will get to this, but you are using “natural” as a synonym for “experimental” or “inductive” which it is not.

        2. Your second para. shows an ignorance of Creationism and Creation accounts. It wouldn’t take long at all to present the positions. I do it in one apologetics lecture. I would certainly be wary of you trying to teach it judging on your ideas about it David.

        3. Your fourth para. shows an ignorance of Theology and worldview. I will address some of this in future. I will only say here that science cannot get going in methodological naturalism. This involves Hume’s critique of induction among other things. But more later…

        4. PZ Myers (a level headed scientist for sure), was answered by Wells: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/02/the_cracked_haeckel_approach_t003206.html

        5. Re. Sternberg (or Gonzalez, or Poppe, or the present Ball State fiasco), the documents are there to see. Sternberg was grounded for publishing a peer-reviewed paper by an ID scientist. Dean Kenyon was demoted for questioning his own theory of biochemical predestination.

        What exactly DID Dawkins say on Expelled? Were his words dubbed in?

        6. You say, “Earth is the product of evolution, then that’s the way it is, no matter what humans do with that idea.”

        And Hitler would agree with you. Presumably you can have no scientific or ethical (because naturalistic) problem with him? (other than you prefer to be nicer). When Christians act in unchristian ways they are hypocritical and can be called to book by the Bible. When atheist evolutionist killers (e.g. Stalin, Pol Pot, Columbine) act like monsters they are only taking evolution to its natural conclusion. (You know Klebold wore a T-shirt saying ‘Natural Selection’?)

        .7. “Plenty of Christians do science by the rules of methodological naturalism without any need to hold to or defend philosophical naturalism.”

        Of course they need to. They just pretend they don’t (incoherence). You don’t arrive at truth by just presupposing you are right. Where is the scientific method when it comes to investigating whether naturalism or supernaturalism is a superior worldview?

  5. “We are not looking for miracles (a rather dumb proposition if you know anything about miracles), but rather we are looking for mechanisms.”

    Maybe we have a problem of semantics here. If you are looking for mechanisms and not miracles, then you are doing science “naturalistically”. This describes methodological naturalism.

    Kepler, Newton, Ray and Boyle did not invoke miracles or supernatural events when they formulated descriptions of how the world works, their conclusions stood up to testing (mostly) and so modern scientists do not reject their work or their methods. It’s not the motives that count (who cares why you think the universe is an ordered place?), it’s how you actually play the game that counts. No miracles and no supernatural explanations in your theories equals methodological naturalism. You can decide for yourself if there’s an “intelligence” behind everything or not. That’s a different matter.

    “Also, your statement shows a neglect or even ignorance of naturalistic presuppositions. I will get to this, but you are using “natural” as a synonym for “experimental” or “inductive” which it is not.”

    I don’t think you’re following how I’m using certain words.

    “Your second para. shows an ignorance of Creationism and Creation accounts. It wouldn’t take long at all to present the positions. I do it in one apologetics lecture. I would certainly be wary of you trying to teach it judging on your ideas about it David.”

    I dunno, there are a lot of cultures out there, and I don’t if they’d appreciate your ability to lump all of their different stories together.

    Well, again, you’re not giving me any specifics, and you’re not telling me what version of creationism you would have me teach. Could you be specific? What exactly do you want me to teach in the science classroom? Do you want me to teach that the Earth is ten thousand years old? I just can’t tell unless you chose to give me a straight answer. Please, tell me what you think I should teach as science?

    You insist that creationism is science and I should teach it in a science classroom, but you haven’t told me yet what you want me to teach. I’ve asked, but you wish to be vague. This isn’t selling me on teaching creationism as science.

    “Your fourth para. shows an ignorance of Theology and worldview…..But more later…”

    I thought my fourth paragraph was about science, not theology. But I guess I’ll have to wait to see what you have to say.

    “PZ Myers (a level headed scientist for sure), was answered by Wells”

    I read Wells’ response. As in his book, Wells missed the point. Throw out the drawings, use the best photos available, and then what do you see? The photos support evolution, too. Even better, we can now look directly at the genes involved in early development. They support evolution, too. The endless focus on the drawings is just a straw man, or maybe better clichés would be “poisoning the well” and “red herring”.

    “Sternberg (or Gonzalez, or Poppe, or the present Ball State fiasco), the documents are there to see. Sternberg was grounded for publishing a peer-reviewed paper by an ID scientist. Dean Kenyon was demoted for questioning his own theory of biochemical predestination.”

    Hmm, I’m sure that others might have a different, document-base opinion about the fate of these folks. Was Sternberg fired for publishing an ID paper? Was this paper really peer-reviewed according the normal standards and procedures of the journal in question?

    I’m most familiar with the Gonzalez case. Gonzalez could have been a raging atheist and he still would not have earned tenure. The man simply failed to do the job, and then he crawled up on a cross of his own making to blame his failure on the evil atheist scientists.

    “What exactly DID Dawkins say on Expelled? Were his words dubbed in?”

    I can’t remember exactly, but he didn’t say that life originated with aliens. Is this what you think that he said or have I misunderstood you? Ever heard of editing?

    “And Hitler would agree with you…”

    Oy vey! Not this again. I call Godwin’s Law.

    “Evolution means that we should all kill each other.” I don’t mean to be rude, but this is a very tiresome argument, it’s wrong, and utterly fails to answer the point. You don’t get to make up answers to the question of how the natural world works just because you’ve concluded that if the natural world works in a certain way, then that would be bad. If this is supposed to be an argument against evolution, it’s a fallacious argumentum ad consequentiam.

    “When Christians act in unchristian ways they are hypocritical and can be called to book by the Bible.”

    No they can’t. When Christians behave badly, they are often quite convinced that they are, in fact, living by the Book (see the ante-bellum South, the religious wars in Europe, etc.) Much killing has been done by people who were utterly, utterly convinced that they were doing God’s will (see massacres in the OT), and their belief in God made it much easier to justify the killing. Belief in the Bible doesn’t stop monsters; monsters will find a justification wherever they can find it, including in the Bible.

    “Of course they need to. They just pretend they don’t (incoherence). You don’t arrive at truth by just presupposing you are right. Where is the scientific method when it comes to investigating whether naturalism or supernaturalism is a superior worldview?”

    Well, here I just don’t follow what you are saying. And how do you know what they are “pretending” anything? Have you had personal conversations with these Christians? Can you point to large numbers of Christian scientists who are actually defending philosophical naturalism? How exactly are they doing this?

    1. David,

      Again we are wandering far away from the point of the post, which is the incoherence of evolutionary origins. What we should be talking about – at least at this venture, is whether you believe life came from non-life. Do you?

      If you do (as I think you do), then you need to give a coherent explanation for this.

      For the most part, the rest of your post shows that you are not getting it. Since I shall be saying more about the problems of methodological naturalism (which you appear to be in the dark about as a philosophy of science), I shall not here respond to your latest. Your ignorance of supernaturalism, and especially Christian supernaturalism, leads you astray, but it is supplied by your misconstrual of science as necessarily naturalistic in its purview. There is nothing in science as the pursuit of truth through observation and experimentation which makes it so. Indeed, going back to my illustration of someone figuring out my contraption, it would be fallacious in the extreme for others to tell him he could explain my contraption any way OTHER than that it was designed? What folly! But that is what methodological naturalism (which is a philosophy) does. In essence it says, ‘We pursue the truth, UNLESS IT LEADS TO GOD.’ But notice that positing a Designer does not infract one bit on the analysis of the contraption.

      I notice you hopped over Hume’s critique of causation and induction like it wasn’t there. I shall return to it in a later post so you may engage the matter from a naturalistic starting-point there.

      As agnostic philosopher David Berlinski quipped: “If what is natural has been defined in terms of what the natural sciences reveal, no progress in thought has been recorded.” – The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, 51.

      Now, your fourth para. does show an ignorance of theology, which is why you asked it. My “version” of Creationism could, in principle, be shown to be in error at some points. Is Creation ex nihilo and providential maintenance falsifiable? In theory is, but, as we shall see, science is not possible on naturalistic premises. Now you’ll have to wait for that discussion, but this link may help a bit: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/the-great-explanation-atheist-style-part-2-3/

      There are many varieties of chocolate in the world, but only a few ways of making it. There are many versions of evolution out there, but only a very few mechanisms. Same with Creationism. You ought to know that David. Otherwise, how can you teach it fairly? You can’t. You need to study up.

      Again you try to introduce the age of the earth, and again I tell you it has no relation to this article. Though I do hold to a young earth I do so for solid reasons. I may be wrong, but don’t believe the caricatures of young-earth creationists which you’ve no doubt read. Anyway, that point is moot. Meyer, for example, is NOT a young earther and this thread does not concern the subject. You think it does only because you appear not to know anything about scientific creationism. You ask, “What is the purpose of hypothesis testing?” Answer: to reach an inference to the best explanation. To throw out hypotheses which don’t make the grade. Stephen Meyer is very big on this. You really should read what he has to say.

      I’ll return to my point about Hitler later when I discuss worldviews. You missed my point, which was the logical connection, not misappropriation of texts out of context. You put words in my mouth and call me on a fallacy :“Evolution means that we should all kill each other.”

      I did not say that David. You are poisoning the well. You also (again) miss the point. I remind you that Peter Singer thinks babies should be left to die if ‘unwanted’ based on evolutionary dogma. Ideas have consequences. I understand your point about whether something is true is somewhat independent of its use. I agree. But if Christianity is true there is a basis for ethics: a basis for valuing life. If naturalistic evolution is true, there isn’t. But more to come…

      You want me to get more specific. But this is the first post David. I’ll try to provide specificity as I go, but you must be patient and stick to the point.

      Gonzalez (who discovered several new planets if memory serves), was only set upon after he co-authored ‘The Privileged Planet’. Another book you ought to read. But I don’t think we’re going to make any headway there. Doubtless all the cases of demotion and firing after it was discovered the people proposed ID were coincidental.

      Now Wells’s problem in Icons was that up until as recently as 2000 (and after that in fact), Haeckel’s drawings were being used in evolutionary textbooks to bolster acceptance of evolution. That is true and undeniable. Haeckel was tried and found guilty of distorting evidence in 1874 (I believe) at Jena. But his drawings were used by evolutionists for a century anyway (http://www.discovery.org/a/3935). Bad science! But there are numerous examples of this. For instance the supposed Geologic Column, which only exists as seen in textbooks, in the textbooks.

      Your argument from homology re. embryos and genes will be gone into later. For now, I propose we wait for my argument to unfold a little more. As far as this post is concerned, the only question you need to answer is, “do you believe life originated from non-life”?

  6. I’ll try to be brief as I don’t not want to be guilty of wandering away from the point of the post.

    “Your ignorance of supernaturalism, and especially Christian supernaturalism, leads you astray, but it is supplied by your misconstrual of science as necessarily naturalistic in its purview. There is nothing in science as the pursuit of truth through observation and experimentation which makes it so.”

    Well, since you wish to address this at a later date, so I’ll let this go at this point.

    “My “version” of Creationism could, in principle, be shown to be in error at some points.“

    Could be and has been. Young earth has been thoroughly discredited by hypothesis testing. So, sorry, I can’t teach this as science. Why do you insist that I should do so? Of course, you’re so vague about just what “creationism” means that I still don’t know what it is that you actually want me to teach.

    “You put words in my mouth and call me on a fallacy.”

    You said, “when atheist evolutionist killers (e.g. Stalin, Pol Pot, Columbine) act like monsters they are only taking evolution to its natural conclusion.” That’s really not too far from “evolution means that we should all kill each other.”

    “I understand your point about whether something is true is somewhat independent of its use. I agree.”

    Good. So you understand that attacking evolution on these grounds is pointless.

    “Gonzalez (who discovered several new planets if memory serves), was only set upon after he co-authored ‘The Privileged Planet’. Doubtless all the cases of demotion and firing after it was discovered the people proposed ID were coincidental.”

    Gonzalez did fine work prior to his tenure-track appointment. That, in fact, is why he was given a tenure-track appointment. It’s true that Gonzalez didn’t help himself with the ID stuff, but after he received his appointment, he failed to do the job. We don’t have to argue this. I know how to get tenure at a research university, I know the facts, and the facts are clear.

    “Now Wells’s problem in Icons was that up until as recently as 2000 (and after that in fact), Haeckel’s drawings were being used in evolutionary textbooks to bolster acceptance of evolution.”

    As I said, I certainly don’t object when someone points out that we need to do a better job of teaching science. However, I think that Wells was doing a tad more than this when he wrote about the embryos. Just a tad more. Just a smidge. Absolutely, it’s bad to use fraudulent drawings, but if accurate photos show the same thing, then toss the drawing and use the photos. It doesn’t fundamentally change the science. And don’t get me started on the geological column.

    “As far as this post is concerned, the only question you need to answer is, “do you believe life originated from non-life”?”

    Define the word “believe”, and I’ll address this. I’m not trying to be difficult here. The word “believe” is a squishy thing, so we’d better start with a definition.

    1. David,

      Not for the first time you are not getting the point. Perhaps further posts will clarify things for you? I also think you are being a tad slippery. You asked me a question about young-earth, which was off-topic, and I answered it. I asked you whether you believe life came from non-life (which is on topic) and you play semantics. This tells me you probably have a false notion of “faith/belief” knocking about in your head (as most naturalists do). You ought to know that in order to have knowledge you must have belief! Were you not taught that? There’s nothing “squishy” about it David. It’s in the dictionary. Perhaps your biases give it a meaning it doesn’t have? I notice you duck the illustration of procedure I gave.

      As I’ll address that in time I shall yield to your request and substitute “think” or “teach” for “believe.” So please answer the question.

      You did what I thought you would do and rubbish young-earth Creationism. NOT with anything but a rather arrogant wave of the hand. That it is unscientific from a naturalistic set of hypotheses is hardly a shock. Hence, the status of naturalism is an important question. But you have said enough to convince me that you really have little idea of Creationism in any form. By contrast, I was taught and believed evolution till my early 20’s, and went back for more in my 30’s.

      Btw, what other things in ‘Icons’ did you have trouble with? I was taught about Peppered moths. Weren’t you?

      You ask why I want you to teach young-earth Creationism as science? I don’t! For one thing, I doubt your competence to do so. I don’t mean to sound rude, but you clearly haven’t read the works of Creationists (young-earth or otherwise) to do a good job. But you could educate yourself. You could read Meyer and Dembski and Sanford et al and teach their materials (with readings) to show their is a good case for dissent.

      I said I would return to the matter of ethics later. Indeed I shall. You did put words in my mouth, and no, my assertion about logical outcomes was not the same as your caricature of it. Your comment included an “ought”. Mine did not. You confuse knowing with being. Your conclusion is a non sequitur, and was based on your own formulation, not mine.

      You are stuck on Gonzalez and claim to know the facts. Let’s say you do. The coincidences pile up.

      David, you keep asserting what you know and think but you yourself are rather short on specifics. Perhaps this will be remedied further on? To give you a heads up on part 4 (?) of this series, could you give me an example of a beneficial mutation? Particularly one where new information is added to the genome?

  7. “By contrast, I was taught and believed evolution till my early 20’s, and went back for more in my 30’s.”

    So, what changed? Was it a conversion to a particular form of Christianity?

    “You ought to know that in order to have knowledge you must have belief! “

    Again, what is “belief”? My dog has knowledge. Does he also have belief?

    “As I’ll address that in time I shall yield to your request and substitute “think” or “teach” for “believe.” So please answer the question.”

    Hate to say this, but to answer the question, we also have to define the word “life”. It’s not as easy to define as you might think.

    In the meantime, pending a definition of life, I’ll go ahead and give you an answer.

    I think that the current available evidence suggests that there was a time when the planet did not have life. Then, at a later date, it did have life. What happened in between? Something happened. Something took the Earth from a state of no life to a state of possessing life. What was that something? I don’t know. One could plug in a lot of possible answers here, but I think that the most honest answer that any human can give right now is “I don’t know.”

    I assume that as a result of my answer, you are now going to declare evolution “incoherent”? Do you believe that we must understand everything about everything before something is “coherent”? Do you think it possible that God could have created the first cell, and then the rest proceeded by a natural mechanism? Just trying to figure out your position.

    “But NOT with anything but a rather arrogant wave of the hand. “

    Oh, nonsense. There are libraries full of data that contradict young earth creationism. There’s no hand-waving here. YEC died as a “scientific” idea in the 1800s.

    By the way, you said that you could be wrong about the age of the Earth. How could you be wrong? You have the Word of God at your disposal, and that Word is totally clear and without error. So, how could you be wrong about the age of the Earth?

    “But you have said enough to convince me that you really have little idea of Creationism in any form. “

    And you done nothing to enlighten me about the idea of creationism. I honestly still do not know what you mean by the word “creationism”. You believe that I am ignorant. So, teach me something. Who’s the arrogant one here?

    “You ask why I want you to teach young-earth Creationism as science? I don’t!”

    Then I ask yet again .,.. what do you want me to teach???!!!

    “To give you a heads up on part 4 (?) of this series, could you give me an example of a beneficial mutation? Particularly one where new information is added to the genome?”

    I’ve seen how this particular game is played many, many times. It usually involves the flying goal posts.

    So, step one. Define beneficial. Step two. Define new information

    1. David,

      You are wasting my time again.

      1 Read the article and you have the answer to your first question. But define “conversion”
      2. Knowledge has traditionally been defined as justified (or warranted) true belief. Your dog does not have that. Your dog does have belief. But please define “knowledge” as it relates to your dog.
      3. You talk about “the current available evidence.” What counts as evidence?
      4. By “I don’t know” I assume you allow for a violation of the law of Biogenesis? That would be incoherent for someone touting the laws of science would it not? Why do you think Dean Kenyon renounced biochemical predestination (he didn’t become a Christian then)? Do you think he did it lightly? Did Richard Lumsden? Come on David.
      5. I have already declared evolution incoherent. But I did not ask it to jump on you (unlike what you did in asking me about the age of the earth). I have several evolution textbooks. But I must ask you to define “evolution”. Isn’t it used in five or six different ways? You said it was separate from abiogenesis.
      6. You claim YEC died out as “scientific” in the 1800’s. You mean with Lyell? It was in the later 19th Century when naturalistic atheism redefined “science.” The word was coined, I believe, by a Christian, William Whewell. Please define “scientific”.
      7. I could be wrong about how old I think the earth is. So could you! Many books have been written in defense of a young earth, probably none of which you have read. You also should read Thomas Kuhn’s ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ or Michael Polanyi’s work and you might better appreciate why your “Oh nonsense!” remark doesn’t carry much weight here.
      8. You claim I haven’t told you which form of Creationism you should teach. I gave you books and authors David. I also informed you that there are not many forms, but you skipped that part of the quote. Don’t be disingenuous David. Two can play at that game. I could ask you what form of evolutionism I ought to hold (or at least read). I have a letter and lectures from Andrew Huxley to me taking issue with Punctuated Equilibria. But I’m not playing games. Again, out of respect I will give some titles:

      Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell, and, Darwin’s Doubt
      John Sanford, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome
      Kurt Wise, Faith, Form and Time

      Meyer’s books aren’t even Creationist titles, although they do have ramifications which lend strong support for Creationism. Read them.
      9. You dodge my question about new beneficial information and waste time with asking for more definitions. You could include your own precise definitions in your answer could you not? You could have done this earlier with other questions too. What do you think I mean by added new beneficial information?

      Now I understand that one has to to be selective in these discussions, but you have rather cherry-picked your way through my responses. You have often ignored the contexts of the snippets of me you cite. E.g. you have twice ignored my illustration of why belief in God does not alter scientific procedure. Of course it doesn’t. The founders of modern science from Francis Bacon up were Theists.

      I will let you comment once more and will reply and then we’ll adjourn till later.

      1. Adjournment is fine with me. I’m leaving town tomorrow, and will have very limited internet access for about a week. I’ll check on things when I return.

        “Read the article and you have the answer to your first question. But define “conversion”

        I’m afraid that my question wasn’t very clear. What I was wondering was whether the big changes in your views on evolution proceeded any major changes in your religious thinking or did your views on evolution change after a significant change in religious thinking.

        “Knowledge has traditionally been defined as justified (or warranted) true belief. Your dog does not have that. Your dog does have belief. But please define “knowledge” as it relates to your dog.”

        Is there a typo here? You said that “your dog does not have that.” Then you said your dog does have belief.” That seems contradictory. Should one of the above sentences read “your dog does not have belief”?

        Don’t know about this “true belief” thing, but here’s the definition of knowledge from the dictionary: Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

        My dog knows where the chipmunks live in the yard. That’s information acquired through experience.

        “What counts as evidence”?

        I’ll bet we’re about to go down the worldview rabbit hole here, right? Well, I’m sure that you’ll get back to this later, so I’ll pass on this for now.

        “By “I don’t know” I assume you allow for a violation of the law of Biogenesis? That would be incoherent for someone touting the laws of science would it not?”

        Well, first, the term “law” should not be confused with “sacred truth”. “Laws” are provisional descriptions of how the world works, and are subject to change and modification (see Newton and Einstein).

        Second, I don’t know means I don’t know. If I knew, then I could tell you if this is “incoherent” or not. Since I don’t know how life began, then I don’t know of the answer is inconsistent with the “laws of science” or not.

        “But I must ask you to define “evolution”. Isn’t it used in five or six different ways? You said it was separate from abiogenesis.”

        From the dictionary: The process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.

        Good enough for me. And see? No abiogenesis here.

        “You claim YEC died out as “scientific” in the 1800’s. You mean with Lyell?”

        Well, yes, beginning with Lyell and Hutton before him and others in the early 1800s. You seem to think that the death of YEC as scientific idea is due to events in the late 19th century when “naturalistic atheism redefined science.” I’ll put aside for the moment the question of whether or not “naturalistic atheism” actually did as you claim with respect to the definition of science. I’ll just point out that Lyell and most (if not all) of the other early 19th century geologists were not atheists. Many were clearly Christians. They were not doing “atheistic” science when they rejected YEC. And the vast, vast, vast majority of Christian geologists continue to reject it to this day. So, who cares about late 19th century naturalistic atheism?

        “I could be wrong about how old I think the earth is. So could you!”

        Well, of course I could be wrong, because I don’t have the Absolute Truth of the Word of God at my disposal. But you do. So how could you be wrong?

        Now, I admit that I should have refrained from “oh, nonsense.” That was unnecessarily rude. But honestly, at a certain point, after testing and testing and testing, I think that we can fairly conclude that certain hypotheses are simply wrong, including YEC. (Yes, I’ve read books by YEC authors, for example, I read some “feasibility study” of Noah’s Ark a few years ago.)

        “You claim I haven’t told you which form of Creationism you should teach.”

        I think that I’m beginning to understand what you want me to teach about creationism. Based on your book recommendations, here are my conclusions.

        First, you want me to teach that there are questions in abiogenesis and evolution for which science doesn’t have a good answer. Maybe the answers will come in the future and maybe they won’t. The future’s not ours to see, que sera, que sera.

        Well, I have no problem with this. All fields of science have unanswered questions and that’s why we keep doing science. I’d like for students to see that are still questions out there that maybe they can answer one day if they become scientists. I’m happy to say that I don’t know if we will ever be able to answer certain questions. I don’t know the future, although I do think that that betting on continued ignorance is a bad bet.

        However, simply teaching that there are unanswered questions is not an alternative theory to evolution. This isn’t actually “creationism”, it’s just what we don’t know. Most of the chapters in Meyer’s books simply focus on areas of current ignorance and then claim that we’ll never be able to explain something by natural mechanisms. Ok, but this is not an alternative theory.

        Second, speaking of alternative theories, Meyer et al., would say that we should teach that certain natural objects must, must, must be the product of a creator or intelligent designer, and they couldn’t possibly be the product of natural mechanisms such as evolution. The problem here is…how do you know that this is so? How do we identify which living objects could only be the product of a creator?

        Yes, yes, we have these nice ideas about irreducible complexity and specified complexity and information and so forth. However, these nice ideas have failed to do the job that Meyer et al. need them to do. They cannot differentiate between objects that we know are designed (because humans made them) and objects that appear to be designed by an intelligent being, but which are likely the product of natural mechanisms. In other words, these “tools” cannot tell us for certain which natural living objects could only be the product of intelligent design and which might be the products of evolution.

        So, when my students ask which living objects are intelligently designed and which are not, what do I tell them? Do I tell them that the first cell was designed, but everything else evolved? Or do I tell them that the creator made cells and trilobites, but nothing else? What about the other arthropods? How about the first mammals or the human brain? What about all of the horrifying pathogens like Ebola virus? Did the designer make these as well? God made Ebola?

        Which of these objects are the product of the direct intervention and action by an intelligent designer and which are not? In every case, I need to know which things were designed and which were not. Otherwise, we might conclude that creationism is incoherent.

        So, how can we tell what’s designed and what isn’t? In science, we would answer questions such as this by hypothesis testing. So, if the hypothesis states that the human brain is the product of an intelligent designer, how can we test and potentially disprove the hypothesis? What possible observation could contradict the theory that God created the human brain?

        Third, I don’t see how I can teach creationism without telling the students who the creator is. The word “creator” is embedded in the word “creationism”.

        So, who is the creator? Yahweh? Some other culture’s god or gods? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? The Great Poo-bah? Who? What? What am I to teach here? Obviously, this isn’t science anymore, it’s theology. Creationism isn’t science, it’s theology.

        Fourth, I don’t know how I can teach creationism as science when creationism doesn’t really offer a mechanisms by which the creator created. How did the creator create? God spoke, and cells appeared out of nothing? Maybe, but is this is science?

        Fifth and finally, my students will want to know when all of this creating occurred. I’ll pick up Meyer’s book, and I’ll tell the students that cells were created by the designer billions of years ago. Then I’ll pick up Wise’s book, and I’ll tell the students that cells were created by the designer just a few thousand years ago. One answer is “a billion years ago” and the other answer is “a few thousand years ago”? This is science? You think evolution is incoherent? Holy Moley, when it comes to incoherence, evolution has nothing on creationism.

        “You dodge my question about new beneficial information and waste time with asking for more definitions.”

        I’m not dodging anything. I asked for definitions for reasons I stated. I asked for definitions so that I didn’t waste MY time. Believe it or not, I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve seen the beneficial mutation and new information game played many, many times.

        First, I bring you an example. Then you say the example fails because it doesn’t meet previously unstated Criterion X. So, I go back and I find an example that meets Criterion X. Now you say if fails because if doesn’t meet previously unstated Criterion Y. Rinse and repeat and roll those goalposts.

        I don’t have to supply a definition, because you are the one who is demanding examples. My definition is irrelevant; it’s your criteria that I have to satisfy. So, tell me what you mean by beneficial mutation and new information, define the target I’m aiming for, and I’ll go look for an answer.

        “Now I understand that one has to to be selective in these discussions, but you have rather cherry-picked your way through my responses.”

        First, you repeatedly accuse me of wasting your time and going off topic. Now you’re annoyed because I tried to be selective in what I addressed. Make up your mind.

        “You have twice ignored my illustration of why belief in God does not alter scientific procedure.“

        When did I say that it did? Didn’t I say that many Christian scientists follow “scientific procedure” as they did their science? You are the one who insisted that you can’t follow methodological naturalism without simultaneously holding to philosophical naturalism.

  8. Oh, the Dawkins clip is here. The actual quote comes at around the 31/2 minute mark. I give it not as proof of my position, but only for clarification. :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc

    I will say this: he (as Carl Sagan) is okay looking for intelligence so long as its within naturalistic parameters. Just load the bases, and you can ignore the Designer (or pretend to).

    1. I’ll get to the previous comment in a little bit, but to give a quick response to the Dawkins thing, let me remind you of your words:

      “And which bit of ‘Expelled’ was garbage?”

      “-the clips of Dawkins saying life originated with aliens”

      In your comments, you are making a clear, definitive statement here. You are claiming that the movie shows that Dawkins says life originated with aliens.

      Now, did Dawkins say “life originated with alienes?”. No, he didn’t. Dawkins did not say that life originated with aliens. Those words are not on this clip. Does Dawkins think that “life originated with aliens.” No, he does not. He doesn’t think that it’s impossible that this happened, but he very seriously doubts that it happened. So, if you drew the conclusion from the the movie that Dawkins says that life originated with aliens, then you were duped by garbage.

      Right from the start, you can see that Dawkins is just spinning speculation…”it could come about”. When you start out with “it could come about”, then what follows is not “and this is definitely what happened”. And if life did originate with aliens, then Dawkins thinks that the alien life would have been the product of natural evolution.

      So, this is supposed to be Dawkins supporting intelligent design? I don’t really see it.

      I’m sure you’ve seen this before, but here’s Dawkins response to what Stein did with his words in Expelled.

      Dawkins:

      Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws. So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots (“oh NOOOOO, of course we aren’t talking about God, this is SCIENCE”) and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario.

      Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent ‘crane’ (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists’ whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity — and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently — comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings.

      1. First, on the Dawkins quote. Yes, I admit I did say he said life came from aliens. I was working from memory and it failed me. My apologies. I should have said he stated that life on this planet may have come from aliens.

        I think his admittance was not placed in his mouth, and I see no reason why he should try to extricate himself. As he said, others proposed it. But, of course, it is a non-answer to the question he was asked.

        But his response does illustrate a problem with methodological naturalism. Only natural explanations are allowed (even alien ones). Why? Because the founders of modern science believed that? Absolutely not; your confusion about the matter notwithstanding. Well if the founders of science saw no conflict between science and Christian theology, why does Dawkins (we’ll pretend he actually knows some theology)? Because he agrees with the anti-theistic redefinition of scientific procedure foisted on the academy over the last hundred or so years. “We cannot allow a Divine foot in the door” Lewontin cries. Why not if the evidence points to God? (i.e. the God of Newton, Boyle, Kepler, Kelvin and Maxwell).

        I shall address your long reply soon (although much of it, I’m afraid, reveals your lack of knowledge in these areas, whatever your expertise may be in others). Your definition of evolution does not concern itself with initial conditions anyway, so a number of your questions about knowing how God did it do not impinge on the discipline as defined by you!

        But looking for only natural explanations in the world because one has redefined science in terms of looking only for natural explanations is a self-fulfilling prophecy, no matter what the facts declare. If the facts lead to God they should be followed to God. Science qua knowledge is supposed to be the pursuit of truth, not the pursuit of what one wants to be true.

        More to come

  9. Dawkins says: “I must have been feeling magnanimous that day….”

    I read the above apologetic by Dawkins and then watched the interview again. This reminds me of another infamous interview going back a few years. The man just cannot perform well when interrogated. Don’t blame Stein. It is what it is.

    1. I don’t believe that I was blaming Stein. I was simply noting that Paul was inaccurate in his characterization of what Dawkins said.

      Science is not about how well one performs when “interrogated”.

      1. To clarify, I don’t blame Stein for Dawkins words. Dawkins said what he said.

        I do blame Stein for editing the film in such a way that it was easy for Paul (and no doubt others) to mis-remember or become confused about what Dawkins said. The confusion is a direct result of a conscious effort on Stein’s part to get a certain impression on the screen. That’s were the “garbage” part comes in.

  10. This will be the last comment on this particular post. That gives me the last word for the moment; but, then again, it is my blog.

    Your comment was long. Over-long. From now on we’ll stick to the issues directly addressed in the posts. I recognize the need for care, but too much of this is personal opinion without knowledge of the things criticized. For the record, I, like many, had misgivings about evolution way before I came to know the Lord. Many (probably most) Creationists were ardent and well informed adherents of evolution before they became Christians (and some just became agnostic). Ad hominem attacks on these people (which they have to endure from evolutionists) ought to have no part of science discourse. You are not guilty of that here.

    I think I’ll leave your dog alone. There is an equivocation here, and it won’t get cleared up without an unwelcome foray into epistemic justification. There was no typo, but…well, let’s move on.

    You call worldview discussion “a rabbit hole.” That is disappointing. As a science teacher (?) you ought to be interested in justifying the intellectual base upon which you are operating. It isn’t good procedure to simply take things for granted.

    You didn’t answer whether you allow for a violation of the law of biogenesis. Instead you opt for the well-known truism that laws are defeasible. Sure. But to gain the status of a scientific law no exceptions are known. Also, the science which we do can only operate within those known laws. If we go outside those laws we are playing with nonsense, in any realm of knowledge. You are being cagey here, but I am going to assume you do allow (and teach) a violation of biogenesis as, at least, AN explanation of origins (i.e. of the first functioning cell). Certainly I was taught that and it is standard fare with evolutionists. For good reason. There’s no alternative but special creation or the illusion of life; and creation is ruled out by naturalistic fiat.

    Your next bunch of assertions re. Lyell and the “vast, vast, vast majority of Christian geologists” is wrong on several levels (pun intended). Lyell’s book is chock full of anti-theistic asides. Almost as much as the works of Dawkins or Coyne or Myers. You commit a logical fallacy by counting noses, but I doubt you recognize how many young-earthers there are. Many of them were old-earthers (e.g. Andrew Snelling, ‘Earth’s Catastrophic Past’).

    I said I could be wrong about the age of the earth because it is at least possible that I have missed something in the Bible which would open the door to OEC. But I don’t think so, and I have good scientific reasons which independently verify the Word of God. But I do have the Word of God and am convinced it is Absolute Truth. Now this is not the place to digress down territory with which you are probably very unfamiliar, so I will not deal here with hackneyed attacks on the Bible borrowed from Asimov etc. A feasibility study on Noah’s Ark (which I applaud you for reading) is hardly a good place to study YEC.

    You put a lot of faith (trust) in “testing and testing and testing.” But YEC do testing and testing too. See the RATE Project materials or Robert Gentry’s ‘Creation’s Tiny Mystery.’ The problem is that evolution NEEDS long periods of time (not long enough btw), so anything which threatens the theory is rejected (again, see Kuhn). Evidence is reinterpreted to fit the paradigm. The tests reflect this (see Lakatos’s work).

    The next part puts words in my mouth again. What i want you to do is, first, get informed, and second, present the other position(s). so what if Wise is YEC and Meyer is not? You can note this in passing. But you need to read up.

    You assert: “Most of the chapters in Meyer’s books simply focus on areas of current ignorance and then claim that we’ll never be able to explain something by natural mechanisms. Ok, but this is not an alternative theory.”

    Really? But you haven’t read them David! You are plain wrong. You misrepresent Meyer badly with this:

    “Second, speaking of alternative theories, Meyer et al., would say that we should teach that certain natural objects must, must, must be the product of a creator or intelligent designer, and they couldn’t possibly be the product of natural mechanisms such as evolution.”

    But you haven’t READ him David! Your bias is showing!

    You continue in the same rut:

    “Yes, yes, we have these nice ideas about irreducible complexity and specified complexity and information and so forth. However, these nice ideas have failed to do the job that Meyer et al. need them to do. They cannot differentiate between objects that we know are designed (because humans made them) and objects that appear to be designed by an intelligent being, but which are likely the product of natural mechanisms.”

    But you haven’t READ him David! You are guessing, based, no doubt, on an ignorant review (F. Ayala managed the miraculous feat of reviewing ‘Signature’ without even reading it).

    “So, when my students ask which living objects are intelligently designed and which are not, what do I tell them?”

    Tell them you haven’t read up on it.

    “Which of these objects are the product of the direct intervention and action by an intelligent designer and which are not? In every case”

    The book has been available for several years. William Dembski formulated rigorous criteria for distinguishing design in ‘The Design Inference’, Meyer includes some of this in ‘Signature’.

    Scientists do this all the time, but Dembski provides a formula.

    “So, who is the creator? Yahweh? Some other culture’s god or gods? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? The Great Poo-bah? Who? What? What am I to teach here? Obviously, this isn’t science anymore, it’s theology. Creationism isn’t science, it’s theology.”

    Numerous problems here. i’ll stick to just a couple. Ignorance of Creation accounts and scenarios. Here’s one: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/ancient-near-east-creation-myths-pt-1/ And here’s another: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/review-of-the-bible-among-the-myths-by-john-n-oswalt/

    At least these point you in the right direction.

    “Fourth, I don’t know how I can teach creationism as science when creationism doesn’t really offer a mechanisms by which the creator created. How did the creator create? God spoke, and cells appeared out of nothing? Maybe, but is this is science?”

    You confuse knowing THAT God did it with knowing HOW He did it. Science can explore the aspects of one without knowing the other. You separate knowing that organisms evolved from knowing how they evolved. You say “I don’t know” to the latter. Thus, you have not presented a sound argument, but it does reveal how naturalistic definitions blinker you from seeing it.

    We’ll return to the issue of added new information later so I’ll give it a pass here.

    “First, you repeatedly accuse me of wasting your time and going off topic. Now you’re annoyed because I tried to be selective in what I addressed. Make up your mind.”

    This is a false dichotomy. You did waste my time and you did cherry-pick. You skipped the major parts of my arguments more than once.

    That some Christian scientists adopt a methodology at odds with their espoused ontology is true, and irrelevant. That my illustration shows (in part) that science does not have to be defined by naturalistic presuppositions is also true – and was my point.

    Have a nice week David. Part 2 comes soon. Thanks for being a gentleman. You are not rude, just passionate.

    PH

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