Basics of evolution at BioLogos

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Dennis Venema, an evolutionary creationist, senior fellow of BioLogos, and associate professor and chair of the biology department of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, is starting an elementary introduction to evolution at BioLogos. The series of posts will be aimed at

… just average folks who would like to learn more, but need to start at the beginning and work up slowly - not jump in halfway through, with technical terms and jargon flying around. They need a context for the discussion. They need to explore the basics, first, before building on that understanding to explore the finer details.

Venema is a bright, knowledgeable guy who has strongly criticized the intelligent design movement and old earth creationists like Reasons to Believe. He comments here occasionally, and I’ll be interested to see the response to his series. It’s a worthy effort, and I wish him well with it.

149 Comments

They need to evolve into such an understanding.

Well, sort of.

Glen Davidson

I’ve always enjoyed Dennis Venema’s posts over at BioLogos. I think he’s a great guy, and his course should be very interesting. I’m sure the creationists will attack him nonstop. Feel free to drop in!

… just average folks who would like to learn more, but need to start at the beginning and work up slowly - not jump in halfway through, with technical terms and jargon flying around. They need a context for the discussion. They need to explore the basics, first, before building on that understanding to explore the finer details.

Yes, I can agree with that.

The concept of the biological evolution is quite easy to understand. However, the fact that there are dedicated “evolutionary biologists” seems to indicate that the finer details are not quite as easy – or they are still under study. Basically, the same description applies to the theory of general relativity.

The question is : What kind of knowledge a person needs to be a fully-fledged member of his or her society.

Eric Finn said:

… just average folks who would like to learn more, but need to start at the beginning and work up slowly - not jump in halfway through, with technical terms and jargon flying around. They need a context for the discussion. They need to explore the basics, first, before building on that understanding to explore the finer details.

Yes, I can agree with that.

The concept of the biological evolution is quite easy to understand. However, the fact that there are dedicated “evolutionary biologists” seems to indicate that the finer details are not quite as easy – or they are still under study. Basically, the same description applies to the theory of general relativity.

The question is : What kind of knowledge a person needs to be a fully-fledged member of his or her society.

It’s possible to function in the biomedical sciences, at a purely technical level, while denying evolution. However, it’s extremely difficult to do so at any professional level, without substantial compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance.

Michael Egnor is apparently a competent pediatric neurosurgeon despite being an evolution denier, however, this requires him to accept all sorts of obvious examples of the principles of evolution, such as emergence of microbe and cancer cell resistance to drugs, and the idiosyncratic nature of some aspects of human brain anatomy, at the pragmatic level, even while denying evolution.

The well known creationists with biomedical PhD degrees are mainly not able or willing to do mainstream science at a high level. The well known ones who “came out” just after getting their degrees (e.g. Wells, Purdom, Gauger, Axe) are “working” at right wing science denial “think tanks” and don’t seem to do any useful teaching or research. Others took up evolution denial after retirement or tenure, for example, Behe. There are probably others who so some type of repetitive, purely technical job in private industry, in many cases perhaps one not really requiring a PhD level education, and keep their views to themselves. It’s clear that denying a massively supported central unifying concept in biology is poorly compatible with a high level biomedical career.

It’s hard to say if there’s a level of applied biomedical science where private evolution denial ceases to be a potential source of cognitive dissonance. Certainly, one could practice physical therapy, which requires a master’s degree, while privately denying evolution, and Don McElroy practiced dentistry (specialized doctoral degree), but in those professions, while the level of compartmentalization required may not be quite as severe as for neurosurgery, the cognitive dissonance would certainly be there. Microbiology and human anatomy and physiology are clearly important to the practice of dentistry, for example. In another thread I suggested that if Todd Wood (“the one honest creationist”) is fired for not being dishonest enough, he could apply his education in medical laboratory work, possibly at a high level, with some extra training. That’s true, but he’d still have to compartmentalize at times. Even if one’s job centers around automated clinical chemistry machines, there’s likely to be a microbiology lab nearby, for example, and the reality of common biochemistry across the biosphere might come up.

Since high school students should receive an education that maximizes their opportunity to contribute, subjecting them to evolution denial, which can only make functioning anywhere in the biomedical arena more difficult, is a very poor idea. Therefore, a high school graduate should have some basic understanding of the theory of evolution.

Even people who don’t have a high school diploma, or who got one that didn’t include good biology, or who forget what they learned, should try to be informed enough that they don’t fall for obvious scams.

harold said:

Since high school students should receive an education that maximizes their opportunity to contribute, subjecting them to evolution denial, which can only make functioning anywhere in the biomedical arena more difficult, is a very poor idea. Therefore, a high school graduate should have some basic understanding of the theory of evolution.

I suspect that many of the leaders of the ID/creationist movement have never taken the equivalent of an Advanced Placement Biology, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics in either high school or college.

It is indeed possible to specialize so narrowly that all the important core concepts of a science can be brushed over or ignored. In fact, I think this is exactly what some students often do; especially those who come saddled with a sectarian ideology against basic science. They can slip-slide by the foundation courses and plunge into the narrow specialty courses and still maintain passing grades.

It is also possible for some graduate students to do a PhD dissertation in a very narrow area that doesn’t require knowledge of the fundamental core of a science. Some research teams divide up the work of research, with some students taking on fairly routine computer programming or data crunching or other tasks that are necessary but menial.

With the increased pressure on research advisors to constantly be applying for ever diminishing funds for research and student support, it becomes very difficult in many departments to make sure that every PhD candidate has been thoroughly trained in the basics.

I have known students who carefully picked their way through the vetting process in order to avoid being challenged in any significant way. They can find extremely busy advisors who are seldom around and who have a functioning lab already set up and being run by post docs or other PhD candidates. They can avoid appearing to be parasites by taking on routine, menial tasks while focusing on a very small part of the ongoing research that doesn’t require a broad overview. Many of the applied sciences don’t require a broad perspective.

Some of the better research training comes from having to design an experiment or research approach and to think through all the ontological and epistemological issues involved in getting the data. Designing and building one’s own research equipment is a wonderful experience.

Many labs these days have commercial equipment that get the data without requiring that students even understand how the equipment works. This makes it easier for students to imagine that data are merely “interpreted” from some ideological perspective.

Worse, if a candidate is doing a “theoretical” dissertation, but doesn’t maintain direct contact with experimentalists or understand all the subtleties of data, it is easy to go off into la-la land with one’s “theories” or “conclusions.”

The pretentiousness of some of the “philosopher critics” of science – and that includes most of the ID/creationist leaders - gets to be really annoying. These pseudo-intellectuals have no clue about the ontological and epistemological issues that theorists and experimentalists in the basic sciences have to confront. Many researchers in the basic sciences are far better at grappling with such problems than are these “philosophers.”

Real research is hard and often very messy; it’s not a game for those just seeking to get some social enhancing letters after their names.

harold said: Even people who don’t have a high school diploma, or who got one that didn’t include good biology, or who forget what they learned, should try to be informed enough that they don’t fall for obvious scams.

Dear harold,

I thank you for your reply. It appears to me that you put some effort in it.

In the case that we are going to exchange messages also in the future, I would like to make one thing clear. I do not doubt biological evolution as a phenomenon. Also, it seems to me that the modern synthesis, which is called the theory of biological evolution, is at this time the best available explanation for the currently observed phenomena, and the known track records derived from paleontology.

Some 30 years ago it was very important that everyone knew what a microprocessor is. Much the same way, now it is important to know what genes and other sequences of the DNA can, or can not do. My guess is that the DNA will carry the public interest longer than the fairly simple application of digital electronics did.

You seem to be concerned about the education in sciences in the U.S. Granted, there may be signs of possible problems that can be seen even from a distance, e.g. from the Northern Europe. We get the same stuff, only a little bit delayed. There are examples of professors (a professor in biochemistry of wood processing and a professor of education) endorsing those ideas in public.

How do we counter this development, if we think it is not right?

Incidentally, I just found out that Mike Elzinga gave his comment. Most of the criticism against the theory of biological evolution is based on the concept of entropy. What does physics say about entropy ? The very definition of the entropy deals with energy, not order or disorder. The definition by Clausius talks about energy and the definition in the quantum statistical description talks about energy. Physics does not contradict the proposed mechanisms for biological evolution.

I understand that you think that teaching the theory of evolution even more would be the proper answer. Sure, that should be one part of the answer, but the question is not about ignorance. The question is about deliberately mangling the currently known science in general, and playing with words and confusing concepts.

Eric,

I’m not sure if you’re new here, but if so you might like to poke around some of the old comment threads before speaking as if the regulars here don’t know about the misuse of thermodynamics by creationists. Panda’s Thumb was created as a response to the rise of the ID movement and the Discovery Institute, and the better-known members of the ID crowd did *not* use thermodynamic arguments against evolution but information theory arguments. They are, of course, essentially saying the same thing (i.e. “I shall now use my misunderstanding of one field of science to refute another”), but they had moved their goalposts from basic misunderstanding of thermodynamics to advanced misunderstanding of information theory.

Secondly, I couldn’t disagree more when you seem to be suggesting (please correct me if I’m wrong) that somehow ignorance is a different problem to being taken in by “playing with words and confusing concepts.” If a person is well educated (i.e. no longer ignorant), they are much more likely to see through fallacious wordplay and conceptual slipperiness. And, yes, I think a basic understanding of evolution is essential to being a well-rounded individual in a modern society. For much the same reason as I think a basic understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics – it’s not like most people are ever going to use the 2LoT in their daily lives, but it does mean most of them won’t sink money into perpetual motion scams. And with evolution, while most people will never need to calculate a Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (or even know what that is), there is almost 100% probability that at some time in their lives they will take an antibiotic or a course of chemotherapy and a proper understanding of evolutionary principles will help them make good decisions for themselves (and in the case of antibiotics, for the entire community).

Eric Finn said:

harold said: Even people who don’t have a high school diploma, or who got one that didn’t include good biology, or who forget what they learned, should try to be informed enough that they don’t fall for obvious scams.

Dear harold,

I thank you for your reply. It appears to me that you put some effort in it.

In the case that we are going to exchange messages also in the future, I would like to make one thing clear. I do not doubt biological evolution as a phenomenon. Also, it seems to me that the modern synthesis, which is called the theory of biological evolution, is at this time the best available explanation for the currently observed phenomena, and the known track records derived from paleontology.

Some 30 years ago it was very important that everyone knew what a microprocessor is. Much the same way, now it is important to know what genes and other sequences of the DNA can, or can not do. My guess is that the DNA will carry the public interest longer than the fairly simple application of digital electronics did.

You seem to be concerned about the education in sciences in the U.S. Granted, there may be signs of possible problems that can be seen even from a distance, e.g. from the Northern Europe. We get the same stuff, only a little bit delayed. There are examples of professors (a professor in biochemistry of wood processing and a professor of education) endorsing those ideas in public.

How do we counter this development, if we think it is not right?

Incidentally, I just found out that Mike Elzinga gave his comment. Most of the criticism against the theory of biological evolution is based on the concept of entropy. What does physics say about entropy ? The very definition of the entropy deals with energy, not order or disorder. The definition by Clausius talks about energy and the definition in the quantum statistical description talks about energy. Physics does not contradict the proposed mechanisms for biological evolution.

I understand that you think that teaching the theory of evolution even more would be the proper answer. Sure, that should be one part of the answer, but the question is not about ignorance. The question is about deliberately mangling the currently known science in general, and playing with words and confusing concepts.

I did not mistake your for a creationist, and agree with your comment, but will clarify one thing.

I understand that you think that teaching the theory of evolution even more would be the proper answer. Sure, that should be one part of the answer, but the question is not about ignorance. The question is about deliberately mangling the currently known science in general, and playing with words and confusing concepts.

There are two separate issues, one more concrete and easily addressed than the other.

The concrete issue is combating efforts by American creationists, to insert sectarian evolution denial, into the science curricula of American public schools. That is the issue that made me aware of political creationism at all. I became aware of it in 1999, when the Kansas School Board attempted to remove the teaching of evolution from public high schools. (Note that at that time, they did not even attempt to insert direct teaching of creationism into the curriculum. However, the common thread is evolution denial. Whether they try to teach overt creationism or coded creationism, or merely to distort, deny, or censor the teaching of evolution, it is always the same thing.)

The public school curriculum issue is concrete and the ways to address are, at least in the US, relatively straightforward.

A second issue is the general and disturbing trend of private embrace of scientific reality denial, by a large proportion of the residents of rich, technologically advanced nations. Note that, in free countries, people have the right to deny whatever they want to deny, in private. Nevertheless, this can’t be a healthy trend. In my personal view, the best way to combat this trend is to treat people who can be convinced with respect and use communication techniques that are persuasive, rather than those that provoke a defensive reaction.

(Note: I don’t do that when dealing with hard core brainwashed creationists, of course. I am civil, but my objective is to demonstrate their fallacies to others, not to attempt the impossible task of winning them over. I do not suggest that we should respect dishonesty and irrational ideas. As someone once said, “If you want me to respect your ideas, get some better ideas”. It is important to distinguish between those who can and who can’t be convinced.)

Richard,

Is there a distinction I’m missing between an evolutionary creationist and an old earth creationist?

Incidentally, I just found out that Mike Elzinga gave his comment. Most of the criticism against the theory of biological evolution is based on the concept of entropy. What does physics say about entropy ? The very definition of the entropy deals with energy, not order or disorder. The definition by Clausius talks about energy and the definition in the quantum statistical description talks about energy. Physics does not contradict the proposed mechanisms for biological evolution.

I was also amazed the first time I heard a creationist use the nonsensical entropy argument, many years ago. My initial reaction was to ask them to demonstrate mathematically how biological evolution is necessarily always associated with a decrease in local entropy in the first place, and to point out the obvious fact that the earth isn’t a closed system anyway.

That was during a very early phase, when I thought they were sincere but mistaken, and that if they were talking about entropy, they must have done some calculations. Later I learned that they mainly didn’t know or care anything about entropy, and were just mindlessly repeating the propaganda slogans of “their side”.

Is there a distinction I’m missing between an evolutionary creationist and an old earth creationist?

If i may answer this…I think that an evolutionary creationist accepts God as creator and yet also acknowledges that evolution really happened as explained by science. Evolutionary Creation is really another name for Theistic Evolution. James Kidder is an example of an “evolutionary creationist.” An old earth creationist, on the other hand, accepts an old earth but believes that God directly designed the different species.

Karen S.,

That makes sense. I’d previously thought of theistic evolution as a branch of OEC, but I can see why theistic evolutionists would prefer not to be put in the same clade.

harold,

That’s the key to the success of DI: they don’t have to create credible evidence or arguments, they just have to create talking points that can be repeated without understanding.

Chris Lawson said:

Eric,

I’m not sure if you’re new here, but if so you might like to poke around some of the old comment threads before speaking as if the regulars here don’t know about the misuse of thermodynamics by creationists. Panda’s Thumb was created as a response to the rise of the ID movement and the Discovery Institute, and the better-known members of the ID crowd did *not* use thermodynamic arguments against evolution but information theory arguments. They are, of course, essentially saying the same thing (i.e. “I shall now use my misunderstanding of one field of science to refute another”), but they had moved their goalposts from basic misunderstanding of thermodynamics to advanced misunderstanding of information theory.

Dear Chris,

There is a (minor) point I would like to make. Please, do not refer to my writings plainly as “Eric wrote”. There is a regular writer with the name eric. I appreciate eric’s line of thinking highly and would be mainly flattered if mistaken to be him. However, I am not entirely sure, if that works the other way round.

Information theory may refer to the definition by Shannon, or it may refer to the measure of complexity by Kolmogorov. Mind you, these are not the same thing. According to Shannon, noise does not contain any information. According to Kolmogorov (and Chaitin), noise is very complex.

When creationists us their information theory arguments, they usually refer to Shannon, maybe because the equation to calculate Shannon entropy is similar to the way thermodynamical entropy is defined in quantum mechanics. Information content is then the distance between the estimated Shannon entropy and the maximum Shannon entropy for that system. The information content is interpreted to mean Kolmogorov complexity, i.e. how complicated it would be to create the state of affairs under discussion. This is pure nonsense from the mathematical point of view. But, there is even more to come.

Anyone is allowed to define a quantity and call it entropy. Shannon did so and there haven’t been major complaints about that, as far as I know. However, one should keep in mind that the contemporary physics is not about magical words. Physics deals with ideas and concepts, and it doesn’t matter how you call them. Even if one uses the word “entropy”, it doesn’t automagically acquire all the properties of the entropy defined in physics. For example, “genetic entropy” is purely a distraction and it is not even a quantity, because it can not be measured.

I have seen qualified biologists arguing that mutations can increase information. What the hell…

My understanding in biology is much more limited than I would ever admit in public (except under torture). Biological evolution means the observation that inheritable features change over generations, at least that is the impression I have got. The theory of evolution attempts to explain details in that change. Identified mechanisms include natural selection and genetic drift. Some of the changes can be tracked down to molecular level.

Where does Shannon or Kolmogorov enter the scene? Maybe I am ignorant, stupid, confused… – or all of those at the same time.

Chris Lawson said:

harold,

That’s the key to the success of DI: they don’t have to create credible evidence or arguments, they just have to create talking points that can be repeated without understanding.

I would stress that they don’t bother to describe any alternative, much less present evidence or arguments for an alternative. What they do is try to generate difficulties with evolutionary biology. And then let the audience feel comfortable with their own feelings, however mutually conflicting those feelings may be. Intelligent Design arose out of two problems with traditional creationism: The legal problems with teaching overtly sectarian views in public schools in the USA; and it was becoming increasingly evident that Young Earth Creationism was digging itself into deep difficulties. The ID solution was to explicitly say that they were not going to take a stand on any substantive issues (for example, the age of the Earth or the identity of the designer) but confine themselves to attacking evolution.

Is there a distinction I’m missing between an evolutionary creationist and an old earth creationist?

Yes. A huge difference.

An old earth creationist IS a real creationist, for example, Hugh Ross or Rich Deem. They believe in an old Earth, of course, but they DO reject evolution for the most part, they DO take their starting-point and presuppositions from the Bible (just like the Young-Earth Creationists do). They are likewise at least generally supportive of the concept or notion of intelligent design, and clearly prefer that explanation instead of evolution.

But the phrase “Evolutionary Creationist” is simply a makeover, a sanitizing, of the term “Theistic Evolutionist.”

The fact is that, after all these years, Theistic Evolution remains an unsupportable oxymoron. TE can be effectively turned into mulch from either the Evolutionist side or the Theist side (especially the biblical Christian side). TE can be defeated in debate, from either the scholarly side or the layperson side. And so it has come to pass.

Theistic evolution is literally the absolute weakest, most rationally untenable position on ALL sides of the origins debate. And this include Biologos, quite frankly. They’re presumably workin’ hard and writin’ hard, but the existence of the Bible (and also the existence of standard biology and evolution textbooks, journal articles, and evolution websites like Pandasthumb and WhyEvolutionIsTrue) guarantees that the TE position will always be a losing position.

And this is all the more true, because theistic evolutionists necessarily and invariably refer to their position as a religious position. Which means that they cannot hide behind the usual label of “science”. They are wide open in the ring.

****

So, what do you do when your chess pieces are in permanent Zugzwang? What do you do when your team NEVER makes it to the playoffs? Simple: Do a makeover. Find another moniker.

That’s what is going on here. “Theistic evolutionist” is the defeated, doomed label of old. The new sugar-coated monkey is “Evolutionary Creationism.”

But the new monkey looks and smells and bounces off the cage-bars, exactly like the old one did.

Evolutionary Creationism:

“The belief that God (the Christian God) used evolution to create life on Earth. This theory says that God designed the natural processes that guide evolution, and endowed Mankind with a soul when it had reached a sufficient level of sentience…”

–the Urban Dictionary

Shoot, that’s Theistic Evolution all over again. No real difference at all.

Sure, they use the term “creationism”, but they DO NOT mean “creationism” in the same way you Pandas mean “creationism”, oh no no. They’re just as strictly opposed to biblical creationism, Young-Earth Creationism, and Old-Earth Creationism as you are, and just as opposed to the intelligent design hypothesis, as you Panda guys are. They’ll flush important Bible verses and Bible claims straight down the toilet, just as fast (or faster) as you guys will.

For example, in answering one poster’s question, Venema has said online ”…(Our) species arose as a population, not through a single primal pair.”

That’s a DIRECT denial not only of the clear and unmistakable wording of Gen. 2:7 (Adam’s supernatural, zero-ancestor creation) and Gen. 2:21-22 (Eve’s supernatural, zero-ancestor creation), but it’s even a direct denial of Jesus Christ’s own historical affirmation about Adam and Eve as Earth’s literal “primal pair” in Matthew 19:4-6.

Sheesh. Welcome to theistic evolution evolutionary creationism.

****

So let’s just be honest about it, yes? The phrase “evolutonary creationism” is essentially just a PR tactic, a media move, a play on words designed to help sell an un-biblical, un-sellable product (called “Theistic Evolution”) to religious people and ESPECIALLY religious voters.

Evolutionary creationists are NOT creationists at all, whether Old-Earth or Young-Earth. It’s the same old monkey after all, and the cage still needs cleaning.

FL

Where does Shannon or Kolmogorov enter the scene? Maybe I am ignorant, stupid, confused… – or all of those at the same time.

1) You are a bit ignorant - ignorant of the post-modern creationist movement, that is. I do not have time now to provide a detailed history of the post-modern creationist movement, but you will pick it up if you follow this and related sites. The motivations are emotional, ideological, and authoritarian.

ID/creationists will say almost anything to contradict the theory of evolution. They do not care if the things they say are mutually contradictory or have been proven wrong. They essentially observe only two limitations - A) never admit that the theory of evolution correctly explains anything and B) never directly contradict hard core Biblical literalism.

They use underhanded tricks all the time. One of their underhanded tricks is misuse of quotations, known as “quote mining”, for example.

Another trick is a constant effort to falsely convince others that evolution has been “disproven from above” by some field like thermodynamics or information theory. With exquisitely rare exceptions, they do not know anything about thermodynamic or information theory, nor care (a few of them are applied computer programmers in high level languages or engineers, although such claims must be treated with skepticism, as many falsely claim to have those credentials).

Rather, the goal of the trick is to make people believe that they don’t have to know anything at all about evolution to “know that it must be wrong”. For this to happen, people must also not know anything about the subject the “disproof” is coming from, of course. They also tend to expect people from biomedical backgrounds to be as ignorant of information science and thermodynamics as they are, not realizing that many or most biomedical scientists have at least some cross-training in these areas, and that there are many full cross-trained people in fields like bio-physics and bio-informatics.

Creationists are not trying to make sense. Their implied goal is to keep members of their own movement and their children from learning about science, and thus from doubting some of the dogma. They are obsessed with public schools. Probably many of them don’t want to home school their own children, or pay for private schools. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to force the public school system, which serves everyone, to support their narrow sectarian dogma, by incorporating some form of evolution denial into science class.

They will take any form of evolution denial they can get. They have tried to insert overt Young Earth Creationism creation science. They have tried to insert the disguised “ID” version of creation science. They have tried to simply remove evolution from the curriculum altogether. They have tried to get “equal time” for evolution and sectarian dogma in science class. They have tried to force teachers to claim that evolution is scientifically controversial. Any evolution denial in public schools, direct or indirect, is, to them, better than no evolution denial. Period.

2) Both Shannon information theory and the Kolmogorov treatment of complexity have valid applications in biomedical science, of course.

Pity poor Floyd.

He lives in a void.

“The Bible is literal!”

“Please don’t be so critical!”

And watch out for HELL,

Have some barbeque sauce, might as well.

A believer with a brain terrifies FL.

Liar For Jesus claimed:

An old earth creationist IS a real creationist

Then how come you’ve also stated that Salvation is magically impossible if one didn’t believe that God magically poofed the world into existence no more than 10,000 years ago, as per your interpretation of the Bible?

Or, is this just your way of justifying suckling on Ray Martinez’s genitals for being a fellow science-hating bigot not officially excommunicating Ray Martinez for not believing in a Young Earth?

The fact is that, after all these years, Theistic Evolution remains an unsupportable oxymoron.

So you’re saying that the Pope is a Christian?

Karen S. said:

A believer with a brain terrifies FL.

Anyone with a functioning brain terrifies and enrages FL.

One of FL’s problems – very likely his major problem – is that he has developed a reflexive habit of pretending to know everything about everything when in fact he knows nothing.

A little checking reveals that he constantly bluffs about his knowledge of science; and he always doubles down in his bluffing even after he has made a complete ass of himself.

So why should anyone believe that FL knows anything about the religions views of others? What does FL know about how they are able to reconcile their religious beliefs with science? Nothing FL says squares with anything other religious folks say about their own religion. He does the same doubling down about the religious beliefs of others as he does about his assertions about science.

The only conclusion one can come to is that everything that FL asserts is a brazen lie. He knows nothing yet pretends to know everything. What kind of sectarian beliefs drive that kind of ego?

Anyone with a functioning brain terrifies and enrages FL.

That is true!

Philosophically, I suspect FL has a good point here. If one is to believe in gods who DO things, then you might as well take them at their word what they did. Conversely, if natural explanations are sufficient (so far, no scientific explanation requires anything supernatural), then gods really contribute nothing in the way of explanation or understanding. They are superfluous afterthoughts.

A theistic evolution is one who says that life probably arose by evolutionary feedback processes, and has certainly continued to develop using such processes, and Oh, by the way, there’s one or more gods we don’t need, but I believe in them anyway.

A creationist says that the appearance of evolution, beyond trivial variation, is an illusion and must be because God Said So! Poof “theory” is required and not negotiable. And this position is at least consistent, if not very helpful.

Mike Elzinga said:

The only conclusion one can come to is that everything that FL asserts is a brazen lie. He knows nothing yet pretends to know everything. What kind of sectarian beliefs drive that kind of ego?

Possibly an all-consuming, brain-destroying fear of being victimized by the very same threats he makes against us to force us to believe his inane lies?

FL said: So, what do you do when your chess pieces are in permanent Zugzwang? What do you do when your team NEVER makes it to the playoffs? Simple: Do a makeover. Find another moniker.

Stopped clock effect…

You are correct. That’s why there is the series: Creationism, Creation Science, Scientific Creationism, Intelligent Design.

A series of makeovers under new names for the same old–wrong–ideas.

W. H. Heydt said:

FL said: So, what do you do when your chess pieces are in permanent Zugzwang? What do you do when your team NEVER makes it to the playoffs? Simple: Do a makeover. Find another moniker.

Stopped clock effect…

You are correct. That’s why there is the series: Creationism, Creation Science, Scientific Creationism, Intelligent Design.

A series of makeovers under new names for the same old–wrong–ideas.

Aka “Cdesign proponentsists-ism” or “Incompetent Proofreader Syndrome”

Karen S. said:

A believer with a brain terrifies FL.

It’s interesting that the obsession of creationists is with contradicting evolution, not with promoting Christianity (their claims to the contrary).

In an ironic way, they’re ecumenical. They’ll make common cause with other science deniers who are Jewish or even Islamic, and they are obsessed with the idea that you can’t be a “real Christian” if you accept evolution. FL is even willing to tolerate “old earth” types who deny evolution (those are very scarce on the ground in reality, because OEC actually represented fundamentalists inching toward accepting scientific reality - if the earth is old, there is time for evolution).

It’s interesting, but hardly surprising. They perceive moderate Christianity as a competitor for the same niche. Science is an entirely different product. The guy with a hot dog stand may not like the pizza parlor, but he really hates the other hot dog stand.

If I might play God’s advocate for a moment…

The arguments I can see against a creator God proceed from observed manifestations of his supposed Will: God ordained gravity; God ordained that human beings are able to walk before they have any notion of depth perception or the effects of gravity; God therefore ordained that toddlers fall to their deaths.

That is, the arguments against a theistic God that I think valid are rooted in the problem of theodicy. A God whose Will operates thus is not worth worshipping, even if He actually existed.

On the question of the redundancy of God, I am far less convinced. The Universe exists; it is ordered by predictable natural law. These facts require explanation, and the null hypothesis, by definition, explains nothing. Unicorns, fairies, leprechauns, whatever; they, too explain nothing, unless they are God.

What if we posit as an explanation a God who not only created the Universe, set it running, and disappeared, but who ordered its entire operation through all time and space, being present and active in every interaction of every particle and quantum that exists, ever existed, or ever will exist? What if we posit that such a God created and ordered the Universe so that it brought forth life, and then intelligence, out of Will, but of that Will endowed that intelligence with free will of its own? That even what appears to us to be blind chance may also be a manifestation of Divine Will? That, in fact, all things are so, excepting only our own free will?

Apart from the theodicy objection above, what do we know that contradicts such an idea? Have we a better explanation for the Universe, assuming that an explanation is necessary? I must admit I think not. I say so with some reluctance, for it opens a yawning void. I simply do not know, and that fact has gnawed at me ever since I became aware of my ignorance.

But what I do know that FL’s God is far less than this, and, being less, is not God. His God had to work by fiat alone, abrogating His own Will that the Universe function by orderly natural law. Thus, FL’s God is actually incoherent and limited; FL is thus not only theologically wrong, he is actually in heresy.

But, as we have seen so many times here, FL’s God is actually FL himself, writ large - but not so very large as that.

Interesting replies, as always. But may I suggest something? It’s honestly looking as if nobody here is really in a hurry to defend the specifics of theistic evolution, or evolutionary creationism, or oil-and-water-ism. Heh.

But hey, speaking of theistic evolutionists, did you know that TODAY was their big day?

That’s right, it’s Evolution Sunday (now renamed Evolution Weekend in an effort to drag in those Friday and Saturday religions).

This is the TE’s Super Bowl Sunday, all in an effort to get the clergy–NOT the scientists, but the clergy–to sign up on the “Clergy Letter Project” and help sell the Gospel of Theistic Evolution in their respective houses of worship.

In the past, you might would have seen a Pandasthumb article about this annual event, but apparently it’s not even showing up on the Panda radar this year. Oh well.

But not to worry! On another blog, I have carefully churned up a goodly batch of analysis and discussion about Evolution Weekend 2013 and Theistic Evolution, and I suspect that anyone who is interested in TE (and by extension, BioLogos), may wish to check things out. So, please enjoy!

http://cjonline.com/blog-post/contr[…]how-fight-it

FL

Just Bob said:

phhht said:

Dave Luckett said:

God is perfect…

No, God is NOT perfect.

Now how are we gonna tell who’s right? Jihad?

Using the Bible as evidence, Yah is neither perfect, nor omniscient, nor omnipotent, nor omnipresent. Sure, there are passages that state or imply that he is all those things. That makes the Bible self-contradictory and… imperfect.

Old Testament: “We prophesy that the New Testament will be right.”

New Testament: “The Old Testament was wrong.”

And this is an example where the PT regulars can have a calm, reasonable discussion about religion, even though there are strong disagreements. No name calling. No ALL CAPS. And *both* sides can cogently express their opinions. Someone asks a question; someone else responds by explaining what they meant. Other’s chime in with analysis of what the response might imply. At which point the responder is able to (and does) elaborate in more detail, without resorting to “Well, I already said that”, or “You’re too stupid to understand”. Instead, people on each side (not just “both” sides) are willing to admit that they don’t know everything, and that their understanding might be wrong. There is depth to the discussion, understanding, questioning, and reasoned thought, not just superficial regurgitation of canned talking points, or (God forbid) quoting of scripture.

Note to the PT Trolls: it can be done. It isn’t “our” fault that similar discussions with Creationists quickly degenerate into verbal mud wrestling, with all the intellectual sophistication of a cat fight. (At least on one side.)

Thanks, all. Always refreshing when done well.

Mike,

I usually don’t bother getting into theodicy arguments because that is where the cognitive dissonance is at its thickest, even with non-creationists. As you say, the idea that god *had* to create a universe with the 2LoT running means that, well, god couldn’t choose to make the universe any way it liked. Which means there are limits on god’s powers.

Really, I find polytheistic religions far more credible. The idea that there are multiple gods with competing agendas has far more explanatory power than a single monolithic, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benign god.

Chris Lawson said: Really, I find polytheistic religions far more credible. The idea that there are multiple gods with competing agendas has far more explanatory power than a single monolithic, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benign god.

Or how about no gods at all? Or a universe created by a sadistic amoral being that would be more like our conception of Satan?

Chris Lawson said:

Mike,

I usually don’t bother getting into theodicy arguments because that is where the cognitive dissonance is at its thickest, even with non-creationists. As you say, the idea that god *had* to create a universe with the 2LoT running means that, well, god couldn’t choose to make the universe any way it liked. Which means there are limits on god’s powers.

Really, I find polytheistic religions far more credible. The idea that there are multiple gods with competing agendas has far more explanatory power than a single monolithic, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benign god.

The history of religions is interesting in that it shows that somewhere back in prehistory humans began the process of trying to understand the world around them by projecting human emotions and desires onto their environment.

Even the Abrahamic religions retain the Manichaeism of ancient Persia by asserting an evil, satanic deity that opposes a good deity. That dualistic notion has roots in the prehistoric experiences of humans with the terrifying and delightful things they saw in the world.

Of course, it is also the case that, as the human population grew and began to collect into larger cities, the issues of controlling behavior arose so that everybody could live together. Religions were actually invented by rulers and emerging priesthoods not only for prescribing behavior and for collecting goods to be shared, but also for developing scary scenarios and punishments that would scare the hell out of those who resisted conformity and couldn’t get along or contribute to the welfare of all (especially the rulers and priests).

I suspect that many religious folks today attend churches mostly for tradition, social cohesion and support, and friendship. Most of these folks that I know don’t seem to have any particular hard and fast notions about the attributes of a deity. The worst “religions” seem to be those that insist on demonizing all that don’t belong to their particular sects and that pressure their members to proselytize and interfere in the lives of others.

Religion has been a fact of human history; and that history has been one of blood wars along with playing important roles in building community. That history of killing and fragmentation simply reveals that humans don’t know anything about the attributes of deities.

The evolution of sectarian behavior over the centuries also demonstrates that morality and the rules for human behavior do not come from deities; they come from humans learning how to live together without killing each other (or not learning those lessons, as is too often the case). Deities are projections of human desires and aspirations; and as projections of human desires and aspirations, they take on all the attributes of humans, good and bad. They give justification for human behavior, both good and bad.

I no longer spend much time speculating on the attributes of any possible deities. Asserting that there is a “supernatural world” that interacts with the natural world defies rationality and logic. There is no known mechanism that explains the transmission of information and knowledge between two such realms because “supernatural” is defined in a way that is self-contradictory. Thousands of divergent sectarian beliefs and dogmas about deities are pretty good evidence that humans don’t know anything about deities, or even know any deities.

Life is short; and time is better spent on the kinds of knowledge that converge to common understanding for just about everyone; in other words, by trying to stay in touch with reality. And one can have community and many good friends without needing to proclaim one’s allegiance to dogmatic assertions about deities that cannot be known.

Mike said:

I suspect that many religious folks today attend churches mostly for tradition, social cohesion and support, and friendship.

It’s also clear that for the conservative Christian right in the US, membership, or better, a leading role in a Church (of the right kind, that is) is more often a sort of group identity ritual with a political value, rather than a manifestation of religious fervour, per se.

Scott F said:

And this is an example where the PT regulars can have a calm, reasonable discussion about religion, even though there are strong disagreements. No name calling. No ALL CAPS. And *both* sides can cogently express their opinions. Someone asks a question; someone else responds by explaining what they meant. Other’s chime in with analysis of what the response might imply. At which point the responder is able to (and does) elaborate in more detail, without resorting to “Well, I already said that”, or “You’re too stupid to understand”. Instead, people on each side (not just “both” sides) are willing to admit that they don’t know everything, and that their understanding might be wrong. There is depth to the discussion, understanding, questioning, and reasoned thought, not just superficial regurgitation of canned talking points, or (God forbid) quoting of scripture.

Note to the PT Trolls: it can be done. It isn’t “our” fault that similar discussions with Creationists quickly degenerate into verbal mud wrestling, with all the intellectual sophistication of a cat fight. (At least on one side.)

Thanks, all. Always refreshing when done well.

It is an example, of which there are many. I also would note that, when these calm and rational discussions of religion do occur here, the religious bigots like FL and IBIG invariably disappear. As much as they want to babble endlessly about the mandates of their chosen superstitions and try to turn conversations about science and science education into arguments about their neurotic belief systems, they have no actual interest in engaging in sober discussion about anything religious. Such discussions run against the grain of what I think is their entire raison d’etre here, which is to provoke emotional responses to their hateful, bigoted bullshit, to create for themselves a bogus soapbox from which they can concern troll about how horribly nice religious people like them get treated at these awful atheist materialist science-worship sites.

dalehusband,

Sorry if I wasn’t being clear enough. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool atheist. All I meant was that *relative* to monotheism, I find polytheism more supportable. Rather in the way that *relative* to anti-vaxxers, I find Loch Ness Monster enthusiasts rather endearing.

Chris Lawson said:

Mike,

I usually don’t bother getting into theodicy arguments because that is where the cognitive dissonance is at its thickest, even with non-creationists. As you say, the idea that god *had* to create a universe with the 2LoT running means that, well, god couldn’t choose to make the universe any way it liked. Which means there are limits on god’s powers.

Really, I find polytheistic religions far more credible. The idea that there are multiple gods with competing agendas has far more explanatory power than a single monolithic, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benign god.

My feeling is that the problem of theodicy has been around for thousands of years, and it is extremely unlikely that I am going to come up with something that hasn’t already been thought of and argued about without resolution. So I’m not going to try.

Dave Luckett said:

eric, God is perfect, but elements of his Universe are not - ie, us, for a start. It must follow that even God’s Universe is not perfect, and that by His will.

Now you’re turning the modus ponens around, making the whole thing circular. Essentially, you’re saying here: I’m going to take the assertion that God exists and is perfect as a premise, and deduce from that that it was logically impossible for him to create a better world. But if you do that, you are no longer making a legitimate argument for the existence of God. Because an argument for the existence of God cannot have his existence and perfection as a premise. You’ve moved from philosophy into apologetics.

And, you have yet to actually answer my point, which is that according to your theology there CAN EXIST entities that have free will yet are not short-sighted etc. You worship one. So then to claim the world must be the way it is because it is logically impossible for such entities to exist is self-contradictory.

From that, it must follow that it does not operate to our perfect weal. Hence, we suffer. Hence, what we call natural evil.

“Must follow” my derrier. Your first statement is: some suffering must exist because of human free will. Your third statement says: all the suffering we see, even the suffering not caused by any action of human free will, must exist. The latter very obviously does not follow from the former.

dalehusband said:

Chris Lawson said: Really, I find polytheistic religions far more credible. The idea that there are multiple gods with competing agendas has far more explanatory power than a single monolithic, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benign god.

Or how about no gods at all? Or a universe created by a sadistic amoral being that would be more like our conception of Satan?

Of interest, when I was much younger I had a transient period of wondering about this. I even came up with the idea that such a being might allow individual lack of suffering because the whole system was stochastic, designed to maximize the total expected value of suffering, which maximized at some point where some weren’t suffering. I didn’t actually believe it - I’ve been instinctively skeptical of any type of magical claim since some very early age - but I thought that it “made as much sense” as the (perfectly nice and non-traumatizing) religion I was raised in.

This idea has a parallel with the (correct) Buddhist/dharmic recognition that suffering is more or less inevitable (which is correct because of the way the human brain works, not because of some supernatural force).

As soon as I began seriously studying science, I immediately realized that there is, to put it mildly, no need whatsoever to project some sort of human-imagined evil deity onto the universe, and that we can experience the pleasure of applying out curiosity, hard work, and cognition to figuring out scientific answers.

bbennett1968 said:

… horribly nice religious people …

It took me three tries before I could read past that phrase.

Mike Elzinga said:

Just Bob said:

phhht said:

Dave Luckett said:

God is perfect…

No, God is NOT perfect.

Now how are we gonna tell who’s right? Jihad?

Using the Bible as evidence, Yah is neither perfect, nor omniscient, nor omnipotent, nor omnipresent. Sure, there are passages that state or imply that he is all those things. That makes the Bible self-contradictory and… imperfect.

Old Testament: “We prophesy that the New Testament will be right.”

New Testament: “The Old Testament was wrong.”

Circular argument! ;)

Dave Luckett said:

Mike said:

I suspect that many religious folks today attend churches mostly for tradition, social cohesion and support, and friendship.

It’s also clear that for the conservative Christian right in the US, membership, or better, a leading role in a Church (of the right kind, that is) is more often a sort of group identity ritual with a political value, rather than a manifestation of religious fervour, per se.

Indeed. A lot of those “churches” are highly political; and their members meddle in the affairs of others routinely. They have huge egos and are very pushy and bossy. They also seem to have lots of money.

I quit theological discourse at the first sign of heat. Cowardice, perhaps, but I dislike offending those who would otherwise be my allies in what I think is plainly a more important conflict than that over the possible existence of God. I mean the one against wilful dishonesty and ignorance peddled as a virtue.

Dave Luckett said:

I quit theological discourse at the first sign of heat. Cowardice, perhaps, but I dislike offending those who would otherwise be my allies in what I think is plainly a more important conflict than that over the possible existence of God. I mean the one against wilful dishonesty and ignorance peddled as a virtue.

I doubt that it is cowardice. It’s more likely just good social manners; far better than the social manners of proselytizers who are always looking for ways to segue conversations onto their sectarian beliefs and probing for personal information.

eric,

I’ve read a lot of Dave Luckett’s posts over many years, and I doubt that he was arguing *for* that particular philosophy, just that it is one way of addressing theodicy from a Christian perspective. I happen to disagree with him that it’s a solid rejoinder, but Dave tends to look for ways to accommodate* reasonable religious folk in the fight against creationism and ID. It’s a Big Tent strategy with the entrance requirement being honesty about the evidence for evolution and modern science. Again, I happen to disagree with this approach, but I can’t really fault it as unworkable or malicious.

My reservation is that it means some of us have to walk on eggshells on certain topics, and I read far too many forcefully-expressed opinions by religious folk who are reasonable about evolution but not about, say, gay marriage or prayer in school, and I think it’s important to chip away at all the crusted-on excrescence of religion that stands in the way of humanistic policies while Dave thinks it’s important to build alliances and choose our battles. I’m not sure that either one of us really right or wrong, they’re just different approaches and probably each have their place. (And, of course, I’m sure we would both find situations where the other’s approach is better – I’m certainly not accusing Dave of turning a blind eye to homophobia and anti-secularism and I certainly wouldn’t bust up an anti-creationist school board over an ally’s insistence on spending a minute in prayer before each meeting.)

Anyway, this is long-winded way of saying I think you’ve misread Dave’s beliefs and intentions. Dave, please correct me if I’m wrong.

*Yes, I know that’s a loaded word, but it’s the best one I can come up with.

Dave Luckett said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Dave Luckett said:

Or consider this: God is omnipotent and omnipresent. That means that He is personally concerned with each and every event that has ever occurred, excepting only the operation of our free will, which he grants, even where it opposes His. He ordains, has ordained, and will ordain, the interaction of every particle and every quantum that exists, existed, or ever will exist. All chance events, like all natural law, are as much his creation as any miracle.

So God ordained a Universe and ordered its natural laws. He ordained evolution, and also ordained each and every interaction of living things and their environments, every point mutation, every selection pressure, every change in allele, all for the purpose of producing a living being that could know and worship Him, and eventually be ushered into His fellowship.

Nice; but it exacerbates the theodicy issues if one also believes that the deity cares about the sentient lives it creates.

If such a deity doesn’t care, attempting to implore the deity to fulfill some wish or to worship such a deity doesn’t make much sense.

Actually, it provides a possible response to the theodicy issue: our free will decisions have consequences that force changes to God’s will. (This, it is true, assumes that God values human free will even above human weal.)

There would be no pain, no death and no suffering were God’s will alone done. But our free will, even where it is not malevolent, is short-sighted, imperfect, ignorant, at odds with each other’s and with God’s. This must necessarily have the effect of producing a less than perfect Universe in which pain and suffering are inevitable. The fact that we can’t see an immediate connection between the two is immaterial. Why would we expect that we would?

One might argue the theodicy problem from a slightly different angle: that Evolution is the answer to the problem of theodicy. If one were to believe that God created a universe in which natural laws existed, and one in which evolution could, in time, lead to an intelligent creature that God could talk to, that combination of features might be limited to a universe in which “bad things” must happen. In fact, if God created a universe in which evolution could exist, then by the definition of evolution “death” and “suffering” must occur. Hmm… Well, “death” must occur. I’m not certain if “suffering” is also required. A quick, painless death might be sufficient for evolution to occur.

Sure, God might have poofed everything into perfect existence, but where’s the challenge in that? :-)

One of the things that humans thrive on is novelty. Being omniscient must get awfully boring. It must be refreshing to have some unpredictable free will in other beings. Not that our free will “forces” changes in God’s will, but that our exercise of free will is God’s will. It actually seems a reasonable assumption that God values novelty “even above human weal”.

On the other hand, if one is not arguing for an omni-benevolent God, that kind of makes the whole theodicy problem moot, doesn’t it.

Though, extending my ramblings to address Mike’s previous point, it’s not so much “that the deity cares about the sentient lives it creates.” Rather, it’s that the deity cares about creating sentient lives.

Turning to another human analogy, humans create games with limiting rules all the time. Sure, any person is capable of “cheating” at the game. But that’s not the point. It’s playing within the rules that makes the game interesting. God could “cheat” by just poofing what he wants. It’s not that he couldn’t cheat. But if he wants to play the game, he has to play by the rules, even if they are rules that he (perhaps arbitrarily) defined.

Chris Lawson said:

…Anyway, this is long-winded way of saying I think you’ve misread Dave’s beliefs and intentions. Dave, please correct me if I’m wrong.

You’re not wrong. I admit the accusation that I was indulging in apologetics. It’s rather a mental hobby of mine.

Dave,

I’m not trying to start a mutual fan club or nuthin’, but I don’t mind the occasional exercise in apologetics to (i) try to put oneself in the frame of mind of someone one disagrees with, and (ii) to prevent any given forum becoming an echo chamber (obviously in these forums we have the loopy creo brigade to prevent echo chambers forming – although the more hardcore of them like FL and RB have constructed extraordinary internal echo chambers whereby everything that is ever said to them becomes an echo of how right they are no matter how much it contradicts them…but since they never advance a single argument worth a toss, it’s good to be reminded that there are non-loopy apologists out there even if one finds apologetics unconvincing).

(By gum, I’m writing in tangled knots today.)

Scott F,

I actually kind of like the idea of a creator running a sim-style universe. There’s room for everything from an active interventionist sim (like SimCity where the player has to intervene all the time) to a completely non-interventionist sim (like a Julia set generator where you plug in the initial variables and then see what it looks like).

While I also like the idea of intervening as cheating, this is still a subtle problem as even a lot of computer games played for fun will have players use cheat codes to make the game a breeze. I don’t understand this myself – as someone once said, cheating at solitaire is cheating yourself – but I also know of times when a computer game has been buggy, so I’ve gone into the console to correct the bug. Which could be seen as cheating, but it’s cheating to make the game run the way it was intended by its designers.

The problem for traditional omnipotent/omniscient monotheisms is that this model, while it would perfectly explain a god who intervenes at moments that the objects inside the game (i.e. us) cannot possibly hope to understand, it also implies (i) a god-player that is using buggy code and therefore is not omnipotent and omniscient and may even be a n00b, (ii) a god-player that may not be the same entity as the creator, (iii) a god-player with a lack of empathy for the sentient entities in its universe (or else why wouldn’t the god-player intervene to prevent atrocities and natural disasters?).

Dave Luckett said:

Chris Lawson said:

…Anyway, this is long-winded way of saying I think you’ve misread Dave’s beliefs and intentions. Dave, please correct me if I’m wrong.

You’re not wrong. I admit the accusation that I was indulging in apologetics. It’s rather a mental hobby of mine.

I may argue with Dave and DS about theology, but ultimately I place a much higher value on secularism than disbelief. On secularism, we are certainly on the same page. So, to Chris - my apologies if my post came off heated. Reading your last post, I’d say we have very similar ideas about theodicy (though I probably wouldn’t use a program analogy). To Dave - my apologies if I misrepresented your position or attributed a position to you when you were really just playing devil’s advocate (or, here, theists’ advocate…).

But I can’t resist poking the bear one last time and saying that, IMO, the suffering we see in the world does not follow from the argument of the necessity for free will. Which, IMO, is an argument which is largely inconsistent with Christian scripture anyway. God simply isn’t hidden in the bible, so its a bit of a cop out by christian apologists to claim he must be hidden to preserve our free will.

I also would note that, when these calm and rational discussions of religion do occur here, the religious bigots like FL and IBIG invariably disappear.

…Or maybe we just know the value of quietly listening to YOU guys preach and debate among yourselves, when you think nobody’s looking.

You know, just to understand better which Pandas sincerely subscribe to which positions.

That way, I can delicately and dutifully adjust your daily dosage of.…

http://trialx.com/g/Bbq_Sauce-2.jpg

FL :)

Well, FL? Are tornadoes designed? Are snowflakes?

HOW CAN YOU TELL?

You can’t tell, can you. You’re just a sicko loony who cannot distinguish the real from the imaginary. You’re a presumptuous, over-inflated windbag who isn’t even capable of defending his own bullshit.

You’re a bull-goose loony, FL.

(Elzinga)

Asserting that there is a “supernatural world” that interacts with the natural world defies rationality and logic. There is no known mechanism that explains the transmission of information and knowledge between two such realms because “supernatural” is defined in a way that is self-contradictory.

Mike’s paragraph directly opposes and negates what Carl Drews wrote.

(Drews) If you are looking for evidence for God, the best place to go is the Christian Gospels.

But there’s the kicker. Once you abandon the historial reliability of Genesis, as TE’s do, you necessarily must abandon the historical reliability of the Gospels as well.

More specifically, if you accept (even tacitly), Mike’s quoted statement against the supernatural claims of Genesis, rational consistency demands that you accept the VERY SAME statement against the supernatural claims of the Gospels.

No wiggle room. No escape. Mike’s got ‘im.

Hence Drews’ quotation is easily defeated by Elzinga’s quotation – and that is all the more true because Elzinga’s statement IS compatible with the theory of Evolution, while the supernatural claims of the Gospels are NOT.

So give Mike credit for a profound insight into why Theistic Evolution has failed to gain much traction. TE just isn’t able to cut the custard.

FL

Hey FL,

Prometheist says snowflakes are not designed. I demonstrated in these hallowed walls that my quartz crystal was designed. (At least it qualified for the ‘design inference’. Did you see it?)

Can you help us out? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Not too shy to offer an opinion, are you?

N.O. (Need Opinion)

SWT said:

Kevin B said:

Even though I’m Christian, when I’m interpreting calorimetry results, I’m not doing “theistic thermodynamics.” When I’m calculating chemical reaction rates, I’m not engaged in “theistic chemical reaction kinetics”.

Similarly, when I say that I accept modern evolutionary theory as the best available scientific explanation for the development of biological diversity, I am accepting the same theory that my non-theist co-commenters here accept, with the same caveats about provisional acceptance. My belief in God is irrelevant to my evaluation of the evidence for modern evolutionary theory in the same way it’s irrelevant to my consideration of thermodynamics, chemistry, mechanics, and other areas of scientific inquiry. Tagging my position with the label “theistic” can be (and has been) interpreted to suggest otherwise.

You might have this backwards. “Theistic evolution” is a religious position rather than a scientific one. It is a position that allows (say) an Anglican to be comfortable with both evolution and the Nicene Creed at once. Young Earth Creationists might not have issues with chemical reaction kinetics, but radio-nuclide dating is another matter, it is not?

If “theistic evolution” were used only for a theological position, I would be less irritated. I have also encountered it as a description of a scientific position. (To be precise, it was used as a prelude to a misrepresentation of my scientific position in a real-life group discussion, by a signatory of the DI’s “dissent from Darwinism” statement.)

That’s why I prefer EC to TE because of which aspect is the noun and which is the adjective. T does not really modify E but E certainly does C. The latter describes how God creates while the former is meaningless mush. The power of the scientific method is we can work together despite the differences in religious beliefs and practices.

Francis Collins dislikes the term “Theistic Evolution,” too; that’s why he coined “Biologos.” Biologos has become the name of an organization rather than a theological position, though.

Dennis Venema (remember Dennis Venema?) has posted the second class in the series:

Evolution Basics: Evolution as a Scientific Theory

Since Venema’s first post (the announcement) was on February 7 and this one is February 21, it looks like he’s beginning a 2-week class cycle. Look at the bottom of each class for links to the previous and next sessions.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 8, 2013 8:53 PM.

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