Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Alvin Plantinga's paper

Adam Crowl (
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 16:05:37 PST

Hi Group,
Still on that issue of what Darwin meant...

>Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 06:26:52 EST
>Subject: Re: Re: Re: Fwd: Alvin Plantinga's paper
>Hi Adam,
>Sorry for the delay in responding to your message.
Quite alright, please forgive mine.

>In a message dated 1/19/99 2:35:48 AM, you wrote:
><<Hi Group,
>>Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 05:28:57 EST
>>Subject: Re: Re: Fwd: Alvin Plantinga's paper
>>In a message dated 1/16/99 I wrote in response to Ed :
>>> Another one is that life on earth is _organized_ in a hierarchical
>fashion. The organized hierarchy is much more difficult to explain in
>Darwinian terms, because it was built from the top down, not from the
>up as Darwin predicted.
>>Ed wrote: Could you explain this statement? Why is organized hierarchy
>to explain in Darwinian terms?
>You wrote, "Yes indeed. Why? Dehaan pitches into what Darwin thought,
>modern neo-Darwinism is a lot more informed than Darwin ever was.
What's t=
>modern view?
>I then wrote Ed,
>>Darwin predicted that phyletic hierarchies would be formed from the
>bottom up (in Linnaean terms). He states this clearly in _Origin of
>(Everyman Library Edition, pp. 109-122).

Varieties and species, being
>>modified by natural selection, would eventually form what could be
>called genera, these in turn by further modification would form
>which in turn would form orders.

Okay, now what's going on here. Species arise, and as they diversify
they form distinct and higher taxonomic categories. What species are we
talking about here? Modern ones that form the base of our hierarchies,
or progenitor species whose descendents will became the modern day

He stops at this point. I call this
>"bottom-up" because the process of evolution begins with the lowest
>according to Darwin, and eventually forms the higher taxonomic
>through the process of natural selection.
> You wrote, "It would be interesting to read exactly what Darwin was
>doesn't sound like any statement about the temporal distribution of the
>Here is exactly what Darwin said, explaining his diagram (found on pp.
>=09"Thus the diagram illustrates the steps by which small differences
>=09distinguishing varieties are increased into larger differences
>=09species. By continuing the process for a greater number of
>=09get eight species marked by the letters between a14 and m14 all
>=09from (A). *Thus, as I believe, species are multiplied and genera
>=09formed.*(p. 112. My emphasis.)
That follows - but think. What's the time flow here? He's not talking
about modern descendent species diversifying into genera - he's talking
about progenitors. As life diverges forth into diversity, so we'll see
higher and higher levels appearing. If we start with the common
bilaterian ancestor that's what is seen. The Cambrian beasties might
have fit into certain phyla, but that's how we'd fit them based on their
similarity to modern forms. Personally I can see your difficulty, and
it's clearly a rather clumsy way of putting things, but fundamentally
there is no problem. Higher taxonomies aren't possible until you have a
lot of descendent species, genera, families etc... but that's the way it

As for the Cambrian explosion: phyla didn't spring forth fully and
utterly distinguished by all their current forms. Generalised ancestral
forms appeared and then diversified, but in their earliest days how far
apart were they? That's a current research question that's really
obscured by the nature of the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian remains -
scarcity and difficulty of access. We have more remains than we've ever
had, but the Cambrian is still a small proportion of fossils compared
with later times. But there's encouraging signs that relationships and
lines of descent will be resolved. Or so it seems to me.
>>It's a problem because Natural Selection in the linch pin of the
eevolutionary world view. If however, NS is a non-player in the
formation phyletic lineages, the anti-Judeo-Christian bias of
evolutionary science is irrelevant.

I don't think any of that really follows from the pattern you are
perceiving. The origin of phyla is a puzzle, but there's no evidence for
anything other than natural selection acting on variations as the
physical creative process. A creation model that fits the current data
will be superceded as more evidence accumulates for early links between
phyla. The mystery lies in why were the variations so unlike anything
else today, not how did they then evolve.
>You wrote, "Plantinga's argument stinks because it's a sell-out to
>hyper-relativism. Christianity is about Truth, wherever it's found.
>However he does have a point about the Deicidal tendencies of
>materialist evolutionists. Evolution isn't really a conditional
>proposition, but "God is dead" is."
>I don't know how to respond to your statment.
What I meant, in my muddled way, was that atheists ["god-killers",
deicides] who see evolution as disproof of God are wrong.


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