Re: Johnson on Bible Answer Man

From: Denyse O'Leary (
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 07:01:06 EST

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    "In group theory, there are discrete and continuous groups. Discrete
    groups are those studied in crystallography and solid-state physics and
    the elements of the group cannot be obtained by means of infinitesimal
    changes. However, the continuous groups are such that finite
    transformation can indeed be made up by infinitesimal transformations.
    Of course, it seems to me that mutations would always involve finite
    changes rather than truly continuous changes."

    This is an important point. You have captured exactly the problem that
    many of us have about Darwin's slow series of steps. No one doubts that
    gradual warming causes the river ice to break, or that it can suddenly
    start to crack up on a given day, having been warmed for some time.
    However, some group happenings are, as you say, "discrete."

    Human (or animal) group dynamics is a good example. You cannot divide
    the behaviour of a pack of six wolves and assign one-sixth of it to each
    separate wolf. Separated, the wolves would not behave that way at all.
    The behaviour exists only as a group phenomenon.

    Group behaviour is not a mystical or un-analyzable situation; it is
    simply a phenomenon that cannot exist at an individual level.

    Thus, the question is, are macro changes in life forms continuous, as
    ultra-Darwinians would insist, or discrete? If discrete, then there is a
    problem for understanding macro changes in a Darwinian way.

    Denyse O'Leary

    To see what's new in faith and science issues, go to
    My next book, By Design or By Chance?: The Growing Controversy Over the
    Origin of Life in the Universe  (Castle Quay Books, Oakville) will be
    published Fall 2003.

    To order, call Castle Quay, 1-800-265-6397, fax 519-748-9835, or visit (CDN $19.95 or US$14.95).

    Denyse O'Leary 14 Latimer Avenue Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5N 2L8 Tel: 416 485-2392/Fax: 416 485-9665

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