Re: Van Till's Grand Canyon

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 00:49:10 EDT

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    Richard Amiel McGough wrote:
    > Howard Van Till's RFEP (Robust Formational Economy Principle) posits that
    > creation is so wonderfully gifted by God as to be able to actualize any and
    > all forms we see with out any form inmposing intervention by God after t =
    > 0. Here is a good link to one of Howard's outlines of this principle:
    > In this outline, Howard presents the following examples of the formational
    > capabilities of matter:
    > * quarks-> nucleons-> nuclei -> different nuclei
    > * nuclei + electrons -> atoms
    > * atoms -> molecules -> different molecules
    > * atoms & molecules -> galaxies, stars & planets
    > * molecular ensembles -> cells
    > * cells -> more complex organisms
    > * organisms -> different organisms
    > * organisms -> ecosystems, etc.
    > At first glance, everything looks quite continuous. But a closer inspection
    > reveals a huge gap, namely:
    > * molecular ensembles -> cells
    > Cells are excedingly complex structures that read and write DNA, and use it
    > to replicate. They are information based and would not be predicted from
    > mere energetical considerations that characterizes everything previous in
    > the list. It seems like the step from mere "molecular ensembles" to "cells"
    > is rather like going from a bouncing ball to the space shuttle. The
    > discontinuity is simply too large to ignore. If we can't narrow this gap, I
    > don't see how we could suggest that anyone hold to the principle that denies
    > such gaps exist.
    > I am convinced that the RFEP holds up to the level of "molecular ensembles"
    > in the list above, and I believe it is an important principle up to that
    > level. But suggesting that we jump over the gap to include the origin and
    > evolution of life seems like a huge leap of faith unwarranted by the
    > scientific evidence at hand.
    > Any insights from list memebers would be greatly appreciated.
    > Richard Amiel McGough


    I fully agree with your assessment. On various occasions - on this list
    and in PSCF -, I have argued this myself, cf. e.g. "Creative providence
    in biology", PSCF 53/3 (Sept. 2001), 179-183;; "God's Sovereignty
    in Creation - a reply to Howard Van Till", PSCF 54/3 (Sept. 2002),

    In addition to what you noticed, in Howard's list, (at least) two items
    in particular are missing:
    * different (simple) molecules -> complex coded (informational)
    * complex coded molecules -> molecular ensembles
    The complex coded molecules are very particular selections from a
    transastronomically huge sequence space impossible to sample
    representatively. The density of usable functions in this space is
    unknown, even by order of magnitude. Molecular ensembles, in the sense
    of the many "molecular machines" now being investigated, are extremely
    complex and not at all simply aggregates of random collections of
    molecules. Thus, we have (at least) three gaps requiring huge leaps of
    faith unwarranted by the scientific evidence at hand. We have not yet
    been able to adequately deal with the relevant evolutionary problems.
    Just assuming they don't exist is a blind leap of faith.

    Here, the charge of believing in a "god-of-the-gaps" can be levelled
    against the RFEP, as well. But I suggest we forget about these
    "god-of-the-gaps" charges. They are red herrings. I shall gladly accept
    any progress research will be able to provide in this area.

    I inserted "at least" because two more transitions are missing in
    Howard's list, i.e. the origins (emergencies/creations?) of soul and
    spirit. But I won't go into that now.

    Peter Ruest

    Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    <> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)

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