Re: Stereotypes and reputations

From: Cornelius Hunter <>
Date: Fri Aug 05 2005 - 19:53:30 EDT

Ted, Pim and Tim (after this I'll probably have to bow out of the
discussion for awhile):


> It does seem to me, that it is not possible to evaluate any
> version of "Creationism" (here I use the term very broadly, to mean simply
> the idea that a creator has created the world) without making assumptions
> about God, from which one can deduce some consequences that can be
> compared
> with the world as it actually appears to be. Do you agree with this,
> George?

Well there is probably a lot to say about this, but no, I do not agree with
this. Seems unorthodox.

> If not, please try to offer a statement on this topic that you
> would accept.

What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain
to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his
eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood
from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they
knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but
their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

> If so, then which specific assumptions about God did Darwin
> make,

Darwin did not so much *make* assumptions, as *receive* assumptions. We
shouldn't lay blame with Darwin, he was simply employing the received wisdom
from earlier Christians that were common in his day. This included quite a
range of traditions including natural theology, deism and the enlightenment.
Darwin made momentous theological claims (eg, "If species had been
independently created, no explanation would have been possible of this kind
of classification") and he never clearly defined his assumptions about God.
Why? Because he didn't have to. He wasn't being deceptive, there was a tacit
theological understanding that required no elaboration. This is true today
as well, as abundantly evidenced in this thread. So, to answer your
question, if I had to boil it down to just a few assumptions, it would be
that God must create in a way that satisfies our sensibilities and thus God
ought not create material inefficiency or "evil", in fact many held that
creation must be perfect (in a material sense), God must not create
discernable patterns, God ought to use secondary causes rather then divine
intervention (miracles disdained). It is a long story of course, but you get
the idea.

> and what criticisms would you offer of his assumptions?

Again, there is a lot to say. But simply put, aside from the fact that these
assumptions are unorthodox, the real problem as I see it is not so much the
assumptions themselves (it's fine for people to use whatever theological
assumptions they want), but the failure to acknowledge and recognize the
role these assumptions play in evolution. We need truth in advertising, so
to speak.

> You may also
> want to comment on other possible assumptions that someone else might
> perhaps make. I hope this is clear enough to move the conversation in a
> potentially very helpful direction.

Conversation? Not sure I would so dignify this thread. Lies, invective and
abuse don't usually qualify as such. More problematic it seems to me is lack
of engagement in preference of stultifying repetition. For example, we have

> Yes, God can create animals that way but why? Unless the mechanisms used
> inevitably lead to nested hierarchies.

I have already explained that I do not share these theological
presuppositions, but the questions persist as though they represent
universal criteria that all creationists must answer. Sorry, but unlike you
I have not assumed the job of so rationalizing divine action.

Or again,

> Although CH without any evidence suggests that "Manufactured objects can
> fall into an hierarchical pattern." he provides no logical or scientific
> argument to support this claim. In fact, I doubt that such an argument can
> be made.

*Of course* objects can be manufactured to fall into a hierarchical pattern.
This is trivial. More repetition of questions that have been answered
mutliple times:

> So far the vaste amount of evidence supporting CD is extremely well
> explained by evolutionary theory. If CH has an alternative explanation,
> then please present it. But given the focus of CH on 'disproving' CD, I
> doubt that such an explanation could be forthcoming.
> Thus my question becomes, why focus on trivial puzzles and ignore the
> vaste amount of evidence in favor of CD?
> CH believes that minor violations of a tree structure are evidence against
> common descent when in fact the mechanisms that create such vines are
> understood and the tree (with vines) can be reconstructed. The reason
> that it has become so hard to disprove CD is because of the overwhelming
> evidence supporting it. Not to mention the lack of any competing
> explanation.

But there are no such known mechanisms. Pim has explained the problem,
unaware the solution he envisions does not exist. There are no known
mechanisms for the various problems I've described (vines and hubs with
rapid transfers is not a known mechanism, for instance, but then again, I've
already explained this). Nonhomologous genes and development have no known
mechanisms, unless you want to count "and then a miracle happened." These
are not "trivial puzzles" and until this is understood there can be no
moving on to alternative explanations.


>> Common descent is a genetic
>> process in which the state of the present
>> generation/individual is dependent only upon genetic
>> changes that have occurred since the most recent
>> ancestral population/individual. Therefore, gradual
>> evolution from common ancestors must conform to the
>> mathematics of Markov processes and Markov chains.
> CH: False, gradual evolution can include accelerated mutation rates.
> I have no idea what you are objecting to. Accelerated mutation rates are
> still gradual just faster. In fact evolutionary theory explains
> accellerated rates quite easily. Check out evolvability.

This is circular. Evolution does not "explain" accelerated mutation rates,
it assumes accelerated mutation rates because they are required, among other
just-so stories, to try to explain awkward data, such as how highly
conserved proteins originally evolved.


> Another major reason for ignoring creation also has to do with whether it
> is a necessary explanation. In my experience, invoking *poof* as an
> explanation for physical phenomena is about the least practical thing you
> want to do in science. The shortcomings of invoking miraculour events are
> huge.
> Deities *may* be able to do anything, but what does that *mean* in
> practical, accessible terms? If anything can happen, what can you know
> about anything?

So problems with evolution are not problematic -- it must be accepted. Your
argument is common amongst evolutionists. It seems to be evolution in its
rawest form. There are the usual arguments from theodicy, dysteleology, etc.
But here, we boil it down to a simple rejection of an all-powerful,
sovereign creator, in favor of our intellectual necessity.

> Cornelius:
>>God can create organisms that share similarities.
> I am not saying that God couldn't. We have no idea what a supernatural
> being would or wouldn't do. But we don't see separate, distinct
> biochemistries. Ergo, the creation of specific, unrelated organisms does
> not appear to have happened. Does it appear to you that organisms share
> more common properties than strictly necessary for an unbounded deity?
> Could God have created organisms that look distinct and separate? Yes. Did
> he? Apparently not. That's the data.

Again, this is a trival testing of God. You say God could have created
organisms that do not share common properties, but he did not. Therefore,
creation must be rejected. This is vacuous. You could use the same argument
inverted if organisms did not share common properties.

> They'll always add something else and the worst case, in my opinion, is
> invoking the G-bomb: An agent that has no definable or classifiable
> characteristics. You'll never alter the views of someone who invokes a
> mechanism with no boundary conditions. Personally, I'm not interested in
> discussions with or about such potentially irrational ideologues. It
> becomes a stereotypical caricature. But for most others, at some point the
> modifications get to be too much (but YMMV). For you, Cornelius, it
> appears that there can be 'too much'. That demonstrates that r ejection is
> possible and serves as a reminder that thresholds clearly vary between
> people.

That's funny, I thought I was the one pointing out scientific problems.
There are massive scientific problems with evolution, but you dismiss them
because the "G-bomb" is unacceptable to you. Then you cast me as being

> Me:
>>> * No physical trace of a potential creator found (e.g. secondary
>>> artifacts).
> Cornelius:
>>The DNA code is not a "secondary artifact"?
> I'd better explain what I mean by secondary artifact: an independent,
> orthogonal observation that allows you to place an agent "at the scene".
> Here's an example: You find a obsidian rock with a sharp, tool-like edge.
> It is embedded in stratum that dates to a period when no humans were known
> to be in the area. Was the rock edge created by a human? First you need to
> know whether humans were present. Secondary artifacts like fire rings and
> bones with tool markings associated with the same stratum help place a
> human presence at the period and location of the sharpened rock. This
> indicates that humans were present that *could* have created the shard and
> lend credence to the possibility that the shard was fabricated by humans.
> In this sense, DNA is not a secondary artifact. Whether some
> "intelligence" directly created or modified genetic material is what we
> are trying to evaluate and so we cannot take the existence of the genetic
> code as evidence of intelligent intervention. That would be begging the
> question; We simply don't know whether it is an artifact of intelligent
> intervention. In this case, what we lack is independent evidence that a
> genetic engineer was present at the time (i.e. no obelisks, tablets,
> supernatural 'fire rings' & etc. that would demonstrate a presence). This
> is not to say that an intelligent designer had to leave some unrelated
> evidence of its existence behind, only that we haven't recognized any. But
> clearly, bona fide evidence (buried rocket ship perhaps?) that a designer
> was at the scene would bolster design claims.

OK, thanks for the clarification. How about Jesus Christ?

Received on Fri Aug 5 19:56:39 2005

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