Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?

From: Cornelius Hunter <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Sat Sep 17 2005 - 11:27:26 EDT

Terry and George:

Terry:

I'm surprised that you view your position as substantially different from
other evolutionists, for they generally do not have a problem with
inscrutable purposes. True there is the more extreme wing of evolution that
argues even against inscrutable purposes. I can understand that this
distinction may be important for you, in clarifying your position within the
spectrum of evolution. But the allowance for inscrutable purposes relies
every bit as much on theological assumptions and produces every bit as much
the same effect. Indeed, I would argue even more so, since it appears to be
a more moderate position. Gould telling us that sure, God could have created
these fossils, but why, to test our faith?, seems more persuasive than Ayala
telling us that God *must* not have done it.

The chimp and human have millions of similarities. Why does the vitamin C
pseudogene similarity require an *inscrutable* purpose any more than the
others? It is because the pseudogene is viewed as materially flawed, and God
wouldn't ordinarily create such a thing (pace Job 39, Is 45, etc). Hence the
purpose must be "inscrutable" in this case, but not the others. There you
have the theological assumption and the power of the argument.
Scientifically this evidence is not compelling. The vitamin C pseudogene
does not help us see how an ancient primate (chimp-human ancestor) becomes a
human any more than the laryngeal nerve tells us how an ancient fish-like
species becomes a giraffe in slow stages.

Indeed, even as mere circumstantial evidence the pseudogene data become ad
hoc and scientifically useless, since under common descent there must be
convergent mutations to explain common nucleotides that must have arisen
independently (eg, in the urate oxidase pseudogene). If mutations can be
viewed as independent where common ancestry cannot be the explanation, the
why can't all mutations be viewed that way? From a scientific perspective,
it is special pleading to claim these are evidence for evolution.

> On the vitamin C pseudo-gene issue, I think you truly mis-read me here.
> When I say, we could admit the obvious vs. God's inscrutable purpose, I am
> serious. I say a similar thing in my biochemistry chapter in Perspectives
> on An Evolving Creation. The vitamin C (and other pseudogenes) are readily
> explained in an evolutionary perspective and, hence, are evidence for an
> evolutionary conclusion. But, if that's not the answer, then God, for some
> reason (and I'm willing to let Him do whatever he wants--big of me, eh?),
> made it look like evolution took place. I have no Biblical or theological
> reason not to accept evolution (God-directed, as indicated above); that's
> what I mean by admit the obvious. I'm not remotely making the same
> argument that those who say that God wouldn't have done it this way, as
> you suggest in your book when you comment on my essay.
>
>
> TG

George:

Your carpenter analogy does not does not accurately describe the evolution
(or your) position. Yes, the carpenter may use his hand or a hammer, but in
both cases he drives the nail in where he want the nail to be. The design
reflects his will. Evolutionary thinking is that what we observe in nature
does not generally reflect divine will. So there must be a break in the
link. This is where the distancing of God from nature comes in. It is fine
for you to say you do not distance God from nature, but this is true only in
certain regards. You do distance God from nature with regard to creative
acts.

You might try using the analogy of a sculptor rather than a carpenter. One
can imagine describing God using evolution as the sculptor uses his chisel.
In this case evolution, like the chisel, is merely a deterministic tool and
there is no break in the link between creator and creation. The process is
error-free, and both God and the sculptor achieve exactly their desired
designs. The tool or mechanism adds nothing to the process. This is not
evolutionary thinking.

--Cornelius

Cornelius -

I was responding only to your statement that ""evolutionary thinking is
based on the idea that there must be a break in the link between God and
creation" and my comment was rather narrowly focused: "All I can say for
myself is, "'Wrong!'" - i.e., this does not represent my theological
understanding of evolution. God cooperates with all the creaturely agencies
involved in evolution. It's true that God does not do all the things that
take place directly - i.e., without creatures - but this doesn't mean that
God is absent or distant from what takes places. "God concurs, he does nor
precur" is a classic formula. Thus I don't see this at all as a "break in
the link between God and creation" anymore than I would say that the link
between a carpenter & a nail being put through a board is broken because the
carpenter uses a hammer instead of pushing the nail though with his hand.

Shalom
George

>
>
> On Sep 16, 2005, at 8:47 PM, Cornelius Hunter wrote:
>
>
> George:
>
> Here is the previous part of the paragraph, just so the context is not
> lost:
>
> "Well this gets into a longer discussion, which I was hoping to avoid,
> about the various Christian traditions motivating evolutionary thought.
> Suffice it to say that from deism and the greater god sentiment (ie, it is
> "infra dig" for god to act in creation) to the problem of evil and claims
> of dysteleology, evolutionary thinking is based on the idea that there
> must be a break in the link between God and creation."
>
> Of course I am generalizing for the sake of brevity and discussion. There
> is certainly a lot more to say about this, and many nuances to be
> explored. Nonetheless, I can't see how one would find this to be too far
> off base. I'm interested in hearing other opinions on this. Can you
> explain why you think this is "wrong!". In what way am I
> mischaracterizing, for instance, Kant, Liebniz, Burnet, Tindal, Ray, Grew,
> Powell, Chambers, Brougham, Conybeare, etc., etc.?
>
> --Cornelius
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: George Murphy
> To: Cornelius Hunter ; Terry M. Gray ; asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 7:18 PM
> Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?
>
>
> Cornelius -
>
> You seem a bit too willing to tell other people why they think what they
> do. E.g. (below), "evolutionary thinking is based on the idea that there
> must be a break in the link between God and creation." All I can say for
> myself is, "Wrong!"
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Cornelius Hunter
> To: Terry M. Gray ; asa@calvin.edu
> Sent: Friday, September 16, 2005 7:12 PM
> Subject: Re: Is evolution really the central theory for all of biology?
>
>
> Terry:
>
> You wrote:
>
> "Divine action occurs continually in my opinion. However, as my post to Al
> earlier today pointed, such divine action is not necessarily
> scientifically detectable. Those who claim that evolution implies no or
> little divine action are simply mistaken. They are asserting a theological
> claim that can't be supported theologically or scientifically."
>
> Well this gets into a longer discussion, which I was hoping to avoid,
> about the various Christian traditions motivating evolutionary thought.
> Suffice it to say that from deism and the greater god sentiment (ie, it is
> "infra dig" for god to act in creation) to the problem of evil and claims
> of dysteleology, evolutionary thinking is based on the idea that there
> must be a break in the link between God and creation. It is not a matter
> of whether divine action is detectable or not. Undetectable divine action
> is allowed, but not to the extent that there is no break in the link, or
> that the world directly reflects divine will. It would be contradictory
> to, on the one hand, argue that the Vitamin C pseudogene mandates common
> descent because God would not have intended such a thing, while on the
> other hand argue that the pseudogene was God's design, albeit achieved via
> undetectable divine action.
>
> You wrote:
>
> "I do disagree with you that evolutionary theories are not established by
> scientific evidence. All the evidence can be cast in terms that avoids the
> theological arguments that you aptly point out."
>
> Of course the evidence can be cast into those terms, but then it loses its
> force. Consider the evolutionist's use of the laryngeal nerve evidence. We
> are told that it is "surely inefficient" and would never have been
> created, but that it is "easy to explain such an inefficiency if giraffes
> have evolved in small stages from a fish-like ancestor." Easy to explain?
> Sorry, but without the powerful metaphysics, this evidence falls on its
> face. Giraffes evolving from fish in small stages? We can't even get the
> beaks of finches to change much. There are all kinds of problems with this
> idea. And yet we are told evolution is a scientific fact. If this were so,
> then it why is this not spelled out somewhere without relying on the
> powerful theological premises?
>
> Isn't it interesting that science just happened to discover what
> philosophers, theologians and scientists were arguing must be true for
> centuries in advance? And isn't it interesting that every attempt to
> establish the fact of evolution relies on theological arguments?
>
> --Cornelius
>
> ps--As an aside, I don't understand how you find sympathy in B B Warfield,
> much less Charles Hodge.
>
>
>
>
>
> 1. Modern evolutionary thinking arose in the 17th and 18th centuries
> within
> Christian thought as a conclusion of theological arguments.
> 2. Evolutionary theories (cosmological as well as biological) were claimed
> early on to be facts, as a conclusion of theological arguments.
> 3. Today, evolutionary theories are routinely claimed to be facts, though
> this is not established by scientific evidence. And such claims, when
> elucidated, employ theological arguments to make their case.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________
> Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
> Computer Support Scientist
> Chemistry Department
> Colorado State University
> Fort Collins, CO 80523
> (o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Sat Sep 17 11:32:34 2005

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