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

From: Cornelius Hunter <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Sat Sep 17 2005 - 17:15:40 EDT

Terry and George:

Terry:

You say:

"For what it's worth, and this may be a discussion stopper, I simply
disagree with your argument that pseudo-genes and other molecular homologies
and other homologies for that matter aren't compelling."

But why? This is crucial. It would be very important if pseudo-genes
provided compelling scientific evidence for evolution. But you do not
explain why, you simply make the assertion Please don't take that as
criticism, I realize you were simply pounding out an email. But
evolutionists never explain why this evidence is compelling, in a scientific
sense, whereas it is easy to find the theological argument made.

I explained how this evidence is typically used with theological premises,
and why without such premises the argument is a case of special pleading.
You say this might be a discussion stopper. Well I'm afraid it will be if
you don't give your reasoning. I cannot respond to bare assertions. For all
the research I've done, I have been unable to discover why the vitamin C
pseudogene is compelling scientific evidence. Indeed, it seems clear that it
does not qualify as such. I've given the reason why this argument fails
scientifically. Can you explain why I am wrong?

You suggest this might be a case of different thresholds of what qualifies
as compelling. I don't understand this. How could this be a case of
different thresholds when no explanation for why this is compelling has been
given, here or in the literature (that I can find). The only way I can try
to cast this as scientific evidence for evolution is the following:

1. Evolution predicts more similarities between more closely related
species.
2. The vitamin C pseudo gene contains some similarities between closely
related species.
3. Therefore, this is a successful prediction.

But even this fails. First, this is hardly compelling evidence for
evolution. It places the evidence at the same level as any other similarity.
It is the same as every homologous feature between the primates. There are
millions of these (gall bladder, lower lip, hemoglobin, etc, etc). Why then
is the vitamin C pseudogene used, if it has nothing to do with the
theological "God wouldn't do it that way" argument?

Furthermore, as I've pointed out, it is special pleading anyway. How can
this be counted as scientific evidence, as minor as it is, when we find the
same evidence in cases where common descent and evolution could *not* be the
cause. In those cases, the evolutionist must ascribe the similarity to
independent mutation events. But if that explanation works for amazingly
repeated mutations, why can't it be used for the vitamin C repeats?

So I don't see how this can be a case of different thresholds of what
qualifies as compelling. I have yet to see the scientific case made at all.

--Cornelius

George:

I don't understand why you think I am imposing evolutionary views on your
position. I'm simply taking your statements at face value, which are:

------------------------
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.

and,

> Ah, but then doesn't God's activity have to be deterministic? No. If
> there is a basic indeterminancy at the quantum level which is involved in
> changes in DNA & if there is some flexibility even in larger scale
> processes because of sensitivity to initial conditions, & if God limits
> divine activity to what can be accomplished through natural processes,
> then God may leave some element of chance in what happens in the world.
> If you want a very crude analogy, the carpenter closes his eyes before
> putting the nail in place.

and,

> In any case I don't think it's necessary to equate the divine governance
> with micro-management of all events. I think that God intended for
> intelligent life to evolve so that the Incarnation could take place but
> that needn't mean, e.g., that bipedalism - which seems to have been a
> significant step in the development of _our_ intelligence - was a
> requirement that God built in in the beginning.
------------------------

What you are saying easily fits into my phrase "break in the link between
God and creation." It sounds like you are pouring more meaning into my
phrase than is there. Part of the problem may be that I am addressing
evolutionary thinking, and you, I think, are not primarily focusing on
evolution but rather developing a theology that happens to accommodate
evolution nicely.

It is interesting that biologists tend to use random mutations and
physicists tend to use quantum indeterminacy, chaos theory, or some such. In
any case, the effect is the same. You write:

> I realize that this idea may be intolerable to those with some views of
> divine sovereignty. It's legitimate to criticize what I say from such a
> standpoint but don't try to force my views into some Procrustean bed of
> "evolutionary thinking."

I certainly do not want to be forcing your views anywhere you don't want to
go. I do not think, however, that the issue is over divine sovereignty. One
need not hold to a high view of divine sovereignty to take exception to
evolution's theological premises or the theology of the cross.

--Cornelius

>> 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 -
>
> Again you are trying to tell me what I think by, inter alia, assuming that
> because I accept evolution my ideas must be conformed to what you think is
> "evolutionary thinking." & although one could certainly use a sculptor
> instead of a carpenter as an analogy for divine cooperation, the way you
> set out the sculptor analogy suggests that you've missed my point. It is
> not that the sculptor uses "evolution" as a tool but that he/she uses all
> the detailed physical processes involved in genetic change, animal
> behavior &c as tools at every step of the process. To say that
> "evolution" is the tool suggests that God is only involved at some very
> high level & is thus remote from the details, whereas my point is that God
> is involved in the details.
>
> Ah, but then doesn't God's activity have to be deterministic? No. If
> there is a basic indeterminancy at the quantum level which is involved in
> changes in DNA & if there is some flexibility even in larger scale
> processes because of sensitivity to initial conditions, & if God limits
> divine activity to what can be accomplished through natural processes,
> then God may leave some element of chance in what happens in the world.
> If you want a very crude analogy, the carpenter closes his eyes before
> putting the nail in place.
>
> I realize that this idea may be intolerable to those with some views of
> divine sovereignty. It's legitimate to criticize what I say from such a
> standpoint but don't try to force my views into some Procrustean bed of
> "evolutionary thinking."
>
> OTOH the fact that there is scientific indeterminancy means that God has
> some freedom to act in the world without going beyond the limits of the
> laws of physics.
> This means that God may be able to give some direction to evolution even
> though the process appears to scientific observation to be "undirected."
> I have some hesitation about the idea (suggested by Pollard & Russell)
> that God exerts such direction by collapsing quantum wave packets in
> appropriate ways but remain open to some version of that idea. (I comment
> on this briefly on pp.82 & 119-120 of _The Cosmos in the Light of the
> Cross_ .)
>
> In any case I don't think it's necessary to equate the divine governance
> with micro-management of all events. I think that God intended for
> intelligent life to evolve so that the Incarnation could take place but
> that needn't mean, e.g., that bipedalism - which seems to have been a
> significant step in the development of _our_ intelligence - was a
> requirement that God built in in the beginning. God's purpose for
> creation can really be seen only escatologically - Eph.1:10.
>
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
>
Received on Sat Sep 17 17:21:54 2005

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