Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Mar 15 2007 - 09:52:36 EDT

I combine here brief response to 2 posts.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Glenn Morton" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 9:00 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

George M. wrote:

> I'm not a geneticist &/or anthropologist & am not going to
> debate those
> matters here but will point out that it's hardly just people
> like Ross or
> Rana with theological axes to grind who want the origin of
> humans to be on
> the order of 100kyr. Just recently I heard a talk by Spencer
> Wells of the
> National Geographic (author of _The Journey of Man: A
> Genetic Odyssey_ -
> also a TV documentary by this title) who dates the African origin of
> humanity to 60,000 B.P. I couldn't discern any religious ax
> being ground.

I don't buy your assertion that you aren't debating this. You are debating
it by merely mentioning Spencer but then try to disavow responsibility by
stating that you are not a geneticisst or anthropologist. But if this later
statement is true, then you, by admission, would have no basis upon which to
judge the validity or lack thereof of Wells work.

[GLM No, I meant what I said. I introduced Wells as 1 example of a
scientists whose claims for a recent origin of humanity doesn't appear to be
motivated by religious concerns. The extent to which I'm qualified to
debate the issue is irrelevant. Your license to practice distance
psychoanalysis is suspended.]

> -----Original Message-----
> From: George Murphy []
> Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 3:19 PM

> I didn't say "total atheist" but referred to the "effective
> atheism" of the
> philosophy which Lucretius was popularizing. Sure there were
> gods but they
> didn't do anything. I wouldn't call it an "atheist poem" but
> "religious
> poem" is more of a stretch.

Then tell me how one can be a partial atheist! He invoked Gods, you deny
that he is invoking gods and now backtrack. How, exactly does one be 80%
atheist and 20% deist or theist? That is contorted George.

[GLM I said "effective atheism," not "partial atheist." But since it's
obviously very important to you that Lucretius poem be religious I won't
argue the point further.]

> Note that Jan didn't say that Gen.2 was a "poem." (But I
> won't want to
> quibble about the definition of "poem.") More to the point
> is that he
> didn't - nor do I think anybody with any sense would - argue
> that the texts
> are poetic and therefore CANNOT convey truth about the
> natural world. Good
> grief, think of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere!

I wasn't taking of Genesis 2, George. I was talking about Genesis 1.

> So your counterexample falls flat. Your reply reminds me of
> the old story
> of the drunk hunting for his watch under a lamp post instead
> of down the
> street where he dropped it because the light was better there.

Tell me exactly what IS historical/scientific in the Genesis 1 and 2
account, in your view.

[GLM You make wild claims & then pass by in silence the demonstrations
that they're false. What I refuted here was the claim that people are
arguing that the creation accounts are poetic and therefore CANNOT (not do
not or may not) convey truth about the natural world - i.e., that the very
nature of poetry precludes the possibility of conveying such truth.]

> > More to the point is the fact that we have 2 creation accounts
> > which don't agree as historical/scientific accounts.
> >
> They do if one refuses to think anything new or novel about
> the accounts. They fit together quite nicely within my
> interpretation, but, of course, theology wouldn't really want
> to think anything new, now would we?
> It takes a lot of interpretation to see the difference in the
> temporal
> sequence of events in the 2 accounts!

So, what is wrong with interpretation? We all do it, except YECs who think
their reading is the plain reading and you who seem to think your reading is
the plain reading, but it is so different from that of the YEC.

[GLM I think you need to replace the battery in your sarcasm detector.]

> & the remark about theology not wanting to think anything new shows a
> remarkable ignorance of what's being written in theology
> these days. Its
> problem is, if anything, being to willing to come up with new notions
> unconstrained by - & in some cases in open contempt for - the
> tradition.

And theologians on a daily basis show utter contempt for science by ignoring
it or saying things about science which aren't true and then acting like one
is an idiot to challenge them on it--this even if the theologian hasn't
studied the area.

[GLM Again you ignore the refutation of your 1st extravagant claim & go on
to a 2d. Your claim was that theologians never want to think anything new &
I pointed out that that's nonsense.]

> You should know quite well that what I was referring to was
> not simply the
> claims that there was a Mediterranean flood or that humans &
> apes have a
> common ancestry, but to your scenarios in which the
> experience of a survivor
> of that flood can be correlated meaningfully with the
> biblical Noah and
> (especially) your speculation about God resurrecting a
> stillborn mutant
> apelike creature. I'll focus on the latter because it's the
> most bizarre.

Fine, so, what you are saying is that God had no miraculous hand in creating
mankind. Fine. That isn't what the Bible says. Why isn't the Bible then
simply declared factually wrong, rather than divinely inspired. This
doublemindedness is what I object to. The Bible is made to be true
regardless of what the facts are, or how false the facts of the Bible are.
That is what the YECs do

[GLM I.e., if I don't believe your resurrected stillborn ape-like mutant
story then I don't believe God had a miraculous hand in creating mankind!]

> Of course it "could have" happened. Lots of things "could
> have happened"
> but there not only is no evidence that that particular event (as
> distinguished from evidence for common ancestry) _did_ happen
> but it's hard
> to see how there's any realistic possibility of ever confirming it
> scientifically.

I want to laugh at this one. You demand confirming data from me, why you, on
the other hand, make it poetic so that it can never be confirmed
scientifically. How do you confirm your view that this is true theology but
false science? You, sir, have a double standard, one for your view, and
another one for my view. You demand confirmation frome me, but don't demand
it from yourself. Wonder if there is a word for that behavior.

[GLM I judge your claims by the standards you want them to satisfy & find
them wanting. OTOH I want my arguments to be judged by appropriate
theological standards - which include agreement with well-confirmed science
but are hardly limited to that.

  Is there any remote chance that
> paleontologists would find
> fossils of an apelike creature and, after careful study, say
> "We can tell
> that he was stillborn but then raised from the dead"?

No, is there any remote possiblity that science will discover the image of
God? If you reject my view because science cant confirm it but accept your
view that there is an image of God which science still can't confirm, upon
what exact basis do you judge my views?

> Which wouldn't be so bad if it had anything to do with either Genesis
> account. But it doesn't. The notion that raising a
> stillborn infant from
> the dead is somehow historical or scientific confirmation of
> an account of a
> human being formed from the dust of the earth is a concordism
> that has
> become so elastic that it's meaningless.

Fine, do away with that. I put it in because I felt that the Bible said God
had something to do with the creation of man-- a miraculous something. But
clearly, you don't believe in a miraculous God. God is impotent to actually
do anything that would impact the natural world and thus is a deistic God.

Which is the greater miracle, making an ax head float or raising a dead man?
Which is the greater miracle, making a donkey talk or raising a dead man?
Which is the greater miracle, god creating children of abraham from stones
or raising a dead man?
Which is the greater miracle, raising a dead ape, or raising a dead man?

So, what you are saying is that the God, who raised a dead man, is incapable
of raising a dead ape. Upon what basis do you make this judgement other
than your personal incredulity?

Raising an ape actually adds symmetry to the Christ-Adam relationship.

[GLM Of course I am not saying that the God who raised Jesus _couldn't_
raise a dead ape. What I'm saying is that there's no evidence that he did
raise a dead ape, no realistic possibility of getting such evidence even if
it did happen, & no reason to read such an event into Genesis. OTOH the NT
clearly does speak of the resurrection of Jesus & one can give good
historical arguments (Pannenberg, O'Collins, Wright e.g.) to support the
claim - though not conclusive proof.]

> Compare that then with the theological scenario I develop,
> e.g., in my
> recent PSCF paper. It doesn't depend on any particular
> dating or location
> for the 1st humans in a theological sense so I need to "add"
> nothing there.
> I point out that the picture of a gradual process of humanity
> "getting off
> the right road" agrees in broad terms with the early chapters
> of Genesis &

Agreeing with the broad terms is not good enough. It must agree with the
details. Otherwise, you are merely picking and choosing what you want to
agree with and then the view becomes totally ad hoc.

[GLM Not enough for you but that's your problem. & again, the claim that
your ape scenario agrees with Gen.2 in "details" is a vast overstatement.]

> one current of the Christian tradition. I argue, both from a general
> understanding of evolution through natural selection and
> observation of
> primate behavior that the first humans would have had strong
> tendencies
> toward behaviors which would be sinful for moral agents. In
> comparison with
> your speculations that's straight Joe Friday.

Unless you can say how your view can be observationally verified by FUTURE
observation, you are holding a double standard of judgement. There is a
word for that, but I can't think of it right now.

[GLM Again I am not holding a "double standard of judgement." I am
judging your cliams as you want them to be judging but I have not said that
those criteria are the appropriate ones for theology. But OK, here's a
prediction that comes naturally from my approach: If we encounter
intelligent ETs we will find them to be sinful - or "fallen" if you will.
(This is a slight adaptation of an argument of Bob Russell's.)]

 I think you have carefully crafted your views to avoid any observational
challenge. I on the other hand have carefully crafted mine so that there are
physical implications. Bill Hamilton's review of Adam Apes and Anthropology
commented that after I had written Foundation Fall and Flood, there were
implications of that thesis to anthropology. I then went out to test to see
if there was evidence of human-like activity among the archaics. There was.
I tested my ideas as far as they could be tested. You, on the other hand,
criticize what I can't test and then offer NOTHING, repeat NOTHING, of
verifiabiltiy for your views to be tested upon.

What is that word, I simply can't remember it?

[GLM You want not just "verification" - which I have - but theological
prediction of novel scientific facts. I don't accept that as a criterion for
theology but see my comment above.]

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Received on Thu Mar 15 08:53:44 2007

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