RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Fri Mar 16 2007 - 23:29:52 EDT

This is for David O., but the Steve Olson part should answer Jon Tandy's
question, it is also for Brent Foster, Burgy and George M.

First off, I intend to leave the list Tuesday. I have too many other things
to do.

>Glenn, you always do a wonderful job of demanding specifics -- you should
have been a lawyer, you would've been a
>fantastic cross-examiner!

Thanks, but I made more money in the oil industry.

But, I've yet to see you provide specifics to a set of questions various
people have asked you: if we accept the evidence that some language, some
culture, and even some religion and altruism, were present in various
hominid lineages long before homo sapiens sapiens, why are those things
necessarily evidence of the image of God?

Religion isn't a sign of the image of God? Sorry, but we are the only
creature on earth who worships and we are the only creature on earth with
the image of God. Hmmm. Might be a reason for that.

I have never really put much weight on altruism. One should read Petre
Kropotkin's book, Mutual Aid, to know that animals are altruistic.

I did answer this with language. The first thing God did, after creating man
was teach him to speak. So, Since God was making man in God's image, God can
communicate, so can we. Image means in the likeness of, resembling. So, the
image of God means things God can do and I presume, God worships himself.

> What empirical observation establishes these things as the image of God?
What Biblical passage?

I just gave the empirical observation for religion above.

What passage? Cain and Abel. One thing that one can see in the record is the
effects of sin, which would indicate we are in a post-fall world with the
hominids. Religion is such a thing as well. Cain and Abel brought
sacrifices. So did the people of Bilzingsleben. Why are Cain and Abel's
offerings evidence of a post Fall world and Bilzingsleben isn't?

> Even if all these characteristics are aspects of the image of God, why are
hints and precursors of those characteristics
>in earlier hominids -- or in contemporary primates, for that matter --
themselves the image of God? (I say "hints and
>precursors" because my understanding -- correct me if I'm wrong -- is that
the scientific consensus remains that these
>characteristics that were present in earlier hominids were nowhere near as
developed as they became, relatively
>recently, in homo sapiens sapiens).

One thing one finds when dealing with anthro is that you can 'judge' shop
just like you can in the law. There is always someone who will deny any
given fact. And what I see is that people chose the experts they like just
like lawyers chose judges. But, with Bilzingsleben, few actually have
problems with believing that there was some sort of religion. Neanderthals
from just after this time were engaging in burial of the dead. The ones who
have real heartburn over Bilzingsleben are the Christians, not the

  Isn't it just as reasonable to suggest that part of God's instilling of
his image in
>Adam involved the "perfection" of these characteristics in such a way that
human beings could exercise care and
>dominion over the rest of creation, develop sophisticated artistic,
religious, business, and social culture, and relate
>intimately to the triune God, in a way that no other hominid could?

Well, except that means that you have to ignore (or call unsophisticated),
the 400,000 year old Tan-tan figurine, a human made figurine which was
painted. You also have to ignore the Berekhat Ram figuirne of 320,000 years
ago, another piece of human made art. You also have to ignore the fact that
the Tallensi, a group in Africa, made no art at all and so, by your
definition, might not be made in the image of God. So, we have both modern
humans who don't make art and ancient humans who did.

Now, given that approximately 3/4's of the world does not relate to the
triune God, are they also lacking the image of God? Your definition seems
so squishy, so ad hoc and so unworkable.

 Clearly, as an empirical matter, no earlier hominid
>succeeded in doing these things to even the minutest speck of a fraction of
the achievements of modern humanity.

And the Romans didn't invent TVs, automobiles, or do any of the
multitudinous things that we more modern humans can do. What were they
lacking? The image of God? What you are doing is conflating technology with
the image of God. You asked me what verse I based my views on, I told you,
the things that the hominids were doing were post-fall things. Upon what
verse do you equate the image of God with technology?

>And doesn't this at some level have to be a philosophical and theological
presupposition rather than something that is
>fully empirically demonstrable in any event? What is the philosophical /
theological foundation for a belief that the image
>of God is entirely an empirical matter?

You don't even understand the implications of having a fighernacht do you?
Are you that unphilosophical? If the image of God makes no difference to us
then it is reduced to nothing but a word, a meaningless word that does
nothing, accomplishes nothing.

But worse here, you are inconsistent. On the one hand you claim that it
causes man to create technology, art, religion etc, then you claim in this
paragraph that there is no basis for believing that there is any empirical
effects. You are merely doing your lawyerly thing of confusing everyone,
maybe because you are confused or maybe that is what lawyers are trained to
do, but you are utterly hopelessly inconsistent in your questions and
implications. Please come back when you have an actual position to defend
and argue for.

>A last question: I haven't seen you address the MRCA studies based on

The MRCA for the green opsin gene is >5.5 million years. I have addressed
this on my page So maybe you should
go look and then you will no longer claim you haven't seen it.

 I grant that they do not establish

Fantastic. So does that mean the Bible is wrong when it strongly implies

However, the thought I'm trying to develop is that our notion of monogenism
based on common genetic
>ancestry is misplaced as far as the Biblical narratives are concerned. The
Biblical narratives relate to geneology, not
>genetics. Therefore, all that is necessary for a Biblical monogenism,
perhaps, is that contemporary people could
>theoretically trace their geneological roots to Adam and Eve, even if Adam
and Eve were not the only people / beings
>alive who contributed to the current human gene pool. It seems to me that
the geneological assertion is very plausible
>under the geneological MRCA studies that have been published. And when the
Bible presents geneologies, those have
>nothing to do with genes. I think the geneology of Jesus in Matthew 1,
which traces Jesus' line through Joseph,
>establishes this conclusively. Obviously, if the virgin birth is true,
Jesus probably (excepting a scenario where the Holy
>Spirit does a literal artificial insemination using Joseph's semen) didn't
inherit any genes from Joseph.

Well, you can do that, but it doesn't solve your problem. Every man woman
and child on the planet today are descended from a man and a woman who lived
just 2000 years ago:

"But many other, unrecorded descents must also exist.
Chang's model has even more dramatic implications. Because people are
always migrating from continent to continent, networks of descent
quickly interconnect. This means that the most recent common ancestor
of all six billion people on earth today probably lived just a couple
of thousand years ago. And not long before that the majority of the
people on the planet were the direct ancestors of everyone alive
today. Confucius, Nefertiti, and just about any other ancient
historical figure who was even moderately prolific must today be
counted among everyone's ancestors." Steve Olson, "The Royal We," Atlantic
Monthly, May 2002

Olson is a geneticist. This is clearly NOT within the time frame you want.
And if 3000 years ago, EVERYONE on earth is our ancestor, who one earth is
Adam and Eve? Which one of those 50 million is THE Adam and Eve?

I find your suggestion poorly thought out and failing to take the above into
consideration. If you are going to hypothecate, you need to do lots and lots
of research.

>And a last thought on this question of geneological rather than genetic
monogenism -- actually a question for anyone
>who might know about this as an historical matter. Obviously, a
significant problem with my notion of geneological
>monogenism is that it would conflict with the historic teaching of the
Church. However, my understanding of the
>Church's historic position is that it was heavily informed by the mistaken
belief that conception involved the quickening
>of an "homunculus" -- a tiny person -- already formed in the woman's womb.
If I understand this view correctly, every
>homunculus itself would contain humunculi. Thus, Eve, as the "mother of
all the living," would have carried all the
>humunculi that ever became or will become quickened into living people.

As a historical, genealogical matter, the Adam and Eve you proclaim lived at
the time of Christ (of course, you are free to ignore this, but that would
be a bad thing). As a historical, genealogical matter, everyone on earth
3000 years ago is in the ancestry of everyone on earth today, meaning as a
historical/genealogical matter, we have approximately 25 million Adams and
25 million Eves--assuming of course that your theory is correct.
>Having said all that, let me say this: all of this is of course
speculation. I don't claim this as a firm theory.

Good thing!

 At the end of
>the day, I don't think we know enough about the science or the texts to
assert anything but tentative ideas on all of this.

I am glad that a non-scientist can judge what the science can and can't
know, that is like me trying to explain habeas corpus.

Brent Foster, of my examples of chimps thinking from the other mind's
perspective, said:
>So? (I was going to say, "So what?", but I didn't want to be wordy ;) )

I admire efficiency in communication. I thought you were suggesting that
the ability to think from the other persons perspective was an evidence of
the image of God. If not, then your 'so?' would be correct. If not, then
your 'so?' needs a rethink.

>Again this is a big so what. The point is the things you claim are
indicators of the IOG, whether or not you include
>thinking from another's perspective, can be, and are ascribed to intellect,
whether intellect is a product of big brains or
>whatever. Your use of natural observations to infer the supernatural IOG is
akin to ID theorists using natural
>observations to infer a supernatural designer. It's stepping outside the
bounds of science.

I thought it was you including thinking frm another's perspective as part of
the IOG. Maybe I was wrong.

But, to have the IOG avoid all empirical effects is to make it
nothing--vaporware! IF I say that an invisible undetectable group of beings
push all atoms around, you can't prove me wrong, but I have an utterly
useless hypothesis, which can not affect anything in this universe. That is
what you make the IOG by making it undetectable.

>I agree that design is detectable. And you give some good examples. I am
also impressed with Dembski's use of the
>SETI example for empirically detectible design.

I don't like very much of what Dembski does, but he is correct that if a
series of primes was transmitted from either the center of the earth or
Vega, it would be evidence of design.

But these are examples of design with a *natural* designer, that is the
>designer is part of the natural world. But ID theorists try to use criteria
for design detection to infer a *supernatural*
>designer, and that's illegal for scientists.

No it isn't. Modern physicists are squirming to avoid a designer.

"Einstein's cosmological constant - to be so incredibly
finely tuned that no one could possibly think it accidental. First
introduced by Einstein soon
after the completion of his theory of gravity, the cosmological constant has
been the greatest
enigma of theoretical physics for almost ninety years. It represents a
universal repulsive force -
a kind of antigravity - that would instantly destroy the universe if it were
not astonishingly small.
The problem is that all our modern theories imply that the cosmological
constant should not be
small. The modern principles of physics are based on two foundations: the
Theory of Relativity
and quantum mechanics. The generic result of a world based on these
principles is a universe
that would very quickly self-destruct. But for reasons that have been
incomprehensible, the cosmological constant is fine-tuned to an astonishing
degree. This,
more than any other lucky "accident," leads some people to conclude that the
universe must
be the result of a design." Leonard Susskind, The Cosmic Landscape, (New
York: Little Brown
and Co., 2006), p. 11-12

"Tegmark agrees that nature's fine-tuning cannot be passed off as a
mere coincidence. 'There are only two possible explanations,' he
says. Either the universe was designed specifically for us by a
creator, or there exists a large number of universes, each with
different values of the fundamental constants, and, not surprisingly
we find ourselves in one in which the constants have just the right
values to permit galaxies, stars and life." Marcus Chown, The
Universe Next Door, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 103

Design is not illegal for a scientist. What is illegal is the non-material.
Design couldl be due to a super-scientist who designed a universe in is lab
and we are in it. He could be quite material.

 All we can say as scientists, in the event that natural evidence points to
design is
>that we don't know. As Christians of course we see it as convincing. But as
scientists we can't use natural evidence to
>make conclusions about the supernatural.

But we can make conclusions about design. We can't make conclusions about
who the desinger is and that is the flaw of ID. It might be the great green
slug. Or Oogaboogah who designed the world. (for those who don't recall
Oogaboogah, I am his great priest and the only requirement to join his
religion is that you send me all your money).

>I don't think the IOG is in the form of language. I agree that currently
there is no convincing evidence that language
>exists in other animals. But that may not always be the case. I also agree
that language is a feature that should be found
>in creatures with the IOG (except of course in abnormal cases of humans who
are mentally deficcient), as is the ability
>to plan ahead. But if A is required for B, it doesn't follow that if you
find A you've found B. It just means you've found a
>candidate for B. Of course if you find B you have found A.

Agreed, but I would suggest that the methodology should not be to assume
that some animal language will be found in the future and create doubt
today. We are here to deal with the data we have today, not the data we
might have tomorrow. If and when animal language is found, then and only
then will it be our responsibility to worry about it. I take the concept
that we are put on earth to deal with the science of our day, not the
science of 2500.

>In my opinion using empirically detectable characteristics of humanity as
IOG detectors is somewhat of a "God of the
>gaps" argument. Since before Darwin's time there have been arguments along
the lines of "That's what separates us
>from the animals", which is basically what you're saying. And as long as
there are gaps between our natural abilities and
>characteristics, and those of the animals, everything is ok and there is
room for God's image. But the problem is God's
>image gets pushed aside, just like God himself gets pushed aside when new
discovers close the gaps in our knowledge
>of the natural world.

OK, what is the worst thing that happens if God is entirely pushed out? We
find out that there is really no God. But if that is the truth, we should
find it. The problem TE's have with the God of the gaps argument as far as
I am concerned is that they want to make it utterly impossible for God EVER
to be ruled out of existence. God can never die. Thus, we place god not in
gaps from when he can be tossed out, we place him in places where he can
NEVER EVER be tossed out. This has the effect of making God into the
unfalsifiable hypothesis, which is no different than my hypothesis that
there are invisible undetectable beings who move atoms around--every atom
having its own being. If we feel comfortable having an unfalsifiable belief
system, then avoiding God of the Gap arguments will work. But, if we believe
God is real, then he better have some kind of observational imprint on the
earth. After all, isn't the resurrection said to be due to the power of
God? But even that can be made into a God of the Gaps argument. We don't
know why Jesus got up out of the grave, so we put God there to fill the gap
in our knowledge.

 It used to be tools, but that idea was demolished. I've heard some say it's
the ability to think from
>another's perspective, but you've shown that some animals can do that too
(BTW my dogs exhibit deceitful behavior
>similar to the chimps you mention above!).

So does my cat. She gets on the counter only when she thinks we aren't

We may one day find there is absolutely nothing physical that separates us
>from the animals. In my opinion the only thi! ng that really does separate
us from the animals is spiritual. Moral
>accountability is certainly one thing. There's no way my dogs are morally
accountable, and they take full advantage of

If nothing separates us from the animals, then how can you be sure we aren't
just animals, to be treated like them? I have an obligation not to be a
cannibal and eat you. I don't have that obligation towards the numerous
beings I have ingested, including donkey, seahorse, silk worm pupae, dog,
scorpion, jellyfish, snakes and the many other animals. But then, they are
animals, and at least up until this moment I think you are not an animal!

>BTW Glenn, I agree with 90% of what you write, which is remarkable because
if I wrote a fraction of what you write, I
>wouldn't agree with myself 90% of the time.

You might scare people with this, or tarnish your reputation on this list.
But thank you.
Burgy wrote:
>My answer is maybe what Glenn would write -- although he'd do it better.

Oh my friend, having had you correct my innumerable errors of writing, I
could never write better than you

You also wrote:
>Or the northlands, where you observe entities wearing clothing in winter.

This reminds me that clothing is evidence of the fall and we have evidence
for clothing at least as far back as 75,000 years in the genetics of body
lice. But, there is indirect evidence for clothing 300,000 years ago ad
Diring Yurikah, people lived very close to the Arctic Circle. Even today in
a non-glacial climate, one can't live there without clothing.

George M. wrote:
{GLM From the program for Wells talk at Kent State - Stark, 1 March '07:
"Wells analyzed DNA from thousands of men living in isolated populations and

concluded that all humans can be traced to an African tribe that existed
60,000 years ago." Does that mean that all humans descended from _only_
that tribe? No. Does that in turn mean that the origin of humanity can't
be placed at ~60,000 years? That of course depends on how one is defining

I won't pursue this further here because it would lead you to claim that I
have some stake in a recent origin of humanity, which I don't. More on this

below. & also more on being out of one's depth.}

Did Wells write the program or did someone else?
George wrote
>>>1st, Jan didn't say that the account_s_ were poetic, which was your
But that's minor. <<<

So, Here is what Jan wrote:

"God wrote a poem in Gen.1,

Are we to believe that a poem is not poetic? Is that the sense of your
argument here? Or are you splitting hairs so find that only an SEM will see
the hairs?

>> More to the point was your claim that someone is saying
"poetic, THEREFORE not conveying truth about the natural world." Whether or

not I think it does convey any such truth is not the point. <<<

Whether or not you think Genesis 1 conveys truth is exactly the point. From
your failure to answer a simple question twice, I infer that you really
don't think it teaches anything historical. I will, however ask again, Did
God make man out of dirt, as Genesis 2:7 asserts? Yes or no?

>>Someone may
think it doesn't simply because he thinks the accounts disagree with the
historical & scientific data or because of the difference between the 2
accounts, but that doesn't mean he's reaching that conclusion simply because

one or the other account is "poetic."<<

You were the one who asserted falsely that no one argued that it was a poem.
I have refuted that but you refuse to acknowedge that refutation.

>>This is a small error on your part which could easily be attributed to
hyperbole on your part & it would be easy enough to corrent it. Why don't
you? Or do you just not understand the distinctions?<<

You haven't shown that no one asserts that Genesis 1 is a poem.

Concerning what George claims to have refuted of mine.
{GLM That theologians never want to think anything new. Not a direct
quote but you said (on either the 10th or the 11th - I've omitted the
original but it's in my reply of the 11th) "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?"}

Yes, I said that they don't think new things. I defined that this morning
but you ignored it. What you did was not provide evidence for your claim
but you asserted that lots of new (but unnamed) things were being published.
Evidence would be nice. But remember I defined what is not new as the
dichotomy between Genesis 1 having history and not having history. You,
won't answer what it is that you think is historical in Genesis 1 even when
asked and I suspect what you think is new, are new ways of claiming that
Genesis has no history--which isn't really new.

>>>{GLM No, what you said in your last post was an even more restrained
condemnation of theologians without qualification: "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."
No qualifications, no "some theologians," many theologians," even less names

of any specific theologians. No recognition that there are any theologians
who know anything about science and/or are careful to talk to those who

Well, George, I see so much of it it is hard to find theologians not
ignoring scientific data. You ignored the genetics, the preacher at my old
church ignored geology. What is the difference? Both are ignoring science.

>What you display is an "utter contempt" for both theology and theologians -

So? When they deserve it it should be shown! When they don't, I won't.

>>>without any distinction among them. Which wouldn't be quite so bad if
gave any indication that you knew anything about theology beyond the most
simplistic "the Bible must be true" claims.<<<

What I see is little but an escape from verification on the part of theology
and theologians. If we can make the Bible so science can never disprove it,
so the thinking goes, then it will always be true. This might be correct but
only in the most trivial sense of it is true that every atom has its own
little angel which pushes the atom around. I see YEC theologians proclaiming
false science, and others proclaiming a Bible which has no or very little
connection to the physical world.

>>>There is another point worth making here if you're able to listen. Your
accusations against "theologians" are far too extreme but it's certainly
true that many theologians - & I include parish pastors there - aren't as
well informed scientifically as they should be.<<<

As I said, when contemp is earned it should be shown. When it isn't it
shouldn't be.

>> That's precisely one reason
why a great deal of my ministry is devoted to seminary teaching, leading
workkshops for clergy, writing for clergy & theological jornals &c about
such matters. m& that should explain why I spend little time in direct
debate with atheists: <<<<

Fine, do what you feel called to, but don't ignore data, and don't ignore
genetics. What you are doing by simply citing a program written by God knows
who for a speech by Wells and thinking that will suffice, you are doing two
things wrong. You are 'judge shopping' and you are not thinking yourself.
With a physics degree you should easily be able to understand genetics, if
you would only try.

>> One can't do everything. I don't deny the importance
of confronting atheist & other anti-Christian arguments, but not everyone is

called to do everything & there are only 24 hours in a day. If you can see
the importance of trying to educate Christians, & especially clergy, about
matters of science & technology you will perhaps see why we don't all devote

our attention to debating atheists & perhaps even apologize for your
implication that those of us involved in the former type of work are
cowards, dupes, &c. But I won't hold my breath.}<<<

Frankly I revived this thread because even Francis Collins sees that TE's
don't do anything to confront the secularism of the day. Of course not
everyone can do it, but by golly we should be doing SOMETHING. I will stand
by my, and Collins observation that we TE's don't do spit to counter the
secularization of our society and often we actively work towards it. Whose
side are we on?

>>>{GLM Unfortunately you don't think it's necessary to believe it either.
You think it's sufficient to present "something close to Genesis 2:7" (as
below) but the simple fact is that God resurrecting a stillborn ape isn't
forming man of the dust of the ground & breathing into his nostrils. You
don't believe it really happened as the Bible says but manage to convince
yourself that since something that might have happened & sort of sounds like

it is the same thing & thus pacify your fundamentalist conscience.<<<

Interesting, but what did God say Adam would return to? Why, I think he said
'dust'. Adam would become dust. But when Adam died, what did he become? A
corpse. So, is a corpse dust? In some real sense yes. So from dust we came
and to dust we will return. So, I would disagree that I haven't presented
something very close to what is there in Scripture.

>>You also assume with no justification that the important point about
is that it's a "miracle." But of course the text doesn't say that or use
any of the common biblical terms for what we call a miracle. Isn't it
possible that the text is simply saying that we are made to be living beings

by YHWH from the common stuff of the earth? While it is not talking about
evolution, that's quite consistent with a scientific understanding - with
the crucial addition of "by YHWH," the God of Israel. That's what the Bible

says & I believe it. As for believing it as literal history, no, I don't
believe that & neither do you.}<<

I can buy that about the dust, but what about the breathing part of the
verse? Why ignore god breathing into us? What does that mean? Is this the

{GLM How about - well, the Nicene or Apostles' Creeds (which the ASA
statement of faith says are "brief, faithful statements of Christian
doctrine based upon scripture") for a start? Or to be really radical, how
about speaking as if Jesus Christ made some difference to your worldview?
Your discussions seldom if ever say anything about him. The fact that you
seem unable to even think of such things as theological standards shows your

lack of interest in & knowledge of serious theology. In your words, you're
"out of your depth" when you try to talk about theology.

& please don't insult my intelligence with any "if we can't believe in a
literal Adam/Jonah/floating ax we can't believe in the resurrection of
Christ" drivel. "Many Christians do" is a sufficient refutation of that.}

Those creeds say nothing or very little about creation. So, you can't judge
my views by things which don't address my views.

Am I to understand that you don't believe God is capable of making an axhead
float? See, this is the crux of the matter. Either we have a miracle
producing God or we don't. If he can't do miracles, then he can't raise the
dead. If he can raise the dead, what on earth is the objection to a floating
ax head?

{GLM I realize now that some of your statements about my supposed
scientific ignorance stem from your unwarranted notion that I think that all

of present-day humanity can be traced to a single couple. If you had read
what I've written on these matters you would realize that that's not the
case (E.g., on p.114 of my June '06 PSCF article: "But it does seem
unlikely that the present human race can be traced to a single male-female
pair" - followed by reference to genetic data which may suggest that I'm not

quite as ignorant of the subject as you imagine.)

You have statedthat even in this note. When you say all humanity can be
traced to a single man, that says something different than what I said Wells
was saying. My understanding is not unwarranted. It may be your poor writing
or even your poor understanding of Wells, but this is the first sensible
thing you have said. Maybe you should go re-read what you actually wrote in
this thread.

{GLM Of course we don't know if there are ETs but there's a real
possibility whereas there's zero possibility of getting any evidence for
your fantasy.}

Sure, I have never said I could prove that part of my views. But, if you
would look at all science, even modern physics, every theory has some
aspects which can never be proven either for fundamental or practical
reasons. Gravitons can't be detected because they would require 28 million
years of watching a jupiter sized detector. Not much chance in that.

They're Here: The Pathway Papers
Foundation, Fall, and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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Received on Fri Mar 16 23:30:49 2007

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