Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Mar 18 2007 - 21:47:12 EDT

MessageComments in red.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Glenn Morton
  Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2007 5:50 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

  This response, at least is worthy of you, not that mocking response yesterday. Thank you.
  George wrote:

  Why, I'm shocked that you think I'd ever mock anyone who likes to begin responses with "I want to laugh"!
>This has reached the point where it seems best to regroup points instead of continuing to embed argumenst within
>arguments &c.

>1) It is quite telling that you make no response to my criticism that your theology, such as it is, marginalizes Christ.
>In fact that's a polite way of putting the matter - it pretty much leaves Christ out. You focus almost exclusively on
>the early chapters of Genesis & say nothing that a concordist-minded Jew or Muslim couldn't agree with.Connected
> with that is the way you blow off the creeds by saying that they "say nothing or very little about creation." I think
>what you mean is that they say "say nothing or very little about" how to read early Genesis. & that itself is significant
>because it means that as far as the creeds are concerned there's considerable scope for interpretation of those texts,
>as we in fact find in the early church. In other words, they didn't consider Gen.1-11 the canon within the canon as
>you - in company with Ken Ham - do.

  Well, when the Jews, Christians and Muslims all accept the Pentateuch, it is a trivial statement to say that they would all agree with what I am saying. And irrelevant, because the entire religious universe does not consist merely of those 3 religions. There is Zoroastrianism (Parsee's), there is Hinduism, Buddhism (of a variety of flavors), shamanism, animism and a host of other religions large and small. As I have pointed out innumerable times, one can't simply assume that Christianity is correct and then conclude that christianity is correct, without engaging in a huge begging of the question.

  You say I trivialize Christ. We have been round this maypole before. Exactly WHAT physical evidence is there TODAY, that Jesus arose? There is about as much physical evidence as there is for my ape or your ET's. You can not believably point to that empty tomb (and even if you could, how does one have evidence of a missing body at this late date since most bodies have decayed to nothing in the interim??).

  The NT documents also don't work as any form of verificational support (NOT PROOF FOR THOSE WHO, AT THIS POINT, ALWAYS CLAIM I AM DEMANDING PROOF). When we see that Joseph Smith was able to get witnesses to his nonsense, and they wrote documents, it is clear that the NT documents in and of themselves don't prove a thing because they rest upon the veracity of the guy writing to document (think of Howard Hughes Will,here).

  Christianity makes extraordinary claims, which can not be verified by physical evidence. Thus, if one would like one shred of physical evidence for its veracity, the only real place to look is at the Book of Genesis. The Flood is verifiable. Human activities can be verified, in the sense of archaological verification of certain activiites. Claims about a primal pair are verifiable or falsifiable via genetics.

  But what always amazes me is how resistant people are to having facts checked. But far from trivializing Christ, the creation and the Flood, both events Jesus seemed to speak of, are the only physically verifiable things for him, weak though it is!

  And if the God, Jesus beleived in, Jehovah, is unable or unwilling to tell us what happened at Creation or the flood, then upon what basis do we believe that Jesus' God is THE GOD? If that God is ignorant of what happened, is He God? I would say know, you all seem to implicitly say yes because not wanting anything in early Genesis to be historically true, except in the most general way, y'all make God to be an incompetent communicator. And if he is an incompentent communicator on something physical which I can check up on, how on earth am I to trust that when he tells me about sin he is suddenly a communicator par excellance??? Sin is something that is first mentioned in this very questionable early Genesis account. If there was no talking snake, in reality, then it seems to diminish the reality of sin itself.

  And one shouldn't try to say that we see sin all over the place, in the 20th and21st centuries, in Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin etc. The reductionist view of man says that there is no sin and that is certainly one possible solution to the meaning of mankind.

  And if there is no sin, then, Christ is not merely trivialized, he is made totally irrelevant to our lives.

  So, early Genesis is epistemologically speaking the sine qua non of Christianity--no sin, not nothing. It is upon this basis that H. G. Wells rejected Christianity.

  "If all the animals and man have been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there would have been no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there had been no Fall, the entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the reason for an atonement, upon which current teaching bases Christian emotion and morality, collapses like a house of cards." H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1961), p. 776-777

  Without the Fall, No Christianity.

  Obviously you have not read (or paid attention to) my recent PSCF paper in which I easily demolished - if it needed further demolition - this standard piece of drivel that we hear so often from both anti-Christian evolutionists & anti-evolution Christians. There is need for a savior because all people are sinners. I.e., salvation is necessary because of the universality of sin, whether or not we understand how that condition came about. That isn't to say that the latter question is of no importance but an answer to it isn't a necessary condition for belief that Jesus is the savior. Again you display your ignorance of theology, ignorance which is no less glaring because you share it with the likes of Wells.

  The rest of what you say above badly misses the point. If you're going to talk about evidence for God, you have to know what God you're talking about. Your God seems to be just like Johnson's, one who leaves his fingerprints all over the evidence - though you look for different types of evidence. The God who is revealed under the form of what is opposite from our common sense ideas of God is very different.

>But in reality the Nicene Creed says a lot about creation, with statements about it in all 3 articles. (Creation is, after
>all, a trinitarian doctrine, which is why your understanding of it is so inadequate.) You might note in particular the
>statement about the Spirit as "the Lord, the giver of life" and the ways in Pannenberg & Ernie Simmons
>have developed from this some new & interesting ideas about pneumatology & its connection with the science-
>theology dialogue, thus refuting your claim about theologians not doing anything new about the doctrine of creation.

>But of course I see now that when you say "theologians" you mean "interpreters of Genesis 1-11. You have the
>most parochial notioneology I've ever encountered.

  You of course didn't get it right. Go back and re-read what I actually said. Responding to you taling about 2 creation accounts,


> 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?<<<<<

  So, your claim that somebody thought something new about something I didn't talk about is not particularly relevant.

  You say I "didn't get it right" because you were referring to the Genesis accounts immediately after quoting me saying "But of course I see now that when you say "theologians" you mean "interpreters of Genesis 1-11." I didn't get what right?

  But the point remains that you pay no attention to recent theological discussions of creation - which of course make use of Gen.1-2 but aren't limited to that.

>2) If you paid attenion to things I've I written you'd know that I didn't think God literally formed the 1st human from
>dust & breathed into its nostrils.

  George, you don't play chess do you? I knew you didn't believe that, but like a good lawyer I only ask questions I know the answer to. And it is precisely my point that somehow you think it is fine and dandy to believe that this utterly ridiculous and unfactual Genesis account actually teaches true theology--something you can't demonstrate if one includes in the theological universe, Hinduism/Buddhism/ Taoism, etc. It is like saying that you want to buy a bridge from me even after you have been to the Title company and seen evidence that I don't own the bridge!

  "Good lawyer"? Childish would be my word.

  1 of many differences between us is that I read Genesis in its canonical context. You don't.

>The reason I didn't answer your irrelevant question about that was because it is indeed irrelevant to the point I was

  But it was relevant to the point I was making. YOu pick and chose what you want to be historical. You claim that Genesis 2:7 only tells us that we are made of matter. Who gives you the right to choose that part of the verse and allows you to reject the God breathing part? It appears to me you have an 'ad hoc picker/chooser'. Isn't it concordism even to say that the verse teaches that we are made of matter? Why is this limited concordism ok but my more grandiose view of what must be concorded ruled out? Is it ruled out on the basis of an ad hoc picker/chooser?

>& on which I was trying to stay focussed: That the part of your attack on those who disagree with you in which you
>said that people were arguing that early Genesis is poetic and therefore cannot contain truth about the natural world
>is nonsense. No one is saying that poetic implies (in the strict sense) non-historicity, & whether they think that the texts are poetic and/or non-historical doesn't affect that.

  But the point is that you and many here DON"T think the account has a bucket of warm spit's worth of historicity, so this answer above is very unsatisfactory. We have agreed for about 10 years that poems can tell history, but we have disagreed over whether or not Genesis contains any history. You won't give a solid answer to any question about the historicity of any passage. Nothing in that passage is accurate for you. So, why do you believe that it teaches any decent theology that can't be gotten at any tribal fireside anywhere in the world?

>At this point I despair of trying to get you to understand that simple fact.

  And I despair of getting you to see that by having an non-historical account of sin, it casts big doubt on the very existence of sin. People are leaving the church because they don't think Christianity is real and we help them out the door by telling them that the Bible doesn't tell us anything real about creation, miracles etc. But then, we inconsistently tell them that we should believe that one resurrectional miracle, and they, quite logically, ask "why?'

  & you still don't get it.

  & look at the incredible sloppiness of your language! You say "non-historical account of sin" when you mean "non-historical account of the origin of sin." (Unless you actually mean that we're supposed to prove scientifically that certain things are "sins," but I can't imagine that even you would do that.) Then you appear to be completely unaware that there has ever been any view of the origin of sin in the Christian tradition other than the western fundamentalist one. & you also imagine that the account I give is "non-historical" when in fact it's quite consistent with what we know of evolution & history & in fact takes evolution far more seriously that your ideas do.

>3) I pointed out that you have, with no warrant, assumed that (a) I'm arguing for a recent origin of humanity and (b)
>that I think modern humanity is descended from a single "historical Adam & Eve." Immediately below this you reply
>"When you say all humanity can be traced to a single man ..." which I have not done. This shows again your
>carelessness in reading.

  Maybe you should write better and more clearly. You were the one arguing for what you mis-perceived was Stephen Wells position that humanity was 60,000 years old. When I tried to correct it, you defended it. But, of course, the fault must lie with me, because you have none.

>In any case, your statements about my ignorance of genetics stem largely from this misunderstanding. I recognize my
> limitations in that area & try to be careful not to exceed them - in strong contrast to your willingness to expose your
> ignorance of theology.

  If theology requires me to believe that false accounts give rise to good theology, I prefer my ignorance to your illogic. Ignorance is curable; illogic isn't.

  The worst feature of your ignorance is your appalling tunnel vision: Only verifiable historical or scientific accounts can be true.

>>>>4) A brief interview with Wells at seems, if anything, an even stronger statement about the recent origin of modern humans than the program note I cited. Note, e.g., the following: "First, it shows us our most recent common ancestor (Adam). This man lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago. The significance of this date is that it means that all modern humans were living in Africa until at least that time. In other words, within the past 60,000 years - only about 2,000 generations - our species has populated the entire planet."<<<<

  Of course you didn't read carefully enough, or if you did, you failed to understand. He also said this on that same page:

  "Also, our Adam and Eve weren't the only people alive at the time, just the lucky ones who left descendants down to the present day. But it is nice to know that we arrive at the same general conclusion: we're all related." (I wanted this extra large)

  That is hardly the Biblical story, and most CERTAINLY not what you have been saying that Wells' Adam represents the origin of humanity. He is using the word 'humanity' differently than most people use the term when the ORIGIN OF HUMANITY is discussed

  But, given the ad hoc picker/chooser, one could pick out that all humanity is descended from this man, but then not pick that Eve is mother of all living. One could also use the ad hoc picker/chooser to ignore the fact that Eve lived about 90,000 years earlier than her handsome beau, but then, Adam probably liked older women.

>I hasten to add that this seems kind of strong to me: I'm aware (believe it or not) of the arguments for a regional
>continuity model. But I didn't bring this up originally to argue for Wells position.

  I am amazed at how you are doing what you don't want YEC preachers to do.

  Again you have paid no attention to what I've said. I never claimed that Wells was saying - or that I believed - that modern humanity can be traced exclusively to a single couple 60,000 years ago. In my post of the 16th, after quoting a program note about Wells' views I said, "Does that mean that all humans descended from _only_ that tribe? No."

  You will see then, if can read, that I explicitly said that Wells' result does not mean that the people he was speaking of were our only ancestors.

  When I quoted that program note you asked if Wells had written it himself, implying that it might not represent his views. When I quote an interview with him showing that it did, you try to claim that I misunderstood it. Now I've shown that I didn't. Either admit that you're wrong or at least just drop it.

>>>>4) Your floating ax head statements are embarassing & show that you've never gotten out of the fundamentalist mindset. Of course the question isn't whether or not God _could_ make an ax head float but whether he _did_ - & that requires some attention to the type of text we're dealing with. But you can't do that because you can't imagine that the texts are anything other than historical narratives, or that God would condescend to use something other than such narrative. (Which again is traceable to your weak christology.)<<<<

  I have told my Turkish translator story before. Basically at 1 am in Dallas Texas in 1970, I was involved in praying that a turkish translator would come to a particular 20 sq foot area in a down town Dallas hotel. He came.

  Your reasoning could clearly apply to my translator story. Maybe God didn't send that translator. I have documented the miracle, but if you are unwilling to allow any miracles and proclaim all such accounts not historical, why don't we declare the resurrection itself not real? I mean, after all, who believes that dead men can really get up and walk around after 3 days? Isn't that the most amazingly laughable story, that some group of guys actually think Jesus got up from the grave? Let's go to the pub and have a pint in toast of St. Paddy, who was too drunk to know that men really don't get up out of graves. Clearly this passage must mean something else or be intended for some other purpose than to tell us real history.

  I despair of ever getting you to see how your own exegetical arrows can strike the heart of your view point.

  And I said I'm "unwilling to allow any miracles" - where? Tell me where. No shucking and jiving, just tell me where I said that - not where someone else said I said that. (& lest you haul up the same misrepresentation Janice did, I also haven't said that the resurrection is the only miracle I'd "allow.") & if you can't, stop saying or implying that I have said that.

  If a serious discussion about these matters was a possibility then we'd talk about what we mean by "miracle." That's unlikely, but if you're interested you can look at the last section of Chapter 6 of The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross.

>>>>>But even worse, you put the resurrection of Jesus Christ as just one more miraculous historical event along with the floating ax!<<<<

  So, the resurrection isn't a historical event? Is that what you are saying? If you aren't saying that, please explain without the ad hoc picker/chooser why the ressurection is history and the ax head can't be? Do you get to decide what miracles God performs? ARe you his scheduling secretary?

  Can someone please tell this poor soul why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is more important than the floating ax head? Really.

>>>>>5) The existence of gravitons follows from (a) the fact that things at the quantum level interact with gravitation and (b) the uncertainty principle. <<<<

  Flows from, but still unobserved, so your point is meaningless. They are UNOBSERVED. If I am wrong, please provide me with the particle accelerator/detector direct evidence for their existence. (I believe they exist, I just know that they haven't yet been seen anymore than the monopole, the axion, and WIMPs. The observation on the Higgs boson is currently out, with at least one possible siting.

>>>>That doesn't make it 100% certain but it's a lot more so than your mutant ape dream. In any case there may be ways of detecting the effects of gravitons other than direct detection of them - e.g., combine the suggestion of Dodakian & Pazameta in Physics Essays 15.2 (2002), 246 with one of mine in Australian Journal of Physics 31 (1978), 205.<<<<

  Interesting. All I could find was one citation on Google Scholar to the D&P article. But never the less, they still have not been directly observed.

  "Four years ago, Tony Rothman, a physicist at Princeton University was chatting with fellow physicist Freeman Dyson about the elusiveness of gravitons. In fact, gravitons are thought to be so elusive that Dyson wondered whether it was possible to detect one at all. And if gravitons are undetectable, do they really exist? Marcus Chown, "The Longest Stake-out," New Scientist, March 18, 2006,p. 32

  "He's talking about something very large indeed. In fact, according to Rothman and Boughn's calculations it would have to be the biggest detector conceivable, something similar in mass to Jupiter. "Much bigger and the detector would shrink under its own gravity and become a brown dwarf," says Rothman. Drifting through interplanetary space, the detector's vast surface would be a web of glistening electronics. Building such a behemoth would be a colossal technical challenge and enormously expensive - clearly way beyond anything conceivable today. But let's suppose it will one day be possible to build one.

  Would such a detector be capable of bagging a graviton? Rothman and Boughn calculate that during the lifetime of the universe, a detector placed as far. from the sun as Earth is now would detect about 1000 gravitons. Placing the detector the same distance from a super-dense white dwarf or neutron star would collect up to a billion gravitons. That's one every decade or so."

  "Even supposing that the detector works perfectly, and each graviton hit produces an electrical pulse, the problems go on. Millions of other particles would rain down on such a vast detector every second, and many of them would produce the same electrical signals as gravitons. The most troublesome particles are expected to be neutrinos, but the good news is that although they rarely interact with matter they are positively sociable compared with gravitons and so, in principle, could be shielded. Yet there is a problem: that you would need an impossible amount of shielding material. "Neutrinos can penetrate light years of lead," says Rothman. "That much shielding would collapse into a black hole." Marcus Chown, "The Longest Stake-out," New Scientist, March 18, 2006, p. 35

  technical details at

  The abstract starts with a question by an impressive physicist--Freeman Dyson

  "Freeman Dyson has questioned whether any conceivable experiment in the real universe can detect a single graviton. If not, is it meaningful to talk about gravitons as physical entities? We attempt to answer Dyson's question and find it is possible concoct an idealized thought experiment capable of detecting one graviton; however, when anything remotely resembling realistic physics is taken into account, detection becomes impossible, indicating that Dyson's conjecture is very likely true. We also point out several mistakes in the literature dealing with graviton detection and production."

  Since this is 2007 and your referred articles are 5 years and 29 years old respectively, I will go with the new stuff. Besides, Freeman Dyson is probably more up to date on this and his talk questioning the existence of gravitons took place in 2005.

  The popular account of the Jupiter sized detector didn't take into account that the method involves a graviton ejecting an electron, and then counting the electrons, but the mean free path of such an electron in a Jupiter sized mass would make it impossible for the electron to reach the surface to be detected.

  Don Page got a reference in Rothman's paper.

  Only one more day, and you won't have to worry about me here. I will leave again Tuesday morning.

  Very interesting. However -

  1) There are differing levels of believability of unobserved phenomena & my only point was that there are solider reasons to believe in gravitons than in your ape story.

  2) We don't have to have gravitons register on some instrument in order to detect them. We haven't yet detected classical gravitational waves in that way but have good evidence for them from the orbital decay of the H-T pulsar. Of course (& this returns to point 1) we'd still like to pick them up with an antenna.

  3) D & P suggested a way of detecting the loss of energy due to gravitational radiation of a laboratory source over a long period of time. I showed (& in fact it's an easy calculation though I don't know of anyone who had ever done it before) that gravitational radiation from any realistic lab source would have to be understood as a quantum phenomena - i.e., emission of individual gravitons - because the number of gravitons emitted per period would be less than one. Thus it might be possible to use D & P's technique and look for statistical fluctuations which would show that the emission was quantized.

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Received on Sun Mar 18 20:48:09 2007

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