Re: [asa] Rejoinder 2 from Timaeus: to David Opderbeck, with a Questionfor All

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Sun Sep 28 2008 - 21:12:32 EDT

Timaeus wrote:

> By “evolution” I mean a process which is alleged to have taken place,
> during which or through which species turn into other species. In its
> fullest modern form, it asserts that all living things, including man,
> have descended genetically from very simple beings which first appeared
> billions of years ago. I have already indicated that I provisionally
> accept this process as a fact, and I’ve already implied that I don’t find
> it spiritually shocking or revolting or automatically un-Christian, and
> that it isn’t a bone of contention for me in relation to the claims of
> theistic evolutionists.
> However, I must stress that by “evolution” I do not mean “Darwinism” or
> “Darwinian evolution” or “neo-Darwinian evolution”, or “the theory of
> evolution” (which usually means Darwinian or neo-Darwinian evolution).
> “Evolution” to me is a label for a process, making no reference to any
> causal explanation for the process...

I'm glad you are taking the time to define your terms carefully. That is
very helpful. Especially since it seems that you are using terms and phrases
slightly differently than is usual, such as your definition of "evolution."

I would also suggest that your usage of "common descent" is slightly
different which may differentiate your views from the mainstream ID. For
instance, the recent book “Intelligent Design 101” edited by H. Wayne House
contains an appendix titled “A Reply to Francis Collins’s Darwinian
Arguments for Common Ancestry of Apes and Humans” by Casey Luskin and Logan
Paul Gage. This book, with its title and contributions/foreword from
Johnson, Dembski, Behe, Moreland, Richards, etc., appears to be a defining
work of what ID is. As policy folks at DI, Casey and Luskin are active in
portraying ID. By adding this appendix in such a defining book, they clearly
position ID as opposed to common descent. They address four different
aspects of Collins's argument. For example, referring to the discussion
about human chromosome 2, they state “At best, this evidence demonstrates
that humans and chimps share similar genetics—something we already knew
without evolutionary biology. Such similarities are just as easily explained
by common design.” In other words, they position common design as mutually
exclusive to common descent as explanations for having similar genetics.

Your definition of common descent rather deftly allows you to use it on one
hand to claim you have no problem with common descent. On the other, you can
also leave the door open for unexplained phenomena in the process of
"descent." Similarly, with a careful definition of "evolution," you can
claim no "bone of contention" with it while also leaving the door open for
mechanisms beyond natural explanation. The key seems to be what you mean by
"descended genetically." Do I gather correctly that you mean "duirng
reproduction, genetic inheritance generally follows anticipated patterns but
occasionally there are unusual events for which there are no natural causal
explanations?" This way you seem to be able to have it both ways.


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Received on Sun Sep 28 21:13:33 2008

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