RE: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)

From: Steve Matheson <>
Date: Tue Oct 28 2008 - 16:03:28 EDT

Hi James--

Dennis wrote: "It may be that forcing us to include vitamin C in our diet does
make for healthier humans in general – but why then have the remains of a
clearly once-functional gene for Vit C biosynthesis present in our genome?"

You wrote: "Why not? What do you expect God to do with it...delete it, and put
a "this space intentionally left blank" sign?"

This is a very strange response. If God specially created humans, with no
common biological ancestry, then he would have no need to "delete" the gene.
It wouldn't be there in the first place. I'm not sure you understand this, but
your answer to Dennis makes no sense unless you assume common ancestry. So,
are you assuming that the human genome was assembled/constructed from the
genome of a non-human primate?

To explain broken genes in otherwise intact genomes, one must choose from among
a limited set of plausible explanations. One explanation is that a
supernatural designer created the genome that way, de novo with no biological
continuity between that genome and its predecessors. Another explanation is
that the genome has descended from genomes of common ancestors. Opting for the
first explanation creates the questions that Dennis has posed, and your answers
reflect the rampant confusion at RTB on this important issue.

I would suggest that those who prefer the RTB "model" need to get a lot better
at saying, "that's a good question, and we don't know the answer." Answers
like "well, it helps primates eat better" will not fool knowledgeable people.

You end your post with this troubling statement regarding "God's miraculous
involvement" in creation, which is very typical of Christian design theorists
of various stripes:
 "If you don't see the handiwork of God in nature, then I worry that you are
choosing not to see it. And if you are choosing not to see it, I worry that you
are denying God."

James, this is the damaging error of so much of creationism, and it's one
reason why I hold RTB in very low esteem. The error is this one: that someone
(like me, or like Dennis, or like Francis Collins) who sees God's natural
providence as just as important as his "miraculous involvement" is someone who
might be "denying God." The implication is created through the indefensible
presumption that "God's handiwork" equates to "miraculous involvement." This
stance is obnoxiously uncharitable, to say nothing of its theological
incoherence. If you prefer miraculous intervention as an explanatory
framework, just state that and let it be. Or if you have strong evidence that
a particular occurrence or phenomenon bears marks of supernatural intervention,
then by all means let's hear it. But when you link your preferences or
opinions to profound issues of whether a Christian is "denying God," you are
playing a dangerous and foolish game.

Steve Matheson

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Received on Tue Oct 28 16:05:00 2008

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