RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Sun Apr 26 2009 - 09:18:17 EDT

Are you saying that individual chisel strokes are what the sculptor needs to form the statue?

From: [] On Behalf Of Murray Hogg []
Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 7:36 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

Hi all,

If I may interject, I'd like to offer the observation that that asking whether a particular mutation can be the product of chance and divine guidance is - in respects of evolution - perhaps the wrong question to ask.

The question should be, in my opinion, whether humans can be the determined outcome of the PROCESS of evolution involving many thousands (millions?) of mutations despite the individual mutations in that process being randomly determined.

And to my mind, the answer to that question is definitely "yes".

What is required is simply that the number of individual random mutations be large enough that the probability of obtaining any particular mutation tends toward unity.

If this is allowed, then there is certainly no need to argue that that God cannot use randomness to achieve a pre-determined outcome.

By analogy, it's a bit like acknowledging that even though there is a meagre chance of any particular ticket winning a lottery, nevertheless one can still state with some certainty that the organizers of the lottery do, indeed, intend the lottery to be won. There is, as I said, no contradiction between the concepts of "chance" and "purpose".


Cameron Wybrow wrote:
> Dave:
> 1. If you understand the meaning of the word "chance" as it is used in
> both everyday speech and in the classical philosophical tradition, you
> know that chance events are always unguided, by definition. It is
> implicit in the definition of the word.
> Possibly you mean not all events which *appear* to be chance events are
> unguided. Well, of course, if they are only *apparently* chance events,
> but not really chance events, then they may well be guided (or they may
> be due to some natural necessity, as George Murphy has pointed out).
> But then you're equivocating, and you'd be better off using a different
> word
> altogether, so as not to confuse people.
> If I bang into an old friend at the store, that is a chance event. If a
> cosmic ray strikes a sleeping lioness and causes a mutation in her
> offspring, that is a chance event. (The lioness no more had to be
> sleeping on that spot at that moment than on any other spot, and had she
> been anywhere else the cosmic ray would have missed.) Proponents of
> neo-Darwinism (Mayr, Dawkins, Gaylord Simpson, Dobzhansky, Sagan, Gould,
> etc.) understand "chance" as I have used the word. If TEs wish to use
> the word "chance" in their own idiosyncratic way, that is up to them,
> but then, since both ID and traditional neo-Darwinism mean the same
> thing by "chance", TE will be the odd man out, and the obscuring of
> communication will rest on TE's shoulders.
> 2. I did not say that a theistic evolutionist bars a Creator from
> controlling the universe. If I were a theistic evolutionist -- which
> actually I may well be, but not at all of the variety typically
> represented on this list -- I would *certainly* believe that the
> Creator controls the universe. I would also believe that the Creator
> directly guided the mutations to produce the various species, including
> man. And I would say so, with much less vagueness about God's role than
> is typically expressed by some of the TEs on this list and elsewhere.
> 3. Only a quasi-Gnostic would refer to nature as the "mask" of God, as
> if nature *hides* God rather than reveals him. When Luther said this,
> he obviously had forgotten that "the heavens declare the glory of God".
> The idea that God is completely "hidden" in relation to nature is
> Manichean, not Christian. Of course nature does not show us God
> directly, but it expresses something of the mind of God. Classical
> Christianity affirmed the goodness, beauty and wisdom of creation, and
> its evident connection with its divine source. Read Genesis 1. Read
> the Psalms. Read Romans. Read the Greek Fathers. Read Thomas
> Aquinas. Read Paley. Read just about every English theologian and poet
> from 1600 onward. (I can't speak for what the gloomy Teutonic
> theologians across the channel believed; nor do I care.)
> 4. ID does not say that we can "tear off the mask of God". Many ID
> proponents are very conservative Calvinists who would very much insist
> on the inscrutability of God -- more so than many TEs, who seem sure
> that they know what kind of miracles God would or would not perform, how
> God would or would not create, etc. Please stop attributing notions to
> ID that are your interpretations, rather than what ID has to say for
> itself. Your rage cannot be taken seriously when it is based on a
> caricature.
> 5. Finally, I note that you tried to finesse my question with a
> counter-question, but I'm wily to such devices, and realize that you are
> just plain ducking. So I'll rephrase: Do you believe that chance
> mechanisms of the sort proposed by neo-Darwinism can account for
> evolution, *without adding in the guidance of God*? All ID people
> answer with a clear "No". All atheist Darwinists answer with clear
> "Yes". Most TEs answer incomprehensibly. You can break the pattern,
> and answer clearly. Here's a golden opportunity for your side.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr."
> <>
> To: <>
> Cc: <>
> Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 11:41 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>> Where do you get the idea that chance is purely unguided? The May
>> /Scientific American/ has an article on the difference the 1% makes
>> between chimps and humans, with a discussion of the areas of accelerated
>> change in the human genome. We may not know which environmental factors
>> and which genomic ones produce what seem to be unidirectional change, but
>> we observe what seems to be accelerated inline alteration. Can you
>> explain to me how a theistic evolutionist bars the Creator from
>> controlling the universe? Luther's comment that natural laws are the
>> masks of God makes good sense. God is there all the time. But ID insists
>> that we can tear the masks off. Bunk!
>> Dave (ASA)
>> On Fri, 24 Apr 2009 20:36:57 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
>> <> writes:
>>> Your objection regarding the term "Darwinian" is a verbal
>>> technicality,
>>> Dave; my point remains the same if you change it to "neo-Darwinian
>>> means",
>>> or if you add in any number of newer "mechanisms" which are
>>> currently mooted
>>> around (drift, etc.), and call it "neo-neo-Darwinian means". All of
>>> them
>>> are chance mechanisms, ultimately, when all the fancy language is
>>> stripped
>>> away. The task of neo-neo-Darwinism, then, is to prove that chance
>>> can
>>> produce integrated complex systems. Behe's argument is that it
>>> can't. He
>>> may be right, or he may be wrong, but there is no point in
>>> obfuscating the
>>> issue. The choice is, and always has been (since the days of the
>>> ancient
>>> Greeks) "by design or by chance".
>>> The problem with TE (at least in most of its formulations) is that
>>> it is
>>> simply unclear about the extent of the complexity-building powers it
>>> allows
>>> to chance. To read TE writers, the cause of mutations etc. is sort
>>> of
>>> chance, and sort of God's action, and sort of neither, and sort of
>>> both --
>>> that's what TE sounds like, to an outsider seeking theoretical
>>> clarity. It
>>> sounds vague.
>>> ID, on the other hand, is razor-sharp in clarity on that point. It
>>> draws a
>>> line in the sand. It says that chance is simply not sufficient. It
>>> says
>>> that there must be an input of intelligence. The input might be
>>> before the
>>> Big Bang, with no further inputs necessary (front-loaded
>>> naturalistic
>>> evolution). It might be at one or more points after that
>>> (intervention,
>>> quantum-concealed or otherwise). ID does not specify. But it says
>>> that the
>>> input is necessary.
>>> Tell me, Dave: do you believe that chance mechanisms -- include the
>>> whole
>>> passel of them if you want -- could, *utterly unguided by God or
>>> some other
>>> intelligence*, turn atoms into Adam, molecules into Mendel, bacteria
>>> into
>>> Bohr? And if you do believe that, why do you bring God into the
>>> picture at
>>> all? And if you don't believe that, how does your view differ
>>> substantially
>>> from Behe's, except in jargon?
>>> Cameron.
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr."
>>> <>
>>> To: <>
>>> Cc: <>
>>> Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 7:30 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>> > But "purely Darwinian means" are no longer relevant in biology,
>>> unless
>>> > one desires to be anachronistic. Darwin, for example, had no
>>> > understanding of genetics, and even the rediscovery of Mendel's
>>> work is
>>> > now vastly superceded. I have read numerous references to
>>> irreducible
>>> > complexity, but they seem to represent /ipse dixit/, with various
>>> > experiments indicating that the complexity can be produced by
>>> natural
>>> > processes. Indeed, from what I've encountered, "irreducible
>>> complexity"
>>> > seems closely equivalent to "God of the gaps."
>>> > Dave (ASA)
>>> >
>>> > On Fri, 24 Apr 2009 18:24:04 -0400 "Cameron Wybrow"
>>> > <> writes:
>>> >> Uhhh, Bernie ...
>>> >>
>>> >> This is not an accurate representation of Behe's thought.
>>> >>
>>> >> Let me modify your words to make them correct:
>>> >>
>>> >> > Behe 1: "I have no problem with biological evolution of humans
>>> >> from
>>> >> > apelike creatures, *or with biological evolution generally*."
>>> >> >
>>> >> > Behe 2: "Evolution *by purely Darwinian means* is impossible
>>> >> because of
>>> >> > irreducible complexity."
>>> >>
>>> >> Note that Behe 1 is entirely compatible with Behe 2.
>>> >>
>>> >> If I may add a general remark, addressed not just to Bernie but
>>> to
>>> >> everyone
>>> >> here: why are ID proponents' arguments so often misrepresented
>>> and
>>> >>
>>> >> mischaracterized here? A couple of months ago someone
>>> >> mischaracterized
>>> >> Behe, and Ted Davis had to jump in to correct the person, with
>>> an
>>> >> exact
>>> >> quotation from Behe. And over the last several months I've
>>> noticed
>>> >> several
>>> >> remarks which suggest to me that some people here are not
>>> reading
>>> >> the actual
>>> >> works of Behe, Dembski, and other ID theorists, but are
>>> criticizing
>>> >> them
>>> >> based on hearsay. I find this disturbing, especially since a
>>> number
>>> >> of
>>> >> people here have Ph.D.s. Is it not part of doctoral-level
>>> training
>>> >> to
>>> >> acquire the habit of reading sources carefully before one
>>> criticizes
>>> >> them?
>>> >>
>>> >> Cameron.
>>> >>
>>> >> ----- Original Message ----- >> From: "Dehler, Bernie"
>>> <>
>>> >> Cc: <>
>>> >> Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 4:59 PM
>>> >> Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> > Hi Ted-
>>> >> >
>>> >> > Gregory is pointing out the confusion in ID circles. Did
>>> >> evolution happen
>>> >> > or not? I suppose Behe could host a debate featuring two
>>> >> opponents:
>>> >> > himself vs. himself.
>>> >> >
>>> >> > Behe 1: "I have no problem with biological evolution of humans
>>> >> from
>>> >> > apelike creatures."
>>> >> >
>>> >> > Behe 2: "Evolution is impossible because of irreducible
>>> >> complexity."
>>> >> >
>>> >> > ...Bernie
>>> >>
>>> >>
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>>> >>
>>> >>
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Received on Sun Apr 26 09:19:00 2009

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