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

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Sun Apr 26 2009 - 14:58:26 EDT


Please drop the "chance" rhetoric. Evolution comes about through random
genetic mutations and natural selection which is not chance at all.

A nucleotide substitution might result in a person with a large and bulbous
nose, for example. A person sporting such a protrusion might find it
difficult to attract a help mate. That person might remain single and pass
from life's scene leaving no bulbous-nosed progeny - natural selection at
work. But those prospective mates made rational choices based on upon a
physical appearance they found objectionable. The same holds true for other
physical characteristics that may be appealing or unappealing.

So if we wish to make progress in these discussions, show some ability to
learn from those of us who have been engaged in these discussions for quite
some time now. You are trying to set up a false dichotomy and win debating
points. Most of us, on the other hand, may be knowledgeable in this area,
but still earnestly seek better, more refined answers.

Dick Fischer, author, lecturer
Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 11:55 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)


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.


----- 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
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
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>> >>
>> >>
>> > ____________________________________________________________
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Received on Sun Apr 26 14:59:05 2009

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