Re: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Wed Jun 17 2009 - 19:36:54 EDT


Yes, I've read Collins's book.

Collins makes the tacit assumption that the similarity/difference between
the human and chimp genome has a naturalistic explanation. Then, when he
comes up with such an explanation (a "fusion event"), he uses that
explanation to argue for the truth of Darwinian evolution. But the
reasoning is circular. The argument from a "fusion event" to the truth of
Darwinian evolution is only valid on the assumption that a "fusion event"
took place, and that assumption in turn tacitly presupposes that only a
naturalistic explanation for the appearance of the two genomes is available.
But a supernatural explanation is available: God designed the two genomes
to be very close but not quite the same, either for some functional reason
which our science has not yet discovered, or simply for his own good
pleasure. In that case, there never was any "fusion event", and a
non-existent event cannot be proof of anything. On what grounds does
Collins reject the supernatural explanation? (If you insist that the odd
appearance of the two genomes *must* have a naturalistic explanation, then
you've violated the sacrosanct TE principle of only "methodological", not
"metaphysical" naturalism.)

I have no objection to macroevolution, so I have no problem imagining that
Collins's explanation for chromosome #2 is true. I think that an overall
design guiding macroevolution is compatible with all kinds of local
accidents of that sort. But as I've indicated above, a YEC could just say
that the chromosome #2 similarity/difference has no evolutionary
significance; it's just the way God designed them. And how could I disprove
that, without resorting to TE-forbidden "metaphysical naturalism"?

Here is the problem that you TEs have created for yourselves. In order to
combat both Dawkins-Darwinism (atheism) and ID on the one hand, you've
adopted the methodological/metaphysical naturalism division. But while you
can employ that against ID and atheism, it's powerless against YEC. In
fact, it's worse than powerless. It positively enables YEC. Once you've
adopted that division, you *can't* say that YEC explanations are *wrong*,
i.e., false to reality, unless you bring in metaphysical naturalism. The
*most* that you can say is that if a naturalistic explanation is available,
it is to be preferred to the non-naturalistic one, because God generally
seems to work through secondary causes. But you are then *compelled*, by
the terms of the division, to acknowledge that in any particular case (e.g.,
the creation of man), the naturalistic explanation may be the false one and
the non-naturalistic explanation the true one. So to fend off atheism and
ID, you've empowered YEC, and you've cut off your nose to spite your face.
Smooth move.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
To: "asa" <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:03 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam

> Cameron said:
> "I would *not* firmly deny the YEC view that you mention."
> You mention that you do tons of reading, so I'll assume you read Francis
> Collins book "The Language of God" and know about the DNA evidence for
> human evolution (pseudogenes and fused human chromosme #2). Given that
> DNA evidence, why isn't that enough for you to firmly reject the YEC
> interpretation of God creating the first humans from a pile of literal
> dirt? What is it about that evidence that still lets you think there's a
> possibility that man was created by fiat?
> I think once you can accept that the YEC view is untenable, then you will
> see things a lot differently.
> Then rather than arguing about design vs. chance, I think you'll want to
> spend your time enlightening the YEC's who believe in human creation by
> fiat, because that is the real misinformation campaign that is rampant in
> today's evangelical church. That is the real scandal. Seems to me that
> most evangelical churches are YEC or YEC-friendly, and anti-evolution for
> that very reason. This is gross and sickening to those who know the
> basics of biology (at the highschool level now). The YEC campaign is an
> anti-evangelization campaign because it drives the intellectuals FROM
> church.
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:32 PM
> To: asa
> Subject: Re: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam
> 1. Bernie, brevity is of no value if it sacrifices clarity. The material
> I
> put into my post which you found excessive was necessary for understanding
> my answer. I write for those who seek understanding, not for those who
> just
> want to know my position, and don't care about my reasons for my position.
> 2. I would *not* firmly deny the YEC view that you mention. It *could*
> have happened that way. However, I do not *conceive* of it as happening
> that way. I probably usually conceive of it as something more like the
> "twigging" of a hominid genome by God to produce a new species, homo
> sapiens. Other days, I imagine some vast front-loaded evolutionary
> process
> which turns out man naturalistically. But these are my tentative personal
> speculations, which do not pretend to be science or even philosophy, and
> I'm
> not deeply attached to them.
> 3. My point, in which you seem uninterested but which you nevertheless
> need
> to hear, is that "creationism versus evolution", (the YEC-versus-TE
> concern), is philosophically and theologically secondary in relation to
> the
> question of "design versus chance" (the ID-versus-Darwinist concern). And
> I
> sometimes think that YEC people, for all their wooden, lifeless
> interpretations of Genesis and all their dreadful science, understand the
> importance of "design vs. chance" more clearly than a good number of TE
> people. I tend to interpret Genesis as a TE would, but I think that TE
> evasiveness concerning the operation of chance and design in nature is not
> at all admirable, and I give the so-called "fundies" points for keeping
> their eye on the ball.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
> To: "asa" <>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 3:10 PM
> Subject: RE: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam
>> "I hope that's short enough for you, Bernie."
>> Actually- I was hoping for much shorter.
>> So, just to be clear.
>> Some think Adam was made by fiat- all at once- not from anything
>> pre-existing (except literal dirt). These think God literally scooped-up
>> dirt, formed man, and breathed life into it. You would firmly deny this,
>> correct?
>> ...Bernie
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [] On
>> Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 9:36 AM
>> To: asa
>> Subject: Re: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam
>> Bernie:
>> Asking whether "Adam" was created or evolved is the wrong question,
>> because
>> the two are not necessarily incompatible. Unless you insist on taking
>> Genesis literally, evolution might have been the means of our creation.
>> And
>> I thought I had already indicated that I didn't take Genesis literally.
>> The important question, from a religious point of view, is not "creation
>> or
>> evolution", but whether "Adam" was designed or the product of blind
>> chance.
>> I maintain -- despite the objections of many here -- that the entire
>> raison
>> d'etre of the Darwinian form of evolution is to exclude design from the
>> actual world of nature, and that Darwinian evolution therefore depends
>> essentially upon chance. So let me put the question in this way:
>> Did "Adam", i.e., the first human being, whoever he was or whenever he
>> lived, arise solely or primarily through Darwinian means?
>> My answer: NO. I think that we have "design" written all over us. In
>> fact, I think the entire organic world has design written all over it, at
>> least in its general outline. Perfect design, with no accidental
>> elements?
>> Not necessarily. Design that excludes the possibility of macroevolution?
>> No. But design, definitely. And I understand design not merely as some
>> here do -- as a personal theological gloss upon facts which, strictly
>> speaking, don't require design to explain them -- but as a genuine causal
>> factor, without which life as we know it would not exist. That is: no
>> design -- no life, no possibility of
>> macroevolution, and certainly no Adam.
>> That's the only sort of answer that you should care about, from a
>> religious
>> point of view. But perhaps you are insisting on knowing my much less
>> important historical opinion about macroevolution and human origins?
>> You'll
>> be disappointed in the answer.
>> Bottom line: (1) "Adam" was designed. (2) Darwinism is false. (3)
>> Everything else -- macroevolution, chemical origin of life, special
>> intervention, action under quantum indeterminacy, front-loading -- is
>> negotiable. I keep an open mind and weigh them all according to
>> empirical
>> evidence, internal coherence, and general reasonableness. Thus, my
>> position
>> is (Canadians here, note historical political allusion): macroevolution
>> if
>> necessary, but not necessarily macroevolution.
>> I hope that's short enough for you, Bernie.
>> Cameron.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
>> To: "asa" <>
>> Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:39 PM
>> Subject: [asa] Cameron- question of Adam
>>> Cameron- just a short question:
>>> Biologically- do you believe Adam was literally created by God
>>> scooping-up
>>> dirt and breathing life into him, or do you think he evolved from a
>>> lower
>>> life-form? Or was Adam biologically made some other way?
>>> Just a short answer please.
>>> ...Bernie
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Received on Wed Jun 17 19:39:34 2009

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