[asa] Re: Eccliesiastes and other Biblical books on chance and necessity (was Re: [asa] historical versus experimental sciences)

From: Schwarzwald <schwarzwald@gmail.com>
Date: Sun Aug 23 2009 - 04:49:52 EDT

Heya Cameron,

I too think it's a stretch to suggest "chance plus necessity" is implied in
the bible, at least in the way that Darwinism seems to demand it. What Karl
gives, at best, describes appearances. It's not enough for Darwinism (as I
understand it, in part thanks to you) to have the mere appearance of chance.
If evolution appears chancy, but in actuality is directed/purposeful, then
Darwinism would seem to be false. And given the arguments of Conway Morris,
evolution may not even "seem" as chancy as Darwin envisioned.

On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 4:13 AM, Cameron Wybrow <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>wrote:

> Nice try, Karl, but you'll have to do better than that.
> Ecclesiastes is not representative of "the biblical writers". In fact,
> Ecclesiastes was not only a very late writing, but a very late entry
> (possibly the last) into the Hebrew Bible, and there was a major debate
> among the rabbis (about the first century A.D., when the Jewish canon was in
> the process of closure), over whether or not it should be admitted into
> Hebrew scriptures (George Foot Moore, *Judaism*, Vol. 1, p. 86). There was
> serious doubt that its teaching was compatible with the general teaching of
> the other Biblical books. As for the Proverbs, they vary greatly in age,
> ethical and religious depth, and consistency of teaching, and I don't put
> much more stock in most of them than I put in the sayings I find in fortune
> cookies. Your examples are from the two most secular books of the Bible
> (with the possible exception of Esther).
> Far more common than "chance plus necessity" explanations in the Hebrew
> Bible are explanations involving either a "hands-on", intervening God, or a
> predetermined outcome, dictated long in advance by God's will. Such
> explanations are predominant in the Law and the Prophets.
> One must always be on guard against the temptation to engage in
> "proof-texting". One can always find isolated passages in the Bible which
> teach or appear to teach just about anything. If one looks hard enough, one
> can find one or two obscure O.T. passages which are not 100% clear about the
> non-existence of other Gods, but few readers doubt that the main thrust of
> Biblical teaching is an exclusive monotheism. I don't think it can be
> plausibly maintained that the Hebrew scriptures teach that the major events
> in the human world (such as the establishment of Israel, the Babylonian
> exile, etc.) or in the natural world (such as its creation) have happened to
> a large extent by "chance plus necessity".
> Of course, one can attempt, as many TEs do, to read the Bible in the light
> of modern understandings of nature, in such a way as to allow "chance and
> necessity" as a parallel, "scientific" analysis of what happens in the
> world, alongside the God-driven, "theological" interpretation. But whether
> this attempt proves successful or not, I would contend that it is
> historically inaccurate to say that the Biblical authors *teach* that
> everything happens through "chance and necessity". They taught no such
> thing, and they believed no such thing.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* cmekve@aol.com
> *To:* asa@calvin.edu
> *Sent:* Friday, August 21, 2009 6:24 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] historical versus experimental sciences
> Your comment on "chance and necessity" does indicate the sticking point for
> ID and many evangelicals (as well as the late 19th century Princeton Sem.
> crowd). Curiously it didn't seem to bother the biblical writers.
> Qoheleth's statement in Ecclesiastes 9:11 could be used as a motto for
> Darwinian evolution (even as Cameron wants to define it): "The race is not
> to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or
> wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen
> to them all." Similar thoughts are expressed in Proverbs.
> Karl
> *******************
> Karl V. Evans (asa member)
> cmekve@aol.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim <tpi.hormel@comcast.net>
> Cc: asa <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 7:48 pm
> Subject: Re: [asa] historical versus experimental sciences
> Cameron Wybrow wrote:
> > Note also Hebert's own rather pathetic explanation to try to get out > of
> the
> > consequences of his research: he postulates an evolutionary cleansing
> > mechanism for which he has *absolutely no empirical evidence*, merely
> > because without such a mechanism he does not see how he can fight off
> > "creationist" conclusions. Sadly, that's the neo-Darwinian way of doing
> > science. When the facts are against you, postulate undocumented >
> mechanisms,
> > forces, factors, etc. Do *anything* but admit that the evidence may > be
> more
> > in favour of intelligent design than of accidental mutations and >
> fortuitous
> > selections. In neo-Darwinism, empiricism goes out the window in > favour
> of
> > maintaining *a priori* commitments to chance and necessity. This is why
> > neo-Darwinism is an embarrassment to science. It does not meet the >
> minimum
> > requirements of intellectual honesty, which dictate that when opponents
> > score a point, it should be granted to them.
> Actually, there are many *known* mechanisms behind the accumulation of
> genetic changes and these often happen together. The question is which
> mechanisms have the strongest influence. This matters because different
> mechanisms produce different phenomena and this potentially allows one to
> distinguish between mechanisms. From those models, one can go back and
> examine whether those influences are consistent in similar situations. One
> can also work deeper, even to the core biochemistry, to see what makes
> mitochondria exceptional in this regard. What Herbert found was that neutral
> drift was likely not a dominant mechanism in reducing within-species
> diversity for the gene encoding cyt-c oxidase. *That* observation didn't fit
> with empirical results. Other researchers have confirmed this and presented
> evidence supporting models with more frequent sweeps. In contrast, neutral
> theory is more in accord when they examine nuclear genes. This points to
> several possible mechanisms operating with the mitochondrion, a few of which
> might be amenable to confirmation.
> Interestingly, the results do confirm a strong temporal correlation with
> between-species diversity and the proposed time since the populations split.
> That's certainly an unexpected result for those proposing a separate
> creation model for species.
> Cameron, I personally don't consider meteorology an embarrassment to
> science because meteorologists don't discard "*a priori* commitments to
> chance and necessity" when they can't predict the weather several weeks in
> advance. There are any number of phenomena found in all branches of the
> physical sciences for which we don't have refined explanations -- Some hints
> in many cases, but still with details undetermined. Does it raise your ire
> when scientists persist in investigating mechanisms of "chance and
> necessity" in other fields? At least in my work, I always work to exhaust
> natural mechanisms first. Further, if one finds that evolutionary mechanisms
> are too flexible, how does adding "intelligent design" to the explanatory
> mix help? And why is the history of life afflicted with such metaphysical
> uneasiness and not, say, embryological development, cancer or oil viscosity
> breakdown in engines?
> Regards,
> T. Ikeda
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Received on Sun Aug 23 04:50:36 2009

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