Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sat Oct 10 2009 - 22:34:38 EDT


The Darwinian qualifier is neither meaningless nor irrelevant. There are
many different accounts of evolution, and have been since Darwin's day.
E.g., Lamarckian evolution (emphasis on inheritance of acquired
characteristics), Darwinian evolution (emphasis on natural selection),
Bergsonian evolution (emphasis on vital spirit, creative energy), Dentonian
evolution (emphasis on fine-tuned properties of nature designed for
evolution), Mike-Genean evolution (emphasis on front-loading), etc. Behe is
being a good scholar and scientist by not broad-brushing, and by specifying
what sort of evolution he is objecting to. This sort of precision avoids
ambiguity, and avoids unnecessary conflicts (with other evolutionists who
are not being targetted) and therefore should be applauded, not criticized.

I don't recall how abiogenesis came into our discussion. I agree that it is
a separate subject from the evolution of life. On the other hand, there is
no doubt that Darwin would have found a coherent theory of abiogenesis
desirable, in line with his preference for a natural and non-teleological
explanation for the living world.

The changes you refer to in evolutionary theory since Darwin do not solve
the problem Behe is addressing, for two reasons: (1) Darwinian mechanisms
are still seen as the *main* motor of evolutionary change, even by those who
have supplemented them with one or more other mechanisms; (2) I know of no
proposed mechanism (acceptable to mainstream evolutionary biology, anyway)
that is not at bottom dependent on chance and unguided natural causes; e.g.,
"drift" has no more intelligence than "mutation" or "selection" do. So
Behe's questions remains unanswered: how do radically new molecular
machines, organelles, organs, systems and organisms, requiring highly
complex, integrated, overlapping and mutually reinforcing systems, come into
being with neither plan nor guidance? When
asked for the details, evolutionary biologists always have been, and still
remain, fuzzy. The idea that they have figured out most things and that
only a few "gaps" remain is utterly laughable. My question of several
months ago -- "show me how" -- in the case of even *one* major organ or
system -- has remained unanswered by the evolutionary biologists,
developmental biologists, biochemists, etc. on this list. How can you use
God to fill in a "gap" between two naturalistic explanations, if you don't
even have one naturalistic explanation yet?

Your "balanced" solution -- accept known mechanisms of evolution but allow
for some guidance -- of course would not be accepted by Dawkins etc., and I
doubt that it would be accepted by all of the TEs on this list. I think Ted
Davis and George Murphy might go for it; I think you would earn a lot of
flak from several of the others, for being too weak a defender of
"methodological naturalism", by not trying hard enough find *unknown*
mechanisms of evolution which would eliminate the need for any "guidance".
On the other hand, Behe would not rule out your solution. He's a very
open-minded guy about *how* God and natural causes are related. I think
that some other ID people (those who accept evolution, I mean) would be open
to it as well.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Walley" <>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>; "asa" <>
Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 5:18 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

"There is no way that it could evolve by Darwinian evolution. Therefore God
did it."

In this I agree with Bernie. I think Behe needlessly conflates evolution
with Darwinian evolution. And he uses the ideological (atheist) baggage of
"Darwinian" evolution (ala Martinez Hewlett) to attack evolution itself,
leaving some mystical "God did it" mechanism as the result.

To me the Darwinian qualifier is meaningless and irrelevant. I think the
valid scientific claims of Darwin were common descent, random mutation and
natural selection and on these I agree with him. What Darwin didn't know was
that these alone were not sufficient to explain all of evolution but they do
explain a good bit of it. More on this in a second.

The unguided abiogenesis musing was conditional and he himself said "But if
(and Oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond" so it
does not deserve to be counted among the above scientifically verifiable
claims. I know Dawkins and the atheists try to smuggle that in with the rest
of Darwin that have been verified but it is a Trojan Horse strategy. Both
the atheists and the Christians need to decouple the personal unbelief of
Darwin with his otherwise scientific claims because first they don't matter
and they only serve to confuse the actual science. On this I agree with
Bernie that Behe fails to do this and I think he unfairly tries to demonize
evolution itself by associating it with Darwin's atheism and countering it
with direct intervention by God.

Now as to how much of evolution can Darwin's scientifically testable claims
explain, I think Behe has made some valid points as to the limitations of at
least single point mutations. However in fairness Darwin and no one else
could know how limited this could have been in his day so it was a very
plausible theory at the time. Now only the die hard atheist kool-aid
drinkers can defend the random mutation alone hypothesis and there is no
point in debating that because it is just as much a position of faith as
Behe's direct intervention.

Again the false dilemma is between the atheist position of rejecting God by
rejecting intervention and appealing to naturalism of the gaps in spite of
all the complexity and odds against it on one hand, and rejecting evolution
because of the atheist implications and appealing to God of the gaps to have
somehow done it in some mystical way but just not through evolution on the
other hand. The only rational way to resolve this is to accept the known
mechanisms of evolution and to see them supplemented with the belief (not
science) of unknown but guided processes. This leaves us at a level playing
field with the atheist without giving either side an advantage and both
resorting to their faith to complete the picture. I don't think Behe and ID
in general is willing to do this and instead he wants to insist on the
imprimatur of science to support his side which is exactly what the atheist
wants as well so we have the ongoing death struggle between the two

This is where I think Collins has a superior response because it is a
scientific inference and not ideologically driven like the other two
extremes. It also just happens to be much easier to defend as well.



To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat Oct 10 22:35:37 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Oct 10 2009 - 22:35:37 EDT