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

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Mon Oct 12 2009 - 02:16:02 EDT

Bernie, you wrote:

"Until you can concisely explain *the gap* [emphasis added] with a theory that can be verified independently (not appealing to common sense, etc.), it is still a gap."

Sigh. I guess I have to say it one more time. The words "the gap" beg the question. I deny the existence of any "gap", because I deny the existence of any detailed explanation for the origin of any complex integrated structure, anywhere in the Darwinian literature, or for that matter, in the literature of evolutionary biology period. When you've provided me with a detailed mechanical explanation for the unguided evolutionary origin of any two organs or systems -- say, the human eye and the flagellar transport system, then you can come back to me and charge me with "God of the gaps" reasoning for explaining, say, the cardiovascular system, in terms of intelligent design. Until then, I see no "gap"; all these systems look designed to me. (And note that I said designed, *not* created by miraculous intervention. Design does not necessarily require a rupture of the laws of nature in order to be implemented; it does not even rule out evolution. It rules out only unguided evolution, which is apparently your current doctrine.)

And by the way, I caught your remark about the misrepresentation of Denton in your school. I agree that it was wrong to represent him as anti-evolutionary. However, you do not appear to have followed through on the trajectory of Denton's thought, because he definitely believes in small-id "intelligent design". He thinks that the design was achieved through a natural evolutionary process rather than miraculous interventions, but he speaks both directly or indirectly of design on virtually every page of his second book. And he nicely shows the shortcomings of Darwinism, and not just of the original Charles Darwin but of neo-Darwinism too. Everyone who wishes to debate evolution and design seriously ought to read Denton. And note how many people that you admire themselves admire Denton -- Collins and Lamoureux, to name two. I gather that your unwillingness to follow Denton follows from your current anti-theistic mood.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dehler, Bernie
  Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2009 11:51 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

  "ID, at least in some forms, skips this pattern and infers design in nature itself. To give what I think is a good recent example (more philosophical than scientific) would be the 3D architecture of genomes. Said architecture is not a gap, it's a discovery about nature. And yet it's very possible to look at this and infer design, regardless of how said design came about (meaning, it does not need to be 'miraculous'. It could be, in a Denton sort of view, an intentional result of some properties of the natural world, etc.)"


  I just don't see it that way. You say:
  "Said architecture is not a gap, it's a discovery about nature."


  How do you know the architecture is "designed?" Until you can concisely explain the gap with a theory that can be verified independently (not appealing to common sense, etc.), it is still a gap.


  To me, your reasoning sounds very confused because I thought ID vs. evolution is supposed to be about science, yet you even say "more philosophical than scientific."


  To me, I see it as saying "there is no way we see how nature could evolve this, therefore it is design (keeping the term "design" vague, meaning it could be from God or something else, like an alien).


  Probably the thing that is irritating to scientists is all the vagueness.


  If you can detect (non human) design in some sort of scientific way, then there would be no objection. I say "non human" design because the designer is non-human since this was done before humans appeared. The only kind of design that us humans can really identify is that design which we've seen fellow humans do.


  Now if you say the 3D pattern is obvious of design, and any unbiased person could see that; you could also say it for humans, only we know that humans evolved because of pseudogene evidence. That is why common sense without science is very dangerous. For example, common sense is also against the idea of the Earth moving 67,000 mph around the Sun and spinning at 1,000 mph; things we only know because of science (common sense tells us the Earth is still and unshakeable).





  From: [] On Behalf Of Schwarzwald
  Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2009 3:08 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....


  Heya David,

  I'd sum up my view of the problem (and I'm in agreement with a lot of your estimation here) as this: Many atheists consider science to be "theirs" - namely, atheist turf. Theists are supposed to make in essence one kind of claim about the world: Gap ('miracle') claims. And science is supposed to do one thing: Fill gaps.

  ID, at least in some forms, skips this pattern and infers design in nature itself. To give what I think is a good recent example (more philosophical than scientific) would be the 3D architecture of genomes. Said architecture is not a gap, it's a discovery about nature. And yet it's very possible to look at this and infer design, regardless of how said design came about (meaning, it does not need to be 'miraculous'. It could be, in a Denton sort of view, an intentional result of some properties of the natural world, etc.) But that would mean that filling gaps is not itself some process of "defeating"/"deflating" theism/deism/etc. In fact, filling gaps may actually bolster such a case at least in a philosophical or worldview sense. Which I think many times ends up being processed as "religious people are trying to steal science from us!"

  Which is why I think that maligning of 'ID/Behe/etc claim science proves God exists!' carries on so much: Because the lesser claim doesn't matter. Any inference to design whatsoever is threatening, no matter how it's qualified. In fact, the tamer claim is worse because it's prima facie reasonable. Science simply is not supposed to do that. Nature is not supposed to be like that.

  On Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 3:40 PM, David Clounch <> wrote:

>He makes it clear that even an inference to design is not enough to get one to God as far as the science goes.

  This has always been my own position too. So, as a result of that, some people have slung mud at me, insisting I am some sort of YEC. When in fact I am sort of deistic in that I don't think science can or does infer a Christian God. And I have always been very open about saying that.

  I have also said since 2004 that I think many Christian type creationists start with God and imply design, and this is the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.
  Sadly, most anti-ID people also buy into this fallacy and use it as the main reason they are against ID. I believe both are wrong.

  But the fallacy itself isn't i_d and has nothing to do with differentiating intelligent processes and non-intelligent processes by using science.

  BTW, I think I am maybe going to start using "ip" and "nip" instead of "id" ?? Because the religionists and anti-religionists just cannot get over their fallacy and cannot get over the conflation that all intelligently interfered with or preplanned processes in nature by definition involve some sort of transcendental intelligence.

  Lets face it, what is the problem with the materialists anyway? They start with God, assume somehow that "God designs" and therefore there must be design. So they think if someone finds design then that must prove that God exists. So its really dangerous to their worldview. They therefore are at war with design. The also think that if they can show that design does not exist then they have proved God does not exist. This is completely illogical.

  What if Behe's position above were to hold true? What does it mean? I think it means religious people are free to jump to a fallacious conclusion if they want to and science doesn't say they have no right to do so.

  So, if someone wants to say that Behe says that "science says God did it", please show chapter and verse where Behe actually claims that. If you cannot do that you are overclaiming.

  PS. Consistently overclaiming and not being sensitive to doing so will earn you the status of "internet troll".




  On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 5:01 PM, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

  Heya John,

  I don't think "There is no way that it could evolve by Darwinian evolution. Therefore God did it." is a fair rendering of Behe's view here whatsoever. He's openly speculated about other possible mechanisms, including evolutionary ones (front-loading, etc.) He makes it clear that even an inference to design is not enough to get one to God as far as the science goes. He does not suggest shrugging our shoulders and ceasing to investigate evolution. I also reject, if I have you correct on this, the idea that Behe is doubtful of -all- evolution rather than just "Darwinian" evolution. Not all evolution is Darwinian evolution - not all evolution is classified as unguided. (Personally, I'm of the mind that even purely 'Darwinian' evolution can never be scientifically demonstrated to be unguided, so a lot of this is a curiosity for me rather than a major issue.)

  Now, you say you reject the "Darwinian" label because it's so obvious that Darwin was wrong about some major issues. I happen to agree with that. The problem is, Darwin is a tremendously important figure for some people. Even on subjects where he was clearly, radically wrong (what cells are, for example) his being wrong is downplayed, ignored, and even bringing up as much is a serious faux pas. The "Darwin Was Wrong" cover of New Scientist earlier this year sparked quite a lot of outrage among a number of regular Darwin defenders (you may write them off as radical atheists) purely for the sin of loudly pointing out Darwin being incorrect. There's too much at stake - not scientifically, but socially and politically - for Darwin's shortcomings to be recognized.

  Which is why I think your level-headed position - let's recognize Darwin's shortcomings and the limitations of known mechanisms and admit, atheist and theist alike, that there's a faith/belief component to our views of evolution - can't be accepted. And I don't think the playing field is equal here - the ID camp would be absolutely overjoyed for both parties to admit that our understanding of evolution and biological development is radically incomplete. For atheists (I'm speaking here of the outspoken, animated variety of new atheist we all know of), this would be unthinkable. The entire utility of Darwin for them is in the supposed scientific certitude that life, particularly human life, came about via unguided means. If that becomes a mere possibility rather than the stuff of in essence certainty, it's hard to distinguish that from defeat for them. Go look at the reactions many had when Paul Davies offhandedly pointed out that simple belief in things like 'laws of nature', and therefore science in general, proceeds on faith. It wasn't pretty.

  I suppose another way of saying what I'm saying here is - this isn't about science alone. Certainly not for ID proponents or even TEs. Certainly not for atheists. What we're seeing in this discussion are largely political maneuverings in the service of goals that have little to nothing to do with evolution, or even science.


  On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 5:18 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

  "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.




    ----- Original Message ----
    From: Cameron Wybrow <>

    To: asa <>

    Sent: Sat, October 10, 2009 4:31:16 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

    Bernie, you wrote:

    "I admit I also haven't read his books".

    Within the normal conventions of conversation and the English language, this sentence has only one possible meaning. It means that you have read neither *Darwin's Black Box* nor *The Edge of Evolution*.

    You now say, as if in contradiction to what you wrote earlier:

    "I wasn't clear when I said I didn't read Behe; I meant I didn't read his latest. I saw much of his earlier stuff."

    This is muddy. *Darwin's Black Box* was part of Behe's "earlier stuff". So is that what you "saw"? Does "saw" mean "read"? And if so, "read in its entirety"? (Including all the detailed biochemical argument?) Or does it mean only "skimmed"? Or does it mean only "looked at the cover of"? (Which would be the normal meaning of "saw".) And if not *Darwin's Black Box*, what "earlier stuff" did you read?

    This sounds evasive, Bernie. Either you've read Behe's books all the way through or you haven't. First you admitted you hadn't, and now you are clouding the issue. The issue is: what have you read, and how thoroughly did you read it?

    On another point: You do not seem to understand why Behe is very careful to use the word "Darwinian". He is not against "evolution". By speaking against "Darwinian evolution" he is speaking against a model of evolution entirely dependent on unguided and unplanned processes. In contrast, Behe has praised the evolutionary writing of Michael Denton, who is not a Darwinian and asserts that the universe was fine-tuned in advance for biological evolution.

    With you, Bernie, Behe can't win. If he criticized "evolution" by itself, without the adjective "Darwinian", you'd be all over him for being a YEC, for denying the genetic evidence for common descent, etc. But when he puts the adjective "Darwinian" in, precisely so that he won't be misunderstood, you're all over him for that.

    On another point: Behe agrees that features of the human genome tend to indicate our descent (on the physical as opposed to the spiritual side) from an apelike creature. It does not follow that he would agree with you about the *causes* of this process. Lipstick on the husband's collar doesn't prove which woman he was kissing, or where the tryst took place, or what the husband's motives were for straying. There is a great deal still to be explained.

    There is no God-of-the-gaps argument in Behe. The accusation of "God-of-the-gaps" arguments always presumes that science has built up a very tight structure of explanation, with only a few "gaps" remaining to be filled. Thus, if someone were to argue that the erratic orbit of Pluto disproves the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system, and infers that God personally placed each planet (or at the very least, Pluto) in a unique orbit, that would be an example of "God of the gaps", because it would rest entirely on a temporary failure of explanation of a model which can explain everything but Pluto very well, and might be able to be adjusted to account even for the orbit of Pluto. But if you understand Behe's argument, you will know that he rejects the premise that Darwinian explanation is tight and virtually complete, with just a few holes here and there. Biochemically speaking, he argues, Darwinian explanation is virtually *all*
     gaps. There are no satisfying biochemical explanations for how *any* of the necessary evolutionary distances were traversed by Darwinian means. The fact that you speak of "God of the gaps" indicates that you accept (from Behe's point of view) a massive overestimation, and hence false description, of our state of knowledge.


    ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie" <>
    To: "asa" <>
    Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 1:33 PM
    Subject: RE: [asa] Atheist finds God thru Behe's books....

> Hi John-
> When I listened to Behe, I thought the opposite of you. I thought "If he has a point, the truth, then the rest of the world will eventually catch-up with him. He'll go down in history as a first-rate scientist making this breakthrough, probably as big as Darwin, since his new theory significantly either breaks evolution or adds to it in some major new way."
> I know his university and peers give him trouble. However, they could also go down in history if they gave him support, if Behe turned out to be right.
> However, they should only give him support if there's at least some hope or possibility for him being right. If there is a possibility, it seems like it should be a good thing to be creating alternate hypotheses, even radical (the more radical, the better, like Darwin).
> So really, I disagree about even looking at consequences. I say follow the truth, regardless of consequences. There's nothing wrong at all with making waves, if you have a possibility of being right.
> So for me, the bottom line is, "does he have a chance at being right?"
> I asked for a concise statement for the ID hypothesis. Mike (Nucacids) gave it, thanks. I realized after writing that, what I really meant is "what evidence is there to test the hypothesis." (BTW- sorry Cameron, I wasn't clear when I said I didn't read Behe; I meant I didn't read his latest. I saw much of his earlier stuff. You seem to pick-up on some of the most trivial points sometimes.)
> After listening to the 40 min. video- it is clear that Behe thinks, and says many times, that his examples demonstrate "it is impossible for Darwinian mechanisms to produce them." It seemed like he never says "evolution" without the adjective "Darwinian." That is what seems so stupid to me, for people to only look to natural selection and random mutation as if that is the only mechanisms for evolution... there are many more (discovered since Darwin), and more to be discovered, I'm sure. So basically what evidence does Behe have for his hypothesis? It is "Look at this (insert mouse-trap type object). There is no way that it could evolve by Darwinian evolution. Therefore God did it." Why is it not so obvious to everyone that the theory jumps right from "Darwinian evolution can't do it" -> "we don't know how it could evolve" -> "therefore God did it all at once by speaking it into existence."
> It looks exactly like a 'science-stopper' to me.
> In Paley's day, he could have said the same (probably did). "Look at the complexity of humans. We are too far above animals. We had to be made by fiat... God's spoken word, directly, uniquely." Now pseudogenes show beyond a reasonable doubt that humans descended from an apelike creature. His logic was proven false in the same way, which was "Isn't it amazing and wonderful" -> "We don't know how it could happen" -> "God did it by special creation."
> A rush to "god of the gaps" is very unhealthy for science (even fatal). In this way, when confronted with a scientific mystery, the answer is "God did it! You'll never find the answer because God just did it!" Maybe God did "just do it." But the job of science is to strive to figure out how nature might do it, and by looking into this over the centuries, mankind has been shocked as to what can be found out, and discarded "God did it" many times already.
> ...Bernie

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