(no subject)

Jonathan Clarke (jdac@alphalink.com.au)
Tue, 16 Mar 1999 06:49:00 +1100

Re: Evolution's Imperative (was Def'n of Science)
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 20:43:48 +1100
Jonathan Clarke <jdac@alphalink.com.au>
1 , 2

Hi Vernon

Apologies Vernon for not replying sooner. I have been busy at work and
then was
away with the tribe on a long weekend to Eden (appropriate perhaps).
When I got
back I found the discussion had exploded and so will only deal with a
few salient
points not picked up by others.

Your response to Kevin clearly illustrates that the issues to you are
scientific, but a nexus of metaphysical, theological and philosophical.
I would
agree with this analysis, which is why I think it is pointless
discussing the
scientific evidence for, or objects to any evolutionary theory when the
reasons you, or someone else for that matter, object to it, are on
another plane

> You will, no doubt, question my reference to evolution as a 'powerful
> master'. Yet it has a spiritual dimension that few, apparently,
> recognize. Speaking to the community of believers at Corinth, Paul
> "...we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices." (2Co.2:11). But
> about us today? Are we alive to such realities? Or are we now so used
> shutting our 'evolution-inspired-higher-critical' eyes and ears to the

> words of Holy Scripture that these things are no longer of any
> Have the admonitions of Eph.6:10-18 and the prophecy of 2Th.2 become,
> for us, so much hot air? Are you not able to see that we can so easily

> become Satan's accomplices? I can't see you as one who believes that
> laboratory door really does shut out the supernatural.
> It is instructive to consider this remarkable theory more closely, and

> perhaps agree, right away, that there is nothing else quite like it in

> the whole of the history of science. Following Loren's sound advice,
> me first define what I understand by the term 'evolution'.
> Evolution is "the cumulative change in the characteristics of
> populations of organisms over succeeding generations, resulting in
> species totally different from remote ancestors (Chambers) - whether
> chance, or by divine intent."

Your definition acknowledges the possibility that God is sovereign in
So what is the problem?

> Here are some of its characteristics:
> (1) It gives succour to the atheist (not in itself a crime, but hardly
> good selling-point for the Christian!)

Atheists in my experience will clutch at any straw which will justify
rejection of God. If it were not evolution, it would be something else.
Prior to
the development of big bang cosmology, a prime plank in any atheist's
argument was
the eternity of the universe. That is now untenable, but had nor seen
any mass
conversions by atheists. I would postulate the same result were organic
ever overturned (unlikely though I think that is).

> (2) In attacking the early chapters of Genesis (which Jesus obviously
> believed), it raises questions about the Lord's ministry and directly
> challenges the Bible's claim to be a work of God - specifically
> to instruct man in ways that are righteous and acceptable to Him.
> (2Tm.3:16,17).

Evolutionary theory only challenges some readings of Genesis, not all.
In the same
way it only challenges the attempts of those to make it authoritative in
ways it
was never intended to be. How does it question our Lord's ministry? I
this claim
is often made, but I have never seen it adequately substantiated.

> (3) Its social consequences are invariably bad. This observation
> put us in mind of our Lord's warning, "...by their fruits ye shall
> them.... every tree that fails to bring forth good fruit is cut down,
> and cast into the fire." (Mt.7:20, 19). [For those who would remind us

> that the church also has 'bloody hands', let me say this: where the
> teachings of Christ have been properly applied, the fruit has
> been wholesome and good, and has resulted in great blessing to that
> society. On the other hand, evolution with its slogan, 'survival of
> fittest', has invited some of the worst excesses the world has ever
> known.]

Four things here. First only some of social consequences of
evolutionary theory
are bad, not all. Presumably you would regard the need for careful use
pesticides and antibiotics that evolutionary theory highlights as

Second, the ideologies which have resulted in "some of the worst
(militarism, nazism, communism, unrestrained capitalism, etc.) are not
on evolution. All either predated it or an antecedents that predate
theory. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said something to the
effect that
"Darwin had the misfortune of serving everyone who had an axe to grind".

Third, just because a theory can be misused says nothing about its truth
falsity. Some would regard the consequences of 20th century nuclear
physics an
undisguised curse (nuclear weapons, radioactive waste, etc.). This does
not say
anything about whether it is a good scientific theory.

Fourth, you seem to be confusing levels of knowledge here, the
scientific theory
of organic evolution with the philosophy of accidentialism, which
operates on a
different level plan. It is important not to make category errors when
about these issues.

> (4) Among theories, it is unique in being the only one that cannot be
> allowed to fail! Kevin, you list several events which, were any to
> occur, should kill evolution stone dead. We could list a myriad more,
> but the practicalities are that these falsification scenarios - which
> your view support the scientific legitimacy of the theory - are not
> worth the paper they are written on; here's why: included among your
> ranks are the likes of Dawkins and Crick for whom this doctrine is
> essential; is it likely that they would ever wave the white flag? If
> offending data could not be suppressed then it would be explained away

> as a 'creationist plant'. And if these, and other, strategies were to
> fail, there - waiting in the wings - would be the ultimate,
> unanswerable, defence, viz that the offending manifestations are
> attributable to the activities of some unknown exraterrestial beings
> had visited this planet in times past! So, you see, the universal
> expectations of evolution (clearly unfalsifiable!) create a caudal
> safety-net. All very neat really, and rendering your suggested tests
> falsifiability, illusory!.

I think others have dealt with this point so I shall refrain.

God Bless