Re: TE/EC marginalised? #5

Stephen E. Jones (
Sun, 01 Aug 1999 22:14:54 +0800


On Sun, 18 Jul 1999 16:36:25 +1000, Jonathan Clarke wrote:



JC>However, I not not want to close on such a note. I would like to
>see the discussion move forward.

So would I like the "discussion" to "move forward", but I would like
Jonathan to first acknowledge or refute my arguments in the previous
post about the claimed 19th century TE/ECs.

How can we make any progress if Jonathan brings up examples to
support his view, I make counter-arguments against Jonathan's view,
and Jonathan just ignores what I said and says he wants to move on?

JC>I am not interested in long quotes from various authors, not even
>Philip Johnson. Nor am I interested in a battle of quotes.

Well that's too bad, because "quotes" are at least *evidence*, as opposed
to unsubstantiated assertions. We aren't going to get very far if Jonathan is
not interested in the evidence I present, because I am not interested in his
unsubstantiated assertions!

JC>What I am interested in is your understanding. So let me ask some

Because Jonathan has not even acknowledged (let alone refuted) the
evidence that I presented in response to his claims about various 19th
century scientists and theologians who he alleged were TE/Ecs, I can
only regard this as an attempt by him to change the subject.

JC>1) How do you see the nature of divine action in the world? Is is
>possible for God to work seamlessly within and through His world as
>it's creator and sustainer, or must he intervene within it?

This is a false dichotomy. God can "intervene" in the world "seamlessly", as
C.S. Lewis pointed out:

"It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the
laws of Nature. It doesn't. If I knock out my pipe I alter the position of a
great many atoms: in the long run, and to an infinitesimal degree, of all the
atoms there are. Nature digests or assimilates this event with perfect ease
and harmonises it in a twinkling with all other events. It is one more bit of
raw material for the laws to apply to and they apply. I have simply thrown
one event into the general cataract of events and it finds itself at home
there and conforms to all other events. If God annihilates or creates or
deflects a unit of matter He has created a new situation at that point.
Immediately all Nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in
her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the
laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it
does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature
is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine
months later a child is born. We see every day that physical nature is not in
the least incommoded by the daily inrush of events from biological nature
or from psychological nature. If events ever come from beyond Nature
altogether, she will be no more incommoded by them. Be sure she will rush
to the point where she is invaded, as the defensive forces rush to a cut in
our finger, and there hasten to accommodate the newcomer. The moment it
enters her realm it obeys all her laws. Miraculous wine will intoxicate,
miraculous conception will lead to pregnancy, inspired books will suffer all
the ordinary processes of textual corruption, miraculous bread win be
digested. The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern to
which events conform but of feeding new events into that pattern. It does
not violate the law's proviso, "If A, then B ": it says, " But this time instead
of A, A2," and Nature, speaking through all her laws, replies, "Then B2"
and naturalises the immigrant, as she well knows how. She is an
accomplished hostess." (Lewis C.S., "Miracles", 1963, pp63-64)

For example, if God created new designs by supernaturally modifying
existing designs (eg. God created the first bird by supernaturally modifying
the genetic blueprint that normally coded for a reptile's scale to a new
blueprint which coded for a feather), then the change would be "seamless"
because the new bird had reptile parents, and there is there is therefore
some genetic continuity between the reptile blueprint and the new bird blueprint.

But such a supernaturally genetically engineered change would be so rapid
that it would look like a gap in the fossil record, because there would have
been no scales turning into feathers that the fossil record, even if it was
perfect, would have captured.

In my Mediate Creation model that is indeed how I propose that God *did*
work normally for major design changes where the genetic and fossil
evidence indicates a rapid, complex and fully formed change.

It is only in Fiat Creation and one version of Progressive Creation (where it
is proposed that God created ex nihilo *whole* plants and animals), that
God would not "work seamlessly within...His world as it's creator", and
I do not support those versions of creationism.

It is wrong therefore for TE/ECs to criticise creationism as necessarily
holding "God-of-the-gaps" positions and claiming that a "gapless economy"
is the sole prerogative of non-creationist postions like TE/EC.

JC>2) Do you believe that science and Christian theism theology share
>common metaphysical assumption about the nature of the world?

Of course. Science grew out of Christian theism and shares with it it
"common metaphysical assumptions", including: 1) the universe is
rational; and 2) man's mind is able to understand that underlying
rationality of the universe:

"Theology provides the metaphysical foundation for science and helps to
ground the latter by explaining the necessary preconditions of science.
Theology asserts that there is an external world made by the same being pf
who made our sensory and rational faculties and who gave us epistemic
and moral values. Theology also asserts that creation was a free act of
God, and thus one cannot deduce what the world must be like by a logical
deduction from some first principle about the nature or motives of God.
Rather, one must use some sort of inductive method, since creation was
free and the world is contingent.... the main features of Christian theology-
the rationality of the world, the existence of value, the reliability of the
mind and senses-are surely consistent with these presuppositions of
science, and it may even be argued that a Christian worldview offers a
better explanation of why the world is such that science is possible than any
rival worldview..." (Moreland J.P., "Scaling the Secular City," 1994, p203)

Originally this was grounded in Christian theistic metaphysics which saw
the universe created rational by a rational Mind, and man's mind being
created in the image of that Mind, which was the basis for the reliability of
man's rational investigation of the universe.

But modern science, by adopting the metaphysics of materialism-
naturalism, has severed that metaphysical foundation which explained
why science is successful. Now modern science thinks it is a strange
puzzle that man's mind which evolved from an ape in Africa, is able to
comprehend the universe:

"Another of Einstein's famous remarks is that the only incomprehensible
thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. The success of the
scientific enterprise can often blind us to the astonishing fact that science
works. Though it is usually taken for granted, it is both incredibly fortunate
and deeply mysterious that we are able to fathom the workings of nature by
use of the scientific method. The purpose of science is to uncover patterns
and regularities in nature, but the raw data of observation rarely exhibit
explicit regularities. Nature's order is hidden from us: the book of nature is
written in a sort of code. To make progress in science we need to crack the
cosmic code, to dig beneath the raw data, and uncover the hidden order.
To return to the crossword analogy, the clues are highly cryptic, and
require some considerable ingenuity to solve.

What is so remarkable is that human beings can actually perform this code-
breaking operation. Why has the human mind the capacity to "unlock the
secrets of nature" and make a reasonable success at completing nature's
cryptic crossword"? It is easy to imagine worlds in which the regularities of
nature are transparent at a glance or impenetrably complicated or subtle,
requiring far more brainpower than humans possess to decode them. In
fact, the cosmic code seems almost attuned to human capabilities. This is
all the more mysterious on account of the fact that human intellectual
powers are presumably determined by biological evolution, and have
absolutely no connection with doing science. Our brains have evolved to
cope with survival in the jungle," a far cry from describing the laws of
electromagnetism or the structure of the atom. "Why should our cognitive
processes have tuned themselves to such an extravagant quest as the
understanding of the entire Universe?" asks John Barrow. "Why should it
be us? None of the sophisticated ideas involved appear to offer any
selective advantage to be exploited during the pre-conscious period of our
evolution...How fortuitous that our minds (or at least the minds of some)
should be poised to fathom the depths of Nature's secrets." (Barrow J.,
"Theories of Everything", 1991, p172)"

(Davies P., "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Science," in Templeton
J.M, ed., "Evidence of Purpose", 1994, p54)

JC>3) What is the nature of your hostility to organic evolution?

Basically I regard all forms of "evolution" (not just "organic" evolution) as
a *counterfeit* of the genuine article, which is Mediate Creation. See my
parting post to the Reflector in September 1998 at:

On Mon, 21 Sep 1998 07:07:16 +0800 Stephen Jones wrote:


I believe that Evolution is fundamentally misguided (although not entirely
wrong). The reality it is describing is really Creation (ie. Mediate

and again when I rejoined in June 1998 at:

On Wed, 09 Jun 1999 05:01:34 +0800 Stephen Jones wrote:


I believe that Naturalistic Evolution is a counterfeit of the genuine article,
which is Mediate Creation.

JC>Is it to the general meaning of the idea (common descent with

No. I *accept* common descent with modification, as my rejoining post
made clear.

On Wed, 09 Jun 1999 05:01:34 +0800 Stephen Jones wrote:


Therefore I accept common ancestry, including humans (with the possible
exception of the first woman). Common ancestry is not the exclusive
property of evolution, and indeed, as Denton points out, it is "compatible
with almost any philosophy of nature" including some that are

"It is true that both genuine homologous resemblance, that is, where the
phenomenon has a clear genetic and embryological basis (which as we
have seen above is far less common than is often presumed), and the
hierarchic patterns of class relationships are suggestive of some kind of
theory of descent. But neither tell us anything about how the descent or
evolution might have occurred, as to whether the process was gradual or
sudden, or as to whether the causal mechanism was Darwinian,
Lamarckian, vitalistic or even creationist. Such a theory of descent is
therefore devoid of any significant meaning and equally compatible with
almost any philosophy of nature." (Denton M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in
Crisis," 1985, pp154-155).

In fact, I believe that common ancestry is among the very *best* evidence
supporting the supernatural intervention of an Intelligent Designer at
strategic points in life's history.

JC>or just to particular expressions of it (such as neodarwinian

No again. As my rejoining post made clear "I would have no problem with
even the most extreme form of Darwinist `blind watchmaker' evolution, if
it were proved true":

On Wed, 09 Jun 1999 05:01:34 +0800 Stephen Jones wrote:


Personally I would have no problem with even the most extreme form of
Darwinist `blind watchmaker' evolution, if it were proved true, since the
Bible teaches quite clearly that God is in total control of all events, even
those that appear random to man (cf. Proverbs 16:33; 1 Kings 22:34).
However, I have yet to see any compelling evidence that Darwinist `blind
watchmaker' evolution is true, at least in any major sense.

JC>4) Do you believe that organic evolution is, in principle, congruent
>with Christian theology, or fundamentally incompatible?

I do not even believe there is such a thing as "organic evolution" any
more than there is such a thing as Phlogiston!

As I have stated: "Evolution is a counterfeit of the genuine article, which is
Mediate Creation." Therefore as a counterfeit, "evolution" has only a bogus
*semblance* of reality-the real genuine article always was, and still is,
*creation (ie. Mediate Creation).

"Evolution" IMHO is a delusory thought-category that doesn't really exist
in the real world, but only in the imagination of human minds who have
become captive to materialistic-naturalistic philosophy, which can affect
Christans (Col 2:8; 2Thess 2:11; Rev 12:15)..

JC>I am sure you have probably answered these questions many times
>already but you emails are so prolific I hope you will be patient with me
>asking them again.

Maybe not "many times" but I have stated my position before and restated it
when I left the Reflector in September 1998, and when I rejoined in June
1999. But I thank Jonathan for giving me the opportunity to state it again.

JC>As a last appeal, for the sake of those reading these discussions, can
>we both try to keep them shorter rather than longer? I am embarrassed by
>the length of this one!

My emails are long because I like to answer every point and provide
quotes as evidence for my position. I try to make genuine progress in my
debates and not just toss backwards and forwards unsubstantiated opinions
that get no one anywhere.

But Jonathan could help reduce the size of this email if he: 1)
acknowledged (or refuted) my responses to his assertions about the 19th
century scientists and theologians who he alleges were TE/ECs; and 2) got
to grips with what my position really was, rather than seeing me through
the usual TE/EC stereotype of what a creationist must be!


"More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of
chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the
immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its
solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in
the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. New lines
of thinking and experimentation must be tried." (Dose K., "The Origin of
Life: More Questions Than Answers", Interdisciplinary Science Reviews,
Vol. 13, No. 4, 1988, p348)