Re: There used to be some really powerful thinkers on the list (was Darkness...over Kansas)

Stephen E. Jones (
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 06:08:30 +0800


On Fri, 13 Aug 1999 21:37:25 EDT, wrote:


>GM>Concerning, my attacks on YEC please tell
>>me where I have been bitter. (snip)
>>I know that Stephen is an old earther.

These lines and what follows from Glenn, which Bertvan is replying to, I have
not seen before and it does not appear in my received mail folders. Is this a
part of a private message that Glenn sent to Bertvan?

>GM>But he is the one I really think
>>drove most of the real thinkers away from this list.

This is news to me! It is a fascinating example of Glenn revising history in
his own favour. Here are the facts:

When I joined the Reflector in early 1995, the list was run from a Berkeley
University server and moderated by Phil Johnson, who approved who joined
and kept discussions on track. Then in mid-1995 Phil relinquished control of
the list to Terry Gray, then of Calvin College, and it became effectively an
unmoderated list open to all-comers. When the change was proposed, there
was a lot of concern by members that opening up the list would mean it
would become like, and some indicated they would leave if
that happened.

After the changeover was made, more people did join and discussions grew
more numerous, longer, and more heated. The upshot was that many of
those who Glenn calls "the real thinkers" did leave the list. But they all left
quietly and none of them complained they were leaving because I, or
anyone else, "drove" them "away".

But here is the interesting bit which refutes Glenn's revisionist history.
Some of those "real thinkers" eventually started another private list, and in
late 1997 I was asked to join that list (which I did not even know

Now even Glenn would have a hard time explaining how, if I drove these
"real thinkers" away, that they would later invite me to join their new list!

>GM>He has the strange
>>belief that as long as he can find one person to agree with him, then he is
>>right. That of course is a crock.

It sure is "a crock"! ;-)

It is interesting that Glenn is always complaining that I claim to be a
mindreader. Yet here he is repeating this bit of pseudo-psychology that I
allegedly have this "belief that as long as" I "can find one person to agree
with" me, "then" I believe I am "right". I don't know where Glenn gets this
from, unless he is a clairvoyant, because I have never said anything like it.

For the record, I do not claim I am "right" (in an absolute sense), but I do
believe my Mediate Creation position is relatively *closer to the truth* than
any other position that I am aware of. But there is nothing unusual about
this, because that is what *everybody* on this Reflector thinks about their
position, including Glenn.

As for me finding one person to agree with me, like Glenn, I provide
evidence from the scientific literature in the form of quotes to support my
position. I realise that one quote from a person who agrees with me does
not make me necessarily "right", but this is a *debate* and those who
disagree are free to either argue against my quotes, or come up with their
own own counter-quotes.

I fail to see how Glenn draws something "strange" from this normal
process of debate.

>GM>There used to be some really powerful
>>thinkers on the list and within about 3 months of Stephen coming aboard,
>>they all left.

See above. This is an example of the "Post Hoc Fallacy":

"The name comes from an old Latin phrase that sums up the problem: post
hoc, ergo propter hoc-`After this; therefore, because of this.' It assumes
that a common antecedent factor is the cause. Because an inductive
procedure always looks for the cause in an antecedent factor, it is easy to
accept as the cause any antecedent factor that seems always to come along
with the effect in question. The problem is that the mere fact that
something happens before an event does not guarantee that it is the cause.
If it did, then every time the national anthem was played a ball game would
start. The post hoc fallacy is like assuming that the sound of a rooster
crowing causes the sun to rise. These factors are often present before the
events, but it is clear that they are not the causes." (Geisler N.L. & Brooks
R.M, "Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking", 1990,

Glenn does not mention that "within about 3 months of Stephen coming
aboard" the list changed from a closed to an open list.

And again, why would some of those "really powerful thinkers on the list"
invite me later to join the new list they started up, if I was the one who
drove them all away from this list?

BV>Hi Glenn, You don't regard this as bitter?

It is music to my ears to hear Bertvan, as a relatively uncommitted
`outsider' to this list, tell Glenn how "bitter" his posts appear to him,
as they do to me!

BV>Am I right in assuming these "powerful
>thinkers" agreed with you, causing you to declare that Stephen drove then

Indeed, some of the "powerful thinkers" who left the list were TE/ECs, but
some of them were also IDers. And the TE/EC "powerful thinkers"
probably left for the same reasons the Ider "powerful thinkers" left, namely
the opening up of the list, and the consequent increase in the number and
length of messages. Also, no doubt an additional fact in the TE/EC
"powerful thinkers" leaving was that the Ider "powerful thinkers" were no
longer on the list to debate with.

BV>I'm not convinced Stephen doesn't believe in some sort of evolution. He is
>skeptical it was driven by "random mutation and natural selection", and I
>share that skepticism.

Probably even Henry Morris believes "in some sort of evolution", ie.
microevolution. The problem is that the word "evolution" is so flexible, it
could mean just about anything!

To me the real issue is not the actual facts of nature but the *mental
framework* that one strings those facts on. These mental frameworks are
mutually exclusive, and depend on one's ultimate assumptions about reality.

As an evangelical Christian theist, my ultimate assumption about reality is
that there is a God who created, sustains and governs all things, and who
has intervened at strategic points in human history.

Therefore, while I see no reason to deny that God could work solely
through natural causes, I also see no good reason to deny His working
supernaturally either, especially when the evidence increasingly looks like
He did:

"Palaeobiologists flocked to these scientific visions of a world in a constant
state of flux and admixture. But instead of finding the slow, smooth and
progressive changes Lyell and Darwin had expected, they saw in the fossil
records rapid bursts of change, new species appearing seemingly out of
nowhere and then remaining unchanged for millions of years-patterns
hauntingly reminiscent of creation." (Pagel M., "Happy accidents?" Nature,
Vol 397, 25 February 1999, pp664-665)

The overall model that I propose that best fits my above fundamental
assumptions and all the facts of nature that I am aware of, I call "Mediate
Progressive Creation", or just "Mediate Creation". This position was first
proposed in 1892 by the great USA Presbyterian theologian Charles
Hodge, who was a contemporary and critic of Darwin:

"There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate,
instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate,
progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second
causes." (Hodge C., "Systematic Theology", 1960, reprint, p557-558).

This "mediate, progressive creation" is adequate to explain all the facts that
evolution can explain and *more*.

So just as the co-founder of the Neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis, Julian
Huxley, in his materialistic-naturalistic mental framework found: "In the
evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer either need or room for
the supernatural" (Huxley J., in Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993,
p153), so I, in in *my* Mediate Creation mental framework, "there is no
longer either need or room for" *evolution*!

Thus I do not "believe in" *any* "sort of evolution", not even micro-
evolution! It is all Mediate Creation to me.

BV>Stephen and I probably disagree about whether the Christian God
>personally interfered in the process.

Apart from our disagreement over "the Christian God", I would also
"disagree" with Bertvan about the word "interfered". If indeed "the
Christian God" created, sustains and governs the universe, and in fact
*owns* it, then it is a poor choice of words to use the word "interfered".

The word "interfere" has connotations of lack of legitimacy or disruption.
See the following Webster's online dictionary where "interfere" means
(inter alia) "to interpose in a way that hinders or impedes...or be in
opposition"; "to act reciprocally so as another":

"Main Entry: in ter fere
Pronunciation: "in-t&(r)-'fir
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -fered; -fer ing
Etymology: Middle English enterferen, from Middle French (s')entreferir to
strike one another, from Old French, from entre- inter- + ferir to strike,
from Latin ferire -- more at BORE
Date: 15th century
1 : to interpose in a way that hinders or impedes : come into collision or
be in opposition
2 : to strike one foot against the opposite foot or ankle in walking or
running -- used especially of horses
3 : to enter into or take a part in the concerns of others
4 : to act reciprocally so as to augment, diminish, or otherwise affect one
another -- used of waves
synonym see INTERPOSE
- in ter fer er noun


(c) 1999 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

A better word to use IMHO is "intervene", which while it can have negative
connotations of "interfere" in some usages, has the basic neutral meaning of
"to come between", e.g. to "come between points of time or events", and
has more positive connotations of legitimacy, e.g. to "intervene to stop a
fight" or "to become a third party to a legal proceeding begun by others for
the protection of an alleged interest":

Main Entry: in ter vene
Pronunciation: "in-t&r-'vEn
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -vened; -ven ing
Etymology: Latin intervenire to come between, from inter- + venire to come
-- more at COME
Date: 1587
1 : to occur, fall, or come between points of time or events
2 : to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance
3 : to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification <intervene to
stop a fight>
4 : to occur or lie between two things
5 a : to become a third party to a legal proceeding begun by others for the
protection of an alleged interest b : to interfere usually by force or threat
of force in another nation's internal affairs especially to compel or prevent
an action
synonym see INTERPOSE
- in ter ven tion /-'ven(t)-sh&n/ noun


(c) 1999 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

BV>However, until someone comes up with
>better explanation than "random mutation and natural selection" (Darwinism),
>Stephen's beliefs are as valid as any other.

Thanks to Bertvan for this affirmation.

>GM>And I don't believe that any falsehood should be tolerated. Especially
>>falsehood in the name of God.

BV>Nothing disgusts me more than evolutionists who call anyone who disagrees
>with them "liars", which the term "falsehood" implies.

To which Glenn reponded:

On Fri, 13 Aug 1999 21:48:42 +0000, wrote:


GM>Goodness. Falsehood does not at all imply that one is lying. You are
>really touchy. One can spread falsehood, like I did when I was a YEC, yet
>not be a liar. I believed the falsehoods I was spreading, thus I wasn't
>lying. Give me a break and quite trying to drive everything to the
>extreme. There are more middle grounds than most people want to believe.

Glenn's `damage control' here doesn't wash. He said "I don't believe that
any falsehood should be tolerated". Innocent mistakes like those which
Glenn claims he spread when he was a YEC *should* be tolerated in a free
society, but deliberate lying should not. That Glenn was not prepared to
tolerate the "falshoods" he was talking about, shows he was referring to
deliberate lying, not innocent mistakes.

Others like Susan picked up on what Glenn said, and interpreted it to
mean deliberate lying.

Also, the Webster's online dictionary agrees with Bertvan that the word
"falsehood" is equivalent to "liar":

Main Entry: false hood
Pronunciation: 'fols-"hud
Function: noun
Date: 13th century
1 : an untrue statement : LIE
2 : absence of truth or accuracy
3 : the practice of lying : MENDACITY


(c) 1999 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

>GM>You are somewhat of a puzzle to me. I don't see why you really care.
>>Ihave thought that you are a secret ID follower who simply doesn't want to
>>admit that you do have a religious motivation. But then, I have seen some
>>really different views on the various lists over the years.

BV>I assume everyone is sincere in their beliefs, including you. While I
>disagree with you, I do not regard everyone who disagrees with me is either
>stupid or a liar or insincere.

More music to my ears! It is just *great* to see that an `outsider' like
Bertvan picks up the same `vibes' from Glenn as I do.

BV>I Assure you many people are skeptical of Darwinism (random mutation and
>natural selection as an explanation of macro evolution) who are not motivated by

Good point! The opinion polls consistently show that the majority of public
(and probably the majority of scientists), while they are "not motivated by
religion" are "skeptical of Darwinism (random mutation and natural selection".

Indeed, there is now a school of scientists called "postdarwinians":

"A number of microbiologists, geneticists, theoretical biologists,
mathematicians, and computer scientists are saying there is more to life
than Darwinism. They do not reject Darwin's contribution; they simply
want to move beyond it. I call them the "postdarwinians." Neither Lynn
Margulis nor any other postdarwinian denies the true ubiquity of natural
selection in evolution. Their disagreement is with the very sweeping nature
of the Darwinian argument, the fact that in the end it doesn't explain much,
and the emerging evidence that Darwinism alone may not be sufficient to
explain all we see. The vital questions the postdarwinians raise are: What
are the limits to natural selection? What can't evolution make? And if blind
natural selection has limits, what else is operating within or beyond
evolution as we understand it?" (Kelly K., "Out of Control: The New
Biology of Machines", 1995, reprint, p471).

These scientists know that Darwinism is inadequately supported by the
evidence, yet they have nothing naturalistic to take its place. This is to
be expected if what really happened was not fully naturalistic!

BV>I care for the same reason you do. I admire truth. I never tried to conceal
>the fact that I believe the laws of nature were designed-- not necessarily by
>the Christian God, but that is an area where one opinion is as good as another.

I had not realised that Bertvan believed "the laws of nature were designed". I
welcome him as a fellow IDer! :-)


" we have now what we believe is strong evidence for life on Earth
3,800 thousand million years [ago]. This brings the theory for the Origin of
Life on Earth down to a very narrow range. Allowing half a billion years
(for the disturbed conditions described above) we are now thinking, in
geochemical terms, of instant life..." (Ponnamperuma C., Broadcast
Interview, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, January 1980, in Hoyle F.
& Wickramasinghe C., "Evolution from Space", [1981], Paladin: London
UK, 1983, reprint, pp79-80)