Ben Stein Continues to Face the Hard Questions on Expelled!… from Calvinist Minister

I had meant to watch and comment on this Stein interview with Calvinist minister RC Sproul at some point, but never got around to it. Ed Darrell over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub has now beaten me to it.

As Ed points out, it is simply astonishing that Sproul can sit there demanding that universities pay for and the support of Intelligent Design utterly regardless of whether it has merit or not (which is what universities normally use to judge what to fund, and a subject Stein and Sproul do not even bother to address). Does Sproul or any of his Bible colleges do the same for mainstream biology? How many evolutionary biologists have been invited to teach Sproul’s parishioners?

The video is also a pretty good example of the shallowness of Stein’s understanding of the subjects he’s purporting to know are all flawed and implausible. He simply repeats the standard canards and questions that Intelligent Design proponents told him, oblivious to the fact that they often make no sense (i.e. “where did the information come from?“).  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence, in all his many interviews, that his is capable of expanding on these talking points, let alone really grappling with critics who are actually experts in the fields being attacked.

Sproul’s discussion of “chance” is a case in point of just how shallow and confused the discussion is here. Pretty much everything he says initially he phrases as if it were a rebuttal to evolutionary theory. And yet his discussion of how “chance” per se is basically a linguistic illusion is something I’ve heard countless biologists try to explain to unwilling creationists. When scientists talk about “chance” or “randomness,” they do so in a very strictly delineated sense: most often meaning that the occurrence of two variables or occurrences things are not discernibly correlated (i.e for coin flips, the outcome of the flips is averages 50/50 over more and more trials, and these outcomes are not correlated with relevant variables like who is calling heads and who is calling tails).

No scientist is claiming that “chance” is some sort of magical power as the two seem to imply. It is simply a notable feature of various processes we look at. For instance, scientists do not claim that mutations happen by “chance” in the sense that they have no ultimate deterministic cause or explanation. What they mean is that mutations happen without any observed correlation to what they might do or cause, and whether or not this would be helpful to the survival of the creature they occur within.

Ignorant of any of this, Stein and Sproul sagely agree that scientists are arrogant and appealing to “magic.” This coming from folks whose alternative IS, literally an openly, magic (performed by an inexplicable all-powerful magician).  And bizarrely, for all this pretension at having a superior scientific position, they seem to feel no obligation to explain the specific mechanism or functioning of their alternative.

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114 Responses to Ben Stein Continues to Face the Hard Questions on Expelled!… from Calvinist Minister

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m sure Sproul regards himself as enough of a scholar that he’s blind to the areas in which he is astoundingly ill-informed, and I can almost work up some sympathy for him — he doesn’t generally get Hollywood stars into his studio.

    But your last paragraph stamps out the sympathy. That really is the case, ain’t it?

  2. Bad says:

    I’m not sure Sproul regards himself as a scientist, though Stein for some reason thinks he can hold forth on topic like “information” that he clearly has no concept of. But Sproul does have pretensions to be some sort of philosopher/theologian. And those, sadly, are equally embarrassing. His recitation of things he heard some scientists say is childish and mangled, and his philosophical declarations are, frankly, meaningless. (Nothing comes from nothing… bein vs. non-being: all interesting debates of abstract meaning, but no one has every observed a philosophical “non-being” or “nothingness” so of what relevance are those things to anything here?)

  3. UprightAlice says:

    Every interview I’ve seen with Ben Stein in regards to Expelled has seemingly been conducted by those who unabashedly sympathize with his position and that of the producers. They seem very afraid of a genuine debate on the topic of ID vs. evolution. I say, let Dawkins at him. Ah, heck, they wouldn’t even be able to substantiate their position sitting across from Alan Alda.

    And every time I hear Stein mention lightning and mud puddles it makes my head hurt. All he has are a handful of talking points, and he brings them out in *every* interview, as if he’s playing Talking Point Bingo.

  4. Bad says:

    All true. But if this were simply any normal production/PR campaign, it wouldn’t be a be big deal. The problem is that their whole campaign is based around the idea that scientists and universities are scared to face their arguments, or that we need to have debate on these issues. And yet as far as I can tell, the only people acting like cowards here are Stein and his cohorts.

    The fact is, scientists have never shied away from debate on these issues for any reason other than not wanting to waste more of their time, and that’s always still left a core of scientists who are willing to stay and debate. They don’t generally think its a good idea to let ID folks pick the battlegrounds (i.e. 10 minute talk shows, short debates where a “Gish gallop can be employed without enough time to address it, etc.), and by and large they favor full and extended debate in written words, where all the evidence can be cited and described in detail. But this isn’t good enough for ID folks. They want their ideas to bypass all the normal standards and procedures for scientific merit. Many want to jump right into teaching their ideas in public school science classes.

    Laaaame.

  5. religiouskeptic says:

    I liked the book “Closing of the American Mind”. That was the best thing about this video.

  6. Freddy Davis says:

    What everyone is missing is that the philosophical questions are the bottom line of every point of view. No person who believes in evolution can make a valid point without first appealing to the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality, or at least that it had no part in the origins of life.

    While believers in evolution seem to enjoy making fun of those who believe in God, and denigrate them as superstitious, the fact is, there is stronger evidence to indicate that there is a God than that there is not.

    Go ahead! Prove that everything happened by chance! You can’t! Why? Because it is completely based on a particular philosophical presupposition. And the evolutionary model makes absolutely no sense at all without that presupposition in place. In fact, evolutionary scientists have to say that even though the various elements of the material order appear to have been put in place by an intelligent agent, that is merely an illusion because we know that there is no God.

    The dickens we know it! That belief is nothing more than a philosophical presupposition which cannot be proven by science. All of this unsubstantiated snobbery really gets old.

  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Evolution theory doesn’t claim “everything happened by chance.” Quite the contrary, it’s a theory of common ancestry.

    Common ancestry is rather easy to demonstrate these days, with DNA. The reality that DNA shows you are descended from your father, and from your grandfather, and he from his grandfather, and so on, requires no appeal to any supernatural belief.

    Evolution theory rests on hard evidence, not conjecture. Your assumptions about evolution theory simply are not accurate, Freddy.

  8. Ed Darrell says:

    By the way, Freddy, any worldview which denies reality should be held suspect. However we get to distortions of reality, through psychotropic drugs, or just hard core denial, it’s unhealthy.

  9. Freddy Davis says:

    I’m sorry Ed, but your understanding of worldview and your logic is flawed. First of all, worldview can’t deny reality. It can deny someone else’s assumptions about reality, but worldview itself is a set of assumptions about the nature of reality.

    There certainly is some system of beliefs that correspond with the way reality is actually structured, but this cannot be demonstrated by empirical proof. All we can do is line up the evidence and try to see how it matches up with the way the world seems to operate.

    Now to your assertions about evolution. Your argument is a bit disingenuous. While evolutionary theory itself may not make specific claims about chance, you can’t divorce the theory from the worldview assumptionis it comes out of. It is clearly based on assumptions from a Naturalistic worldview. In order for evolutionary theory to be true, Naturalism must be true, which cannot be demonstrated. There is no science whatsoever which can give even one piece of evidence that matter (or the energy that matter emerged from) is eternal or that it is possible for matter to emerge from nothing. There is no science which can show that life emerged from non-life. And, there is no science which shows that consciousness has emerged from non-consciousness. All of these must be true for Naturalism to be true.

    As for evolution itself, there is no known biological mechanism which provides for more complex life forms to evolve from lower life forms. In fact, the science we do have leads us to just the opposite conclusion. All evolutionists can do is line up evidence and speculate about how how more complex life forms might have happened. The only problem is, in order for the speculations to make any sense at all, you have to use the “assumptions” of Naturalism. On top of that, every bit of the evidence used to try and “prove” evolution can be interpreted a different way if you start with a different set of assumptions. This includes your attempt to use DNA tracing as a line of evidence.

    As a Christian Theist, I believe that God created what exists and I can take the very same evidence that you would use and interpret it differently based on Theistic presuppositions. And the results that I show would be at least as logical (and I believe more so) as anything you can assert.

    What we come down to is this question. Which presuppositions best represent what we observe? I believe that the inference that there is an intelligent creator corresponds with the evidence much more closely than a superstitious speculation that everything came into being by itself and that we are where we are by chance. Talk about faith!

  10. Ed Darrell says:

    I didn’t say a worldview can’t deny reality. All I’m saying is that worldview that denies reality is indistinguishable from drug or alcohol intoxication. It’s unreliable, and it’s dangerous to step out into the world under the influence of a denial of reality, whether that denial is imposed chemically or religiously. Christianity wrestled with the denial for a while, but has generally chosen reality over denial. That’s the tradition of Luther and Calvin, and Christians generally don’t want to step away from understanding that reality works in the world, and from understanding how the world works.

    Even the Catholic Church finally apologized to Galileo. Let’s not give away ground now. There is much that can be demonstrated empirically, including evolution. Since evolution is so critical to good medical care and feeding humans — two of the top ministries of Jesus — Christians are well-advised to study and understand evolution. It’s what God’s creation manifests, and consequently can be included in that which was called “good” by the Creator, in Genesis.

    I note with concern that your descriptions of evolution theory often are of that reality-denying sort. It may make for a loud, pulpit-pounding sermon, but it’s not the truth and should be avoided by Christians.

    While evolutionary theory itself may not make specific claims about chance, you can’t divorce the theory from the worldview assumptions it comes out of.

    The only “worldview assumptions” that evolution requires is the Cartesian notion that the world is real and we can study it, and that humans do best when telling the truth. Everything else can be observed and demonstrated. Surely you do not intend to profess a worldview that denies the world exists, or which suggests we cannot or should not study it, or that suggests dishonesty is the best policy.

    Evolution’s “worldview” is that of a good Christian. Don’t try to twist reality.

    It is clearly based on assumptions from a Naturalistic worldview.

    No more than a Christian’s devotion to telling the truth. Let’s be clear. Are you advocating a denial of reality? Do you think untruth telling necessary, or good?

    In order for evolutionary theory to be true, Naturalism must be true, which cannot be demonstrated.

    You’ve made a leap, an illogical leap, that science does not make nor ask anyone else to make. For evolutionary theory to be accurate, all that is required is that we observe nature and truthfully, accurately report it.

    In reality, in the real world, evolution theory has been tested tens of thousands of times in thousands of ways. It keeps surviving all attempts to disprove it. Scripture accepts, even celebrates, common descent and the heritage we get from ancestry. Unless you wish to deny that we should honor our heritage, evolution requires no more than a recognition of shared ancestry. While the begats in Genesis may not be wholly accurate, they share evolution’s observation that heritage matters.

    To deny that part of evolution theory requires that we deny the begats in Genesis, their purpose and their very existence. We Christians see no need to do that. Surely your worldview can’t be too much at odds with that.

    There is no science whatsoever which can give even one piece of evidence that matter (or the energy that matter emerged from) is eternal or that it is possible for matter to emerge from nothing.

    Well, that stuff emerges from nothing is a claim of Genesis — but in any case, it’s not a claim of evolution theory. You’ve made a leap into physics, an area that is subject to other tests for confirmation. Scientists readily admit that they do not know what preceded the initial inflation of Big Bang. Genesis stops at about the same point, offering no explanation for the creation of God. Six of one, half a dozen of the the other. Evolution occurs independent of the how of initial creation of the universe.

    There is no science which can show that life emerged from non-life.

    Again, that’s a claim of Genesis, not evolution theory. I gather you deny it — and yet, it’s an interpretation of scripture you deny (which many Christians hold to, but which is generally not considered a salvational issue among mainstream Christians), and not an assertion of biology. However life got started on Earth, evolution occurs after that point. If you’re familiar with Darwin, you know that his language in the final paragraph of Origin of Species harkens back to Genesis 2; evolution can be observed, and has been observed in real time, and it makes little sense to deny it.

    And, there is no science which shows that consciousness has emerged from non-consciousness.

    We know that consciousness exists. How it arose remains a mystery — but it’s also a mystery to Christians. John 1 tells us the consciousness precedes everything. This has nothing to do with evolution theory in any material way.

    All of these must be true for Naturalism to be true.

    I see. I had thought you were working up an argument against evolution. You’re instead working against a philosophical construct that, truth be told, very few people defend, and which is absolutely superfluous to science. I won’t defend naturalism as a philosophy, except that part which is consistent with Christianity: Hold to the truth, hold to what can be demonstrated; do not make assertions beyond what is known.

    Do you pick nits with that part of naturalism?

    I’ve never met any scientist who said he or she was a naturalist first. Most of the biologists I’ve known and worked with were Christians, a few observant and non-observant Jews, a couple of Moslems, and several agnostics. I’ve known a number of biologists who claim to be atheist, too. Naturalism is not an issue in biology, nor among biologists. Why do you choose that particular windmill to tilt against?

    [More, later]

  11. Ed Darrell says:

    As for evolution itself, there is no known biological mechanism which provides for more complex life forms to evolve from lower life forms.

    It’s called “evolution by natural and sexual selection,” and it seems to be perfectly valid mechanism when observed in nature or in the lab. It can in fact evolve complex answers to difficult questions — the alleles that make mosquitoes digest DDT as a nutrient instead of dying from it as a poison being a particularly nasty demonstration of the power of the stuff.

    This is, I suspect, where you try to interject “chance” into the equation. Let’s be clear. The theory is “evolution by natural and sexual selection.” Check your dictionary carefully, and you’ll see that “selection” is the opposite of “random.” Evolution’s power isn’t in the random genetic generating ability of 20 billion mosquitoes, but instead in the power to select from those 20 billion the one that has the DDT-immunity gene, and allow it to breed that gene into the 2,000 or so offspring it will have in the next generation, and they in the 2,000 or so offspring they will foster (that’s four million mosquitoes with the allele), and they in the offspring they generate. In three generations, about six-weeks’ work in the real world, one DDT resistant mosquito can generate more than a billion offspring, all of them immune or resistant to DDT.

    And that’s what happened, except the allele appears to have arisen several times, in a couple of different places and in at least two different forms.

    If we didn’t know the mechanism, we’d probably think DDT immunity in mosquitoes to be a miracle, or a black miracle. But we have observed it happening in real time, it’s fully evidenced in DNA samples from mosquitoes over the past 100 years, and there is no rational way to deny the facts.

    That’s why Darwin’s book provided such a jolt to science and all of humanity in 1859. He described the mechanism sitting under everyone’s nose, a mechanism that had in fact been used for at least 5,000 years by humans (according to stories in the Bible, anyway), and one which any animal husbander or plant breeder could see in action.

    So, yes, we do have a known mechanism, and we shouldn’t deny it.

    In fact, the science we do have leads us to just the opposite conclusion. All evolutionists can do is line up evidence and speculate about how how more complex life forms might have happened. The only problem is, in order for the speculations to make any sense at all, you have to use the “assumptions” of Naturalism. On top of that, every bit of the evidence used to try and “prove” evolution can be interpreted a different way if you start with a different set of assumptions.

    Peter and Rosemary Grant have tracked three entire species for more than 40 years. They have the heritage of each animal, its mating habits, its eating habits, its offspring, its song, its body description, its DNA. They have observed evolution operating in real time, in the wild. Other biologists have taken species from entirely different genera, and evolution has been observed in real time in the wild on no fewer than three different continents under tightly controlled conditions for observation. In one dramatic case, observed evolution of sticklebacks in a Canadian lake was duplicated almost exactly in a lab, later, confirming that the event occurred in the wild in just that way.

    I suspect you’re unfamiliar with the Grants’ work — it’s chronicled in Jonathan Weiner’s 1994 Pulitzer-winning book, The Beak of the Finch — and unfamiliar with just how much is known about evolution and how it works.

    It’s easier to deny what one does not know. That doesn’t make it go away, however. Evolution is real, has been observed, and is documented twelve ways from heaven.

    This includes your attempt to use DNA tracing as a line of evidence.

    DNA is the most powerful evidence we have today. In court, we use DNA to let people off death row, people who have been convicted in a court of law in a fair trial and whose appeals have otherwise been exhausted. Accuracy of DNA is far superior to any other form of evidence we have, including photographs.

    If DNA says someone is my cousin, that is so. You cannot offer any credible evidence to deny that power of DNA.

    [perhaps more later]

  12. Ed Darrell says:

    As a Christian Theist, I believe that God created what exists and I can take the very same evidence that you would use and interpret it differently based on Theistic presuppositions. And the results that I show would be at least as logical (and I believe more so) as anything you can assert.

    I don’t think you can get to a different conclusion based on theistic presuppositions. Creationism assumes at the deepest level that God has little to do with creation, or that God has created a grand facade, a false reality much different from what we would see were we able to see the truth. I don’t believe God to be a deceiver, and I doubt that you do either — you may not have thought this through.

    In order to deny evolution, you’ve got to deny the world of evidence we have from nature. From a theistic view, from the view Darwin started with, God created the world (and universe), and what nature manifests is true and accurate, consequently.

    I’m not sure how you plan to deny evolution, but let’s be clear that such denial requires that you deny God as a truthful entity, the truthful Creator of what we see. You’ve already taken after Big Bang, so I think it’s fair to observe that you start out denying God as the creator of the cosmos. Do you really take it farther than that?

    Did you realize you’re denying God? What sort of worldview is that, for a Christian?

    What we come down to is this question. Which presuppositions best represent what we observe? I believe that the inference that there is an intelligent creator corresponds with the evidence much more closely than a superstitious speculation that everything came into being by itself and that we are where we are by chance. Talk about faith!

    You believe that, but you have no evidence to elevate that belief to a demonstration of fact.

    In contrast, evolution, which makes no claim against an intelligent creator of the grand laws of nature, is evidenced every way we turn.

    Yes, your belief requires faith. No, evolution theory does not. Each and every aspect of evolution theory has been observed in operation in real time. With fossils, with DNA, we can explore the accurate history of evolution back millions of years — assuming a non-deceptive creation or a non-deceptive creator.

    We have recorded the rise of many new species, none of which have ever involved intervention from a super-human intelligence, many (if not most) of which have involved no intelligent intervention at all.

    Red grapefruit arose from a sport mutation, exactly the sort of mutation you denied earlier in your post, in the middle 20th century. No one was working to get it, because no one knew of the possibilities. In order to deny evolution, you must deny the existence of red grapefruit.

    What do you drink or smoke to get to that point?

  13. Freddy Davis says:

    I hate it that you have taken the approach of trying to break down my argument statement by statement – especially since you didn’t seem to take the time to read the whole thing before you tore into me. This makes it very difficult to repsond to you since with the fragmentation we can now go in 1000 different directions. What I am going to try to do is deal with your issues in a comprehensive way. I hope that in any future response you will do the same.

    First of all, you have made no distinction between micro and macro evolution. Your argument seems to be almost entirely focused on micro-evolution (natural selection). If that is the case, I have absolutely no problem with it. Natural selection is observable over a very few generations. It has even been used for centuries by farmers and ranchers to create hybrid forms of both plants and animals. No Christian that I know of has any problem with this.

    My objection is to macro-evolution. The mosquito can adapt to the DDT, but it is still a mosquito. It is the concept of macro-evolution which is squarely built on Naturalism and is certainly incompatible with a belief in God. There is no science that can prove that the mosquito evolved from a lower life form. That belief is built squarely on the philosophical assumptions of Naturalism.

    I struggle with your arguments because you are not distinguishing between the two aspects of the evolutionary argument. You also don’t seem to be making the connection between Darwin’s approach to understaning reality and the larger philosophical framework he was working from. Darwin was a Naturalist. He was not only addressing natural selection in his writings. He believed that less complex life evolved to more complex life. If you are going to appeal to Darwin, you have to also defend Naturalism. If you are simply arguing for the viability of natural selection, no appeal to Darwin is necessary.

    You still don’t seem to understand the concept of worldview. No worldview denies reality. It can’t. A worldview is a set of presuppositions about how reality is organized. What you are saying is that if I don’t agree with your assumptions, I am denying reality. I don’t believe that is what you are trying to say, but it is what you are saying. And if that is what you mean, it is a pretty arrogant statement. The truth is, my assumptions about how reality is organized is simply different than yours. It is not that I am denying reality.

    Your understanding of Christian Theism is also completely off base. Do you think that it is impossible for a person to believe in the orderliness of the natural universe and to also believe that God created and sustains it? I submit that the natural universe is real and that the laws of nature are real. The Christian faith does not deny science. In fact, if you will check your history of modern science, you will find that its inventors were Christians. They came up with the idea based on their belief in God. They took seriously the Biblical teaching that God created the universe in an orderly fashion and were seeking to discover how that order worked.

    In fact, a Naturalist would never have come up with modern science. With a set of presuppositions which says that everything that exists resulted from random combinations of chemicals and from mutations, how could it? Naturalism is a usurper. It has tried to grab science and claim it for its own – and in the process try to set it in opposition to Christianity. That is simply a falsehood.

    I really don’t appreciate the snide remark about me tilting at windmills. What I am tilting against is not a windmill. If you are going to put my discussion in that category, you put me in a position of saying that you don’t know the difference in a real windmill and an imaginary one. The whole point of this string relates to people putting down Ben Stein because of his assertion that evolutionary scientists are not allowing non-Darwinistic theories to be debated in the academic arena. Do you think that the clash relates to the idea of natural selection? If that is what you think, you are way off base. The whole issue has arisen because Naturalism is its own faith based religion and it cannot tolerate a non-Darwinistic belief. No one is fighting about natural selection. The fight is about origins – Naturalism vs. Theism.

    You referred to all of these professors you know and claim that they aren’t Naturalists first. I am not sure what you mean by that. I am also not sure what you mean by saying many of them are Christians. A person’s worldview is not identified by what they call themselves, it is identified by what they believe. If they believe in Darwinistic evolution (which includes macro-evolution) then they are either actually Naturalists or thier worldview foundation is is internally contradictory, regardless of what label they put on themselves. It cannot be any other way.

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    First of all, you have made no distinction between micro and macro evolution.

    That’s because there is no difference. It’s exactly the same process.

    Retrospectively, usually, we look back and say “Oh, my, we have a new species.” But that’s an issue of cladistics, really — like the difference between the three chimpanzee species and humans. Now we look back and say we’re different species, but save for the fused chromosome in humans (you know, that DNA stuff you worry about looking at) it’s very difficult to make a case that humans and chimps are not close cousins. (See Jared Diamond’s book, The Third Chimpanzee, for the argument in full. He wrote the book before the discovery of the third chimp species, and he’s referring to humans as the third chimp.)

    “Micro” evolution is used in science only to denote that we don’t think the changes are enough to yell “Speciation!” “Macro” would be evolution to a new species. The processes are exactly the same, though. Creationists who wish to deny evolution often claim there is some substantial difference, but there is no research to support that.

    Have we seen speciation? Sure. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radishes and cauliflower — all speciated from mustards. Modern beef speciated from the ancient aurochs. In those cases, the processes of macroevolution were undistinguishable from microevolution — exactly the same.

    Your argument seems to be almost entirely focused on micro-evolution (natural selection). If that is the case, I have absolutely no problem with it. Natural selection is observable over a very few generations. It has even been used for centuries by farmers and ranchers to create hybrid forms of both plants and animals.

    Or, as in the case of modern beef, to create entirely new species.

    No Christian that I know of has any problem with this.

    My objection is to macro-evolution. The mosquito can adapt to the DDT, but it is still a mosquito. It is the concept of macro-evolution which is squarely built on Naturalism and is certainly incompatible with a belief in God. There is no science that can prove that the mosquito evolved from a lower life form. That belief is built squarely on the philosophical assumptions of Naturalism.

    Let me introduce you to the little family of lizards knowns as skinks. Some varieties of them live in swampy lands, some near deserts. A few skinks have rather atrophied legs, but get by. A few others have legs, but slither like snakes. Some have extremely atrophied legs. Then there are the legless skinks. How can you tell the difference between a skink and a snake?

    On the snake side we have snakes with atrophied legs, some that are adapted to other uses — like the boas that have tiny legs used as “spurs” to grasp mates.

    When does a skink become a snake? Where is the line between “macro” and “micro” evolution?

    When does a human become a chimpanzee?

    Reality is that all of life is on a continuum. There are dreadfully few mutations required on a basic form to get from one creature to another — from a mouse to an elephant, for example. In tiny steps, however, as Darwin noted, we can get a mouse to an elephant. And that’s how evolution does it. Evolution rarely works in great leaps. But after a few million years, the accumulated small steps make the changes appear “macro.”

    Christians who study evolution arrive at the same conclusions — Dobzhansky, Wallace, Gray, Collins, Darwin and others. It’s not a question of pitting any one philosophy against another. It is only a question of what nature demonstrates. If nature manifests it, it is.

    I struggle with your arguments because you are not distinguishing between the two aspects of the evolutionary argument.

    I don’t see two aspects of “the evolutionary argument,” nor does anyone else who researches it. You’re drawing a distinction that might be adequate for misleading children in a Sunday school class, but not suitable for serious and honest study of nature.

    You also don’t seem to be making the connection between Darwin’s approach to understanding reality and the larger philosophical framework he was working from. Darwin was a Naturalist.

    Balderdash. Darwin set out on his five-year voyage as a hard-shell creationist. His task was to assemble the natural evidence to show one of the Genesis versions of creation as accurate. The only problem was that nature — God’s nature, to us Christians — tells a different story. Darwin remained Christian throughout the development of his theory. To claim his philosophy was something else is an error of history, unsupported by the facts. Darwin was looking for what God’s creation could reveal, and he simply wrote about what he observed and could observe again.

    To claim that there was a different philosophy is simply untrue, and, I think, it casts aspersions on all other philosophies. If Darwin’s was the only honest way to go, we should all aspire to follow naturalism.

    He was not only addressing natural selection in his writings. He believed that less complex life evolved to more complex life.

    That’s what we observe. Of course, as Gould noted, the drunkard’s walk issue means that’s the only way life can go. If we start with one-celled critters, we can’t evolve to less-than-one-celled critters.

    But I think it’s error to say Darwin “believed” that. He reported what he observed. That’s not faith, it’s reporting.

    If you are going to appeal to Darwin, you have to also defend Naturalism. If you are simply arguing for the viability of natural selection, no appeal to Darwin is necessary.

    Why not just look at the evidence? If you’re saying that “Naturalism” is that philosophy which entails telling the truth, straight, and that no other philosophy holds that idea, then we should all aspire to it. If that’s not your point, you’re cluttering up your thinking with a false portrait of science, evolution theory, the history of Darwin, and philosophy, too, for all I know.

    Darwin bore no philosophical grudge. He was not out to make a philosophical point. Darwin was trying to understand God’s creation. Painting it any other way is simply inaccurate.

  15. Freddy Davis says:

    Now, that was an interesting reply – that there is no difference between micro and macro evolution. Once again you have demonstrated that you are not able to distinguish between science and philosophy.

    It is certainly possible to demonstrate the operation of micro-evolution. As we have both acknowledged, it is obvious on numerous levels. But to claim that macro-evolution is as scientifically verifiable as natural selection is laughable.

    Just because you can take a bunch of pictures of different species of life forms and line them up in ways which put similar looking ones next to each other is a far cry from showing descent. Just because you say the difference is nothing more than an issue of cladistics does not make it so.

    You are making the claim that just because there are different species of creatures which have similar features that they necessarily are descended from one another. Yet, the scientific evidence has shown just the opposite. There is a line with any and every species which cannot be crossed. Once a species naturally selects to a certain point, it cannot go any further. You talk to me about ignoring the evidence?

    The concept of macro-evolution has no scientific basis whatsoever. It is all built on a philosophical base. The fact of the matter is, you start with your Naturalistic assumptions, not with the evidence. Then you take the evidence and arrange it in ways to try and make it fit your assumptions. Then you have the nerve to tell me that I am ignoring the evidence?

    You give an example of broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes and coliflower and say that they all spelciated from mustards. Oh yeah? And how do you know that? What proof do you have that that is a true statement? How do you know that they were not each individually created as separate organisms by an intelligent designer? What scientific proof do you have that is true? The exact same thing can be said regarding your lizzards and chimps examples.

    Actually, there is none! You start with the assumption that there is no creator God who could have done it (or if there is he didn’t do it that way), then insist that based your presupposition it had to have emerged by natural evolutionary processes. That is what is called begging the question.

    You make the statement that all of life is really just a continuum. Well, that is not science, it is philosophy. You can’t prove that by any kind of scientific methodology. You can line up your pictures, but that is just shuffeling the evidence in ways which fit your presuppositions. I can line up the evidence in an entirely different way and come to an entirely different conclusion. You say just look at the evidence. But the problem is not a matter of looking at the evidence. Rather, it relates to how you interpret the evidence. You have chosen to interpret it based on Naturalistic philosophy. If anyone is not being honest, here, it is you.

    And, balderdash yourself. Darwin may have started out with a particular purpose, but what he ended up with was something entirely different. Naturalism is a worldview position which asserts that it is possible for the entire material universe to be accounted for without the need for a transcendent intelligent designer. What Darwin ended up with is a cover (and a poor one at that) for people who want to follow a Naturalistic philosophy and have some means of trying to account for it.

    I mentioned four issues that must be true for Naturalism to be true and you seem to have ignored these. Let me list them again.
    1. Something had to emerge from nothing or matter has to be eternal.
    2. Life had to emerge out of non-life.
    3. Higher life forms had to emerge from lower life forms.
    4. Consciousness had to emerge out of non-consciousness.
    None of these can be scientifically demonstrated. They are all philosophical presuppositions which determine the way the evidence is interpreted.

    Finally, there are known scientific principles which mitigate against the validity of Darwinistic evolutionary theory.
    1. No one has ever seen anything evolve to higher forms (macro-evolution).
    2. The fossil record shows no intermediate forms.(Naturalistic presuppositions are necessary to say that it does.)
    3. Living species show no intermediate forms. (Again, making this claim requires Naturalistic presuppositions.)
    4. Natural selection removes rare mutations, not adds them.
    5. The Law of Biogenesis (living organisms develop only from other living organisms)
    proves that Darwinian evolution is impossible.
    6. The DNA Code Barrier (trait changes have a ceiling) proves Darwinism is impossible.
    7. Gene Depletion (the farther the species strays from its central original pattern, the
    weaker it becomes) proves Darwinian evolution is impossible.
    8. The First Law of Thermodynamics (the total energy of a system and its surroundings
    remains constant) and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (inevitable and steady
    deterioration of a system) proves Darwinism is impossible.
    9. Mathematical probability says Darwinian evolution is impossible.
    10. No one has ever seen nature add new and beneficial data or information to an existing
    gene pool.

    You can continue to try and make your case, and I have no problem with that. But to say that your assertions are based on science cannot be demonstrated. The real discussion is which worldview (Naturalism or Theism) most closely represents reality. From my vantage point, the Naturalistic approach falls woefully short.

  16. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m running a bit behind in getting the papers graded this weekend, so I’ll make this rather short.

    The problem is entirely of Freddy’s making — he’s denying reality. That’s the only way to make a case for creationism, or against evolution. Freddy said:

    Now, that was an interesting reply – that there is no difference between micro and macro evolution. Once again you have demonstrated that you are not able to distinguish between science and philosophy.

    If philosophy says that the sky is not blue and that water is not wet, that doesn’t make good philosophy. Philosophy that leads to factual error is corrupted.

    There is no difference between “micro” evolution and “macro” evolution. Those are the facts. Deny them at your peril if you wish to maintain an argument in science — it’s just wrong.

    Don’t take my word for it — here, read what John Wilkins has to say about it:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/macroevolution.html
    Also here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2007/02/the_many_faces_of_evolution.php

    You are making the claim that just because there are different species of creatures which have similar features that they necessarily are descended from one another. Yet, the scientific evidence has shown just the opposite. There is a line with any and every species which cannot be crossed. Once a species naturally selects to a certain point, it cannot go any further. You talk to me about ignoring the evidence?

    Yes. You’re ignoring all of the evidence. You assert, boldly, without any support from science, that related species are not related. Remember DNA? DNA shows the relationships of modern animals to one another, and also provides solid, deep looks into the history of modern species.

    When DNA is corroborated by morphological review, by geology, by observation, it’s pretty potent stuff.

    Your statement that “scientific evidence has shown just the opposite” is pure fantasy, or prevarication. If you’re only denying that it exists, though the evidence exists in mountains, you’re in denial. If you know it exists and you’re just trying to cover it up, you’ve abandoned Christian ideals.

    Seriously, it’d be better if you just confessed to the denial.

    There is no significant evidence to rebut the clear demonstrations of ancestry that form the basis of biology and evolution theory. (Maybe you think there is — tell us where. You can’t find it by searching the science journals.)

    The concept of macro-evolution has no scientific basis whatsoever. It is all built on a philosophical base.

    Speciation exists. It has been observed dozens of times, in the wild and in the laboratory. You can claim it doesn’t exist, but that’s pure denial. Broccoli does indeed exist; beef exist. These are new species whose evolutionary history is older than you and me, but well within human recording — and it’s recorded.

    You give an example of broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes and coliflower and say that they all spelciated from mustards. Oh yeah? And how do you know that? What proof do you have that that is a true statement? How do you know that they were not each individually created as separate organisms by an intelligent designer? What scientific proof do you have that is true? The exact same thing can be said regarding your lizzards and chimps examples.

    History books in the case of the mustards — or news accounts in the case of Canola (from rapeseed, yet one more from the mustard). How do we know they didn’t exist in Jesus’s time? Because we have the history of their arrival. Same in spades for red grapefruit. You can look up the name of the guy who first noticed the mutation and who cultivated from that first mutated tree. Heck, that’s history that’s not even 100 years old.

    For scientific proof, we check the science writings. And we have DNA. DNA corroborates the historical accounts, exactly.

    There is no question about these diversifications, these examples of “macro” evolution.

    And yet you deny them. ‘The Power of Denial is strong in you, Luke Evolutiondenier.’

    Actually, there is none! You start with the assumption that there is no creator God who could have done it (or if there is he didn’t do it that way), then insist that based your presupposition it had to have emerged by natural evolutionary processes. That is what is called begging the question.

    Well, there you go again, making assumptions of things that simply are not.

    I’m a life-long Christian. I start from the traditional Christian faith statement that God is the motivating force behind all of creation. Based on that assumption, I note that God is not a liar, and so God would not provide us with evidence of evolution were it not so. Understanding evolution is the majority position in Christianity, the position of all major Christian sects except Southern Baptists, who have congregational rule.

    Here’s an interesting experiment: Try to find a major Christian university that teaches creationism in any form (including intelligent design)in biology. You will not find one. Committed to teaching truth, to giving students accurate information, Christian universities teach evolution — including Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Chapman, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Canisius (and all the other Jesuit schools), Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Brigham Young, and Wheaton. Committed to honesty, as was Darwin, these committed Christians teach evolution, because that’s what science has found. Denial doesn’t cut it when trying to get medical school admissions.

    Evolution says nothing counter to Christianity, and good Christians have been key players in the development of evolution theory from the start.

    But once we depart from the path of accuracy, as we do when we start denying evolution theory and the evidence for it, we can easily be misled, having tossed overboard our standards for accuracy. You assumed incorrectly that I am not a Christian merely because I study science.

    That says a lot about creationism in Christianity, none of it good.

    And, balderdash yourself. Darwin may have started out with a particular purpose, but what he ended up with was something entirely different. Naturalism is a worldview position which asserts that it is possible for the entire material universe to be accounted for without the need for a transcendent intelligent designer. What Darwin ended up with is a cover (and a poor one at that) for people who want to follow a Naturalistic philosophy and have some means of trying to account for it.

    Darwin started out as a Christian who erroneously believed in creationism, but was swayed by the evidence. While falling away from the belief that the Bible is literal, Darwin never left the church in any formal way, tithed his entire life, remained active in parish affairs to his final illness, raised his children as Christians, and was always careful to avoid statements that could be interpreted as criticizing the church or the faith, with the constant reminder of his incredibly devout wife, whom he loved dearly.

    There is nothing in Darwin’s life to suggest he ever urged a departure from philosophy charitable to Christianity. He did not intend to develop “a cover” for people to leave the church. He studied God’s creation, and he accurately and carefully reported what he observed.

    150 years of consequent observation, with increasingly precise tools of science, have found Darwin erred in very little — usually when he assumed that science would be unable to find more about a topic. Darwin assumed fossils would not be nearly so numerous as they are. He assumed that clear transitional fossils would be difficult to find, instead of plentiful. He did not understand genes, which were unknown, and so he puzzled over how some traits were able to remain unaltered in a population, though held by only one individual originally.

    Nothing Darwin ever did justifies your suggestions that he was anything less than wholly honest, anything less that a devout Christian (though he entertained doubts, especially about a faith that condemns good men and grants salvation to the evil).

    And even were it so that Darwin had a philosophical bias, his science findings are free of such bias and hold up to analysis completely divorced from any bias. His personal views do not affect his science, or could be corrected were they to lead him to error.

    All of which comes down to this: Evolution is solid theory despite Asa Gray’s Christianity, Theodosius
    Dobzhansky’s devout Orthodox philosophies, and Francis Colllins’s adult conversion to Christianity.

    Had Darwin been biased, it wouldn’t matter.

    I mentioned four issues that must be true for Naturalism to be true and you seem to have ignored these.

    You assume, erroneously, that science is based on a philosophy contrary to faith. That is inaccurate, and you haven’t demonstrated it.

    In any case, I don’t need to justify naturalism as a philosophy in order judge hard, physical evidence, like DNA and fossils. I need only be true to my Christian faith, which assumes God as an honest creator, and which urges truth-telling as an important path to enlightenment.

    Let me list them again.
    1. Something had to emerge from nothing or matter has to be eternal.

    That’s not evolution theory. That’s Big Bang theory. Evolution is independent of theories of the creation of the cosmos, working either with God as the creator as Darwin assumed, or without God as the creator. It is what we observe. What we observe is independent of arguments over how the cosmos came to be.

    But again I note, the creation you now describe as impossible is the same creation Genesis 1 describes (which is partly why the Pope endorsed Big Bang in the early 1950s, a decade and a half before it was confirmed by science). In short, this is no criticism of science or evolution, since it is indistinguishable from the Christian position.

    2. Life had to emerge out of non-life.

    Abiogenesis is not a part of evolution theory. Evolution theory cannot be hanged on a peg it does not get near.

    But before you get too far into denialism and out of reality, you might want to look up the journal Astrobiology (it’s available, free, online), look hard at the work of Stanley Miller and the refinements by NASA scientists, and the spontaneous generation of protocells as reported and recorded by Sidney Fox. It may well be that God’s design includes spontaneous generation of life whenever conditions are ripe.

    That’s not counter to Christianity, either; denying God can do it might be. Creationism may be, ultimately, much farther removed from Christianity than evolution and Big Bang.

    3. Higher life forms had to emerge from lower life forms.

    There’s no contrary evidence. That’s what the fossil record shows. That’s what DNA shows. There is nothing contrary that we know of. Common ancestry is a key part of evolution theory, it’s true — and that’s what we see in the world. The oldest fossils are of one-celled creatures. As we rise in time, as demonstrated in well-dated fossils, we find more complex creatures (though, of course, this remains a planet dominated by one-celled creatures).

    From a theological viewpoint, life for “more complex” lifeforms like humans is absolutely impossible but for the work of one-celled critters and the “less complex” life forms between us and them. A caring deity might well be expected to take a long-term interest in the fate of the planet and its lifeforms, and if “everlasting” as promised in the Psalms, to take great care to prepare the planet for later life forms like humans. Of course, if one prefers a slap-dash, whimsical God who is not in it for the eons, then evolution would be a frustrating thing to have to over come.

    4. Consciousness had to emerge out of non-consciousness.

    It does all the time. Even a human egg, fertilized, has no consciousness. And yet, with the passage of time, about 280 days, consciousness emerges.

    You’re confusing consciousness with a soul. As a Christian, I worry about the salvation of souls. As a scientific matter, consciousness is a grand mystery. I’m not willing to bet it will remain a grand mystery forever.

    In any case, our present inability to exactly describe what consciousness is, is not an argument against evolution theory. No faith offers any insights, either. Nor is it a significant part of evolution theory.

    None of these can be scientifically demonstrated. They are all philosophical presuppositions which determine the way the evidence is interpreted.

    If you presuppose that there are no answers, I imagine you won’t search for them. That’s contrary to Jewish, Christian and Moslem tradition, however, and I cannot imagine why any person of any faith would urge such a thing.

    But your world-view, your presupposition that there are no answers to those questions, requires that you deny much of what is known about science and how science operates.

    That’s not philosophy. It’s simple error. Reinforcing error by claiming it’s philosophy doesn’t make it correct. 2+2 still equals 4 (in base 10), no matter how much you wish to deny it, nor how much you wish to claim that accepting that fact makes one a subscriber to naturalism or any other philosophy.

    DNA remains the most accurate sort of evidence we have. Your denial of its clear, corroborated and unquestioned facts does not make them go away. Ronald Reagan was fond of saying John Adams said facts are stubborn things. Regardless who said it, regardless their philosophy, deeply deist like Adams, rather mainstream, pro-evolution Christian like Reagan*, it’s still true: Facts are stubborn things. We ignore them at our peril.

    Oooh. The creationist list.

    Finally, there are known scientific principles which mitigate against the validity of Darwinistic evolutionary theory.
    1. No one has ever seen anything evolve to higher forms (macro-evolution).

    Speciation is common. We know of dozens of examples of speciation — and in fact, fly researchers often have difficulty keeping their lab populations from speciating.

    Macro evolution is well demonstrated, documented in the science journals, and uses exactly the same mechanisms as micro evolution. There is no barrier known or hypothesized which blocks any kind of evolution already evidenced in fossils and DNA.

    2. The fossil record shows no intermediate forms.(Naturalistic presuppositions are necessary to say that it does.)

    Of course, you’re not under oath, so you can say that. There are nearly a score of transitionals, intermediate forms, between modern humans and our last shared ancestor with the other great apes. That’s a score of intermediate forms in the human line alone.

    The reality is that there is a wealth of “intermediate forms,” from the chain of creatures found in the rocks of the Karoo that document the switch of reptiles to mammals, to Tiktaalik, which shows the transition of fishes to reptiles; from the chain of whale fossils, especially those from Pakistan, that show the evolution of an even-toed ungulate that uncharacteristically (for ungulates) was a carnivore, to creatures that spent most of their time in the water, through ancient whales to modern whales. Again, among the more remarkable things here is that there are so many intermediates — about a score, once again.

    There is a deluge of feathered dinosaurs coming out of the reopened Chinese fossil fields. They have offered astounding information about the birth of flight in birds, and have totally scrambled ideas about how flight arose in birds. In Darwin’s day there were fossils of the genus archeopteryx known. At the moment we have seven different species in fossil form, several of them complete, the other mostly complete. Most avian specialists say that, though the genus is clearly an intermediate form showing how evolution could have proceeded, archeopteryx is a dead end. Even the evolutionary dead ends have many intermediates.

    Niles Eldredge has a collection of more than 2,000 species of trilobites, at the American Museum of Natural History. They cover a period of 300 million years, and they document the rise of eyes and other organs in trilobites. They demonstrate the infinitesimally small changes that sometimes make the difference for a new species to be called. But critically, they are more than 2,000 intermediates in one small genus. (See Eldredge’s book, The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism, for photos and explanation.)

    How dare you claim there are no such fossils, when there are thousands in one genus. Denialism aside, have creationists no honor?

    3. Living species show no intermediate forms. (Again, making this claim requires Naturalistic presuppositions.)

    I noted we have a score of intermediates leading to modern humans. Which part do you deny: The existence of the intermediates, or the existence of our own species?

    Many living species have lots of intermediates known in fossil form. Darwin himself uncovered bones of the giant armadillo. Do you really want to argue that the giant armadillo and modern armadillo are not related?

    4. Natural selection removes rare mutations, not adds them.

    See the earlier note on the A1 and A2 alleles in mosquitoes, which make the insect resistant to and immune to DDT. Natural selection removes rare deleterious mutations, generally rather quickly. Natural selection guarantees the spread of beneficial mutations, especially when there is selection pressure like the application of DDT.

    DDT resistance is even stronger in bed bugs, which showed signs of resistance to DDT in the late 1940s.

    Natural selection in humans preserved the A1 Milano gene, which creates an enzyme to nullify excess cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

    Once again, the creationist view is supportable only with powerful denialism, which is unhealthy in such strong manifestation, IMHO.

    5. The Law of Biogenesis (living organisms develop only from other living organisms)
    proves that Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    You move from denialism to outright fraud. There is no such “law” in science, especially in biology. It is our observation that life comes from life, that life reproduces. Of course, that’s one of the key tenets of evolution. It’s odd that you take one of the key things that makes evolution occur, and claim, contrary to all evidence, that it helps evolution.

    In reality, life comes from non-life all the time. I fertilize my lawn with non-living chemicals, water it with non-living water, and it takes in CO2 which is non-living from the air. From that, with the aid of energy from a star 93 million miles away, my lawn makes new cells, grows to the extent that in the summer I sometimes have to mow it twice a week.

    What is the barrier between chemicals of life that are non-living, and those same chemicals in a cell? No one knows the magic that makes the difference.

    But it’s no barrier to evolution.

    <6. The DNA Code Barrier (trait changes have a ceiling) proves Darwinism is impossible.

    I thought you were an honorable man. Now you’re making stuff up whole cloth.

    There is no such thing as a “DNA Code Barrier.” There is no ceiling hypothesized by anyone in any branch of biology, let alone observed.

    What the DNA Code Barrier proves is that creationism corrupts completely, and will make otherwise honest Christians say things that are wholly and completely false.

    7. Gene Depletion (the farther the species strays from its central original pattern, the
    weaker it becomes) proves Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    One whopper right after another. Gene depletion? Are you saying that elephant genes are depleted from its pachyderm ancestors? Surely you’re joking. (Elephants, by the way, have hundreds of intermediates known in fossils. If you’re arguing that modern elephants are somehow less genetically healthy than their ancestors, you’ve chosen exactly the wrong family to prove that. Modern elephants appear much better adapted to life anywhere than their shovel-tusked ancestors. Have you ever looked at mammalian fossils, those critters that have prevailed over the past 65 million years?)

    I hope you’re joking.

    8. The First Law of Thermodynamics (the total energy of a system and its surroundings
    remains constant) and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (inevitable and steady
    deterioration of a system) proves Darwinism is impossible.

    See what I mean? Now you’re making up laws of science. What we usually call the “second law of thermodynamics” says nothing about deterioration — and if it did, it wouldn’t work. Here’s a less biased version of the statement:

    The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the universal law of increasing entropy, stating that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

    For that matter, the First Law doesn’t say heat and energy of a system remain constant either — if so, the Earth couldn’t get heat from the Sun. Here’s the First Law, more carefully stated:

    “Energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but it can neither be created nor destroyed.”

    Or in the usual, Newtonian physics version:

    The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings.

    Nothing in biology violates either of those statements in any form. Generally, living things on Earth get energy from the Sun, and that energy is used to make the chemical changes that keep things alive. Plants use sunlight to photosynthesize water, minerals and CO2 into plant material; animals eat the plant material, or they eat the animals that eat the plant material, and in that way living things get energy to live. That’s the same energy needed for evolution.

    The second law doesn’t demand deterioration, either, so don’t go all creationist wanker on us. The second law says things tend to entropy. Don’t confuse entropy with deterioration. Some crystals are much more orderly in their lowest entropy state — they become more organized when they give up energy — for example.

    Or think of your desk. It remains exactly as you leave it, unless other energy moves something. The papers you stack remain neatly stacked unless someone opens the window and a breeze blows them around. If we put your desk into orbit around the Moon, it would remain pristine essentially forever.

    So I don’t know for sure where you planned to take this argument, but you’re not going to make much headway if you don’t know what the laws of thermodynamics actually are. They don’t say anything about deterioration, nor do they say systems remain constant.

    And if those two laws did say what you claim, didn’t it ever occur to you that they conflict with each other?

    9. Mathematical probability says Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    Right. And wind tunnel tests prove that bees can’t fly. Try again.

    Bees, it turns out, don’t fly using Venturi’s principle or Bernoulli’s principle — they pull their wings apart so quickly it creates a vacuum that literally sucks the bee through the air. No wind tunnel could ever test for such a means of locomotion.

    Evolution, it turns out, depends only on living things reproducing sexually — which no one has figured out how to stop — and nature acting on the combinations, weeding out the bad, letting the better ones survive, to be passed on in the next generation of mating. Mathematical formulas are useful in figuring out how much sex creatures might have, under normal conditions. But any claim that mathematics proves sex won’t happen is just pure hooey.

    Mathematicians surely have better things to do. Any high school teacher will be able to tell you that sex between humans is all but impossible to stop (you could shoot one of the kids, I suppose, but that brings legal principles into play). Maybe sex is unlikely for creationist mathematicians, but the rest of us will more than make up for that.

    10. No one has ever seen nature add new and beneficial data or information to an existing
    gene pool.

    I’ve already noted the spontaneous creation and rise of the A1 and A2 alleles in mosquitoes, which confer upon them resistance and immunity to DDT. This process has been amply studied over the past 50 years, with mosquito samples going back 100 years. Yes, we’ve seen nature add new and beneficial data to existing gene pools often, in many places, in many different species, in the wild, in the lab, and in controlled conditions where there was absolutely no question but the spontaneous rise of the allele was nature’s trick, and it conferred a benefit on the population. Look up T-Urf 13 — Texas A&M fully documented exactly what you claim impossible.

    Or look at red grapefruit. They are sweeter and more appealing to human eyes. A sport mutation — which means, it was a natural, beneficial addition of new information to a gene pool.

    I understand that these are probably not issues of life or death, so the commandment against bearing false witness doesn’t apply — but tell me honestly, as a professed Christian, doesn’t it bother you to tell such whopping fabrications? At least a little?

    The real discussion should be this: Is creationism a disease that eats away the moral fiber of its adherents?

    That’s wholly apart from the question about whether we should let creationists in a room with innocent children. The millstone punishment Jesus promised would be dispositive, but don’t we have a moral duty to protect the children? Don’t we have a moral duty to stop the creationist from sacrificing his own salvation? Friends don’t let friends utter creationist nonsense.

  17. Ed Darrell says:

    This discussion is a solid demonstration of the dangers of creationism. Bad, do you mind if I copy it to my blog?

  18. Ed Darrell says:

    You might cut out a lot of searching on T-urf 13 by reading Art Hunt’s blog, here:
    http://aghunt.wordpress.com/2009/01/24/behe-and-the-limits-of-evolution/#comments

  19. Freddy Davis says:

    Ed, I have really tried to make this discussion easy to negotiate by addressing your points each time in a clean string. And I requested that you do the same because by using the blockquote approach the conversation can really get messy over two or three generations. You have chosen to go a different direction, and that is fine if you want to play that way. At some point, though, it puts me at quite a disadvantage. So, this time I am going to follow your lead and insert my comments in the existing text. You can identify my current comments by noting what is in brackets [ ].

    Let me begin, though, by expressing my great disappointment. We don’t have to continue this conversation if you don’t want to. The fact that you have moved to insults and put-downs indicates to me that you are nearing the end of your ability to deal with the actual issues we are dealing with. The arguments that I am making are not fantasy or a denial of reality. They are serious points which are based on a solid foundation. The fact that you prefer to operate from a different worldview perspective does not automatically make you right and me wrong. You are going to have to prove your point logically. Resorting to insults and put-downs does not fit into that category.

    I understand that you have a lot invested in your position regarding evolution, having testified in favor of it before the Texas school book panel and by other public pronouncements and writings. As such, I don’t expect that you will change your mind based on our discussion. But the very least you can do is give this discussion the dignity of making your points based on logical arguments rather than on insults and put-downs.

    Also, if you are going to post this discussion on your own blog, I hope you will be honest enough to include our ongoing discussion rather than simply ending it with your put-downs. Well, on with the ride.

    I’m running a bit behind in getting the papers graded this weekend, so I’ll make this rather short.

    [So much for rather short. This has taken me about three days to respond to.]

    The problem is entirely of Freddy’s making — he’s denying reality. That’s the only way to make a case for creationism, or against evolution. Freddy said:

    Now, that was an interesting reply – that there is no difference between micro and macro evolution. Once again you have demonstrated that you are not able to distinguish between science and
    philosophy.

    If philosophy says that the sky is not blue and that water is not wet, that doesn’t make good philosophy. Philosophy that leads to factual error is corrupted.

    There is no difference between “micro” evolution and “macro” evolution. Those are the facts. Deny them at your peril if you wish to maintain an argument in science — it’s just wrong.

    Don’t take my word for it — here, read what John Wilkins has to say about it:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/macroevolution.html

    Also here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2007/02/the_many_faces_of_evolution.php

    [Nice start with the insult. Your accusation that I am denying reality is only true if your Naturalistic presuppositions about the nature of reality is true. So far, you have not demonstrated in any sense that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality (or, if you believe in God, that he did not directly create the material universe). You have simply assumed that your presuppositions are true and bulldozed over my arguments without directly addressing this issue. Case in point: You have intimated that my arguments are based on “factual” error. But the truth is, what you are calling “facts” are really interpretations of facts, not the facts themselves. Your interpretations are, rather, based on your Naturalistic presuppositions. Until you are able to make the distinction between these two, we will certainly not get anywhere. Your references to other people’s writings who make the same mistakes do not help your case.]

    You are making the claim that just because there are different species of creatures which have similar features that they necessarily are descended from one another. Yet, the scientific evidence has shown just the opposite. There is a line with any and every species which cannot be crossed. Once a species naturally selects to a certain point, it cannot go any further. You talk to me about ignoring the evidence?

    Yes. You’re ignoring all of the evidence. You assert, boldly, without any support from science, that related species are not related. Remember DNA? DNA shows the relationships of modern animals to one another, and also provides solid, deep looks into the history of modern species.

    When DNA is corroborated by morphological review, by geology, by observation, it’s pretty potent stuff.

    Your statement that “scientific evidence has shown just the opposite” is pure fantasy, or prevarication. If you’re only denying that it exists, though the evidence exists in mountains, you’re in denial. If you know it
    exists and you’re just trying to cover it up, you’ve abandoned Christian ideals.

    Seriously, it’d be better if you just confessed to the denial.

    There is no significant evidence to rebut the clear demonstrations of ancestry that form the basis of biology and evolution theory. (Maybe you think there is — tell us where. You can’t find it by searching the
    science journals.)

    [Again, you are calling things “facts” which are, rather, Naturalistic interpretations of the facts. Your point may be true if Naturalism is true. But, you have failed, so far, to demonstrate that point. The evidence can absolutely be interpreted another way. I am not ignoring the evidence, I am interpreting it according to a different worldview structure. I acknowledge that my worldview approach is based on my faith that there is a personal supernatural reality. The point I am making is that the Naturalistic approach is every bit as much a faith based system than cannot be demonstrated empirically. This is what you don’t seem to be able to get.

    Let’s suppose, for a moment, that God really does exist and that he created things the way that I am suggesting that it happened. If that is true, how would Naturalistic science deal with it? Actually it can’t since the most basic presupposition of Naturalism is that there is no supernatural reality. In other words, if I am right, Naturalism cannot deal with even the possibility. It would have to still make up some other (false) way to explain it. I am suggesting that this is exactly what has happened. Prove that I am wrong. If your position were truly empirically based you could do that. But in actual fact, you must start with the Naturalistic presuppositions to even make a case.

    I do not deny the DNA evidence. What I am saying is that it does not show common ancestry, but rather that it shows a common creator. If God created two organisms which were similar, it is completely logical that there would be common elements in both. I do not accept either of your accusations of denial or cover-up. Rather, I am asserting that your interpretation of the facts is wrong.]

    The concept of macro-evolution has no scientific basis whatsoever. It is all built on a philosophical base.

    Speciation exists. It has been observed dozens of times, in the wild and in the laboratory. You can claim it doesn’t exist, but that’s pure denial. Broccoli does indeed exist; beef exist. These are new species
    whose evolutionary history is older than you and me, but well within human recording — and it’s recorded.

    [You, and others who take this approach, have done the same thing with the concept of speciation that you have done with the concept of evolution. You have defined the terms in ways which accommodate your purposes by confusing the issue. Just as you refuse to distinguish between micro and macro evolution, you also refuse to distinguish between subspeciation and transspeciation. Simply by narrowing the definition of species you can define-in your belief and define-out mine. That is cute, but it doesn’t change the facts. There is a line that cannot be crossed. A Great Dane is very different from a Chihuahua
    but they are both still dogs. There is no empirical proof that a dog actually has become something else and no known biological mechanism which has been demonstrated to cause such.]

    You give an example of broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes and cauliflower and say that they all spelciated from mustards. Oh yeah? And how do you know that? What proof do you have that that is a true statement? How do you know that they were not each individually created as separate organisms by an intelligent designer? What scientific proof do you have that is true? The exact same thing can be said regarding your lizzards and chimps examples.

    History books in the case of the mustards — or news accounts in the case of Canola (from rapeseed, yet one more from the mustard). How do we know they didn’t exist in Jesus’s time? Because we have the history of their arrival. Same in spades for red grapefruit. You can look up the name of the guy who first noticed the mutation and who cultivated from that first mutated tree. Heck, that’s history that’s not even 100 years old.

    For scientific proof, we check the science writings. And we have DNA. DNA corroborates the historical accounts, exactly.

    There is no question about these diversifications, these examples of “macro” evolution.

    And yet you deny them. ‘The Power of Denial is strong in you, Luke Evolutiondenier.’

    [Nice insult, again. Actually, I learned something here. I did not know that broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes and cauliflower were all part of the mustard family. But that does not help your case. The fact is, they are still part of the same family. This is not, as you assert, macro-evolution. There are various breeds of dogs that didn’t exist in Jesus’ time either, but that doesn’t mean that they are not still dogs. Yet another example of you simply creating definitions which are designed to make your point. But it still does not change the fact that biological change cannot move beyond a certain point. No one is denying the operation of natural selection.]

    Actually, there is none! You start with the assumption that there is no creator God who could have done it (or if there is he didn’t do it that way), then insist that based your presupposition it had to have
    emerged by natural evolutionary processes. That is what is called begging the question.

    Well, there you go again, making assumptions of things that simply are not.

    I’m a life-long Christian. I start from the traditional Christian faith statement that God is the motivating force behind all of creation. Based on that assumption, I note that God is not a liar, and so God would not
    provide us with evidence of evolution were it not so. Understanding evolution is the majority position in Christianity, the position of all major Christian sects except Southern Baptists, who have congregational
    rule.

    [Now you have really got my curiosity up. I am very interested in understanding your belief about where God fits into the process. First, a couple of points. I am not sure about your definition of “all Christian sects” or where you get your statistics, but I believe that the majority position in Christianly is not evolution, but creation. In fact, I am quite sure that the only Christian sects which embrace evolution the way you describe it are the ones who have drifted well away from traditional Christianity – and these groups are all small and declining.

    As for God being the motivating force behind all creation, what do you mean by that? That he is the watchmaker God who simply wound things up and turned it loose? If so, what proof do you have that that is the case? It is not a Biblical concept. You ask why God would give evidence for evolution but don’t even consider that the Bible gives a direct statement that God created everything out of nothing – including various life forms. As a Christian, why do you discount what is directly stated in the Bible and go after a speculation that “might be the way God did something.” Also, where does God fit in as it relates to his interaction with mankind? Do you believe that God is a real person who has revealed himself to mankind in the Bible? If man is a spiritual creature, where did that spiritual part come from and where does it reside? In your view, after the human creature finally evolved, did God directly intervene in the creation and put a soul in mankind? Is there any difference between man and other animals in God’s economy? Do you believe that Jesus Christ was really God in the flesh and that he was born of a virgin? Do you believe that after his crucifixion he was resurrected? I am really interested in hearing your answer to these questions as they define what you mean by being a Christian.]

    Here’s an interesting experiment: Try to find a major Christian university that teaches creationism in any form (including intelligent design)in biology. You will not find one. Committed to teaching truth, to giving students accurate information, Christian universities teach evolution — including Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Chapman, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Canisius (and all the other Jesuit schools), Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Brigham Young, and Wheaton. Committed to honesty, as was Darwin, these committed Christians teach evolution, because that’s what science has found. Denial doesn’t cut it when trying to get medical school admissions.

    Evolution says nothing counter to Christianity, and good Christians have been key players in the development of evolution theory from the start.

    But once we depart from the path of accuracy, as we do when we start denying evolution theory and the evidence for it, we can easily be misled, having tossed overboard our standards for accuracy. You assumed incorrectly that I am not a Christian merely because I study science.

    That says a lot about creationism in Christianity, none of it good.

    [Actually, you are right. I did assume that you are not a Christian. But it is not because you study science. I see no conflict at all between Christianity and science, as I have stated before. But your approach to science is built on a Naturalistic worldview system which is atheistic. The fact that you claim both only demonstrates that your worldview underpinning holds internally contradictory beliefs, not that you are not a Christian. Please accept my apology for this.

    As for your interesting experiment, I really can’t see it as a fruitful exercise. The truth is the truth no matter who is for or against it. The fact that a majority of scientists or educational institutions lean a particular way is not proof of anything. And I am not simply being dismissive with this comment. There are, in fact, some very prominent scientists who don’t agree with you. I am not making this stuff up myself. And, in fact, there are numerous historical examples when the majority of scientists had it wrong. There was a time when the majority believed that the earth was flat. In my own schooling it used to be taught that the atom and the cell were not complex like we now know they are. It is just that Naturalism has been so successful at marginalizing the Theistic point of view, that it has become the majority worldview position in most educational institutions. But it certainly does not prove anything.

    Once again, your assertion of my denial is based on Naturalistic worldview presuppositions, not on the facts themselves. Your evaluation regarding creation is nothing more than an unsubstantiated opinion – one held by many people, no doubt. But unsubstantiated none the less.]

    And, balderdash yourself. Darwin may have started out with a particular purpose, but what he ended up with was something entirely different. Naturalism is a worldview position which asserts that it is possible for the entire material universe to be accounted for without the need for a transcendent intelligent designer. What Darwin ended up with is a cover (and a poor one at that) for people who want to follow a Naturalistic philosophy and have some means of trying to account for it.

    Darwin started out as a Christian who erroneously believed in creationism, but was swayed by the evidence. While falling away from the belief that the Bible is literal, Darwin never left the church in any formal way, tithed his entire life, remained active in parish affairs to his final illness, raised his children as Christians, and was always careful to avoid statements that could be interpreted as criticizing the church or the faith, with the constant reminder of his incredibly devout wife, whom he loved dearly.

    There is nothing in Darwin’s life to suggest he ever urged a departure from philosophy charitable to Christianity. He did not intend to develop “a cover” for people to leave the church. He studied God’s creation, and he accurately and carefully reported what he observed.

    150 years of consequent observation, with increasingly precise tools of science, have found Darwin erred in very little — usually when he assumed that science would be unable to find more about a topic. Darwin assumed fossils would not be nearly so numerous as they are. He assumed that clear transitional fossils would be difficult to find, instead of plentiful. He did not understand genes, which were unknown, and so he puzzled over how some traits were able to remain unaltered in a population, though held by only one individual originally.

    Nothing Darwin ever did justifies your suggestions that he was anything less than wholly honest, anything less that a devout Christian (though he entertained doubts, especially about a faith that condemns good men and grants salvation to the evil).

    And even were it so that Darwin had a philosophical bias, his science findings are free of such bias and hold up to analysis completely divorced from any bias. His personal views do not affect his science, or could be corrected were they to lead him to error.

    All of which comes down to this: Evolution is solid theory despite Asa Gray’s Christianity, Theodosius
    Dobzhansky’s devout Orthodox philosophies, and Francis Colllins’s adult conversion to Christianity.

    Had Darwin been biased, it wouldn’t matter.

    [I am not sure how much a discussion of Darwin’s private life and personal views contribute to this discussion. I feel nothing personal against him, myself. And I don’t have any dispute that his theory is solid if you begin with Naturalistic presuppositions. The only problem is, the presuppositions don’t hold up. It is Darwin’s ideas about evolution not his personal character, views or beliefs about God that I find problematic. This is kind of a red herring point.]

    I mentioned four issues that must be true for Naturalism to be true and you seem to have ignored these.

    You assume, erroneously, that science is based on a philosophy contrary to faith. That is inaccurate, and you haven’t demonstrated it.

    In any case, I don’t need to justify naturalism as a philosophy in order judge hard, physical evidence, like DNA and fossils. I need only be true to my Christian faith, which assumes God as an honest creator, and which urges truth-telling as an important path to enlightenment.

    [If you are going to use Naturalistic presuppositions to justify your support for Naturalism, you absolutely do have to justify it. Your interpretation of the DNA and of the fossil evidence is based squarely on those presuppositions. If you are going to approach your interpretations that way, you do have to justify it. You are right that Naturalism is not contrary to faith. It is a faith. It is just that it is faith that God is not the creator rather than that he is.]

    Let me list them again.
    1. Something had to emerge from nothing or matter has to be eternal.

    That’s not evolution theory. That’s Big Bang theory. Evolution is independent of theories of the creation of the cosmos, working either with God as the creator as Darwin assumed, or without God as the creator. It is what we observe. What we observe is independent of arguments over how the cosmos came to be.

    But again I note, the creation you now describe as impossible is the same creation Genesis 1 describes (which is partly why the Pope endorsed Big Bang in the early 1950s, a decade and a half before it was confirmed by science). In short, this is no criticism of science or evolution, since it is indistinguishable from the Christian position.

    [If you are using Naturalistic presuppositions to justify Darwinistic evolutionary theory, you have automatically created a tie between origins and evolution. Actually, I have not specifically referred to the Big Bang. If you will note my statement again, you will see that I included both possibilities that Naturalists might resort to. In fact, many Naturalists assert that matter is itself eternal. Regardless, the connection necessarily exists. If what we see of material reality really did all come into being on its own, then the origin of it must be accounted for. The points below all come into play.

    I, personally, do not have a firm position on the Big Bang. I do believe that God could have gotten the ball rolling that way, but also could have done it a different way. There is another element in the Christian faith that also enters the picture, and that is the fall. Based on that belief, it is impossible to know from our current vantage point just how that affected the created order. As a Christian, you do believe in the fall, don’t you? Also, I really don’t have any interest in what the Pope has endorsed. It has no affect on what actually exists.]

    2. Life had to emerge out of non-life.

    Abiogenesis is not a part of evolution theory. Evolution theory cannot be hanged on a peg it does not get near.

    But before you get too far into denialism and out of reality, you might want to look up the journal Astrobiology (it’s available, free, online), look hard at the work of Stanley Miller and the refinements by NASA scientists, and the spontaneous generation of protocells as reported and recorded by Sidney Fox. It may well be that God’s design includes spontaneous generation of life whenever conditions are ripe.

    That’s not counter to Christianity, either; denying God can do it might be. Creationism may be, ultimately, much farther removed from Christianity than evolution and Big Bang.

    [Why are you resorting to speculation, here? It may be God’s design includes spontaneous generation of life? I am aware of the work with protocells, but this is not life. This is a real reach.

    And you can poo-poo the conncection between abiogenesis and evolution if you want, but the life that we know had to come from somewhere. You can’t divorce the two. Are you admitting here that maybe God did intervene directly and create life? Wind it up and let it evolve? There is no science here. Everything you are saying is speculation based on Naturalistic presuppositions.]

    3. Higher life forms had to emerge from lower life forms.

    There’s no contrary evidence. That’s what the fossil record shows. That’s what DNA shows. There is nothing contrary that we know of. Common ancestry is a key part of evolution theory, it’s true — and that’s what we see in the world. The oldest fossils are of one-celled creatures. As we rise in time, as demonstrated in well-dated fossils, we find more complex creatures (though, of course, this remains a planet dominated by one-celled creatures).

    >From a theological viewpoint, life for “more complex” lifeforms like humans is absolutely impossible but for the work of one-celled critters and the “less complex” life forms between us and them. A caring deity
    might well be expected to take a long-term interest in the fate of the planet and its lifeforms, and if “everlasting” as promised in the Psalms, to take great care to prepare the planet for later life forms like humans. Of course, if one prefers a slap-dash, whimsical God who is not in it for the eons, then evolution would be a frustrating thing to have to over come.

    [I don’t know how deep I need to go here since I have already addressed this topic before. Let me just say that you are again talking about the interpretation of facts rather than about the facts themselves. You are filtering everything through a Naturalistic prism to make your point about evolution. If you are going to do that, then you must prove Naturalism, which you have yet to do. Your speculation (and you have expressed it as a speculation) about what a caring deity might do is theological/philosophical speculation which, I think, really doesn’t have a place in Naturalistic science. I don’t know where you get your understanding of God or the box you are putting him in, but it is a bit much to use the Bible to justify your own philosophical biases.]

    4. Consciousness had to emerge out of non-consciousness.

    It does all the time. Even a human egg, fertilized, has no consciousness. And yet, with the passage of time, about 280 days, consciousness emerges.

    You’re confusing consciousness with a soul. As a Christian, I worry about the salvation of souls. As a scientific matter, consciousness is a grand mystery. I’m not willing to bet it will remain a grand mystery forever.

    In any case, our present inability to exactly describe what consciousness is, is not an argument against evolution theory. No faith offers any insights, either. Nor is it a significant part of evolution theory.

    [You have totally missed this point. This is not about consciousness of an individual, but about the very existence of self-conscious awareness that only exists in human beings. No other being in existence is able to contemplate his own existence. Where did that come from? Is that merely a result of a brain that evolved to a high enough level to have the necessary complexity? Or, did God create mankind as a “being in his own image” with that capability. And, if you acknowledge man as being created in God’s image, where did the special abilities of human existence come from? Did God directly intervene in his creation and put a “soul” into humanity? You have completely stepped out of Naturalism, now and into speculation about Christian Theism. The two don’t really mix very well.

    Of course Christianity offers an insight about consciousness. The Bible states quite plainly that man was created in God’s image. God is a being who has this characteristic and he created mankind to have it.

    The assertion that the advent of consciousness is not a significant part of evolutionary theory is crazy. If man is indeed descended from creatures which did not have self-consciousness, that ability had to come from somewhere. Evolution has no choice but to give it a Naturalistic origin. But, again, there is no science to back that up. It is based purely on philosophical presuppositions.

    And, since you brought it up, I would be very interested in your concept of the “salvation of souls” that you are concerned with. What does mankind need to be saved from and to? What happens to those who are not saved?]

    None of these can be scientifically demonstrated. They are all philosophical presuppositions which determine the way the evidence is interpreted.

    If you presuppose that there are no answers, I imagine you won’t search for them. That’s contrary to Jewish, Christian and Moslem tradition, however, and I cannot imagine why any person of any faith would urge such a thing.

    But your world-view, your presupposition that there are no answers to those questions, requires that you deny much of what is known about science and how science operates.

    That’s not philosophy. It’s simple error. Reinforcing error by claiming it’s philosophy doesn’t make it correct. 2+2 still equals 4 (in base 10), no matter how much you wish to deny it, nor how much you wish to claim that accepting that fact makes one a subscriber to naturalism or any other philosophy.

    DNA remains the most accurate sort of evidence we have. Your denial of its clear, corroborated and unquestioned facts does not make them go away. Ronald Reagan was fond of saying John Adams said facts are stubborn things. Regardless who said it, regardless their philosophy, deeply deist like Adams, rather mainstream, pro-evolution Christian like Reagan*, it’s still true: Facts are stubborn things. We ignore them at our peril.

    [Who said that there are no answers? It wasn’t me! I am simply proposing that we look in different place for those answers. What is equally true is that if you look for answers in the wrong places you will not find them.

    You are asserting the Naturalist’s favorite thing to say about Christians – that we are anti-science. You may not believe this, but science does not depend on a Naturalistic worldview. It is very possible for a scientist with a Theistic worldview to be a great scientist. That is because Theists believe that God created the world in an orderly fashion which can be studied and known. A belief in Naturalistic evolution is not a necessary prerequisite for a person to be a good scientist.

    Once again, you are asserting that the facts must be interpreted through a Naturalistic lens. They do not. 2 + 2 equals 4 (in base 10, of course) for a Theistic scientist just as it does for a Naturalist. I am not denying facts. I am questioning the use of a Naturalistic filter to interpret them. I am still waiting for you to prove to me that that filter is true.

    Oooh. The creationist list.

    [As Ronald Regan liked to say, “There you go again.” Should I reply, “Ooooh, the Naturalists defense? The sarcasm is rather unbecoming.]

    Finally, there are known scientific principles which mitigate against the validity of Darwinistic evolutionary theory.

    [By the way, I left out irreducible complexity.]

    1. No one has ever seen anything evolve to higher forms (macro-evolution).

    Speciation is common. We know of dozens of examples of speciation — and in fact, fly researchers often have difficulty keeping their lab populations from speciating.

    Macro evolution is well demonstrated, documented in the science journals, and uses exactly the same mechanisms as micro evolution. There is no barrier known or hypothesized which blocks any kind of evolution already evidenced in fossils and DNA.

    [I think we have already dealt with this. If you define speciation so narrowly that it includes micro-evolutionary processes, you can say that. But there is a limit beyond which speciation will not go. A horse can develop within limits, but will not turn into something else not horse. Once again, your fossil and DNA examples only work if you begin with Naturalistic presuppositions. The actual evidence does not have to be interpreted the way you require.]

    2. The fossil record shows no intermediate forms.(Naturalistic presuppositions are necessary to say that it does.)

    Of course, you’re not under oath, so you can say that. There are nearly a score of transitionals, intermediate forms, between modern humans and our last shared ancestor with the other great apes. That’s a score of intermediate forms in the human line alone.

    The reality is that there is a wealth of “intermediate forms,” from the chain of creatures found in the rocks of the Karoo that document the switch of reptiles to mammals, to Tiktaalik, which shows the transition of
    fishes to reptiles; from the chain of whale fossils, especially those from Pakistan, that show the evolution of an even-toed ungulate that uncharacteristically (for ungulates) was a carnivore, to creatures that spent most of their time in the water, through ancient whales to modern whales. Again, among the more remarkable things here is that there are so many intermediates — about a score, once again.

    There is a deluge of feathered dinosaurs coming out of the reopened Chinese fossil fields. They have offered astounding information about the birth of flight in birds, and have totally scrambled ideas about how flight arose in birds. In Darwin’s day there were fossils of the genus archeopteryx known. At the moment we have seven different species in fossil form, several of them complete, the other mostly complete. Most avian specialists say that, though the genus is clearly an intermediate form showing how evolution could have proceeded, archeopteryx is a dead end. Even the evolutionary dead ends have many intermediates.

    Niles Eldredge has a collection of more than 2,000 species of trilobites, at the American Museum of Natural History. They cover a period of 300 million years, and they document the rise of eyes and other organs in trilobites. They demonstrate the infinitesimally small changes that sometimes make the difference for a new species to be called. But critically, they are more than 2,000 intermediates in one small genus. (See Eldredge’s book, The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism, for photos and explanation.)

    How dare you claim there are no such fossils, when there are thousands in one genus. Denialism aside, have creationists no honor?

    [There you go with your insults again. And all based on your lack of acknowledgment that there is any way to interpret data other than using Naturalistic presuppositions. If Naturalism is not true, your analysis above is silliness. So, prove the Naturalistic presuppositions and I will bow down to you. Otherwise, the assumptions of your Naturalistic faith completely falls apart. I insist that God created each creature separately. Prove me wrong.]

    3. Living species show no intermediate forms. (Again, making this claim requires Naturalistic presuppositions.)

    I noted we have a score of intermediates leading to modern humans. Which part do you deny: The existence of the intermediates, or the existence of our own species?

    Many living species have lots of intermediates known in fossil form. Darwin himself uncovered bones of the giant armadillo. Do you really want to argue that the giant armadillo and modern armadillo are not related?

    [What you are calling intermediate forms cannot be proven to be intermediate forms. To come to that conclusion you have to start with the presuppositions of Naturalistic evolution. You can’t get it directly from the fossils themselves. I assert that they are separately created creatures. Prove me wrong.

    Why would I want to argue anything about the armadillo. It seems to me that the big one and little one are both forms of armadillo – just like there are many different kinds of dogs. What is your point?

    4. Natural selection removes rare mutations, not adds them.

    See the earlier note on the A1 and A2 alleles in mosquitoes, which make the insect resistant to and immune to DDT. Natural selection removes rare deleterious mutations, generally rather quickly. Natural selection guarantees the spread of beneficial mutations, especially when there is selection pressure like the application of DDT.

    DDT resistance is even stronger in bed bugs, which showed signs of resistance to DDT in the late 1940s.

    Natural selection in humans preserved the A1 Milano gene, which creates an enzyme to nullify excess cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

    Once again, the creationist view is supportable only with powerful denialism, which is unhealthy in such strong manifestation, IMHO.

    [Thanks again for the put-down. It seems that you have entirely missed the point here. We are not talking about the ability of organisms to adapt via natural selection. We are talking about the ability of organisms to add DNA in order to evolve to a higher life form. Natural selection has not shown the ability to go that far. And it seems you have made my point. Even when a mutation has a beneficial effect, which is rare, it is removing information, not adding it.]

    5. The Law of Biogenesis (living organisms develop only from other living organisms)
    proves that Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    You move from denialism to outright fraud. There is no such “law” in science, especially in biology. It is our observation that life comes from life, that life reproduces. Of course, that’s one of the key tenets of evolution. It’s odd that you take one of the key things that makes evolution occur, and claim, contrary to all evidence, that it helps evolution.

    In reality, life comes from non-life all the time. I fertilize my lawn with non-living chemicals, water it with non-living water, and it takes in CO2 which is non-living from the air. From that, with the aid of energy from a star 93 million miles away, my lawn makes new cells, grows to the extent that in the summer I sometimes have to mow it twice a week.

    What is the barrier between chemicals of life that are non-living, and those same chemicals in a cell? No one knows the magic that makes the difference.

    But it’s no barrier to evolution.

    [Okay, if you want to say that it is possible for life to emerge from non-life, show me the mechanism. You may say no one knows the “magic” but, Christians do. Life is directly infused by God. Of course an Naturalist would not acknowledge that because they deny his existence or at least that he did anything if he does exist). However, that is a faith assumption. Your statement about magic demonstrates that you are operating directly from a set of Naturalistic presuppositions (God does not/cannot intervene).

    You say there is no law, but life has never been observed to emerge from non-life. I say it is a law. It is very creative for you to say that it does, but there is a huge difference in existing life taking chemicals and using it to grow and develop and for life to emerge directly out of non-living chemicals. If there is fraud it is for you to assert that life emerged from non-life when you cannot demonstrate that it is possible.]

    <6. The DNA Code Barrier (trait changes have a ceiling) proves Darwinism is impossible.

    I thought you were an honorable man. Now you’re making stuff up whole cloth.

    There is no such thing as a “DNA Code Barrier.” There is no ceiling hypothesized by anyone in any branch of biology, let alone observed.

    What the DNA Code Barrier proves is that creationism corrupts completely, and will make otherwise honest Christians say things that are wholly and completely false.

    [I don’t understand why you call me dishonorable. The fact that I am using a different worldview platform to interpret the facts does not make me dishonorable. You have yet to show me any science which allows one kind of life form to become another. All you have done is give examples of changes within the boundaries of particular life forms. Every example of evolution that you have given, without exception, are changes within a kind. You have demonstrated nothing that can evolve a dog to something that is not a dog.

    Same as before. Evolution from one life form to another has never been demonstrated. The best Naturalistic evolution can offer is a possible scenario based on unproven faith presuppositions. You must start with the presupposition that it had to happen naturally before your scenario makes any sense at all. There is nothing that has ever been directly observed or demonstrated empirically to make your point. There is, indeed, a point beyond which natural selection cannot go.]

    7. Gene Depletion (the farther the species strays from its central original pattern, the
    weaker it becomes) proves Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    One whopper right after another. Gene depletion? Are you saying that elephant genes are depleted from its pachyderm ancestors? Surely you’re joking. (Elephants, by the way, have hundreds of intermediates known in fossils. If you’re arguing that modern elephants are somehow less genetically healthy than their ancestors, you’ve chosen exactly the wrong family to prove that. Modern elephants appear much better adapted to life anywhere than their shovel-tusked ancestors. Have you ever looked at mammalian fossils, those critters that have prevailed over the past 65 million years?)

    I hope you’re joking.

    [Actually, you are the one who chose to talk about Elephants, not me. And no, I am not saying that at all. There is obviously a range which provides for the healthy existence of many varieties of creatures within an individual life form. This is a reference to pushing the envelope, not about normal adaptation. Perhaps one example. As breeders tried refining the collie dog, they ended up making his head too narrow. Looked nice, but constricted the brain and made the dog’s weaker. I’m not sure how well one example, whether mine or yours, makes a valid point about a broad general principle, but you definitely can breed life forms beyond healthy limits. There are limits to natural selection. The only way you can deny that is to begin with your naturalistic presuppositions.

    8. The First Law of Thermodynamics (the total energy of a system and its surroundings
    remains constant) and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (inevitable and steady deterioration of a system) proves Darwinism is impossible.

    See what I mean? Now you’re making up laws of science. What we usually call the “second law of thermodynamics” says nothing about deterioration — and if it did, it wouldn’t work. Here’s a less biased version of the statement:

    The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the universal law of increasing entropy, stating that the entropy of an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over
    time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.

    For that matter, the First Law doesn’t say heat and energy of a system remain constant either — if so, the Earth couldn’t get heat from the Sun. Here’s the First Law, more carefully stated:

    “Energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but it can neither be created nor destroyed.”

    Or in the usual, Newtonian physics version:

    The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings.

    Nothing in biology violates either of those statements in any form. Generally, living things on Earth get energy from the Sun, and that energy is used to make the chemical changes that keep things alive. Plants use sunlight to photosynthesize water, minerals and CO2 into plant material; animals eat the plant material, or they eat the animals that eat the plant material, and in that way living things get energy to live. That’s the same energy needed for evolution.

    The second law doesn’t demand deterioration, either, so don’t go all creationist wanker on us. The second law says things tend to entropy. Don’t confuse entropy with deterioration. Some crystals are much more orderly in their lowest entropy state — they become more organized when they give up energy — for example.

    Or think of your desk. It remains exactly as you leave it, unless other energy moves something. The papers you stack remain neatly stacked unless someone opens the window and a breeze blows them around. If we put your desk into orbit around the Moon, it would remain pristine essentially forever.

    So I don’t know for sure where you planned to take this argument, but you’re not going to make much headway if you don’t know what the laws of thermodynamics actually are. They don’t say anything about deterioration, nor do they say systems remain constant.

    And if those two laws did say what you claim, didn’t it ever occur to you that they conflict with each other?

    [Thanks for the lessons about Thermodynamics. In my attempt to make a simple list I left room for you to make some points. But the fact is, you are missing the main point. I am not talking about the laws as they apply to daily life, but about how they apply to the overall picture regarding the possibility of Naturalism to be a valid worldview perspective. First of all, the energy has to come from somewhere. Naturalism can’t account for that at all. Then, once the energy exists it moves toward heat death, rather than in the other direction. The process of Naturalistic evolution requires that more and more energy be concentrated in more and more complex life forms. Somehow, energy has to be added for new life forms to come into being. If God created each one, it is easy to see and understand. If you are depending on Natural forces, the case becomes much more difficult.]

    9. Mathematical probability says Darwinian evolution is impossible.

    Right. And wind tunnel tests prove that bees can’t fly. Try again.

    Bees, it turns out, don’t fly using Venturi’s principle or Bernoulli’s principle — they pull their wings apart so quickly it creates a vacuum that literally sucks the bee through the air. No wind tunnel could ever test for such a means of locomotion.

    Evolution, it turns out, depends only on living things reproducing sexually — which no one has figured out how to stop — and nature acting on the combinations, weeding out the bad, letting the better ones survive,
    to be passed on in the next generation of mating. Mathematical formulas are useful in figuring out how much sex creatures might have, under normal conditions. But any claim that mathematics proves sex won’t happen is just pure hooey.

    Mathematicians surely have better things to do. Any high school teacher will be able to tell you that sex between humans is all but impossible to stop (you could shoot one of the kids, I suppose, but that brings legal principles into play). Maybe sex is unlikely for creationist mathematicians, but the rest of us will more than make up for that.

    [I suspect that you probably will. Actually, probability has to do with a lot more things than simply having sex. That is unless you believe that time and chance actually can ultimately account for everything that exists. And, of course, that is what Naturalism presupposes. It can’t give any proof that is a true statement, but it certainly does presuppose it.

    But the probability issue also involves accounting for the changes in every cell type that is necessary for the evolutionary process to take place. If Naturalistic evolution is actually true, cells have to mutate by numbers that are so astronomical as to be virtually incalculable. It is not just whole creatures that have to be accounted for, you have to account for every organ of every creature and every bodily function of every creature and for delineating the sexes and on and on. And it would have to happen with every creature at every stage of evolution. If the massive number of life forms that currently exists today could really be accounted for by random mutations, it is inconceivable that we don’t see it happening everywhere all the time to the extent that new life forms are continually being created (not just adaptive changes within life forms). It is just not happening. And the probabilities powerfully work against it.

    And the thing with the bees? What is that all about. Bees do fly and they use a different principle than airplanes. What does that have to do with your probability argument? It seems to me that it argues more for special creation than for evolution.]

    10. No one has ever seen nature add new and beneficial data or information to an existing
    gene pool.

    I’ve already noted the spontaneous creation and rise of the A1 and A2 alleles in mosquitoes, which confer upon them resistance and immunity to DDT. This process has been amply studied over the past 50 years, with mosquito samples going back 100 years. Yes, we’ve seen nature add new and beneficial data to existing gene pools often, in many places, in many different species, in the wild, in the lab, and in controlled conditions where there was absolutely no question but the spontaneous rise of the allele was nature’s trick, and it conferred a benefit on the population. Look up T-Urf 13 — Texas A&M fully documented exactly what you claim impossible.

    Or look at red grapefruit. They are sweeter and more appealing to human eyes. A sport mutation — which means, it was a natural, beneficial addition of new information to a gene pool.

    I understand that these are probably not issues of life or death, so the commandment against bearing false witness doesn’t apply — but tell me honestly, as a professed Christian, doesn’t it bother you to tell such whopping fabrications? At least a little?

    [I hope that you are past the point now of calling me a liar, and that you are beginning to understand that the Theistic point of view does not work against science. The Naturalistic point of view you are asserting is every bit as much a faith system as mine and it only accounts for your evolutionary ideas based on certain presuppositions being true. The truth you are trying to assert cannot be demonstrated directly by science.
    Again, everything you are offering up is still only related to Natural selection within kinds, not to evolutionary jumps which create new forms. Your mosquito is just as much a mosquito now as it was the first time we talked about him.]

    The real discussion should be this: Is creationism a disease that eats away the moral fiber of its adherents?

    That’s wholly apart from the question about whether we should let creationists in a room with innocent children. The millstone punishment Jesus promised would be dispositive, but don’t we have a moral duty to protect the children? Don’t we have a moral duty to stop the creationist from sacrificing his own salvation? Friends don’t let friends utter creationist nonsense.

    [Perhaps we should have the discussion about how Naturalistic beliefs are eating away the moral fiber of the entire nation. This is certainly a discussion for a different blog, but it can certainly be argued that Naturalistic thought in our nation is the root cause of much of the degradation we see happening – from the devaluing of life with abortion and “assisted suicide to the acceptance of very much sexual deviance. The survival of the fittest is not very compassionate.

    I think now we can also ask the same question about your Naturalistic approach to teaching children. Since you cannot demonstrate empirically that Naturalistic evolution is even possible, should we let Naturalists in a room with innocent children? Don’t we have a moral duty to stop laying our children on the sacrificial altar of Naturalism? Friends don’t let friends utter Naturalistic nonsense.

    Actually, I will be a bit more magnanimous than you. I say, let’s have the honest discussion in the classroom and admit the truth about what is fact and what is interpretation of fact. Let’s lay out for everyone to see the underlying presuppositions which influence the interpretation of the facts.

  20. Ed Darrell says:

    You might be right. We cannot continue discussing if everytime I note a fact you don’t like, you claim I have insulted you.

    That’s what I mean by the power of denial. Rather than come back with evidence, or an argument about why you don’t have the evidence, or even a different interpretation of the evidence, you simply insist dogmatically that you must be correct, and that any contrary evidence God or anyone else throws into the argument is insult.

    That’s a big problem.

    You said there are no fossil “intermediates.” You insult the intelligence of anyone who has ever been to any of the dozens of museums that have these fossils on display. I offered several examples, none of which you have dealt with in any way.

    So I said in response, highlighting the way you sidestepped the argument, the evidence, and the way you insulted the rest of us (though that’s a minor issue — we’ve come to expect such insults from creationists, and the denials that they are insults):

    How dare you claim there are no such fossils, when there are thousands in one genus. Denialism aside, have creationists no honor?

    You said:

    [There you go with your insults again. And all based on your lack of acknowledgment that there is any way to interpret data other than using Naturalistic presuppositions.

    If you are saying the intermediate fossils can be interpreted another way, you would first have to admit they exist. That’s not what you said, of course — you said they do not exist.

    My question about honor was a serious one. Let’s confront the issue: Do you admit the fossils exist at all? If not, you’re in denial. If you admit they exist, you owe us a retraction of your claim. If your argument is different, explain it.

    If Naturalism is not true, your analysis above is silliness.

    Naturalism has nothing to do with the existence of fossils. This isn’t a philosophical issue. This is an issue of sanity and touch with reality. Are there fossils or not? You said there are no intermediate fossils. There are thousands. Do you admit they exist or not?

    So, prove the Naturalistic presuppositions and I will bow down to you.

    I’m really just trying to figure out if you’re in touch with reality here. Do you admit that fossils exist? Yes or no?

    Otherwise, the assumptions of your Naturalistic faith completely falls apart. I insist that God created each creature separately. Prove me wrong.]

    If a fellow is on drugs and hallucinating, that does not change the fact that I exist. It does not make me a charlatan for warning him not to step into traffic. His being intoxicated does not alter my philosophy. His being drunk does not make me an advocate of naturalism.

    If we cannot agree that reality exists, our discussion really is at an end. You’re free to interpret the facts differently, but you’re not free to invent a new set of facts that the rest of us cannot verify, that cannot be touched or verified in reality.

    Are there fossils? Are there fossils called intermediates? Yesses are hoped for.

  21. Freddy Davis says:

    Of course there are fossils. There are millions of fossils. What gave you the idea I said there are no fossils? The fossils are the “facts” that I referred to over and over. Fossils exist. But your interpretation of the meaning of the fossils is based on Naturalistic presuppositions. You say they are proof that higher forms of life evolved from lower forms. I say that simply arranging fossils in a particular way is not proof of any such thing — that what you are calling intermediate forms that evolved one from another are, rather, separate creations of God. I do believe that the fossils you are calling intermediate forms exist. I just don’t believe that they are, in fact, intermediate forms. Rather, they represent separate lineages. Is that plain enough?

    Let me ask you this. Is my dogmatic insistence that I am right any different than your dogmatic insistence that you are right? Why do you get to be dogmatic based on your Naturalistic approach to understanding the evidence and I don’t get to be based on a Theistic approach? That is very interesting seeing as how both are based on worldview presuppositions. I have given you every chance to prove your point, but you keep dodging this particular issue by not even acknowledging that your position requires the Naturalistic assumptions.

    And why is my disagreement with you an insult but your calling me a denier and out of touch with reality not an insult? I really don’t get that one. Are you saying that if someone doesn’t agree with you that they are on drugs and hallucinating? So am I a charlatan and drunk because I don’t believe that a Naturalistic point of view is able to answer the questions that must be answered to be a valid way of understanding reality?

    And you really took some of the things I said out of context. I think you should at least be fair and accuse me of the things I really said rather than making new ones up.

    I think I was pretty plain in saying that I believe in material reality and that it operates in a very natural way. I believe in science and that a person doesn’t have to be a Naturalist to be a scientist. I believe that God created the material world in an orderly way that can be studied and understood by humanity. But I also believe that there is a God who is capable of intervening in the material world in ways which accomplish his purpose. This does not normally alter the operation of the world, but he has made interventions when he created life, came to the earth in the form of Jesus Christ through a virgin birth, rose from the dead, and a few other things that are recorded in the Bible. As a Christian, do you deny these things? You really never addressed any of the questions related to this topic that I asked. And how can you possibly say that you are not an advocate of Naturalism when everything you are arguing requires Naturalistic presuppositions?

    Based on your strong accusation that I said I don’t believe that fossils exist, I have to wonder if you really read what I wrote.

  22. Ed Darrell says:

    Let me ask you this. Is my dogmatic insistence that I am right any different than your dogmatic insistence that you are right?

    Yes. I’m not being dogmatic. I’m simply referring to the evidence.

    Fossils show evolution. This demonstration is borne out by several different sciences working independently. Geologists provide relative dating, noting that gravity and time put the oldest fossils in the lowest layers. Paleontologists provide familial groupings of fossils, based on the science of bone comparisons. Ecologists and other biologists verify the ages and familial groupings based on the geological record of the climate and terrain. Nuclear physicists date the rocks themselves using radioisotope dating techniques, and they come up with verifications of the relative dating done by the geologists. Molecular biologists check DNA of modern species and verify the genetic relationships inferred by the paleontologists. Chemists verify the climate and subsequent fossilization conditions with modern experiments that demonstrate how it is done.

    Pick a science that contributes to these studies, and you’ll find that the best practitioners, the most honest and diligent, all corroborate the foundations of the theories of evolution.

    In each of these sciences, scientists are urged to bring their skepticism and sniff out and correct errors — in fact, the correction of errors is a key and integral part of the science processes. Nothing I have stated here is supported by fewer than hundreds of experiments and observations, replicable by anyone.

    Little you believe dogmatically can be corroborated by any science, let alone a dozen different branches. Nothing you’ve listed as an alternative to evolution has been corroborated by observation or experiment. Nothing you’ve posited works in God’s world.

    That’s the difference.

  23. Ed Darrell says:

    Based on your strong accusation that I said I don’t believe that fossils exist, I have to wonder if you really read what I wrote.

    Have I confused things? You said, originally:

    The fossil record shows no intermediate forms.(Naturalistic presuppositions are necessary to say that it does.)

    I responded with a few dozen examples whose existence is known beyond question in the rational world:

    How dare you claim there are no such fossils, when there are thousands in one genus. Denialism aside, have creationists no honor?

    I pointed out (though now I see I didn’t make it so obvious as a two-by-four across the forehead) that there is no science, no alternative explanation for these fossils that makes them “not intermediates.” Rather than take this golden opportunity to distinguish your argument from it’s appearance as bold, completely unsupported and erroneous assumption, you said:

    There you go with your insults again. And all based on your lack of acknowledgment that there is any way to interpret data other than using Naturalistic presuppositions. If Naturalism is not true, your analysis above is silliness. So, prove the Naturalistic presuppositions and I will bow down to you. Otherwise, the assumptions of your Naturalistic faith completely falls apart. I insist that God created each creature separately. Prove me wrong.

    How to make this subtle enough you won’t find it an insult, yet clear enough you’ll answer . . .

    God doesn’t work that way, Freddy. When we find human skeleton, we can be sure it’s a human skeleton through a couple dozen different operations of science. This is essential evidence for the faith, too — see the “begats” in Genesis. Christians recognize these familial relationships, even though scripture rather abuses the science.

    Separate creations? You’re kidding, right? That notion was dropped by Christians in the earliest days of the 19th century. Ultimately, to deny paleontology and the experiments that undergird it, you must deny that we can tell father and mother to son and daughter, in bones and in DNA. You responded to not one of the examples I offered, but instead say simply you have a “different” interpretation of the science. Your interpretation is not explained by you, but as explained by others it is so at odds with reality that Christians rejected it 200 years ago.

    I’m calling your bluff: What possible explanation could there be for these thousands of intermediate fossils that doesn’t require a new creation, by God, deceptive from the start, for every generation — no, for every being? What rational, non-naturalist would grant credence to such stuff, and where is there science from any philosophy to back it up?

    You’ve made the ultimate creationist jump in logic: We can’t even prove parenthood, and each living thing is created by God de novo.

    Am I distorting anything you said? Really? Then explain “separate creation” so it doesn’t sound foolish. List any school of philosophy that could make it rational. List any science that could possibly back it up. And tell us, is there any Christian sect of any note that puts stock in the claim?

  24. Ed Darrell says:

    Anyone remember Oomphalos?

    A research scientist who goes by the handle LucasPA usually discusses it like this:

    I would have thought that people who valued knowledge would do a little reading in history. Guess not. In 1844 a pamphlet entitled “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, espousing an evolutionary viewpoint,” was published. In response Philip Gosse, a minister in the Fundamentalist group called the Plymouth Brethren, wrote Oomphalos, published in 1857. In it Gosse made the first written argument that creation only LOOKS old. In it, Gosse even argued that Adam and Eve had navels because that is what one would expect in God-created creatures.

    Gosse expected Oomphalos to be attacked by scientists. What he should have expected, but didn’t, was the denunciation by the religious community. Asked to write a review of Oomphalos, his friend Charles Kinglsey, a minister and author of Westward Ho! refused and wrote the following letter to Gosse:
    “You have given the ‘vestiges of creation theory’ [the pamphlet discussed above] the best shove forward which it has ever had. I have a special dislike for that book; but, honestly, I felt my heart melting towards it as I read Oomphalos. Shall I tell you the truth? It is best. Your book is the first that ever made me doubt the doctrine of absolute creation, and I fear it will make hundreds do so. Your book tends to prove this – that if we accept the fact of absolute creation, God becomes God-the-Sometime-Deceiver. I do not mean merely in the case of fossils which pretend to be the bones of dead animals; but in …your newly created Adam’s navel, you make God tell a lie. It is not my reason, but my conscience which revolts here … I cannot …believe that God has written on the rocks one enormous and superfluous lie for all mankind. To this painful dilemma you have brought me, and will, I fear, bring hundreds. It will not make me throw away my Bible. I trust and hope. I know in whom I have believed, and can trust Him to bring my faith safe through this puzzle, as He has through others; but for the young I do fear. I would not for a thousand pounds put your book into my children’s hands.” (Garret Hardin, “”Scientific Creationism'” – Marketing Deception as Truth” in Science and Creationism edited by Ashley Montagu, 1982.)

    When Darwin published Origin of Species, Kingsley was the first Anglican minister to publicly accept evolution. By 1884 the entire Anglican Church had. And one of the reasons was because arguments like Satterfield are just anti-Christian theology.

    See here.

  25. Freddy Davis says:

    First, let me say I deeply appreciate you writing separate posts. This really does make it much easier to have this discussion. This time, since you have sent me three in a row, I will address all three in this one.

    To begin with, you still don’t get it. You really don’t understand the effect your worldview has on the way you are addressing these issues. Worldview is a belief lens you look through to interpret the world. You are so focused on what you are seeing through that lens that you are completely oblivious to the lens you are looking through. Naturalism is your lens. It begins with the belief that there is no such thing as the supernatural. You talk about bringing your skepticism to the table and sniffing out errors, but there are some places you absolutely refuse to look because you don’t even acknowledge their existence. That is what a worldview perspective will do for you. I know that you claim to be a Christian, so believe in some kind of supernatural existence (though you have yet to explain where that fits in), but you are a functional Naturalist in that you don’t believe that God personally intervenes in any way in the world. I don’t have a problem with you believing anything you want, but you will never have the intellectual capability to understand the arguments I am making until you recognize the nature of your worldview presuppositions and the effect they are having you the way you interpret the facts you are looking at. Your assertion that you are not being dogmatic is laughable (it can’t be dogmatic if it is a fact, can it?). The only problem is, all of your arguments are interpretations of the facts, not the facts themselves. We look at facts, then we interpret them according to a set of worldview presuppositions. Hopefully our presuppositions match up with reality as it actually exists. If they do, our interpretations may get close to right. If they do not, our interpretations are wrong. Your dogmatism is not about the facts but about your interpretation of them. You insist that everything had to happen without the intervention of a god. You don’t know that empirically, but you believe it and do you work as if it is true. All of your methodologies are based on that presupposition. Well, fine. Do what you want. But don’t sit there and tell me that you’re not dogmatic when you so strongly assert that your way is the only way to understand things.

    You have listed all of these scientific disciplines and the work they do, but you have totally left out an important part of the picture. Not every geologist, paleontologist, ecologist, nuclear physicists molecular biologist and chemist agrees with what you are asserting. Believe it or not, there are scientists in all of these fields who believe like I do. It is only the ones who have bought into the Naturalistic worldview who see things your way. As I have mentioned over and over, good science does not require a Naturalistic foundation to be good science. It is possible to believe in a God who interacts in his creation and still believe in an orderly world. Obviously this is a worldview lens that eludes your understanding, but it is possible. As I mentioned before, modern science was begun by Christians with this belief. I totally concur that in our day, the vast majority of scientists work from a Naturalistic worldview perspective, but that does not prove it is right. Again, I challenge you to prove that the Naturalistic presuppositions are the truth about the structure of reality.

    You said that, “Little I believe dogmatically can be corroborated by any science, let alone a dozen different branches. Nothing you’ve listed as an alternative to evolution has been corroborated by observation or experiment. Nothing you’ve posited works in God’s world.” Well frankly, you are in the same boat. The only way your assertions about evolution work is if they are run through a Naturalistic worldview lens. Prove Naturalism and I will bow to your interpretation. But you can’t because it is a faith system – a religion in its own right.

    Now, I am familiar with Oomphalos and his ideas, but I wonder why you throw that out there. Have I suggested that his interpretation is right? I think not! This is nothing but another one of your straw men that you have set up to knock down. It has no bearing whatsoever on this discussion. The subject of the age of the universe has not even been a part of this discussion. And while there are Christians who argue for a “young” universe, there are others who argue for an old one. The Bible cannot be used as a definitive means of answering that question.

    You asked, “Have I confused things? You said, originally: ‘The fossil record shows no intermediate forms.(Naturalistic presuppositions are necessary to say that it does.)’ “ To answer your question simply, yes, you have confused things.

    First of all, your assertion that there is no alternative explanation about certain fossils being “intermediates” is ludicrous. How can you say that with a straight face. Now, granted, there is not an alternative explanation if your Naturalistic presuppositions are correct, but I am saying that they are not. It seems that your 2×4 broke when it hit my head. There must have been a knot in the intermediate section of it.

    Okay, now you are telling me how God works. That is interesting. I would like to hear more about this. If you don’t believe that what is written in the Bible is true, where are you getting your information about how God works? You simply make an assertion (unsupported, I might add) that my Theistic approach to interpreting the fossil evidence is faulty, then you skip right back to the same arguments you have been making all along based on your Naturalistic presuppositions. I have said it many times and am still waiting for you to give me your proof that the Naturalistic presuppositions are true.

    Why do write that when we find human skeletons that we can be sure that it is human? – as if I don’t believe that. This doesn’t make any sense. I believe in human descent. I just don’t believe in descent from lower life forms.

    And yes! Separate creations! I don’t know where you get the idea that this notion was dropped by Christians in the early 19th century. The only people who dropped it were the ones who bought into Naturalism. All your assertion shows is how out of touch you are with what the average Christian believes. I think it is also fair to say that you have not done much reading of the many Christians who assert my point of view. There is a whole world out there that you are completely oblivious to. It might be good for you to expand your horizons (unless keeping yourself insulted among only people who believe like you is somehow good science).

    I keep asking you to prove to me that my belief is wrong. But all you do is to keep insisting that I look through your Naturalistic lens. If God is really God and he is a real existent person, and if he wanted to make the components of the material universe like they are, what would be so strange about him making each creature a separate creation? What we have here is your presupposition that God would not do that. Based on what? Based on your presupposition that God would not do that. What if he did it the way I say? How would you ever know? You don’t even acknowledge the possibility that it could be true. Based on what? Based on your presupposition that it is not true.

    My interpretation is not at odds with science. It is at odds with Naturalism. Obviously, you are not able to make that distinction. I understand the Naturalistic lens. I understand everything you are saying about intermediate forms and the like. I am answering your bluff and raising you. Tell me the origin of the material that makes up material reality – where it came from and how you know that is true. Tell me the mechanism that allowed life to emerge from chemicals which did not have life. Tell me the biological mechanism which allows lower life forms to develop to higher life forms (not simple adaptation within kinds, but moving from one cell to birds and beasts) and show me the lab experiments that demonstrate it is possible. Tell me how it is possible that self-consciousness became a part of the human animal. If you can prove that these things are true, I will give in. But you can’t because none of these things are possible by purely natural means. You insist that it must be possible by Naturalistic means so you devise your science experiments and arrange your evidence to show how it might possibly be true. But your presuppositions come first, not the evidence.

    If anyone has made a jump in logic, it has been you. You have to assume, by faith, that Naturalism is true in order to make the arguments you are making. There is no empirical proof the show that you are right – only evidence that you arrange according to your presuppositions.

  26. Ed Darrell says:

    To begin with, you still don’t get it. You really don’t understand the effect your worldview has on the way you are addressing these issues. Worldview is a belief lens you look through to interpret the world. You are so focused on what you are seeing through that lens that you are completely oblivious to the lens you are looking through. Naturalism is your lens. It begins with the belief that there is no such thing as the supernatural.

    To be fair, since you feel so free to tell me what I think, may I tell you how you think, and name your philosophy, too?

    You think God is deceptive, and a bit of a clown. Can we call that world view Bozoism?

    While you’re pondering whether to accept my offer, let me note again that I am a Christian. I start from a recognition of the supernatural. My faith informs me that God is the creator, and that God does not lie. Because God does not lie, His creation also does not lie or mislead us about its makeup or origins. If it is evidenced in nature, that is directly from the Hand of God, more accurate than any scripture could ever hope to be.

    When your interpretation assumes, without any hint of evidence, that all life is not related though all signs point that way, that chemicals cannot operate the way they do as best we can tell throughout the universe, and that God is a joker who plants fossils that show familial relations though there are none, I gotta wonder whether naturalism isn’t quite superior to bozoism. At least the signs at the zoo and in the museums make some sense.

  27. Freddy Davis says:

    First of all, what offer, exactly, are you are wanting me to accept? I don’t see that in your post.
    Now, to address your concerns.

    Calling me names and making fun of Biblical Theism does not make your case. Intimidaiton tactics only hilight your inability to sufficiently defend your position.

    You have justified the point that you are a Christian by saying that you recognize the supernatural. A recognition of the supernatural is not the definition of a Christian. Is the supernatural you recognize even personal? Christianity recognizes a personal God. I will not attempt to judge whether or not you are a Christian, I will only comment on the assertions that you make about faith.

    Actually I have never heard of Bozoism. But I don’t want you to be unclear as to what I do believe about faith matters, so let me spell it out for you. By the way, I would love to see your faith structure spelled out and know what it is called.

    My faith is actually referred to by a number of different names, but to distinguish it from Naturalism, I will refer to it as Biblical Theism (as opposed to the more generic word Christianity. It seems that many people use the word Christianity to refer to belief systems which are not truly excerpted from the Bible). Here’s what Biblical Theism teaches. A Christian is a person who has entered into a personal relationship with God based on accepting God’s forgiveness for sin which was attoned for by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know who God is, what he is like and what he requires based on his revelation of himself in the Bible. The Bible reveals God to be a morally perfect person who created the material universe and all that is contained in it. He created mankind special for the purpose of relationship with himself. At the creation, man, too, was perfect. But by man’s willful disobedience to God, sin entered the world and created a separation between himself and God. The entry of sin into the world affected the entire created order – humanity as well as the physical universe. The penalty of sin (for mankind) is spiritual death – eternal separation from God. As it was not God’s desire for that to happen, he devised a remedy for the sin problem. Sin had to be paid for,so God’s remedy was for someone else to receive the death penalty in place of individual humans. It would be necessary for that sacrifice to be a morally perfect person (without sin). Since no human being is capable of that kind of moral perfection, God stepped out of heaven and took the form of a man (the man Jesus Christ). He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, then died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. But this does not mean that the sacrifice applies to everyone on earth. Individuals must make a personal, free-will decision that they will accept his free offer of salvation in order for it to be personally applied. It is those who make this decision who are rightly called Christians.

    While you have steadfastly refused to share the specifics of what you actually believe about God, you have intimated enough for me to recognize that it doesn’t include the definition above. You seem to claim that God is the creator, but that he only made the material of the universe, not the life that inhabits it. You say that he doesn’t lie, but you deny the parts of the Bible that you don’t like. Where are God’s non-lying statements if they are not in the Bible? Did you make them up yourself? The Bible specifically states that God created man and breathed into him the breath of life. It says he created the various kinds of plant and animal life found on earth. Yet you don’t believe those statements. Do you recognize that the Bible itself a revelation from God? If not, where do you get your information about him? Did the creation speak to you (since it doesn’t lie)? If you answer “yes” to that one, how do you know that you are understanding it right? And where did you learn to speak creationeze? (I have studies several languages, but that is not one I am familiar with.) After all, many other people have very different ideas based on other worldview presuppositions. Is the God you believe in too weak to create life directly? How do you know he didn’t? Your evidence only works if God didn’t do it the way that the Bible teaches because Naturalistic evolution is not what is explicitly taught in Genesis.

    You keep insisting that all signs point to a conclusion that all of life is related. It simply does not unless you begin with Naturalistic presuppositions – but you can’t even account for those. Your faith in Naturalism is hard to accept without you proving that it is true. Quite the contrary, life has every mark of having been developed by an intelligent designer. DNA is a language. Cells work like very complex and finely engineered machines. The highly specified and irreducible complexity of various organs look like they were made by an intelligent being. Why does life look like it was made by a designer? You have to ignore the design to assert that it only looks that way but really isn’t. As you yourself said, “His creation does not lie or mislead.” If God didn’t create it, it would appear he is deceiving us.

    I really don’t even know how to comment on your statement that your Naturalistic interpretation of fossil evidence is more accurate than any scripture could ever hope to be. How do you know that? Did you make it up, or is it because it just seems right to you? And what? ” Chemicals cannot operate the way the do as best we can tell? What the heck does that mean? None of this qualifies as a scientific approach to analysis nor conclusion. You can’t have it both ways – appeals to God and to a Naturalistic approach to science just in the places you want them to be.

    I don’t get your logic. You create God to be who you want him to be without any kind of authority to back you up. You do not recognize your own philosophical worldview foundation or the radical inconsistencies and contradictions in it. You don’t own up to the faith presuppositions that your entire belief structure is built on. You create your own definition of Christian, and then you call me names for not being willing to accept your unsubstantiated point of view. But of course what do I know? I am simply a Bozo.

  28. Ed Darrell says:

    Calling me names and making fun of Biblical Theism does not make your case.

    I would agree, but you can’t seem to come to understand that I am not a practitioner of naturalism in philosophy. So you keep hurling that epithet at me, and you seem blind to epithetic nature of your claim, the insults behind it, or the way it dances around making a substantive answer.

    Discussions should be more than just waiting for the other guy to shut up, but my experience with creationists is that they rarely have grown past that point in their argumentation education.

  29. Ed Darrell says:

    You keep insisting that all signs point to a conclusion that all of life is related. It simply does not unless you begin with Naturalistic presuppositions – but you can’t even account for those.

    I’ve clearly stated my presuppositions. I assume the universe exists, I assume that we may experience the universe, and I accept Bacon’s definitions of scientific methods, probably explained better by Kuhn.

    Is that naturalism? How is anything else not insanity?

    Freddy, it appears to me that you disagree with the idea that we can study nature scientifically. What of science do you accept?

  30. Ed Darrell says:

    First of all, what offer, exactly, are you are wanting me to accept? I don’t see that in your post.

    My offer to mislabel your presuppositions and “world view” as you have mislabeled mine.

  31. Ed Darrell says:

    You have justified the point that you are a Christian by saying that you recognize the supernatural. A recognition of the supernatural is not the definition of a Christian. Is the supernatural you recognize even personal? Christianity recognizes a personal God. I will not attempt to judge whether or not you are a Christian, I will only comment on the assertions that you make about faith.

    You again miss the point and avoid responding to the argument.

    I’ve said nothing about justifying my faith. I merely note that as a Christian, I accept the supernatural, a refutation of your charge that I don’t.

    I’m not making an assertion about faith, other than to note (again too subtlely) that your only response is to try to incorrectly label me, and not deal with the argument.

    If, as you appear to be claiming, it is impossible to study science without accepting naturalism as a philosophy, and thereby disqualifying any scientist from ever being Christian, then your arguments have a certain logic to them.

    But your claims are indistinguishable from the dope-induced fog of the freshman college student.

    You confuse methodological naturalism, which is a methodology — a sort of decision tree — used for good science, with a philosophy of naturalism, which is held by very few people, very few scientists, and which is completely irrelevant to any discussion of evolution in science.

    This is why creationism keeps losing in the courts. If you assume naturalism as a philosophy is the culprit, you miss the science, and skitter off into irrelevant arguments that fail to make your case.

    As in this discussion.

    Denialism could be a philosophy, too, I suppose. To my offering of a few dozen examples of “intermediate” fossils, you’ve offered no hint of any rebuttal other than to claim I am an adherent of naturalism as a philosophy.

    Science has built-in filters and guardrails to prevent philsophical bias from interfering with the science. Naturalism cannot get through those filters.

    Consequently, if you wish to argue that there is some interpretational issue with intermediate fossils, you need to state what that issue is. My suspicion is that you don’t know, and that’s why you keep hurling an epithet instead of an argument.

    Name calling doesn’t make a good argument, you said, but that’s all you’ve got so far.

    How is there any other interpretation of fossils possible? Separate creation, a doctrine rejected by Christians, is not a scientific claim, but a form of denialism-by-philosophical-bait-and-switch.

    In the real world, the world God made, we can practice science. Is there any part of science you accept?

  32. Ed Darrell says:

    The entry of sin into the world affected the entire created order – humanity as well as the physical universe.

    So, you believe that the current creation we see is, indeed, deceptive and corrupt?

    This is quite contrary to most Christian belief. Is there a scriptural basis for this belief? Is there any mainstream Christian sect which holds this belief?

  33. Freddy Davis says:

    I could certainly say the same thing about your arguments. You have steadfastly avoided answering the questions I have asked and have refused to respond to the substantive arguments I have made. Every time I give a specific response, you reply by either telling me I am ignorant or by simply ignoring it. I have not called you a Naturalist. I have let you define your own philosophical base. However, I have stated that you are a functional Naturalist. You give yourself the title of Christian (which is a Theistic point of view), but you have not made one argument which would depend on Theistic philosophical presuppositions. Simply claiming you believe in God does not qualify as being a Christian. There are many non-Christian religions which believe in God, but it is not the God of Christianity. You are the one who is dancing around my points. I have been pretty direct an addressing yours. You just don’t like my answers.

    You certainly have not clearly stated your presuppositions. This is certainly the first time you have even stated these three, but you have others that you have not stated and are not in this list. Let me list some of them. I am not making these up. These are from your arguments. If you disagree with anything I am saying I would be glad to defer to you, but you will have to take back some of the things you have written earlier.
    1. God created something, but it wasn’t life.
    2. The universe is created by God, but we don’t know how he did it or why.
    3. The Bible is not a complete or accurate revelation of the work of God.
    4. The only way we can understand anything about God is by observing the natural order.
    5. Life has come into existence on its own from non-life sources.
    6. Life has evolved from less complex to more complex forms by natural evolutionary processes.
    7. Man is nothing more than the animal creature with the most highly evolved brain.
    8. Self-consciousness in man is a naturally evolved trait.
    9. God does not intervene in his creation in any objective way.
    10. You have steadfastly refused to directly comment on this, but based on your continued silence, I am going to guess this one. Jesus Christ is not God in the flesh who came to earth as a man, born of a virgin, died for the salvation of mankind and rose from the dead.

    These unacknowledged presuppositions force your approach to science to go in a much narrower direction than the ones you listed. And these are faith presuppositions. There is no objective science which can prove any of these.

    It seems that you did not need my permission to mislabel my worldview. You did it before I even shared specifically what I believe. Be that as it may, I don’t see how I have mislabeled yours. In fact, your stated worldview presuppositions put you all over the place. You claim to be a Christian (Theism), but you are functionally a Naturalist.

    I have not missed anything. Even with your answer here you have not responded to me. I have definitively expressed a Biblical Theistic point of view to justify my belief that God created life. You keep claiming you are a Christian yet continue to deny (or remain silent) regarding the worldview that Christianity is founded upon. Frankly, I am not responsible for whether or not you are a Christian. But if you are so intent on being labeled a Christian, why are you also intent on denying the basic beliefs of the faith. You say there is a God, but is so nebulous that he is defined into nothing. And based on what? You have never said where you get your ideas about God. It is obviously not the Bible because you don’t think that what the Bible says about creation is true. The truth is, you have defined God by your understanding of science rather than defining you view of science by your understanding of God. And this is not avoiding the point. The point is that your whole approach to understanding evolution is filtered through a point of view which does not recognize God’s direct hand in it. It affects all of your conclusions.

    The idea of sin contrary to Christian belief? Is there a scriptural basis for this belief? Is there any mainstream Christian sect which holds this belief? Are you kidding? It is the fringe sects of Christianity which don’t believe these things. For you to ask a question like this requires that you completely discount the Bible as God’s revelation to mankind. And if you believe that is the case, where do you get your information and understanding about God? Do you just make it up?

    I am completely dumbfounded by your assertions about the doctrines of Christianity. I laid out for you in my last post the whole story of what the Bible teaches about why God created man, what happened to thwart God’s purpose, and what God did to fix the problem. Sin is a central player in the story. Now I am really curious about what you believe about what Christianity teaches and where you get your teaching.

    I don’t know why you think being a fair, objective scientist requires one to believe in Naturalistic evolution. All of the experimental science that is done in the area of biology is done on the basis of an understanding of micro-evolution, not macro. Christians believe in that. Christianity believes that the universe is orderly and can be studied and observed and does not just arbitrarily change because God dips his finger into the pool. And all of the practices using technology in science don’t depend on believing in macro-evolution. There is nothing in chemistry or physics that I am aware of that would require a person to begin with Naturalistic presuppositions in order to effectively work in those fields. In fact, I can’t think of one thing in science that requires a belief in macro-evolution. So, why can’t a Christian be a good scientist? You are insisting on a belief in Naturalistic evolution because that is the basis for your faith, not because it is a necessary part of science.

  34. Ed Darrell says:

    I could certainly say the same thing about your arguments. You have steadfastly avoided answering the questions I have asked and have refused to respond to the substantive arguments I have made.

    First you complain I answer in too much detail. Now you complain I don’t answer specifically enough. Which is it? What is the Goldilocks answer for you?

    I don’t know why you think being a fair, objective scientist requires one to believe in Naturalistic evolution.

    I have not said that. I’ve said the opposite.

    On the other hand, we’re still waiting for you to produce your first reference to any real science.

    Promise me you won’t act this way in front of children, will you?

  35. Freddy Davis says:

    Actually, I have not said anything about the amount of detail in your answers. I don’t know what you are talking about here.

    But I have said something about the questions you have steadfastly avoided, and you still have not addressed them at all. Even in this post you have not addressed any of my concerns about the possibility of macro-evolutionary change. All you have done is attack me for not believing what you believe.

    I certainly don’t understand what you mean when you say you have argued the opposite. The entire thrust of everything you have said in our entire conversation has been in defense of a Naturalistic approach to evolution. If you were referring only to micro-evolution we would be agreeing. But you have made it very plain that you believe there is no distinction between micro and macro. With that, I have to disagree and ask for your justification. You have done nothing but blast me for saying it is not true. If it is really true, then why don’t you simply show me the science to prove the presuppositions?

    I really don’t know, at this point, how to respond to your insult. I suppose I am waiting, too, for you to produce a justification for your interpretations of the facts of science. Am I off base regarding your presuppositions? Have you given me any science to prove that evloution from molecules to man is even possible? The answers to both of those questions is, “No!”

    I am not sure what kind of science you are waiting for me to produce. Since I agree with you regarding science in the realm of micro-evolution, I didn’t realize you needed me to give you anything there. Where we disagree relates to the possibility of macro-evolution, and that is based on philosophy, not science. I am still open to you demonstrating to me the chemical and biological mechanisms which prove macro-evolution is possible, but so far you have chosen to simply insult me rather than giving answers. There is really not much left for me to say until you actually answer the questions I have laid out. You are responding like you are check mated.

  36. Ed Darrell says:

    Freddy, in your world view, is God the creator? Does nature accurately reflect its own history, as God wrote it?

    If nature is not an accurate reflection of itself and its history, who changed it?

    Is there scriptural basis for your belief in the change in creation? What is that basis, what is that scripture?

  37. Ed Darrell says:

    Am I off base regarding your presuppositions?

    Way, way off base. You assume presuppositions that don’t exist, you assume presuppositions at all. (At the same time, you appear wholly blind to the assumptions you make which are contrary to reality, but we can let that slide.)

    I don’t share your view that God’s creation was corrupted and is, as a consequence, dishonest in its representations to us. When I asked you about where that idea came from — it’s not in any Christian theology — did you respond?

    That appears the major difference in our “world views.” You’ve got some extra-Christian idea that the universe has been corrupted to the point that it is not God’s anymore, and/or that it does not reflect God’s actions anymore.

    Other than that, how does anything I’ve said differ from traditional Christianity? It doesn’t, even though you claim to the contrary.

    Have you given me any science to prove that evloution from molecules to man is even possible? The answers to both of those questions is, “No!”

    Molecules to man? First you claim not to be a classic, denial-of-reality creationist, then you trot out all the old denial-of-reality creationist arguments. I think you’ve pulled a bait-and-switch on yourself.

    Molecules to man: Each human embryo is a one-celled creature. In about 280 days it grows to a multi-billion-celled creature with finely differentiated cells doing dramatically different tasks, with eyes, ears, fingers and a body to sense the world and a brain to sort out and interpret those sensations.

    Molecules to man? We have six billion human examples of that walking the Earth today. There is not a single example we know of where a human did not take that path. Christians believe even our Savior took that path.

    So our Savior went from mere molecules to Man in 280 days, but you deny it’s possible?

    You’re in deep, deep, deep denial.

  38. Ed Darrell says:

    You keep insisting that all signs point to a conclusion that all of life is related. It simply does not unless you begin with Naturalistic presuppositions – but you can’t even account for those. Your faith in Naturalism is hard to accept without you proving that it is true.

    Yes, that’s one of the Biblically-based assumptions scientists started out with. Certainly Christians still believe that’s true for humans. You’ve never explained why we should step away from scripture on this issue, especially since DNA has proven in millions of tests to bear it out precisely. You claim this is an anti-Christian exercise of science — a specious claim which no religious authority I can find agrees with, but one which you insist must operate. Does my holding to this well-proven bit of science make me a follower of the philosophy of Naturalism? Then I’m in good company, with Isaiah, Jesus, and other religious authorities I would have thought you’d give more heed to.

    You are mistaken in claiming that as a function of the philosophy of naturalism, however. It’s not. The almost-deist philosophy of naturalism existed well before the discovery of DNA, or the discovery of evolution (by Christians, incidentally). The western scientific philosophy holds that atoms and molecules do not act differently in different parts of the universe. This is a Christian- and Moslem- and Jewish-based idea, based on the notion that God is steadfast and so is His creation.

    How many times and in how many ways must I ask the question to get you to answer: Do you reject God as the creator? Do you reject the idea that creation exhibits the qualities God directed it to have? If so, how, and who made the changes? Where is the scripture to support your claims?

    It is not a naturalistic philosophy that leads one to understand that living things are related, but an operation of methodological naturalism, which in science really is only saying “things we can show repeatedly, are as they appear.” For humans, for example, we take that from the Bible. DNA verifies that humans are related. Methodological naturalism, which assumes only that God cannot be tested (a point Jesus makes in scripture), is not philosophical or metaphysical naturalism. Your refusal to distinguish between science and philosophy on this point is grating and wearying, not to mention a major annoyance.

    In a Christian worldview, one is not free to make up whatever one wishes to make up about God. I’m curious how you justify this radical departure from Christian thought and tradition.

    Quite the contrary, life has every mark of having been developed by an intelligent designer.

    Please point us to the work that defines those marks, how we can see them, and which points to a serious effort on the part of any scientist to write it up as a hypothesis. There are no marks of intelligent design in life. Life is complex, not simple as a designer would make it. Life systems are not designed to optimum in any fashion we know, but instead show jerry-rigging as required by a process like evolution which does not have the privilege of stopping the world to work for good design, but has to do good with workable design based on what was there before. While we have seen the rise of many new species — “macro” evolution as you would define it if you weren’t trying to avoid denailism — no one has ever seen any complex species come into existence other than through evolutionary processes. There are no signatures of an intelligent designer, no workshops, no nothing to provide evidence of intelligent design. And there is that annoying erroneous claim that “complexity” points to design when, as I’ve noted above, simplicity is a better, more reliable and much more prevalent pointer to intelligent design (complexity points to stupid and sloppy design when outside intelligences are involved, and surely you are not trying to make the case that God is stupid and sloppy — are you?)

    DNA is a language. Cells work like very complex and finely engineered machines.

    DNA is code for the manufacture of enzymes in living things. It is not language. Cells have some functions that resemble machine functions, but they are not machines, and the analogy breaks down very quickly. Self-repairing, self-replicating machines are unknown, so there is no way we can say a cell resembles a machine in the cell’s most basic functions.

    The highly specified and irreducible complexity of various organs look like they were made by an intelligent being.

    I’ve interviewed Michael Behe. He says he can’t point to anything in living things that is, absolutely, irreducible complex, though he has some faith that such things might be found (by others — he’s not doing the work). Challenged to produce solid examples of irreducible complexity on the witness stand, Behe could not find anything that was not better explained by evolution.

    Now you say there are irreducibly complex features in living things? What? Why haven’t you published a paper on your research?

    Or are you simply mistaking the argument that irreducible complexity would point towards intelligent design, with the claim that such complexity has been found?

    Show us the citations. What in the world is irreducibly complex? Where is the research that verifies the claim?

    Why does life look like it was made by a designer?

    What is it that makes you say complex, non-designed things look like they were made by a designer? A river delta is neatly delta-shaped, but no one thinks a designer had to be involved. Salt crystals are maddeningly consistent in the angles of their edges, and yet we know they are not designed by intelligence.

    Life looks to me like it was made by a haphazard process. Human eyes are wired backwards, with the light-sensitive part of the rods and cones pointing away from the lens (compare to cephalopod eyes for a better example), with such wiring allowing easy and destructive retina detachment, and requiring a blind spot. The male human ureter passes through the prostate gland, guaranteeing life-threatening complications in old age when the gland swells. Reproductive and waste-elmination tracts are the same in humans — that’s not design of a good nature. It looks haphazard; if it’s design, it’s evil, malevolent design.

    Back trouble, ear infections, the epiglottis, allergies, cancer, fever, and a host of other features, refute intelligent design directly and powerfully. May I assume you’ve never taken a human anatomy course?

    And we haven’t gotten to the really creepy things — the way octopi impregnate by punching holes in the body of the female and hurling sperm inside; the wasps that lay eggs in the heads of ants, the larva to eat the brain of the ant and emerge later; or the wasp that lays many eggs on the caterpillar, so its young can burrow into the caterpillar and eat away as the caterpillar grows, until just before they break out and fly away, the wasps’ eating of the caterpillar slows it down to kill it; or the way a cat toys with a mouse before killing it. Or the fact that about half of all human pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion due to unfitness of the embryo due to error in the replication processes.

    A designer who makes such things intentionally is a monster, an evil force who should be resisted.

    Favoring an intelligent design view of life is not a worldview problem in that case; it becomes a moral issue.

    ‘Why does life look like it was made by a designer?’ Of course, that’s silly — it doesn’t look designed at all. It doesn’t look designed except, perhaps, to Philosophical Denialists.

    You have to ignore the design to assert that it only looks that way but really isn’t.

    No. If one studies the design of living things, one quickly comes to understand they weren’t designed by anyone who likes us.

    As you yourself said, “His creation does not lie or mislead.” If God didn’t create it, it would appear he is deceiving us.

    You take it one step too far. God created a process that does not lie. God didn’t personally design the odd Amazonian fish that swims up the penis of a mammal and inflates itself to get stuck there, with spines to make it fatal if the thing is pulled out. There are good explanations for how such things occur in evolution, but no good explanation for how God could have any role in that design, unless God is evil, or Cthulu.

  39. Ed Darrell says:

    Ooops. Missed the blockquote code for the paragraph that begins, “DNA is a language.” That’s what Freddy said, not I.

  40. Freddy Davis says:

    Well, let’s see. Some of your retorts completely distort what I am saying so it makes it hard to reply to everything, but I will try. I hate it that this is so long, but I am replying to all four of your posts.

    Ed, in my worldview God is the creator and nature does accurately reflect its own history up to a certain point. But, if I am understanding your question correctly, there are a couple of factors which make it impossible to be as definitive about how to read that history as you are trying to make it.

    First, different geological formations in different places in the world require different approaches to evaluating and explaining the fossil record. There is no single place on the earth which allows a person to read the entire history of the earth. Since this is true, geologists have to take the information found in many different places and interpret it based on some presuppositional model. Some of the data which must be interpreted is found in various rock formations, some is gathered using various dating techniques (of which there are many), and so on. One presuppositional model is that proposed by Naturalistic evolution. Another possibility is the Biblical creation model. Based on the model one chooses, the evidence is lined up and evaluated.

    The second issue that comes into play is based on the event recorded in the Bible called the fall of mankind. When sin entered the world, it not only corrupted the soul of man, but the entire created order. You will find an account of the fall and its consequences in the first few chapters of Genesis. Perhaps I am wrong here, but it seems that you object to using the Biblical model and prefer, instead, to use the Naturalistic one. You don’t seem to believe that the creation account in the Bible is the way things really happened – that God created the world and life. It seems that you don’t believe that God created the various life forms each after its own kind.

    That is certainly your choice, but you still have to make that choice based on your faith presuppositions that a Naturalistic approach is correct. It is a faith system. You cannot demonstrate that the four Naturalistic presuppositions that I have offered have any basis in science. The Naturalistic model may seem right to you, but you cannot demonstrate it with science. You may not like my approach, but you cannot demonstrate by science that I am wrong.

    You say that I have misrepresented your presuppositions. I really would like to know which ones of those I listed that you don’t agree with. Since you have not been willing to specifically state what you believe about God and how he operates in relationship with mankind, I am having to deduce these things based on what you are saying. I am certainly not trying to put words into your mouth. I’m all ears.

    And good Lord! Can I not even use an idiomatic expression? The phrase “molecules to man” is a specific reference to the concept of evolution moving from non-living matter to living human beings. Virtually nothing you said in your rant about the molecules to man comment has any relationship to anything I have said I believed. Of course I believe that human beings develop from an embryo to a full fledged human being. It seems not that you have resorted to making up what I am saying.

    Regarding the things you are willing to “let slide, no need to do that. I am willing to address anything you bring up. But what I think you are trying to say is that my presuppositions are wrong, just as I have said about yours. If that is that case, we can still talk.

    Now, just what presuppositions do I have that are contrary to reality (at least what do I believe that you can prove wrong)? I do believe the fall corrupted nature. It is what the Bible teaches. We may disagree, but prove me wrong.

    And you are completely off base if you think that the concept of the fall does not come out of Christian beliefs. I think I have stated this pretty directly rather than avoiding it in past posts. And, I believe that we have come once again to the crux of the issue. You simply don’t believe that the Bible represents God’s personal and direct revelation of himself and his ways to mankind. And if you do, you seem to want to pick and choose which parts are accurate teachings and which are not. Again, you are free to make your choices, but you cannot demonstrate empirically that your worldview beliefs are right and mine are wrong. To claim that I am wrong because your beliefs can be empirically demonstrated by science is simply not true.

    I understand that you do not accept the Biblical concept of the fall. Again, it doesn’t fit in with the Naturalistic presuppositions that you are using. But it is certainly not an “extra-Christian” set of beliefs. In fact, the concept of the fall of mankind is absolutely central to Christian theology. Without the fall there is no need for redemption. Without the need for redemption there was no need for the appearance and work of Jesus Christ. So, without the fall, Christianity simply doesn’t exist as a coherent belief system. It is a pretty strong statement that my beliefs don’t come from Christian theology. I am not sure where you got your theological training, but your professors obviously left something out. So, just where are you getting your theology? You know, you never really said what you believe about Jesus Christ. Was he God in the flesh who came to earth being born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind and rose from the dead? I mean, if you don’t believe these things that is your business, but it puts you outside of Christianity, not me.

    And, your assumption that the fall creates a situation where somehow God has misrepresented himself in the creation is not a necessary conclusion. It is only true if one assumes that the fall did not actually take place and that God’s purpose in creation is to reveal himself through the created order. First of all, God’s purpose in the creation of the universe was to create a place for mankind to exist. His ultimate purpose for the creation of mankind was for personal fellowship with himself. Now, this is the Biblical point of view. I understand that you don’t like this point of view, and that is fine. But it is what the Bible teaches. If you want to go “extra-Biblical” and give some other purposes for God’s creation, go ahead. But I am really interested in the objective basis you have for doing it. You have accused me of making things up about God, but I actually believe what the Bible says about him and his creation. You are the one who seems to be plucking ideas about him out of thin air.

    Your reply about my beliefs concerning “all of life being related” is quite confusing. It is hard to discern what you are saying you believe and what you are saying I believe. Let me try to clear it up for you again. I have steadfastly asserted that kinds beget the same kinds – dogs beget dogs, elephants beget elephants and humans beget humans – throughout the generations. If you are asserting that I don’t believe this, then you are once again changing what I am saying to suit your own purposes. When I talk about all of life not being related I am saying that lower life forms have not evolved to higher life forms. I think that is pretty straightforward. If you are insisting that DNA proves that lower life forms evolved to higher, more complex life forms, then you are once again filtering your conclusions through a Naturalistic lens. Similar DNA patterns do not prove ancestry unless you start with a set of presuppositions which requires it.

    (Who ever said that atoms and molecules act differently in different parts of the universe? I have no idea where that is coming from. It is certainly not anything that I believe.)

    Obviously you don’t like that I have pointed to the appearance of design in nature and you have shot back that life appears random rather than designed. I really hate to be dismissive of your examples, but in making your assertions, you have assumed for yourself the ability to understand the purposes of God and the way he created his universe. You have also taken for yourself the ability to determine what is moral and what is not moral. I am willing to let you have your opinion, but I am not willing to allow you to speak for God in defining morality unless you can give me some objective authority as your reference point. I do not simply accept your personal opinion on this matter. You are certainly not looking to the Bible for your definitions of morality unless you are simply picking and choosing what you are willing to believe and what you are not.

    So, simplicity is the mark of intelligence and complexity is the mark of stupid and sloppy design? Then I guess the space shuttle was not designed by smart people and is a stupid and sloppy piece of work. Or, perhaps the space shuttle was not designed by people at all but was the result of parts being thrown over the fence into a junkyard over a period of many years. Your whole set of assertions are, once again, assuming that God did not create things the way they are. Again, what if he did? How do you know that he didn’t do it the way I am suggesting? My point from the very beginning is still valid. Your entire approach is based on a set of philosophical presuppositions, not on science. If you want to believe it, I have no objection. But to dogmatically dismiss my assumptions when you can’t even prove yours are right is a little over the top.

    You have asserted that “we have seen the rise of many new species — “macro” evolution as you would define it if you weren’t trying to avoid denailism – no one has ever seen any
    complex species come into existence other than through evolutionary processes.” That statement is flat false. We have been through this before and I really don’t see any reason to go over the same ground again. The fact is, the only way you can say that we have seen the evolutionary rise of new species is if you define the term species so narrowly as to only include subspeciation. You cannot demonstrate one example of transpeciation. And, you cannot show me any laboratory evidence that there exists a biological mechanism which is capable of producing transpeciation.

    There are actually quantifiable elements which point to design rather than randomness. You asked for a source. Let me suggest to you William Dembski’s book Intelligent Design.

    Language, code, it works the same. Okay, let’s use your word. Who uses code except intelligent beings? How is it possible for this “code” to have randomly organized itself to develop all of the different parts of all of the living things that exist? It takes more faith to believe that than to believe that God did it. Where did you get that kind of faith? There is certainly no laboratory evidence that I know of that can show that it could have randomly organized itself that way.

    You have asserted that I have taken things one step too far. You have stated that God created a process that does not lie. You have stated that God didn’t personally design the odd Amazonian fish. You have stated that God would have to be evil to have done it the way he did. Now, once again, tell me how you know all of this? Did he speak to you and tell you how he did it? Has he directly revealed to you what is moral and what is not? Really, how do you know these things? Again, I don’t care what you believe, but you really do need to learn the difference between provable science and philosophical speculation.

  41. Ed Darrell says:

    There is no single place on the earth which allows a person to read the entire history of the earth. Since this is true, geologists have to take the information found in many different places and interpret it based on some presuppositional model. Some of the data which must be interpreted is found in various rock formations, some is gathered using various dating techniques (of which there are many), and so on. One presuppositional model is that proposed by Naturalistic evolution. Another possibility is the Biblical creation model. Based on the model one chooses, the evidence is lined up and evaluated.

    The only assumption necessary for geological column is that gravity works all the time. Christians have no theology against gravity.

    Since gravity works all the time, we can be sure that the stuff in the lowest layers was put down first. In those few places where subsequent geologic action has produced folds or overthrusts, which in a few cases twist layers back on themselves, the original layering is still clear and easy to read.

    Because of the passage of time, we also find that some layers put down were subsequently eroded away. There’s still nothing a Christian could disagree with. Time and gravity work the same for everyone at less-than-nearly-lightspeed, so there can be no “presuppositional” differences between good science and good faith (I’m sure you have one to tell us about, but I’m saying in advance it’s a false distinction).

    And there are a few places, such as the Colorado Plateau, where in places we have layers eroded away, and then later layers put down on top — so there are “missing” layers in some columns (this is easy to see in the Grand Canyon in a couple of places). We’re still talking time and gravity. No presuppositional differences.

    I don’t see what your objection is.

    You say that nowhere can we observe a complete geological column. But that’s not so. All we need to do is find a continent with a spot on the craton that hasn’t had periods of erosion punctuating periods of deposition. North Dakota is one such place on North America — a complete geological column is available there, it’s been drilled, and it verifies what geologists knew from looking at the layers everywhere else. I hope you’ll read this article. It is not incredibly detailed, but it offers a glimpse of the details available, with dozens of different formations found nearly worldwide, and details about how each of these layers takes a lot of time to deposit. These sorts of details are ignored by every creationist tract or publication, and its one way we can know that the authors are not paying heed to what God’s Earth tells them.

    Now, I think creationists have a presupposition that denial of reality is a good way to go — it makes it easier to tell whopping false tales about scientists and science, and it allows the creation of new theological claims that most Christians frankly won’t bother to study to falsify. And here you trot out that nasty presupposition in its full glory.

    You could check almost any good geology text and learn differently from what you claim here.

    Turns out there are dozens of places that the entire column exists, at least 32 places:

    What does all this mean? First, as I have noted before, the concept quite prevalent among some Christians, that the geologic column does not exist, is quite wrong. Morris and Parker (Morris and Parker, 1987, p. 163) write:

    “Now, the geologic column is an idea, not an actual series of rock layers. Nowhere do we find the complete sequence.”

    They are wrong. You just saw the whole column piled up in one place where one oil well can drill through it. Not only that, the entire geologic column is found in 31 other basins around the world, piled up in proper order. These basins are:

    The Ghadames Basin in Libya
    The Beni Mellal Basin in Morocco
    The Essaouira Basin in Morocco(Broughton and Trepanier, 1993)
    The Tunisian Basin in Tunisia
    The Oman Interior Basin in Oman
    The Western Desert Basin in Egypt
    The Adana Basin in Turkey
    The Iskenderun Basin in Turkey
    The Moesian Platform in Bulgaria
    The Carpathian Basin in Poland
    The Baltic Basin in the USSR
    The Yeniseiy-Khatanga Basin in the USSR
    The Farah Basin in Afghanistan
    The Helmand Basin in Afghanistan
    The Yazd-Kerman-Tabas Basin in Iran
    The Manhai-Subei Basin in China
    The Jiuxi Basin China
    The Tung t’in – Yuan Shui Basin China
    The Tarim Basin China
    The Szechwan Basin China
    The Yukon-Porcupine Province Alaska
    The Williston Basin in North Dakota (Haimla et al, 1990, p. 517)
    The Tampico Embayment Mexico
    The Bogata Basin Colombia
    The Bonaparte Basin, Australia (above this basin sources are Roberston Group, 1989)
    The Beaufort Sea Basin/McKenzie River Delta(Trendall 1990)
    The Parana Basin North, Paraguay and Brazil( (Wiens, 1995, p. 192)
    The Cape Karroo Basin (Tankard, 1995, p. 21)
    The Argentina Precordillera Basin (Franca et al, 1995, p. 136)
    The Chilean Antofagosta Basin (Franca et al, 1995, p. 134)
    The Pricaspian Basin (Volozh et al, 2003)

    What sort of presupposition or world view allows us to ignore the physical evidence?

  42. Ed Darrell says:

    The second issue that comes into play is based on the event recorded in the Bible called the fall of mankind. When sin entered the world, it not only corrupted the soul of man, but the entire created order. You will find an account of the fall and its consequences in the first few chapters of Genesis. Perhaps I am wrong here, but it seems that you object to using the Biblical model and prefer, instead, to use the Naturalistic one.

    I object strongly to distorting scripture, to abusing scripture, and to making claims about scripture that are not borne out by study of scripture.

    Nowhere in scripture is there a claim that the fall of Adam and Eve changed the physical features of the Earth. That’s completely fatuous, in Christian theology. It’s completely fatuous, period.

    Creation is a testament of God. It has not been corrupted, according to scripture, according to Christian tradition, nor according to any other holy source. Creation remains a testament to God (see Romans 1.20 and environs).

    I note that you don’t answer with an appeal to scripture. Genesis 3 tells of the fall of Man, but there is nothing to even hint at the corruption of the rest of creation.

    So let’s make this clear: Nature, from the Hand of God, tells the truth. Seven times in Genesis 1 God notes how good is creation (see Genesis 1.31, for example). Not once is there any claim that this goodness from the Hand of God is changed by anyone, least of all by God. Creation remains good, as God created it.

    Consequently, I reject your claim that creation is corrupt. The Bible denies that claim directly, repeatedly.

    You don’t seem to believe that the creation account in the Bible is the way things really happened – that God created the world and life.

    Hold on: You’re the one rejecting God’s good creation here. You’re the one who doesn’t seem to believe the creation account. You’ve stated here clearly that you think creation was corrupted somehow. Don’t misattribute views to me when you’ve already rejected the scripture on the point.

    It seems that you don’t believe that God created the various life forms each after its own kind.

    I don’t believe God used a magic wand. I don’t believe God created a deception to hide His creation. “Each after its own kind,” by the way, describes how the living things reproduce — and that’s about how Darwin describes it, with each species reproducing generation after generation, descent with modification. I accept that as a great poetic description of life — but I also recognize it as a poem designed to rebut the Babylonian claim that each of those days of creation created a series of gods and other deities. Let’s not try to stretch the Bible beyond its intended use. Nowhere in Genesis is there anything that contradicts Darwin, especially if we understand it is poetry and not science, and especially when we understand it is not a description intended to contradict God’s other testament in creation.

    That is certainly your choice, but you still have to make that choice based on your faith presuppositions that a Naturalistic approach is correct.

    I see that your “presupposition” is that if you repeat a falsehood often enough, others might believe it true. Alas, studies show that such actions generally deceive the teller of the tale first. I think a Christian approach is required here, total honesty. And I find your version sorely lacking in such honesty. As I’ve already noted, you depend on erroneous and false claims, such as the claim that there is no place we can find a complete geological column, though a quick search finds 32 places at least where we find exactly that. And you depend on an erroneous claim that creation was corrupted, though scripture won’t reveal that claim.

    Do we detect a trend? I fear so.

    It is a faith system. You cannot demonstrate that the four Naturalistic presuppositions that I have offered have any basis in science.

    Nor can you demonstrate that they are necessary to study science, nor that they oppose a good Christian reading of nature. I suspect you’re going to use your inability to understand how science works and your refusal to hold to the high moral standards of science as an excuse to deny fact and reality again, very soon.

    The Naturalistic model may seem right to you, but you cannot demonstrate it with science. You may not like my approach, but you cannot demonstrate by science that I am wrong.

    You cannot demonstrate by any other method that we should ignore the facts and tell tall tales about science, either.

    Enough of the philosophy claptrap. A philsophical justification for a lie doesn’t change the nature of the prevarication. Methodological naturalism, the tool of science (and not a philosophy) demand honesty. You appear not to want to play on such a field. I think our readers are beginning to see why.

  43. Ed Darrell says:

    You have asserted that “we have seen the rise of many new species — “macro” evolution as you would define it if you weren’t trying to avoid denailism – no one has ever seen any
    complex species come into existence other than through evolutionary processes.” That statement is flat false.,/blockquote>

    I offered the example of beef. You offered no response. I offered examples of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Canola and radishes. You said you didn’t believe it, but you offered not a shred of contrary evidence, nor even a serious argument other than your petulant refusal to grant credence.

    I pointed you to the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant who have thoroughly documented the rise of new species. You said you don’t believe it.

    You know, God doesn’t care whether we believe in the workings of mother nature. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Evolution provides food for the person who understands science and the creationist alike.

    But if you wish to dismiss the examples, have the courtesy to state that it is your disbelief, your dogmatic, religious rejection of science that causes you to do so.

    You said there are no examples, I offered many. Your refusal to look doesn’t make them go away. Your refusal to look is exactly the problem with creationism, a refusal to do the work required to make a case.

    Your failure to make a case doesn’t negate the hard examples we’ve offered here.

    We have been through this before and I really don’t see any reason to go over the same ground again. The fact is, the only way you can say that we have seen the evolutionary rise of new species is if you define the term species so narrowly as to only include subspeciation.

    Only if you lie about the definition of species can you make such an argument. The work of the Grants shows speciation in morphology, in color of feathers, in songs, in mating styles, in diet — and they have the DNA to prove it. No creationist has ever bothered to ask to see the blood samples, where a rebuttal would be quick and devastating, if God’s creatures were lying about their speciation.

    If creationism doesn’t have the guts to do the work required to make the case, can’t we at least get the honesty required to face up to that failure?

    You cannot demonstrate one example of transpeciation.

    Not one example, dozens. Hundreds. You try to pretend they don’t exist.

    And, you cannot show me any laboratory evidence that there exists a biological mechanism which is capable of producing transpeciation.

    I can’t show it to you only because you avert your eyes when faced with the majesty of God’s creation in evolution, and for no other reason.

    If you’d look, you’d see.

  44. Ed Darrell says:

    Let’s try that again to get the formatting right.

    You have asserted that “we have seen the rise of many new species — “macro” evolution as you would define it if you weren’t trying to avoid denailism – no one has ever seen any complex species come into existence other than through evolutionary processes.” That statement is flat false.

    I offered the example of beef. You offered no response. I offered examples of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Canola and radishes. You said you didn’t believe it, but you offered not a shred of contrary evidence, nor even a serious argument other than your petulant refusal to grant credence.

    I pointed you to the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant who have thoroughly documented the rise of new species. You said you don’t believe it.

    You know, God doesn’t care whether we believe in the workings of mother nature. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Evolution provides food for the person who understands science and the creationist alike.

    But if you wish to dismiss the examples, have the courtesy to state that it is your disbelief, your dogmatic, religious rejection of science that causes you to do so.

    You said there are no examples, I offered many. Your refusal to look doesn’t make them go away. Your refusal to look is exactly the problem with creationism, a refusal to do the work required to make a case.

    Your failure to make a case doesn’t negate the hard examples we’ve offered here.

    We have been through this before and I really don’t see any reason to go over the same ground again. The fact is, the only way you can say that we have seen the evolutionary rise of new species is if you define the term species so narrowly as to only include subspeciation.

    Only if you lie about the definition of species can you make such an argument. The work of the Grants shows speciation in morphology, in color of feathers, in songs, in mating styles, in diet — and they have the DNA to prove it. No creationist has ever bothered to ask to see the blood samples, where a rebuttal would be quick and devastating, if God’s creatures were lying about their speciation.

    If creationism doesn’t have the guts to do the work required to make the case, can’t we at least get the honesty required to face up to that failure?

    You cannot demonstrate one example of transpeciation.

    Not one example, dozens. Hundreds. You try to pretend they don’t exist.

    And, you cannot show me any laboratory evidence that there exists a biological mechanism which is capable of producing transpeciation.

    I can’t show it to you only because you avert your eyes when faced with the majesty of God’s creation in evolution, and for no other reason.

    If you’d look, you’d see.

  45. […] But in a thread he started, originally on Ben Stein’s world tour of crackpottery, we’ve …. […]

  46. Matt says:

    I’d comment on this myself but the curb stomp being delivered by Ed speaks for itself.

  47. Freddy Davis says:

    Ed, sometimes I wonder if you have even taken the time to read what I have written. I certainly know that you have refused to reply to much of it. You keep making assertions about how everything you are saying is based on science and everything I am saying is based on delusion. Then you turn right around and make statements that are pure speculation based on the presuppositions of the worldview that you have chosen as the lens through which to evaluate the evidence . On top of that, you have staked out a theological position regarding what the Bible says which has no objective basis. Then, when I question your logic, you never answer my questions. Rather, all you do is repeat your previous assertions with a new insult thrown in for good measure. (You have done the same thing again in this post). Why don’t you man up be totally honest about what you believe. I have specifically listed the presuppositions you seem to be working from but the only response you gave was, “You have it wrong.” If that is so, which ones are wrong? And, you have steadfastly refused to justify your basis for using the Naturalistic presuppositions. I have challenged you to justify the four Naturalistic presuppositions since the very beginning of our discussion and you have ignored me. I have challenged you to explain and justify your theological pronouncements and your have ignored me. I am talking with a ghost who makes assertions based on presuppositions then refuses to justify them. If you had a student that did that to you, you would flunk them.

    I acknowledge that your assertions are completely consistent with a belief in Naturalistic evolution. I don’t deny that for a second. But it is very disingenuous for you to claim that everything you say is based on hard science when your interpretation of the definition of science itself is based on a particular set of worldview assumptions. You are certainly free to use that set of assumptions if you want, but either acknowledge that they are faith assumptions or prove they are not. You can’t have it both ways.

    Regarding your belief about the Bible, you are slowly revealing your hand in drabs and pieces, but you still do not seem to be willing to actually say what you believe. You now say that Genesis is a poem, so you finally are beginning to acknowledge that you do not believe that it represents actual history (by the way, you conveniently overlooked Genesis 3:17-19 about the change that happened from a paradise to a cursed land). You see, that was clear to me from other things you said, but you have never been willing to say it before. You still have not said what you believe about Jesus Christ and the Bible’s teaching about sin, the need for redemption and whether or not you believe Jesus literally died for man’s sin and was physically resurrected. Is that a poem, too? By claiming to be a Christian, you have made this issue central to our discussion. If you don’t believe that Bible is an authoritative revelation from God, I don’t understand why you are appealing to it as an authority source about any part of life. What would be the point?

    Your railing about geological strata also is quite interesting. You throw out the data as if what you have said actually proves your point. But there are other possibilities about how to interpret the data. Of course, to you, any other methodology is false just because – in the same way that any belief about evolution other than what you believe is false. And I really don’t mind discussing some of the other possibilities, but until we get past the presupposition issues, anything I say would be completely futile. You would simply refuse to accept it – just because – and call me names for believing such.

    You can complain all you want about my insistence on you coming clean about your assumptions, but every conclusion emerges from some set of presuppositions. I have laid mine out there and you have railed against them. You have alluded to yours, but insist that you have none. Then you continue to throw out examples based on your (nonexistent) assumptions and expect that they are proving your point. How absurd is that? And you talk about me being dishonest while claiming to be a Christian. To solve this whole issue and destroy my entire argument, all you have to do is prove that your presuppositions are true. What could be more simple?

    Perhaps Matt, too, would like to try and justify the Naturalistic presuppositions rather than throwing tomotoes from the grandstand.

  48. James says:

    Freddy,

    I admit that I haven’t read everything up until your last post, and perhaps there is clarification elsewhere, but strictly looking at your last post leaves me confused. It seems to me like you have muddled the distinction between science and religion, for I fail to see why Ed’s “presuppositions” regarding religion are so pertinent in a discussion primarily about evolution (science).

    I would argue that science requires no “worldview” other than holding what you are seeing as true. It seems to me like you are taking the philosophical high-road in which reality is a concept not to be taken for granted and that one’s conception of reality constitutes his or her worldview–correct me if I am wrong. It’s honestly impossible for any scientist to debate with someone who does not trust their own senses.

  49. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    Believe me, there is a lot of clarification elsewhere. And I have not muddled the distinction between science and religion. Science refers to the work that can be done on an empirical level. Anything else is philosophy/religion or whatever you want to call it. The disagreement that Ed and I have does not related to empirically provable science. The disagreement lies in his insistence that evolution is a scientific fact beginning with non-living chemicals which have naturally evolved into life and to continually higher and higher life forms of which humans are the highest outcome (Don’t quibble over this characterization. I can be more precise if I need to be). He insists that every bit of this, beginning with when life first emerged, can be accounted for through natural selection. I, obviously, begin with a different set of presuppositions. I agree that natural selection is established science, but do not agree that it can account for evolution from lower life forms to higher life forms. Natural selection only accounts for change within kinds. Macro-evolution only makes sense if there are certain assumptions made which are not empirically verifiable.

    Your belief that no worldview is necessary only demonstrates a lack of understanding concerning what is a worldview. I don’t mean this in a pejorative way. It is only that every belief system is built on worldview presuppositions. The Naturalistic worldview begins with the assumption that God does not exist. (Now, before Ed jumps back on me, he does assert that God exists. However, he does not believe that God had any role in the process of the development of life. So, though by his own assertion he is not a Naturalist, he is a functional Naturalist because he uses the same presuppositions that a Naturalist uses.)

    So, if God does not exist, or did not interject himself into the process, all you are left with are Natural explanations. Now, for Natural explanations to account for everything there are certain things that are necessary. 1. Matter is either itself eternal or it spontaneously appeared out of nothing. Neither of these have any basis in empirical science. 2. Life had to emerge out of non-life. No empirical basis. 3. Lower life forms have to have naturally evolved to higher life forms. There is no empirical science that can demonstrate this. (This is not a reference to natural selection which has already been mentioned and which I have spoken of extensively in previous posts. 4. Consciousness had to emerge out of non-consciousness. Mankind is the only creature which is consciously self-aware. There is no science to demonstrate where this ability came from.

    So, my contention is that the Naturalistic worldview is a religious or faith point of view.

    It is ludicrous to say that a Christian does not trust his own senses. This discussion has absolutely nothing to do with that. Again, this has been quite thoroughly vetted in previous posts. It is the Naturalistic presuppositions and the non-empirically provable assertions which come from them that I disagree with, not demonstrable science. I hope this clears up your questions. If this really interests you, it might be worth your while to read the entire string – even though it is quite long.

  50. James says:

    Freddy,

    That clears up quite a bit, thank you very much. I think, though, there may be room for one or two more comments.

    You said every belief system is built on worldview presuppositions. Earlier I said science does not require this worldview, and now I’ll say the same because strictly speaking, I don’t think science is such a “belief system.” If the Naturalistic worldview you describe really starts out with the assumption that God does not exist, then I would not call the Naturalistic worldview rigorous science. I honestly don’t see the necessity in making that assumption anyway. Would the Naturalistic worldview really be significantly affected by just throwing out that assumption? I’m not too sure I know what “Naturalistic worldview” you’re referring to anyway. Can you tell me which previous post I can find that in?

    If we did throw out that assumption, it would make 1 irrelevant. Not that you necessarily did this, but it would be presumptuous to say what science is and is not capable of demonstrating. I will grant that not everything a Naturalistic worldview advocates has been demonstrated, but that is not to say those aspects will never be demonstrated.

  51. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    First of all, the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural existence is simply the definition of philosophical Naturalism. You are free to throw out #1 or any other one you want, but what are you going to replace it with?

    But you are exactly right about science. It is not a worldview, and that is my point precisely. Many Naturalists try to define science in such a way as to exclude anyone who holds a Theistic worldview, but that is entirely bogus. The study of science doe not require a Naturalistic worldview as a starting point. Christian Theists do believe that God created the world in an orderly fashion which can be empirically studied. But the way one approaches science is based on some worldview.

    A Naturalist would begin with the assumption that there is no God to do any creating so the only possibility for explaining the natural world is through completely natural means. In that case, they have no choice but to assert that #1 must also have some natural explanation.

    As a Christian Theist, I believe that the explanation for the existence of material reality and of life is a creator God.

    Both of these worldviews hold thier own faith presuppositions and neither one can be empirically proven. The only problems is, Naturalism must insist that it can be empirically proven because it doens’t acknowledge any other possibility. But asserting that it can be done and backing it up are two different things. It is the height of arrogance to make that claim then have to resort to asserting philosophical presuppositions to make your case. Since there is no science to back them up, they must assert them based on their faith that reality is organized that way. That is the definition of a religion.

    And the day Naturalists can prove thier case empirically, I will defer. But until then, I don’t see any reason to give up my Christian faith for a Naturalistic one. I believe mine makes much more sense.

  52. Ed Darrell says:

    On top of that, you have staked out a theological position regarding what the Bible says which has no objective basis.

    Can you tell me what scripture it is that says creation is corrupt? I cited for you the seven places in Genesis where that claim is denied.

    I think that it is you who lacks an objective basis for your theological position. Most Christians hold to the traditional Christian view that God’s creation is good. Your belief that human sin has somehow corrupted the very fabric of matter simply has no basis in scripture, nor in Christian tradition.

  53. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m still puzzling over the claim that I’m avoiding questions. I keep piling on the empirical evidence, Freddy keeps denying reality. I don’t think I’m avoiding any question.

    Freddy said:

    hen you turn right around and make statements that are pure speculation based on the presuppositions of the worldview that you have chosen as the lens through which to evaluate the evidence.

    Please list anything I have said that you think is based on speculation. I’ve been careful to make no statement based on anything but conclusions based on mountains, or universes, of empirical evidence. This what puzzles me: What sort of “worldview” looks at hard physical evidence, and claims it’s “speculation?”

    Can you list anything I’ve said that you think is based on speculation, Freddy? You avoid answering anything I provide evidence for — let’s stamp out the ones you aren’t convinced of.

  54. James says:

    Freddy,

    So I guess what I’m not clear on is why you introduced this philosophy of Naturalism in the first place. By the definition you have provided, it is clear to me that not all scientists are Naturalists, nor all evolutionists Naturalists. In fact, the definition of Naturalism you have provided sounds profoundly unscientific. I can tell you right now I don’t fit your description of “Naturalist.”

    So since I am not a Naturalist, I can ignore #1 entirely.

    I would also say that even if I did have a worldview in which I thought God doesn’t exist, that does not necessarily mean that worldview taints the way I approach science. What you seem to be hinting at is some sort of causality. You think that if someone holds this certain belief, it causes the science they deal with to somehow also convey that certain belief. This is simply not true. EVEN if every single scientist were an atheist this wouldn’t necessarily be true. How can you know every single one of those scientists became an atheist before they became a scientist? You can’t. You cannot establish causality purely on the happenstance that a correlation between science and atheism exists. What I see you doing is denying scientific claims based on the beliefs of the scientists making them. This is illogical. You simply cannot establish causality between a scientist’s beliefs and his claims.

    If I am misinterpreting you, then I apologize.

  55. Ed Darrell says:

    I believe, in my heart of hearts, that you are a tool of evil. You may be an unsuspecting tool of evil, but you are a tool of evil nevertheless. Is that really what you wanted me to “man up” about? I think that your dissemination of falsehoods and philosophical flim-flammery do serious damage to science and knowledge — and I’m just contrary enough to buy into the old notion that knowledge is the glory of God.

    Then, when I question your logic, you never answer my questions. Rather, all you do is repeat your previous assertions with a new insult thrown in for good measure. (You have done the same thing again in this post). Why don’t you man up be totally honest about what you believe.

    You claim, contrary to my statements, without much but your unusual definitions of philosophy, that I am not Christian, not rational, but instead suckered into a rut of thinking that keeps me from looking at evidence objectively. Wholly apart from the insulting tone and content of your claims, which insult you appear too numbed to recognize, you’ve offered nothing to suggest that there is any logical difficulty to anything I’ve presented. Your claims that I have a bias do not make a bias that you cannot demonstrate.

    To the contrary, I’ve noted only scientific evidence on the side of science, scientific evidence which is biased by nothing we know. Can you explain to me how it is that DNA is biased and inaccurate? Can you explain to us what possible explanation there can be for the familial ties DNA shows, that is not familial ties, per your claim?

    Come on, Freddy: If you’ve got evidence to contradict evolution theory, lay it out. Don’t try to hide behind the translucent veil of the claim of “wrong philosophy.”

    I’ve challenged you to tell the truth, to stick to the facts. You fall deeper into the fog of claims of philosophy instead. As I warned earlier, your lack of scientific evidence will ultimately force you to deny even God’s creation — as I think you are dangerously close to doing now. It’s not a difference in philosophy. It’s not a difference in worldview. Those claims are excuses for avoiding the facts.

    You’re not questioning my logic at all. You’re simply saying I’ve not met some mythical standard that you have not defined, and which I suspect you cannot define. Your standard is, “move the goalposts so I don’t have to admit I don’t have a case against evolution.”

    What about red grapefruit? My philosophy didn’t create it. It arose, spontaneously, naturally, directly refuting your claim that such things cannot arise spontaneously and naturally. You think there’s a logic error there? Surely you jest.

  56. RBH says:

    I can’t stand it: I have to chime in. And I’ve read the whole thread.

    Freddy wrote

    And I have not muddled the distinction between science and religion. Science refers to the work that can be done on an empirical level.

    I’ve worked in science and technology (at the post-Ph.D. level) for more than 45 years, Freddy, and I recognize nothing about what I know to be science in what you wrote about it.

    Freddy wrote

    We look at facts, then we interpret them according to a set of worldview presuppositions. Hopefully our presuppositions match up with reality as it actually exists. If they do, our interpretations may get close to right. If they do not, our interpretations are wrong.

    And in science, we don’t depend on “hopefully” — we regularly and strenuously test our interpretations to see whether they match up with reality. We test them by making predictions of new observations of the world from our theories, and then conducting systematic research to see whether the predictions correspond to what is observed. If our interpretations are wrong those predictions would be disconfirmed every time. They’re not: for our best theories — like the theory of biological evolution — the observations continue to corroborate those interpretations. Creationists do nothing comparable, as one can see in this thread.

    Freddy, every time you use a computer, every time you use your cell phone, every time you consult a physician about an infection or injury or illness (assuming that you do), you are implicitly using the presuppositions and interpretations of methodologically naturalistic science. If those scientific interpretations were wrong, if they didn’t match with reality, none of those things would work. You depend on them to work just to post here!

    Freddy wrote

    The disagreement that Ed and I have does not related to empirically provable science. The disagreement lies in his insistence that evolution is a scientific fact beginning with non-living chemicals which have naturally evolved into life and to continually higher and higher life forms of which humans are the highest outcome (Don’t quibble over this characterization. I can be more precise if I need to be). He insists that every bit of this, beginning with when life first emerged, can be accounted for through natural selection.

    I’ve read this whole thread and nowhere did Ed make that argument. That is a straw man that you have erected. The theory of biological evolution accounts for the diversity of life, starting after the first replicating population emerged. It makes no statements about how that population came into being. For all the theory of biological evolution cares, it could have been created by God, space aliens, or emerged naturally from non-living chemical reactions on earth.

    Now to Freddy’s list of “naturalistic presuppositions”:

    1. Matter is either itself eternal or it spontaneously appeared out of nothing. Neither of these have any basis in empirical science.

    In fact, it does have a basis in empirical science. Virtual particles spring into existence in a pure vacuum and then disappear. We can empirically test for their existence in the laboratory, and those tests confirm their existence. So matter does in fact appear spontaneously. I do not claim that accounts for the whole universe, though there are physicists who speculate that it could and are thinking about ways of testing that speculation. But the fact remains that matter does spontaneously spontaneously come into (transient) existence in the universe we inhabit every second.

    2. Life had to emerge out of non-life. No empirical basis.

    While we do not (yet) know how life emerged from non-life, there is a good deal of research that demonstrates many of the steps that had to have occurred. So it is false to say there is no empirical basis. Because we don’t know everything, don’t imagine that we know nothing.

    3. Lower life forms have to have naturally evolved to higher life forms. There is no empirical science that can demonstrate this. (This is not a reference to natural selection which has already been mentioned and which I have spoken of extensively in previous posts.

    By eliminating natural selection from consideration you eliminate the main mechanism that produces complexity. I myself routinely evolve complex computer programs from simple conputer programs on my desk top using only the mechanisms of evolution: random mutations, recombination, and automatic selection based on reproductive competition. In a sense, I’m a (Deistic) God: I merely set up the initial conditions (a population of imperfect replicators with heritable variation in an environment with limited resources), and the process occurs automatically. Later I come back to see what evolved and do the analyses that show that the evolved computer programs can do many things their ancestors could not and are considerably more complex than those ancestors. And I do not program those complexities into the programs; they evolve the complexity by purely mechanical means. In fact, I am often surprised by their behavior — I could not have programmed it myself.

    We know the naturalistic mechanisms that add genetic information to genomes. You claimed earlier in the thread that there was none, but insertion mutations, gene duplication, and polyploidy are common kinds of mutations and they all increase both the quantity of DNA and the complexity of the genome.

    4. Consciousness had to emerge out of non-consciousness. Mankind is the only creature which is consciously self-aware. There is no science to demonstrate where this ability came from.

    In fact, other animals are at least to some extent self-aware, in the sense that they can recognize themselves, can detect alterations in their appearance, can plan, can gather and store materials for actions well ahead of the need for them, and so on. Moreover, neuroscience is rapidly increasing our knowledge of the neural basis for consciousness, even though we are still a long way from a complete picture. Once again, taht we don’t know the wholse story doesn’t mean we’re completely ignorant.

    Appealing to a God of the gaps is a dangerous game for theists. As we learn more and more, God is squeezed into smaller and smaller gaps. ‘Ware lest He disappear altogether.

    Explaining his theology, Freddy wrote

    My faith is actually referred to by a number of different names, but to distinguish it from Naturalism, I will refer to it as Biblical Theism (as opposed to the more generic word Christianity. It seems that many people use the word Christianity to refer to belief systems which are not truly excerpted from the Bible). Here’s what Biblical Theism teaches.

    But this does not mean that the sacrifice applies to everyone on earth. Individuals must make a personal, free-will decision that they will accept his free offer of salvation in order for it to be personally applied. It is those who make this decision who are rightly called Christians.

    Not one word in that long paragraph said a single thing about a theologically necessary belief about how God performed His creating. Ed has said that he believes that God created the universe; how it was done is not described in scripture. Clinging to a kindergarten literalism requires blinding oneself to the purely amazing knowledge of that universe and the life in it that we have gained through science. It is a poor and parochial God that the creationists worship, one worthy of a bronze age tribe whose world was measured in miles, not light-years. Humanity has grown up some since then.

    I’m an atheist, so I have no theological dog in this fight. But I am entranced by the spectacle of a 21st century human being with a (presumably) functioning brain clinging desperately to the bronze age pseudo-scientific beliefs of a nomadic tribe of herders, tehreby denying what we have learned over the long centuries through the labors of hundreds of thousands of scholars, many of them Christians.

  57. RBH says:

    By the way, Freddy, have you figured out yet why your worldview notion actually negates your evangelism? Given your view of worldviews (all-encompassing interpretative framework) you can offer someone of a different worldview no reason to change that is valid within their worldview. When you “share our faith,” as you put it on your website, you can only appeal to those already of your worldview. Hence it is futile to try to evangelize people of other worldviews. You can offer them no evidence or reasons that can be persuasive in their terms, but only in your own. It follows that since you do evangelize, you must not believe your “Worldview” worldview. If you did, you wouldn’t waste your time evangelizing.

  58. Freddy Davis says:

    Wow! The piling on is getting a bit heavy. I suppose this should be totally expected when posting to a site which is dedicated to the position this one is. Where shall I start?

    James,
    You are right, Naturalism is not science. It is a worldview – a filter that people look through to understand reality. So, a person can be a scientist using other worldview filters besides Naturalism. My point precisely. And this has nothing to do with causality. I am not even sure I follow your logic regarding what causes an atheist or whatever. People come to science based on the worldview they already have, not the other way around.

    A person’s worldview does, however, affect the way science is considered and practiced. This effect plays out particularly in determining what areas are pursued based on possibility and morality.

    For instance, a Naturalistic scientist would be particularly interested in proving that life can emerge from non-living chemicals. After all, for a Naturalist there is no other possibility. It had to happen that way. A Naturalist might also be inclined to pursue actual artificial intelligence where a silicon based computer can actually think the way a carbon based human brain does (since the belief is that human consciousness has a natural rather than a supernatural origin). While a Christian Theist would not be prohibited from doing experimentation in this area, it is probably not something that would be front and center because we acknowledge a supernatural cause to these things.

    As for morality, there are certain areas of science that Christian Theists believe is unethical because of our worldview beliefs. In the medical arena we are anti-abortion and anti “assisted suicide” and anti-euthanasia because of the particular way we value life. We are against doing embryonic stem cell research for the same reason. A true Naturalist would have no necessary problem with any of these because those forms of life are either not as highly valued or are not seen as life at all.

    I have not denied any scientific claims. What I have denied are conclusions which are based on beliefs which cannot be empirically demonstrated. For instance, the claim that it is possible for non-living chemicals to morph into life is not a scientific conclusion. It is an assumed truth by Naturalists because they do not acknowledge any other possibility. But there is no science to demonstrate it is possible.

    Now, let me skip to RBH.

    First, let me thank you for being up front about what you believe. That is refreshing. But saying you don’t have a dog in the fight is simply not true. With your Naturalistic worldview you do start out with a particular set of presuppositions which guides your entire pursuit of science – what you consider to be possible to study as well as what you consider to be fair game.

    Excuse me for using the word “hopefully.” I suppose we don’t always hope that we will see successful results in our pursuits. I recognize that you are a scientist and prefer to always use technically precise terminology. However, there are other ways of expressing ideas. I typically write for people who are not scientists and tend to have a more popular style. I hope you can adapt a little bit to that, otherwise I will have to constantly go back and refine what I am saying just for you.

    You can claim all you want that biological evolution is being confirmed over and over, but the actual, experimental confirmation you are observing is always in the arena of micro-evolution. Nothing has ever been observed that demonstrated macro-evolution. You said it yourself – your best theories. Prove the theory and I will back down. And why would a person who believes in creation waste time trying to confirm something we don’t believe. That is up to you. Keep trying.

    Your example of using a computer and other technology is simply not valid. The code for the computer program you are using was written by a person. It did not write itself and migrate into the computer. Even if you don’t understand what you have done and what is happening, it is still doing what the code is programmed to do. What you have so nicely illustrated is the necessity of an intelligent designer, not something that has evolved from nothing.

    Your assertion that my I must depend on Naturalistic science is simply wrong. You are making the wrong assumption that Naturalism and science are the same thing. They are not. What you are calling Naturalistic science does not have a necessarily Naturalistic worldview base. My use of technology does depend on science, but there is nothing particularly Naturalistic about it. Christian Theism believes the exact same thing in this particular arena.

    Also, your defense of Ed is admirable, though you probably ought to leave that to him. He does quite well on his own. But since you brought it up, you obviously missed much of what he said. He actually has, both implicitly and explicitly stated his belief that life emerged out of non-living chemicals. You might want to reread.

    So, you, too want to want to take on the four Naturalistic presuppositions? Nice try, but you have fallen short just as Ed has.

    1. Again, I have not been using the word “matter” in a precisely scientific manner. Of course matter (in a technical sense) can appear spontaneously, but not out of nothing. There was some kind of energy or something that the “matter” appeared from, right? So, to get to my point, where did that come from? There is no science to demonstrate it.

    2. Do you even see your Naturalistic assumption? “We do not know yet?” The assumption is that it is possible to know. That is not science, it is philosophical presupposition. You believe it because of your worldview, not because of science. Certainly we don’t know everything. But you are interpreting the data we do have through a Naturalistic lens which only allows you to consider Naturalistic outcomes.

    3. Your example of what you do with computer programs has absolutely nothing to do with what happens with life. You are comparing apples with oranges – and you accuse me of throwing up a straw man. And even if you don’t know how your programs generate new ones, it is still not doing it on its own. It is doing it according to the coding that has already been input – which actually makes a nice case for the necessity of an intelligent designer. I have not eliminated natural selection from the process. All I have said is that natural selection has not ever demonstrated the ability to move a life form from one kind to another. It accounts for changes within kinds very nicely, but not beyond. Your speculation that genetic mutations are able to make that jump is still just that – speculation. And it is squarely based on the presupposition that live can evolve to higher and higher kinds.

    4. It sure is convenient, isn’t it, to be able to say, “We really don’t know how it works, but we will find out one day.” I applaud your faith – and you make my point.

    My appeal to the God of the gaps is no different than your appeal to the belief that there is no God (in a philosophical sense). Your assertion that God is being squeezed into smaller gaps is simply not true. There is nothing that science has actually proven which goes against what a Christian believes. It is the areas of speculation based on Naturalistic presuppositions which we disagree with. And these have certainly not closed God out by any stretch of the imagination.

    Now, my explanation regarding theology was actually in an entirely different context. It is simply not acceptable for you to pull comments out of one context and insert it in another. As an atheist, if you want to argue theology, I will be happy to go that route with you, but I really can’t even respond to what you have done here. It doesn’t fit.

    Related to that, your characterization of what I do based on what you saw on my website is completely off base. You have no idea what you are talking about. The beginning point of talking to anyone about beliefs is to understand the concept of worldview itself and the worldview possibilities. The next necessity is to help the other person to understand the worldview lens they are looking through and the one I want to share. Your assertion that this is not possible is ludicrous. As for reasoning, we have not even dealt with this topic in this post – though it could happen if Ed ever decided he wanted to lay out his theological framework. You are completely off base here.

    Your insults regarding my “presumably functioning brain clinging desperately to the bronze age pseudo-scientific beliefs of a nomadic tribe of herders” is cute. Prove that it is true. All you have done so far is to assert your Naturalistic presuppositions and call me names.

    Now for Ed.

    Have you even read what I wrote before? In my very last post I gave you the scripture which deals with the curse. However, since Genesis is only a poem to you, you are not going to accept anything I say about that anyway. And, of course the creation was good! It didn’t turn bad until the fall. Why is it that you accept one part of the “poem” and not the whole thing?

    The questions. You don’t know which questions you are avoiding. How about all of the ones which deal with what you say are not your presuppositions but are? How about all of the ones which ask for you to explain what you “do” believe about God and the Christian faith? You really make me think that you are not reading what I am writing at all.

    And I keep saying that same thing over and over again because you never acknowledge your presuppositional biases. Let me say emphatically, I accept every bit of empirical evidence that you have ever laid out. It is not the evidence that I quibble with, it is your interpretation of the evidence. That is where your speculations come into play. For instance, I agree that bird feathers can change colors. What I don’t believe is that the mechanism which allows that can be extended to say that a bird can change to a rabbit (hopefully you get my humor and my point here and you don’t start trying to prove that a bird can’t change into a rabbit). To keep asking me to make the same arguments over and over again and asking the same questions over and over is simply not useful. Read what I wrote before.

    And thank you for your vote of confidence in my ability to be a tool of evil. At least there is one thing you think I am good at. But seriously, you accuse me of falsehoods and philosophical flim-flammery yet have not yet demonstrated that your worldview is valid. And you then go on and claim the high ground that God is on your side. Okay, tell me again (oh yeah, you haven’t addressed this yet): Who is God? What is he like? How do you know? Especially since you have such a low view of the authority of the Bible. I’m all ears. You are once again claiming to be a Christian. Please define what you mean by that for me. You have given me nothing to demonstrate that it is true except that you have self identified that way.

    I really don’t know why you keep bringing up the red grapefruit. It is still a grapefruit. It has not turned into a watermelon. I believe in natural selection within kinds. You still don’t seem to be able to distinguish the evidence you put forth and the worldview filter you are looking at the evidence through.

  59. Arthur Hunt says:

    You can claim all you want that biological evolution is being confirmed over and over, but the actual, experimental confirmation you are observing is always in the arena of micro-evolution.

    I’m sorry, this statement is blatantly false.

    Is macroevolution impossible to study? (No, it’s quite observable in the here and now.)

    Is macroevolution impossible to study (Part 2)?

    Yet more macroevolution for the curious.

    One more aside:

    As for morality, there are certain areas of science that Christian Theists believe is unethical because of our worldview beliefs. In the medical arena we are anti-abortion and anti “assisted suicide” and anti-euthanasia because of the particular way we value life. We are against doing embryonic stem cell research for the same reason. A true Naturalist would have no necessary problem with any of these because those forms of life are either not as highly valued or are not seen as life at all.

    This is richly ironic, coming from one whose tradition (Christianity) is a long litany, almost two millenia worth, of utter and complete disregard for humanity and life. “Christian” morality is an ever-changing playbook of ways to kill, torture, subjugate, humiliate, and otherwise impose a very special and cruel depravity on humanity.

    Oh, and this is not how “Naturalists” think. They actually are much more moral and ethical than your run-of-the mill Christian.

  60. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    And even if you don’t know how your programs generate new ones, it is still not doing it on its own. It is doing it according to the coding that has already been input – which actually makes a nice case for the necessity of an intelligent designer.

    Um, that would also imply that computer models of hurricanes mean that hurricanes are intelligently designed, computer models of earthquakes mean that earthquakes are intelligently designed, and that computer models of cholera epidemics mean that cholera epidemics are intelligently designed. You just tossed aside a large part of mathematical and computer modeling of natural phenomena.

    Freddy, I’d like to ask you the core question I have concerning your position. I was raised in an evangelical home and I am now a scientist and atheist — I hold what you call the naturalistic worldview. I know both the naturalistic worldview and what you call the Christian Theistic worldviews very well from the inside, so you can’t say that I’m ignoring another worldview: I’m very aware of the alternatives.

    You have argued extensively that one’s worldview determines how one interprets data — that evidence is subordinate to worldview, but not the reverse. It follows that empirical evidence cannot change one’s worldview, since in your argument, any evidence can be interpreted to be consistent with any worldview.

    So, given that evidence must be filtered through the lens of one’s worldview, how could you convince me that I should adopt one rather than another worldview? What argument can you offer me, in my naturalistic worldview, that could lead me to abandon it and switch back to your Christian Theist worldview? Remember, according to you I must filter your arguments through my naturalistic worldview. What argument, what reasons can you offer that I will interpret in my naturalistic worldview as persuasive? How can you induce me to change my mind given my worldview?

  61. Freddy Davis says:

    Arthur,

    And just how far can you push these changes? Can they keep going and going and form higher and higher leveled life forms? Have you pushed the changes so that they can actually make the leap from plant to animal? That has to be exciting to see and I can’t wait to see one of your critters in the zoo.

    As for your blast on the morality of Christianity, the only cases you can point to are cases where the faith has been politicized, which makes it not a reflection of the faith at all. If you had read much of the Bible, you would realize that atrocities performed in the name of Christianity do not reflect what the faith teaches. It is pretty poor to judge any philosophy based on a perversion of its tenets.

    As for the morality of atheism, have you ever heard of Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot? I would never say about atheists what you said about Christians, but the ultimate expression of Darwinism is the law of the jungle.

  62. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH,

    I didn’t realize that you meant that your computer program was changing the way that the outside world was operating. I thought you were talking about changes that were happening inside of the computer program itself – something that was possible because of the original coding. If I am not mistaken, the computer model does not affect the hurricane, it only makes predictions about what will happen given various data that is input into the program. Does not the coding tell the program what to do with the data? How to express itself if this or that happens? I really don’t get your point here.

    First, are you really an atheist? An atheist has to make a positive affirmation that there is no God. I don’t know that you can empirically demonstrate that. Perhaps more agnostic or skeptical.

    Personally, I beleive that human beings are free-will beings. We have the capacity to evaluate any of a number of alternatives then make a decision. (By the way, honest to goodness Naturalism is ultimately deterministic and doesn’t allow for that possibility – though humans can’t help but act as if it is true anyway.) The answer to your question is that I can’t induce you to do anything. In fact, if by induce you mean to force, I don’t even want to. I can present my case, but then you have to decide. As a part of presenting my case I will discuss the implications of your worldview and the implications of mine. I believe that mine has more to commend it. If you only understand yours, my arguments will never even make sense to you. That is why I deal with both. But ultimately you have to decide for yourself.

  63. Ed Darrell says:

    Freddy asked Dr. Hunt:

    And just how far can you push these changes? Can they keep going and going and form higher and higher leveled life forms? Have you pushed the changes so that they can actually make the leap from plant to animal? That has to be exciting to see and I can’t wait to see one of your critters in the zoo.

    Oh, that’s one more way to falsify Darwin’s theory: If a living thing suddenly made a leap from plant to animal, or vice versa, the theory would be seriously challenged.

    There was no sudden great leap in nature. Assuming one pool of common ancestors in a one-celled creature, or assuming several pools of different one-celled creatures, the leap between plant and animal was more of a single, small step, but millions of generations ago.

    Just as a journey of a thousand miles can be done by small steps, so the distance between plants and animals has grown with generations.

    So a leap now would require something evolution hasn’t seen and can’t explain. Not likely to happen much past the one-celled creature bunch.

  64. Ed Darrell says:

    Freddy, I didn’t overlook your reference to Genesis 3:17; it just doesn’t say all of creation is corrupt.

    (New King James Version, though it doesn’t matter much which version you choose — none of them say the universe is corrupted)

    14 So the LORD God said to the serpent:
    “ Because you have done this,
    You are cursed more than all cattle,
    And more than every beast of the field;
    On your belly you shall go,
    And you shall eat dust
    All the days of your life.

    15 And I will put enmity
    Between you and the woman,
    And between your seed and her Seed;
    He shall bruise your head,
    And you shall bruise His heel.”
    16 To the woman He said:
    “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
    In pain you shall bring forth children;
    Your desire shall be for your husband,
    And he shall rule over you.”
    17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
    “ Cursed is the ground for your sake;
    In toil you shall eat of it
    All the days of your life.

    18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
    And you shall eat the herb of the field.

    19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
    Till you return to the ground,
    For out of it you were taken;
    For dust you are,
    And to dust you shall return.”

    So the snake is cursed to be low to the ground — nothing about the genes being cursed, nor the rocks, nor anything else.

    Are you really trying to stretch the “cursed is the ground” to say everything, including DNA, is corrupted and does not reveal the facts of its chemistry?

    Balderdash. Even were there an explicit statement in the Bible to that effect, Christians would have to dismiss it as untrue.

    Freddy, the theological problem here is that your interpretation of the scriptures is strained, and requires creationists or anyone else who wishes to stick to that interpretation to veer off into theological crankery. God’s creation is good, Christians believe, and have believed traditionally.

    But there’s a science problem, too. Your claim is that scientists cannot interpret the chemistry, physics, or biology correctly, because nature lies to them.

    In order to establish that in science, you’ve got to have some evidence to suggest that the universe could be different.

    Can you see where this is going? On the one hand, you have absolutely no evidence. On the other hand, if you did, it would completely obliterate any argument for intelligent design or creationism based on the ideal designs we see — you’re saying the designs are corrupted, and not ideal. [No wonder the Discovery Institute is so wary of creationists — they argue exactly opposite each other on the cosmic and molecular scales . . . gotta remember this for the next time Dembski or Gonzalez surfaces . . ]

    Mark Twain noted that telling the truth is a lot easier than lying, because one doesn’t need to remember the fictions.

  65. RBH says:

    Freddy,

    One of the reasons people get snarky with you is that you’re quick to tell them what they must believe when in fact you’re ignorant of what they believe. For example, I told you I’m an atheist. You responded

    An atheist has to make a positive affirmation that there is no God. I don’t know that you can empirically demonstrate that. Perhaps more agnostic or skeptical.

    That’s false. An atheist is one who does not believe that there are gods. That’s not a “positive affirmation” about the non-existence of gods — it’s not even a claim about a god. It’s a statement about my state of belief. You theists are the ones who make the positive affirmation: That a god (or gods) exists and intervenes in human lives and in the universe. That is an affirmative statement, an existence claim about a god.

    Atheism and agnosticism are not different degrees on a single scale, but are different claims. An agnostic is one who says “There’s no evidence either way, and I can’t see how there could be evidence either way, so I don’t know if a god exists or not.” Some agnostics behave as though a god exists, some do not.

    I — an atheist — say, “There is no evidence whatsoever for the claim that the God of Abraham (or any other god) exists, though the existence of an interventionist god like that would make a substantial difference in the way the world works. We don’t see that substantial difference, so as far as I can tell the probability of the existence of a supernatural entity like the God of Abraham (or any other god that intervenes in the world) is miniscule and I therefore don’t believe in a god.” That’s what an atheist says.

    A skeptic says, “Show me the evidence and reasoning that provides good support for your claim. Absent evidence and solid reasoning, I don’t know whether your claim is valid or not.” Because I’ve looked for evidence for the existence of a god or gods for decades and have been able to find none that can’t be better explained by naturalistic means, and since I’ve read a good deal of Christian apologetics that purports to offer reasons to believe a god exists and have found no actually valid reasons, my skepticism leads to my atheism: “Given the non-existent evidence and the apologetic reasons I’ve evaluated, the probability of the existence of a god or gods is tiny and therefore to believe one exists is irrational.”

    Very few atheists say that the probability of existence of a god or gods is exactly zero. In general we say the likelihood is so low as to render believing in a god or gods irrational. Even Richard Dawkins, the arch-atheist, says that on a scale of 1 to 7 (where 1 is absolute certainty that the God of Abraham exists and 7 is absolute certainty that God doesn’t exist) he is a 6. That’s about where I am: 6 on the Dawkins scale of non-belief.

    Freddy, the “evidence” for the existence of Vishnu or Ba’al or Thor is exactly as good as the evidence for your Christian God. There is no difference among them in the evidence line. Hence the belief in a Christian God is no different from a belief in Krishna or Ba’al or Thor, and rests on equally good (or bad) grounds. They are all of a kind.

    And I note that you didn’t really address my question: what reasons can you give to persuade someone with a different worldview that they should change worldviews, if all evidence and reasons being offered must be filtered through the lens of their existing worldview? (And “induce” does not mean “force;” it means persuade, or entice, or bring about, or convince.)

    You say you can present your case and discuss the implications of my worldview. But in presenting your case you cannot avoid misrepresenting the implications of my worldview, since you stand inside your own worldview and cannot see through mine. There are numerous misrepresentations of science and naturalism and their implications in your comments above.

    On your own argument you must be literally blind to my worldview. You claim to present the implications of mine, which means that you must somehow consider yourself to be able to see them both from the outside, free of the control of either worldview. But in your scheme of things that is impossible unless you, Freddy Davis, have some special powers that enable you to escape the constraints of your own worldview. The case you present is conditioned on your own worldview, filtered through your own lens, so (given your core argument) you cannot stand ‘outside’ it to objectively consider the relative merits and implications of both of them. You are trapped by your own argument.

    Remember, Freddy, in my more than 60 years I have seen the world through what you call two quite different worldviews — Christianity and naturalism. Judging from the biography on your site, you have not. Your life experience is confined to just one worldview, the Christian theist worldview. You have little apparent experience with the naturalistic worldview. I am much better qualified to comment on the implications of both than you are. In particular, you are wholly unqualified to comment on the naturalistic worldview, as your comments above make clear.

  66. Freddy Davis says:

    Ed,

    Thanks for taking care of Arthur’s answer for him. I’m sure he appreciates your help. Actually, your interpretation of what I was saying about “the jump” is another instance of your taking my humor and trying to make it say something I was not trying to say. Of course a Darwinist would not agree with that. There would have to be billions and billions of teeeeeny tiny little changes that randomly and mindlessly occurred over billions and billions of years to pull that off. My question is about the limits. You need to lighten up a little.

    And, so we are back to the poem? And even back to Balderdash. That’s cool.

    I am having a bit of a hard time being lectured to by you about my theology since all you have done is trash mine and have not been willing to offer an alternative. But I am going to defer for a bit. Let’s pretend that my approach is completely wrong. You tell me how Christianity works. I want to know the truth about: 1) how much of the Bible is true and how much is not, along with how can you know the difference. 2) Is God a real person and does he interact with man? If so, how does he do it? 3) Was Jesus God in the flesh? Did he come to earth as a human being born of a virgin, live a perfect life, die as a substitionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and rise from the dead? 4) What is the meaning of redemption and how does it happen? 5) Is a human being a special creation of God with a special purpose in his plan or simply the animal creature with the most highly evolved brain? If man is special, how is that specialness manifested and how did it come about? What is God’s purpose for mankind? 6) Exactly what part did God play in creation and where did he draw the line? Why? And how do you know?

    You keep telling me what the Bible doesn’t say. Now you get your chance to tell me what it does say.

    Thanks.

  67. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH,

    Atheist comes from the Greek. The prefix “a” is a negation. “Theist” means God. Literally – negative God or no God. It is the positive assertion of a negative. Now, I did not mean to get you upset with my definition. I am not trying to tell you what you believe, I am more than content to let you define it for yourself. And it wouldn’t make any difference if I did. And no one said anything about degrees of belief. Where did that come from? The only one who did that is you with your 1-7 scale.

    But just to help me understand. You said Atheist is not a positive affirmation that there is no god, it is only a statement about your belief. Is your belief not a positive affirmation of your position that there is no God? Or are you saying that there is (or might be) a god but you just don’t believe it? I mean, yeah, I make a positive affirmation, but that there is a God. But how do you state your belief that there is no God, but that not be an affirmation that there is no God? Is there a difference between belief and affirmation? You got me on that one.

    What if there were a lost little girl and I told you that she was in the third house on the left. If you refused to look in that house, does that prove that the little girl is not there? There is definite evidence that the God of the Bible exists, but you are disposed at this point in your life not to look in the place where it can be found.

    You made an interesting claim that the evidence for the existence of Vishnu or Ba’al or Thor is as good as the evidence for Christ. I would really be interested in seeing you prove that one. Since you have read all the books on Christian apologetics, you know all the evidence that I would trot out – manuscript evidence, evidence for the resurrection, archiological evidence, fulfilled prophesies, …. Now, you might not like my evidence, but I hardly think Vishnu, Ba’al or Thor could come close.

    But even that is not the point, is it? In your case, since your are already an expert on Christian Theism, I would not even need to worry about making sure you understood the Christian worldview in order to “induce” you to believe, would I? All that would be necessary would be to share with you how you are separated from God because of sin, that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a sacrifice to take care of your sin problem and invite you to accept the sacrifice and enter into a personal relationship with him. At that point it is up to you to make a decision. No inducement, just your choice.

    I realize that in order to do that you would have to give up a belief that the world, life and consciousness came into being on its on and reject all of the scientific proof that backs up these beliefs. But, we all make choices, don’t we?

    If I am blind to your worldview, then there is something that you have failed to share with me. Do you have some special hybrid beliefs thrown in that you have not mentioned? You have claimed to be a Naturalist and have claimed to be an atheist. These two go hand in hand. Naturalism asserts that there is no such thing as a superatural existence, that everything can be accounted for by natural means – therefore, no God. What have I missed?

    I hate to tell you this, but a person does not have to have had a personal background as a Naturalist to understand it or its implications. If that is the case in this arena, it is the case in every arena and no one is allowed to talk about anything except their own personal experiences. You know that is not true.

    If I am a little snarky, it is not because I am quick to tell people what they believe. It is because I have stepped into a hostile arena and been attacked by numerous people who make snarkiness seem like a soft pillow.

  68. Arthur Hunt says:

    And just how far can you push these changes?

    At least far enough to account for all of the variety of life we see on Earth.

    Can they keep going and going and form higher and higher leveled life forms?

    Sure.

    Have you pushed the changes so that they can actually make the leap from plant to animal?

    That’s creationism, not biology. You’re probably sorry to learn that it is completely refuted.

    As for your blast on the morality of Christianity, the only cases you can point to are cases where the faith has been politicized,

    LOL. I refer to the body of work that Christianity has given us for the better part of 2000 years. There is no question, Christianity is cruel, immoral, evil to its core.

    If you had read much of the Bible, you would realize that atrocities performed in the name of Christianity do not reflect what the faith teaches.

    So say you. Historical reality says you are wrong. My worldview tends to pay attention to reality, and I’m pretty certain my estimation of Christianity is much more accurate than yours.

    It is pretty poor to judge any philosophy based on a perversion of its tenets.

    I think the body of work that Christianity has given us is properly called a perversion, but it is an entirely accurate reflection of the movement.

    As for the morality of atheism, have you ever heard of Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot? I would never say about atheists what you said about Christians, but the ultimate expression of Darwinism is the law of the jungle.

    Um, Hitler was Christian, and the anti-Semitism that drove him was written into Christian doctrine centuries ago. You cannot have anti-Semitism without Christianity, the two concepts are joined at the hips.

  69. Freddy Davis says:

    Arthur,

    And you have experimental evidence to show that these changes can be pushed that far? Proof positive? No limits at all? So the amoeba are cranking up to some other animal? What animal are they becoming? Or are they just another form of amoeba?

    What do you mean in your paper when you say “what seems to be missing from the xD amoeba are examples of bacteria genes that have picked up and moved into the nucleus. Such examples may remain to be discovered, or it may be too early in the evolution of the system to expect such events. Regardless, if and when the pertinent experiments are done, they can be expected to shed interesting insight into the movement of DNA between compartments in other systems.” Does this mean that you have begun with the presupposition that it is going to happen if just given enough time, or that we really already have a new kind? We do need to be precise.

    As for your comments about Christianity, that is just plain mean – as well as untrue. By the way, Hitler was not a Christian. I don’t know where you get your information. (I guess there no anti-Semitism in Islam?)In fact, virtually everything you said about the Christian faith is nothing more than a rant. It has no basis in reality. Where is your anger coming from?

  70. James says:

    Freddy,

    You said:

    “A person’s worldview does, however, affect the way science is considered and practiced.”

    So a person’s worldview does not actually affect science itself. Since science’ conception, thousands of people holding myriad worldviews have practiced science; yet despite this fact, we seem to agree that science has nonetheless held its validity. That is to say that science has not been converted into any of the worldviews of any of its pracitioners. However, I think you would say that science can be used as a tool to further an individual’s worldview, and I won’t disagree. Can we agree thus far?

    It appears, then, that science does not depend on the worldviews of scientists–after all, we just said that regardless of its practitioners’ worldviews, science loses none of its validity. Science does not depend on the worldviews of its proponents, and it shouldn’t. I think we can agree on this.

    You make the distinction earlier–and I agree–that science is not a worldview. You also say elsewhere in this thread, perhaps multiple times, that you have no problem with the principle of evolution. You agree that we can observe evolution. You agree that evolution is science. Evolution is not a worldview.

    I will wait for your response before I continue.

  71. James says:

    That is, as to whether you agree or disagree.

  72. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    Science is a methodology, not a worldview. The only sense in which science depends on worldview is in how it is used. For instance, someone who holds a worldview which does not acknowledge modern science at all would not even participate in the field. Many Animistic belief systems would fall into this category.

    Regarding evolution, I wholeheartedly agree that natural selection (change within kinds) takes place. I do not agree that continuous change from less to more complex life forms is possible.

  73. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    I hate to tell you this, but a person does not have to have had a personal background as a Naturalist to understand it or its implications. If that is the case in this arena, it is the case in every arena and no one is allowed to talk about anything except their own personal experiences. You know that is not true.

    One has to know enough about naturalism to represent it accurately. You don’t, and the evidence is in this thread. You repeatedly and persistently make false statements about the nature of science and about the theory of biological evolution. You have no apparent notion of the difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. Hence on the evidence you are misrepresenting the alternative worldview you reject.

    And I did not claim to have read all of Christian apologetics. That’s another of your misrepresentations. Starting with required religion courses taken at a relatively conservative Christian college in the 1950s I’ve read a good deal, enough to know that I’ve found no defensible argument. You have certainly offered none in this thread or on your site.

    Freddy wrote

    You made an interesting claim that the evidence for the existence of Vishnu or Ba’al or Thor is as good as the evidence for Christ. I would really be interested in seeing you prove that one. Since you have read all the books on Christian apologetics, you know all the evidence that I would trot out – manuscript evidence, evidence for the resurrection, archiological evidence, fulfilled prophesies, …. Now, you might not like my evidence, but I hardly think Vishnu, Ba’al or Thor could come close.

    Read Bart Ehrman on your ‘evidence.’ There are no manuscripts dating to the lifetime of the alleged Messiah and there are conflicting accounts of the resurrection in the Gospels. There is precisely zero archaeological evidence for the physical existence of a man named Jesus at the time he is alleged to have lived, none for a global flood, none for the parting of the Red Sea, none for any of the other allegedly miraculous events of the Bible. There are no unequivocal fulfilled prophecies, though there are a number of vague generalities that can be interpreted to fit just about any subsequent event. All of those are characteristic of Hinduism, too, so your evidence is no better than that for Vishnu.

  74. James says:

    Freddy,

    So you make a couple clarifications, but you agree. I’m just trying to get a bearing on where you stand. I think most people would agree that science is not a worldview and that the principle of evolution (natural selection, whatever you want to call it) is well-established science that anyone can see.

    I guess there are a couple of other things I would like to know as well. How old do you think the earth is? More importantly, how long ago do you think God placed life on earth, and exactly what did this life consist of? If there is anything else you would like to add about your worldview, I’m all ears.

    Again, I will wait for you reply before I continue.

  75. James says:

    Sorry, *your* reply.

  76. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH,

    It is quite interesting that you are asserting that my presuppositions are wrong based on your presuppositions. By the way, I’m open to your correction on my ignorance about Naturalism. Enlighten me.

    By the way, I wonder how you ever converted to Naturalism if people can’t understand worldviews they have never experienced before.

    Anyway, first let me say, I will be the first to acknowledge that Christianity is a faith system. In fact, a central part of the belief system itself flaunts that. We come to know Christ by faith. You seem to be assuming that Naturalism is not a faith system. Flatly wrong. Your assertion that my understanding of Naturalism is wrong is based entirely on your assertion that it is right – something that you cannot prove. Your evidence that I am completely off base requires your Naturalistic assumptions as a starting point. If God really does exist everything you are asserting is wrong. And you can’t prove you are right. It is a faith position.

    I also never said that the evidences that I put forth are proofs. You cannot prove a worldview. It is simply evidence, there is lots of it very good eyewitness evidence, by the way). Obviously you don’t like my evidence and prefer to interpret in ways that fit your model – and that is your privelige. But to say that it doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t back up my point based on my presuppositions is simply wrong. The reason you have not found any defensible argument is that you have based your assertions completely on your own Naturalistic presuppositions. That does not mean that mine are not valid, it just means you don’t accept them based on yours (did you ever find that little girl in the third house?).

    But it really is more personal than that to me – and, obviously to you. I believe that God is a real objective person and has revealed himself to humanity. In fact, I claim to have met him personally (not physically, of course, but actually, none the less). Now, according to your worldview that is impossible because God does not exist. But if he really does exist, my claim is not in the least bit strange.

    I can’t get over the lack of levity among this group.

  77. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    I don’t have a firm opinion on the age of the earth. There are Christians who have all sorts of opinions on this, but there is nothing in the Bible which demands a particular point of view.

    I do believe that God created each individual life form, and placed it on earth. The Bible is not specific enough on this topic to answer your question better than that.

  78. James says:

    Freddy,

    Your indecisiveness is exceedingly frustrating to argue against, since no matter what I say you can pull a number that negates my point, but I’ll continue regardless.

    I think what makes science valid despite the worldviews of its practitioners is that it seems to be constant–at least, the science we use on a daily basis seems to be. I think we can agree that what makes science so credible is that it works. Gravity is always present and always has the same effects here on earth; Newton’s laws are readily applicable on a daily basis; so on and so forth. The formulations, paradigms, equations, methodologies that constitute science are only valuable because they are always at our disposal, and when we utilize them they work. Our lives literally depend on this reliability, this vigilance of the validity of science. I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know.

    All this sounds well and good, but actually there is something essential missing. Thus far, we agree that science is valid because it works, but only since its conception. You will notice that I began a couple posts ago by saying “since science’ conception,” and we consequently agreed on several conditions regarding science after this statement. But science was conceived by humans; humans who had worldviews probably much different from our own; humans who lived really not all that long ago. So the institution of science was not always around, but what about its claims? No one knew anything about Newton’s laws 6,000 years ago, or 12,000 years ago, or 1,000,000 years ago, so were they there anyway? During all of that time that life persisted oblivious to science, was science still present? I think we can agree (I hope we can agree) that science did not only come into effect the instant humans began writing about it.

    It seems clear that science is not only valid because it works for us; it works for everyone, everything, anywhere, anytime. But we have already agreed that evolution is present today; we have already agreed that evolution by natural selection is science. Evolution works today, it works tomorrow, it worked yesterday, it worked 1,000 years ago, it worked 3.5 billion years ago.

    But Freddy, you said:

    “I have not denied any scientific claims. What I have denied are conclusions which are based on beliefs which cannot be empirically demonstrated. For instance, the claim that it is possible for non-living chemicals to morph into life is not a scientific conclusion. It is an assumed truth by Naturalists because they do not acknowledge any other possibility. But there is no science to demonstrate it is possible.”

    You agree that we have observed evolution–speciation in action. You agree that evolution is science. You agree that science is not a belief. Then you must agree that evolution was present billions of years ago, or whenever it is you want to arbitrarily say God created life. Obviously this is where I would have liked you to have been more definitive on how long you think life has been around, but if we assume the approximate times scientific evidence seems to indicate, we can say roughly four billion years.

    The point is that you agree that evolution is science; science has been in operation since the beginning of the universe, so you can be sure that evolution has been in operation since the first forms we can call life came into existence on earth—no matter how they got there. The hard evidence—the stuff that doesn’t depend on worldviews—indicates that life has been around a very, very long time. So we have a constant, biologically dynamic force which we agree is science. You say you have denied conclusions which are based on beliefs which cannot be empirically demonstrated, but the only conclusion being made here is that of common ancestry. Evolution is not a belief; evolution has been empirically demonstrated; evolution is science; science is not a worldview; you are denying scientific claims.

    One possibility I’ll momentarily entertain is that God placed complex life on the earth four billion years ago, but then according to you that life shouldn’t have changed much at all in all that time. So, what, humans couldn’t manage to evolve the ability to write until a little less than four billion years later? Does this seem reasonable? It is logical to conclude—not from any worldview—that the life present four billion years ago was a lot less complex than life today, drastically even, and that this makes such an unfathomably large span of time reasonable. You have said it yourself: the evolution we observe today takes place on small scales. Well, considering that the time it takes to observe such evolution is on the magnitude of billionths of a fraction of the time life has been present on earth, yeah it makes sense that we can’t really observe drastic change. In retrospect, your claim that science CANNOT POSSIBLY demonstrate natural drastic change in the biological realm sounds incredibly presumptuous, and incredibly faith-based.

    Don’t say I’m skewed because of some lens I can only see through. You and I both agree that evolution is not a worldview, that it is not a lens, and that it is science. Evolution was present whenever you want to say God created life, so the only issue I can honestly see you picking is when God created said life, but I suppose we’ll see.

  79. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    First of all, you are mistaking indecisiveness for honest not knowing. There are things that we do not and cannot know. It is not indecisive to acknowledge that. Secondly, where do you get off wanting to argue with me just for the sake of argument? That is a pretty shallow and weak position. Honestly, I have not enjoyed a lot of the attacks I have received from some of the other people, but at least their attacks come from an honest disagreement. You are doing nothing more than piling on based on something you obviously have no understanding of.

    Science is not a thing or an institution, it is a methodology. You can’t say “science works,” as if it was a machine you turn on. And you can’t equate it with gravity. That is a total disconnect. And this whole, “science working back in time thing.” What are you even talking about? You are obviously confusing science with something else, though it totally escapes me what that might be.

    You also don’t seem to know what you are talking about regarding evolution. In my previous reply to you, I defined what I meant by evolution, but you seem to have completely ignored what I told you or it is beyond your comprehension. I don’t think I have agreed to what you express. You have made no distinction between macro and micro evolution, subspeciation and transspeciation. My Naturalist friends don’t make those distinctions either, but at least they know what they are arguing for. I believe the distinctions must be made. If you are going to say what I agree with I at least expect you to get my position right. Now, if you really don’t understand my position, perhaps you need to reread my previous posts. I don’t feel a compulsion to go through it again with you.

    Evolve the ability to write? Presumptuous and faith-based? Evolution not a worldview? Evolution present when God created life? You are making absolutely no sense at all.

  80. Arthur Hunt says:

    Arthur,

    And you have experimental evidence to show that these changes can be pushed that far? Proof positive?

    Yes.

    No limits at all?

    I didn’t say that. Do you make a habit of misrepresentation?

    So the amoeba are cranking up to some other animal? What animal are they becoming? Or are they just another form of amoeba?

    Who knows. That’s irrelevant. I gave you an example of what an unbiased observer would call macroevolution. You don’t like that facts disagree with your worldview.

    What do you mean in your paper when you say “what seems to be missing from the xD amoeba are examples of bacteria genes that have picked up and moved into the nucleus. Such examples may remain to be discovered, or it may be too early in the evolution of the system to expect such events. Regardless, if and when the pertinent experiments are done, they can be expected to shed interesting insight into the movement of DNA between compartments in other systems.” Does this mean that you have begun with the presupposition that it is going to happen if just given enough time, or that we really already have a new kind? We do need to be precise.

    I’m quite clear and precise in my essay. I cannot help it if you either choose not to read it, or read it and then lie about it.

    As for your comments about Christianity, that is just plain mean – as well as untrue.

    Simple historical fact agrees with me.

    By the way, Hitler was not a Christian. I don’t know where you get your information.

    Again, simple historical fact says you are wrong.

    (I guess there no anti-Semitism in Islam?)

    When it comes to anti-Semitism, radical Islam looks to Christianity for pointers.

    In fact, virtually everything you said about the Christian faith is nothing more than a rant. It has no basis in reality. Where is your anger coming from?

    No anger here. Just tellin’ the facts. Sorry you don’t like them.

  81. Freddy Davis says:

    Arthur,

    You have to be the most condescending person I have ever dealt with online. Do you treat everyone that you disagree with this way? You may not like or agree with my positions, but the arguments I am making are not frivolous.

    And, I didn’t misrepresent anything. That was a question, not a characterization of your answer. Since you have refused to answer them, I must assume that you don’t have a good answer.

    You say you have experimental evidence that proves positively that evolutionary change can account for all of life on earth. Then you say that you are not saying that there are no limits (meaning there are limits). Then you say that the changes you have experimentally demonstrated can continually move to higher and higher life forms. Then you say that you don’t know if the amoeba are staying amoeba or becoming something else. You have specifically said all of those things. Now, just what is wrong with this picture? You are making positive assertions that you have demonstrated macro-evolution, but are not able to definitively characterize what you have done. And I suppose you get to pick the unbiased observer, as well?

    It appears to me that you have done nothing more than make your own definition of macro-evolution and have done it in such a way as to make macro-evolution a certainty. It doesn’t appear to me that you have “proved” anything.

    And your “facts” about Christianity are just plain silliness. Hitler was not a Christian, he was a Nihilist – a follower of Neitche (which is an expression of Naturalism, by the way). He was a white supremacist and was happy to kill anyone who got in his way, including Christians. And Muslims getting their cues from Christians? Muslims don’t really have much use for Christians at all. In fact, if you actually knew your history, you would know that the modern radical Muslim movement had its beginning with a division of Hitler’s army. Your characterization of Christianity is totally laughable. If you do science that way you do history, I am not sure anyone can trust anything you ever write.

    Arthur, I may later deal more with some of the issues you raise, but I will not respond to any more of your posts. I don’t expect you to agree with me, but I will not interact with a militant bigoted Christophobe.

  82. Arthur Hunt says:

    In fact, if you actually knew your history, you would know that the modern radical Muslim movement had its beginning with a division of Hitler’s army.

    Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

  83. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    By the way, I wonder how you ever converted to Naturalism if people can’t understand worldviews they have never experienced before.

    In fact, I didn’t make that claim. That’s another instance of you misrepresenting other people’s position. I said I have experienced both, and that

    One has to know enough about naturalism to represent it accurately. You don’t, and the evidence is in this thread. You repeatedly and persistently make false statements about the nature of science and about the theory of biological evolution.

    Let me emphasize this: know enough about naturalism. You don’t. You make repeated claims that are false. For example, there is this from your very first comment in this thread:

    No person who believes in evolution can make a valid point without first appealing to the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality, or at least that it had no part in the origins of life.

    That’s simply false. I have met and talked with evangelical Christian scientists who both accept that evolution is the best scientific explanation of the diversity of life on earth and are evangelical Christians. One example: Francis Collins, medical geneticist, former head of the Human Genome project, and an evangelical Christian. Another example: Keith B. Miller, geologist and paleontologist and ‘evolutionist’ and an evangelical Christian. Now, you may define them out of your particular version of Christianity using the no true Scotsman fallacy, but that’s a cop-out.

    In another comment you wrote another misrepresentation:

    As for evolution itself, there is no known biological mechanism which provides for more complex life forms to evolve from lower life forms. In fact, the science we do have leads us to just the opposite conclusion.

    That’s factually false. We do in fact know biological mechanisms that allow more complex life forms to evolve, and there is good empirical evidence to establish that. Several commenters — Ed, me, Art — have pointed to some of that evidence. You show no sign of having read it.

    In still another misrepresentation you wrote

    Just because you can take a bunch of pictures of different species of life forms and line them up in ways which put similar looking ones next to each other is a far cry from showing descent.

    That is a caricature, a false representation of the evidence for common descent (what you apparently regard as “macroevolution”). But that’s a false representation of what the data are.

    There are still more such misrepresentations and it grows wearying to list them all. All illustrate that you are ignorant of the “worldview” you reject. What’s ironic is that the science you reject welcomes informed criticism — we thrive on it. But yours is uninformed, Freddy. You are ignorant of that which you reject. That’s a shame. Ignorance is not a sin — it’s curable — but willful ignorance, ignorance by choice, is a waste of a human mind. You are wasting yours, and that’s sad to see.

  84. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH

    If I am guilty of anything it is simply oversimplification of certain points. I have no idea what you do for a living, but if it has anything to do with communicating ideas to other people you know that you can’t speak to a group of lay people (in any arena) in the same way you deal with specialists in that area. A lot of the criticism I have received, and much of what you are doing here is pressing beyond my comments to make points on things I have not meant. As the nature of the responses to my comments have become more clear, and I recognized who I was dealing with, I have tried to clarify and be more precise with my points. You also don’t seem to be able to detect much of my humor and sarcasm. Incredibly, some of the hits I am taking relate to that rather than to the point I was actually making. But rather than actually dealing with what I am saying, I am getting an awful lot of nothing but put-down.

    Your assertion that you have experienced both worldviews and that I have not is a crock. You know really nothing about my background with worldviews. In fact, I have dealt extensively with all four basic worldviews in a very direct way. I lived overseas for nearly 17 years in two different cultures where all four of them were very prominent. I had to deal with them in practical terms rather than simply as an abstract construct which seem to be all you recognize. You make these grandiose claims about all of this understanding you have, yet your replies indicate that you are evaluating even my arguments through your Naturalistic lens. Now then, let’s see who didn’t really read the string.

    I did not say that the people who believe in evolution are not Christians. In spite of my belief that it is not consistent with Christianity, it is not one of the beliefs that, in and of itself, puts one outside of the Christian faith. But to take that route one has to mix in beliefs with their Christianity which are incompatible with the faith. Now, I understand that virtually no one has a completely consistent belief system. We all live with various contradictions, but when we consciously discover them, we can work on that. But back to the statement. What I said was, “No person who believes in evolution “can make a valid point” without first appealing to the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality, or at least that it had no part in the origins of life.” The reason that is true is because the so called “valid point” is a Naturalistic construct. You have to make a Naturalistic assumption (vs. a Christian one) for that to be true.

    Your accusation about my misrepresentations demonstrate your own lack of understanding about the nature of worldview. You are so focused on looking at the evidence through the lens of your Naturalistic worldview that you have completely failed to recognize the lens you are looking through. The evidence you have given that biological mechanisms can evolve to higher life forms from lower is only true if your Naturalistic presuppositions are true. No one yet has been able to demonstrate that they are true. You assume them, so your interpretation of the evidence follows. Now, I have no doubt that you believe that your lens is the correct one. But to blast me for opting for faith in a creator God while you are opting for your faith that there is no God is rather hypocritical. Believe me, I have read all of the things even more critically than virtually everyone else because I am the one being blasted by everyone.

    Next. My example of lining up pictures is another example of you taking one of my generalizations and turning it into something it is not. In fact, that is a technique that some Naturalists have use to demonstrate their belief in evolution. The famous picture of monkey to man comes to mind. Also the tree with the supposed descent of all animal life. Are you saying that I am misinterpreting the intent of these pictures? I completely understand that there are other lines of reasoning and we have dealt with them extensively in this conversation, but your characterization of my comments is a blatant attempt to take something out of context and use it to put down my ideas. It is not valid.

    Your assertion that I am ignorant of the worldview I reject seems to be more of an indictment of your own understanding of worldview. I have not in any respect rejected science. I have rejected tying Naturalistic philosophy to science. Science is a methodology and does not require Naturalistic presuppositions to be valid. You say you welcome criticism, but you really do seem to have drawn a line about the criticism you will allow. You allow any criticism which fits your definition of what is acceptable to question. Outside of that, your begin calling names. If anything is sad to see, it is that.

  85. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    Your assertion that you have experienced both worldviews and that I have not is a crock. You know really nothing about my background with worldviews. In fact, I have dealt extensively with all four basic worldviews in a very direct way.

    I read your bio and am aware of your foreign mission experience. I am also aware, having read your bio, that you adopted just one of worldview, Christian theism, in your late teens. That means that you have been interpreting all evidence, including evidence related to what other worldviews are and what they imply, through just one lens for all your adult life. Your very picture of those worldviews is filtered through your Christian theism lens, and on your own argument that distorts your perception of them. According to your own argument — the claim that worldviews govern how we interpret the world — your interpretation of alternative worldviews is peculiar to your particular worldview. Since that’s been the case all your life, you have access (again, on your own argument) to only one interpretation of those alternatives, the interpretation filtered through your Christian theism. On your own argument you do not have access to how people who hold other worldviews ‘see’ the world since you adopted just one of them in your youth. What I find entrancing is that you do not see the implications of your argument for your own perception of other alternative worldviews.

    Freddy wrote

    But to blast me for opting for faith in a creator God while you are opting for your faith that there is no God is rather hypocritical.

    I’ve explained the basis for my conclusion that the likelihood that there is a god is very low. It’s not “faith” in the same sense that Christians use that word: ‘belief in the absence of evidence.’ To use the same word in both contexts is to distort the word beyond utility. In an earlier comment I explained that scientists test their “faith” — their naturalistic presuppositions — systematically and relentlessly, and the continuing success of science in increasing our understanding and control of the natural world over the last 3 or 4 centuries attests to the robustness of naturalism. Theists merely adopt theirs and thereafter don’t test them. It’s precisely because thousands ot theists who worked in geology, biology, and their allied disciplines in the 18th and 19 centuries put their presuppositions to the test that science developed and flourished.

    Freddy wrote

    Next. My example of lining up pictures is another example of you taking one of my generalizations and turning it into something it is not. In fact, that is a technique that some Naturalists have use to demonstrate their belief in evolution. The famous picture of monkey to man comes to mind. Also the tree with the supposed descent of all animal life. Are you saying that I am misinterpreting the intent of these pictures?

    Yes, I’m saying exactly that. Those pictures are not “demonstrat[ions] of their belief.” They are illustrations of the theory of common descent. They are not the evidence offered, they are reconstructions of the phenomena based on multiple lines of independent evidence — geology, paleontology, physics, comparative anatomy, and genetic analyses.

    Freddy wrote

    Your assertion that I am ignorant of the worldview I reject seems to be more of an indictment of your own understanding of worldview. I have not in any respect rejected science. I have rejected tying Naturalistic philosophy to science. Science is a methodology and does not require Naturalistic presuppositions to be valid.

    Essentially every practicing scientist knows that the core of the methodology of science is methodological naturalism. I quote:

    Many modern philosophers of science[3] use the terms methodological naturalism or scientific naturalism to refer to the methodological assumption that explanations of observable effects are practical and useful only when they hypothesize natural causes (i.e., specific mechanisms, not indeterminate miracles). In other words, methodological naturalism is the view that the scientific method (hypothesize, predict, test, and repeat) is the only effective way to investigate reality.

    Methodological naturalism can be contrasted with metaphysical naturalism or ontological naturalism, which refers to the metaphysical belief that the natural world (i.e. the universe) is all that exists and, therefore, nothing supernatural exists. In metaphysical naturalism’s paradigm observable events in nature are explainable only by natural causes.

    Science employs methodological naturalism, but that does not require acceptance of ontological or metaphysical naturalism. Many thousands of scientists who are theists accepting a personal god employ methodological naturalism in their scientific endeavours without accepting metaphysical naturalism.

    Freddy, you cannot pick and choose which bits of science (computers, aircraft, modern medicine) you will accept as consistent with your presuppositions, and which you will reject (radiometric dating, DNA analyses, comparative anatomy, paleontology). They are all of a piece, and to accept some bits and reject others based on your untested religious presuppositions is hypocritical.

    Finally, Freddy wrote

    You say you welcome criticism, but you really do seem to have drawn a line about the criticism you will allow. You allow any criticism which fits your definition of what is acceptable to question. Outside of that, your begin calling names. If anything is sad to see, it is that.

    What elicits snark is repetitious uninformed criticism. Over the decades I have had stimulating and enlightening discussions and debates with informed critics of science, its methodology, and evolution. Uninformed critics are merely an irritant.

  86. RBH says:

    Gads. I totally blew the URL closing tag above. Doggone WordPress lack of a preview!

  87. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH,

    If you want to play a game we can do that, but it will not be very productive. You are right that a person’s worldview colors even how they deal with worldview, but that applies to you every bit as much as it applies to me. So if you are going to criticize me for that, you are going to have to nullify your own arguments.

    There is an interesting thing about the ability of human beings, though as a Naturalist you may deny this. We are not bound by our DNA when it comes to thinking about and analyzing things. It is actually possible to think outside one’s worldview if one understands the parameters of a worldview. Thus, it is possible for me (and you) to study different worldviews and consider their implications. I can even use my imagination to put myself in the frame of mind of another worldview and explore what I would do based on a different set of presuppositions. Again, your assertion about my ability to understand other worldviews is a crock. It only demonstrates once again that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to this topic.

    As for your continuing assertion that the faith label does not apply to the way scientists do their work, you are just plain nuts. You can say that the quality of the faith is different between Naturalists and Theists, but again you are demonstrating that you are so inside of your own worldview that you don’t even understand the implications of what you are saying. The very statement that “the basis for my conclusion that the likelihood that there is a god is very low” is a conclusion based on your faith. What empirical proof do you have that leads you to that conclusion, no matter how non-committal you try to be (by the way, did you ever find that little girl?). And once again you are equating science with Naturalism – as if a person can’t be a scientist if they are not a Naturalist. Are you even reading what you are writing? The “continuing success of science is not the result of “the robustness of Naturalism” (prove that one). It is the result of the hard work of scientists and technicians who have done work in the part of the natural world which does not require metaphysical Naturalistic presuppositions (see how I am trying to adapt to you by using vocabulary that you seem to insist on). Every scientist, whether they claim to hold a Naturalistic or Theistic worldview tests their results. Science is a methodology, not a worldview. Your equating science and Naturalism is simply bogus.

    I really cannot believe what I am reading. You wrote, “Those pictures are not “demonstrat[ions] of their belief. They are illustrations of the theory of common descent.” Are you saying that the illustrations do not represent what they believe? Yes, they are reconstructions. But reconstructions of what? Reconstructions of “their ideas and beliefs.” You may believe that they are reconstructions of the way things really happened, but the only way you can come to that conclusion is to first assert Naturalistic presuppositions. Now, I will offer again. I am willing to defer to you on everything once you prove to me that the Naturalistic presuppositions are true. You cannot because they are faith assumptions. I will agree with you 100% on every bit of empirical evidence that you can put forth in any field of science. But I will not agree with your conclusions on how to interpret that evidence if it requires metaphysical Naturalistic presuppositions (unless you can prove to me that the presuppositions of metaphysical naturalism (man it takes so much more typing to make sure I use words that you can’t twist – hopefully. Do I really need to put in the word metaphysical every time for you to understand?).

    I have no clue as to why you went on and did your long explanation of methodological and metaphysical naturalism. I think I have been making that distinction pretty strongly the whole time. I have not used the word methodological naturalism, but I talk about science and empirical science – all the things that methodological naturalism involves. And I think I keep making the point that the two are not joined at the hip. In fact, the definition you gave actually included that point. Thanks for making my point, even though I don’t understand why you did it.

    Oh, I think I get it. You are making a false distinction and have based your attack on that. You have set computers, aircraft, and modern medicine up against radiometric dating, DNA analyses, comparative anatomy, and paleontology. Now what is wrong with this picture? The first list can be used as tools but the latter are specifically analytical tools. They don’t quite fit into the same category. (You know, generally when your assumptions are wrong, your conclusions are wrong.) That being said, what makes you think I reject any of those things? I have not said it. I may reject the conclusions you come up with once you gather the data, but not the data itself. You are completely off base with this attack.

    Since I am the one who is on the defensive against you and everyone else, does that mean that your repetitious criticism is snark? It is truly incredible that you are the one attacking me and I am the one who is snark. I have no problem that you interjected yourself into this conversation, but I did not invite you. You are the one who barged in and started attacking. It is quite disingenuous to try to turn it around and make it seem like we started out having a friendly discussion and I turned on you. You were attacking from the get go. If you are not enjoying it you don’t have to continue. I certainly don’t want to be the cause of you having an unenjoyable experience. Interesting, though, that even here you didn’t address my point. You just spit forth how bad an irritant I am.

  88. James says:

    Freddy,

    The point I was trying to make relied heavily on how long life has been around to evolve, and you made it significantly harder for me to make this point by not having an opinion on this yourself. In that regard, how can you make any claims about what evolution is capable of if you have no idea how long life has been around?

    Nowhere did I say I wanted to argue with you just for the sake of argument. Yeah, my word choice probably could have been better, but I was just being honest. You have made your opinions quite clear in this thread, and all I meant by using the word “argue” was that the rest of my post would oppose this opinion–a little foreshadowing, if you will. All I meant was that I do not share your views. The malicious intent you seem to have perceived is simply a figment of your imagination.

    By the way, I most certainly have not “attacked” you. I have not called you any names or unfairly said anything. It would seem you construe a simple disagreement as an attack.

    Just because you don’t understand what I’m talking about doesn’t give you the right to accuse me of ignorance; simply asking for clarification would have sufficed.

    You said:

    “Science is not a thing or an institution, it is a methodology.”

    If you looked up the definition of science, you would see that it is a noun. Thinking back to elementary school, a noun is a person, place, or THING. Since you don’t seem to know what science can mean, I will elucidate:

    1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
    3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
    4. systematized knowledge in general.
    5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
    6. a particular branch of knowledge.

    Now, when I use the term “science,” I may be referring to any of these. Often, I was referring to systematized knowledge or knowledge gained by systematic study.

    “You can’t say “science works,” as if it was a machine you turn on.”

    It seems you like to think of science as a methodology. I can’t say that methodologies work? Most of the time, when I say science works I mean that that systematized knowledge, when APPLIED in real life, works. I can’t say this?

    “You also don’t seem to know what you are talking about regarding evolution. In my previous reply to you, I defined what I meant by evolution, but you seem to have completely ignored what I told you or it is beyond your comprehension.”

    Quite the contrary: everything I have said has been with your definition of evolution in mind. Let me break this down for you.

    In one of your earlier posts, you said:

    “Natural selection is observable over a very few generations.”

    So you admit that we can observe changes over small intervals of time–maybe not DRASTIC changes, but changes nonetheless. After I read this, I mentally equated “evolution” with this quote. Let me be clear on this. Every time I use the word “evolution,” I am referring to what has been observed and the mechanisms we have found to be behind these observations, namely natural selection; I am referring to what YOU said.

    A few posts ago, I said:

    “You also say elsewhere in this thread, perhaps multiple times, that you have no problem with the principle of evolution. You agree that we can observe evolution. You agree that evolution is science. Evolution is not a worldview.”

    Keep in mind the quote I provided of what you said in one of your earlier posts, and that I said I mentally equated evolution with what you said. I then waited patiently for your response as to whether you agreed or disagreed with me.

    You answered:

    “Science is a methodology, not a worldview.”

    So you agreed with what I said regarding science.

    You also said:

    “Regarding evolution, I wholeheartedly agree that natural selection (change within kinds) takes place. I do not agree that continuous change from less to more complex life forms is possible.”

    This matches exactly what I have been saying I defined evolution as, so you agree here as well, and every subsequent use of “evolution” I make has your comments in mind.

    Regarding my last post:

    “I don’t think I have agreed to what you express. You have made no distinction between macro and micro evolution, subspeciation and transspeciation.”

    You certainly agreed with the comments I made regarding science and evolution earlier. Any reference to your agreeableness I made in my last post is with your previous cooperation in mind. I have not needed to make a distinction because I have only used evolution in one sense, the sense I have laboriously outlined for you–that is, what you would call micro-evolution.

    “Evolve the ability to write? Presumptuous and faith-based? Evolution not a worldview? Evolution present when God created life? You are making absolutely no sense at all.”

    You are clearly lost on my point, so I will help you out.

    At this point, I would strongly urge you to review the several definitions of science I have provided.

    The systematized knowledge we have come to call science was systematized by humans, and only recently in time, i.e. within the past several thousand years. In other words, if a scientist could go back in time–say a few hundred million years–there would be no one with any technical understanding of natural phenomena. I’m saying that what constitutes the systematized knowledge we have come to call science was present even when no one knew what this knowledge was. So FOR EXAMPLE, people did not always have an equation that could predict where celestial bodies (planets) would be at any time, but those celestial bodies were still revolving around the sun according to those equations regardless. In the same way, people did not always have an understanding of evolution by natural selection, but evolution by natural selection was occurring here on earth regardless.

    My point is that evolution is something present in all biological systems, and this is true for any point in earth’s history where there was a biological system. You’re right in that we can only observe small changes in species in a small amount of time, but I’m saying that the fact that these small changes were occurring at all times in earth’s history easily suggests that over unfathomably huge amounts of time, drastic changes can occur in any biological system. In this light, common ancestry is not simply some wild “presupposition” that is part of some worldview people hold; it is a scientific conclusion in its own right.

    Now, go back and reread my post now that I have spoon-fed you my point, and now that I have addressed your lack of understanding. Just because you are confused and do not understand what I’m saying does not mean I am making no sense at all. In the future, if you have any disagreement with what I’m saying, I expect you to tell me what you disagree with AND WHY, and not simply that you think I am making no sense or that I am ignorant.

    I am hopeful that you will reconsider what I have to say and address me as a mature adult instead of childishly calling me stupid over and over again, but to be honest, your propensity to butcher and mutilate my words indicates to me that any attempt to reason with you is ill-fated and futile.

  89. Freddy Davis says:

    James,

    My most humble apologies for having misunderstood your tone. You actually did leave the clear impression of attack. But it is interesting that in spite of what you have written in this post about that, you have been quite brutal in your assertions and in your condescension. And please understand, as good as I am, I am not able to read minds – at least from long distances. From your post it was literally impossible to know referencing in your mind as you read what I wrote. You ought to read it again yourself. I promise to be a bit more respectful if you can manage the same.

    The point I have been making all along is not related to what evolution is capable of. It is of which worldview presuppositions best account for the reality we experience in this world. Since I am a Theist, I don’t have any particular need to account for how long it might take for something to evolve from non-living chemicals to man – or from “original life form to man.” You are trying to make an argument that simply has no significance (or possibility) to me. I don’t believe that evolution happens that way.

    You are still being quite confusing in much of what you are saying. First you say that you are planning on opposing my opinions, then you say you agree with me about the meaning of evolution (micro-evolution), then you go on and suggest that given enough time, all life forms can be accounted for based on Darwinistic evolution. These three things all work against one another. Excuse me for being confused.

    And thank you for your definitions of science. I didn’t know it was so expansive. As I recall, the context you were using it in treated it as if it were a worldview – a kind of belief system. There are belief systems which acknowledge or don’t acknowledge its existence (as your historical references to pre-modern science points out), but it is not, itself a belief system unless you equate science with Naturalism. My answer to you was in opposition to the way you were using the word. If you want to use it in a different way, then you really do need to explain yourself.

    I reread what you wrote and your comment about science “working” is still very confusing. Gravity is not science. Newton’s laws are not science. We study them with science, but they are not science. I am not sure what you are saying about science. Nature operates a certain way and it has throughout history. The means that people use to observe and interact with nature have changed without changing the way nature works. Is that what you are trying to say? If that is what you mean, I still don’t get your point.

    Regarding your assertion that “given enough time, large enough changes can occur in life forms to account of all of life,” you seem to have missed the entire point that I am making. That point of view is only possible if Naturalistic presuppositions are true. Stepping into the natural world, that kind of evolution itself can only be true if the Naturalistic presuppositions are true. But I am asserting that Naturalism is not the truth about reality. I say, prove the presuppositions and I will agree with you. Until then, I believe that God really does exist, that he is a real person and that he did the creating himself rather than leaving it to an impersonal mechanistic process. Your comment that the concept of common ancestry is not a “wild presupposition but a scientific conclusion in its own right” is simply is not true. You can’t get there without the Naturalistic presuppositions.

  90. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    Again, your assertion about my ability to understand other worldviews is a crock. It only demonstrates once again that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to this topic.

    Freddy, I’ve provided instances of your misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the “naturalist” worldview. Evidence. It’s not an unsupported assertion. Your own words demonstrate that you do not understand the scientific worldview.

    Freddy wrote

    The “continuing success of science is not the result of “the robustness of Naturalism” (prove that one). It is the result of the hard work of scientists and technicians who have done work in the part of the natural world which does not require metaphysical Naturalistic presuppositions (see how I am trying to adapt to you by using vocabulary that you seem to insist on). Every scientist, whether they claim to hold a Naturalistic or Theistic worldview tests their results. Science is a methodology, not a worldview. Your equating science and Naturalism is simply bogus.

    You have misquoted me there. I have not equated science and Naturalism! It’s your capitalization, not mine. I used the lower-case specifically in order to avoid confusion with your usage. I provided the distinction between methodological naturalism, used by science, and metaphysical naturalism which seems to correspond to your capitalized Naturalism, and I explicitly made the point that one needs only the former in science. If we agree on that, then you have lost the game, because it is methodological naturalism that underpins the theory of evolution by natural selection, common descent, and the old age of the earth.

    You emphasize your confusion a paragraph later:

    You may believe that they are reconstructions of the way things really happened, but the only way you can come to that conclusion is to first assert Naturalistic presuppositions.

    No, those reconstructions were first made mostly by Christians utilizing methodological naturalism, not the metaphysical Naturalism you claim to be necessary.

    Remember, it was Christians who in the 18th and 19th centuries who originally devised those theories and began the testing of them. A significant proportion of current scientists are also Christians who accept evolution by natural selection and common descent as the best scientific account of the diversity of life on earth. You must argue that those Christians, some of them evangelicals, are somehow deluded or confused, even though they take great pains to think through how their Christian (and evangelical) faith and their science do not conflict. They even write whole books about it — Francis Collins’ The Language of God, Kenneth Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God, Keith B. Miller’s Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, Francisco Ayala’s Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, Rick Colling’s Random Designer, Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, and many more. All of those authors are scientists who accept evolution in the full sense, and four of them are Christians in the evangelical tradition! I own those books, Freddy, among a number of others in the same genre, and I have read them carefully and attentively, not least because I once shared their faith. I’ve even met and talked personally with three of those six authors about their views. Have you read their books? Talked with them? I suggest that you do so. Learn why they are not as confused as you must think they are.

  91. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH,

    You have provided examples and I have addressed your concerns. The only problem is, your examples require Naturalistic assumptions to prove me wrong. Again, prove to me the assumptions are correct and I will defer. And science is not a worldview. Please correct me if I am reading your meaning wrongly, but when you use the term “scientific worldview,” it does seem that you are equating science and Naturalism.

    I certainly do agree that methodological naturalism is the approach used by science. Christian Theists believe that the world operates in a way that is naturally consistent and can be studied. But using your logic I don’t even have a place in the game. If I say I don’t believe in it I lose and by your definition if I do I lose.

    But, I have not lost the game. You simply don’t understand the rules. Of course Naturalistic scientists use methodological naturalism to try and underpin the theory of evolution, natural selection and common descent. But that is not the point. It is not the methodology that is at issue, it is the conclusions. It is possible to use the right method but if you start out with wrong assumptions your conclusions will be flawed. And excuse my use of the capital letter. I am so used to capitalizing the word that sometimes I do it automatically. What I can’t believe is that you are trying to prove my whole argument wrong because I capitalized a word.

    Your argument about who created the reconstructions and about people who claim to be Christians yet believe in evolution is totally and completely irrelevant. The structure of reality is the way it is no matter who tries to define it a different way. That changes nothing about reality. And I think I have already spent a good deal of time talking about this issue. Maybe that was before you came onboard. Anyway, it is a red herring and doesn’t advance anyone’s argument.

  92. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    Your argument about who created the reconstructions and about people who claim to be Christians yet believe in evolution is totally and completely irrelevant.

    On the contrary, it illustrates the fact that people who hold what you call a theistic worldview nevertheless came (and come) to conclusions about reality that are in sharp contrast with your conclusions about reality.
    Freddy wrote

    The structure of reality is the way it is no matter who tries to define it a different way. That changes nothing about reality. And I think I have already spent a good deal of time talking about this issue.

    And the difference between the scientific endeavour and your Christian Theist notion is that science systematically tests its models of reality, correcting them as necessary in the light of the testing. Scientists make predictions of observations based on our models and then go out and test those predictions in laboratory and field research. That’s the core difference between science and theology: science provides tests of its models; it justifies its knowledge claims by testing them against predicted observations.

    Freddy wrote

    But that is not the point. It is not the methodology that is at issue, it is the conclusions. It is possible to use the right method but if you start out with wrong assumptions your conclusions will be flawed.

    Tell me, Freddy, if you would: How does one test one’s assumptions in your worldview? How does one evaluate one’s presuppositions to see whether they have any correspondence with reality? How do you justify your knowledge claims? The methodology we both agree characterizes science is what scientists employ to test their assumptions and justify their knowledge claims. How do you do it?

  93. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH

    The fact that there are people who claim to be Christians yet believe in evolution only proves one thing, that they personally believe in evolution. It does not validate the opinion. There are scientists who believe in the Hindu impersonal life force. Does the fact that they claim to be scientists prove that it exists? The fact is independent of the individuals who support or deny it.

    You are once again setting science up against Christian Theism and equating Naturalism with science. That is not a valid assertion. And since when did we start comparing science with theology? That is like comparing apples and oranges.

    Let me try again. Metaphysical naturalism is a theology. Theism is a theology. People who believe in either one of these can use science. The question is, what will the individuals try to use science for? They will try to use science to search for evidence that their presuppositions about the nature of reality is correct. It is not possible for Naturalism to prove its main presupposition – that the supernatural does not exist. But it should be possible for science to prove that evolution is true – if in fact evolution is true. All it has to do is empirically demonstrate that life can come from non-living chemicals, life forms can evolve from lower to higher forms in a continuous line and that consciousness can emerge from non-consciousness. I keep saying, prove these things by science and I will defer. Until then, Naturalism is nothing more than an alternative theology.

    Very good question. How does one test one’s worldview assumptions? Notice I have altered your question slightly because the matter testing assumptions in a worldview is not limited to mine. The problem with your question is that you are putting your Naturalistic approach to understanding science in a realm which does not support Naturalistic testing.

    As we grow up, we pick up our default worldview by environmental osmosis. We observe what we observe in our world, we learn from our parents, teachers and religious leaders, etc. Some of the things we observe and learn may be wrong, but they make sense to us in the context of our lives, so we accept them as truth and live life as if they are true. Hopefully, as we grow and learn, we begin to evaluate more critically the issues related to the nature of reality. When we discover things which don’t seem to match up with the way the world appears to operate, we ought to make adjustments in our thinking. But, all we have to base any changes on is our evaluation of whatever evidence comes before us. We cannot directly test ultimate reality itself. People are capable of, and many do, live life based on presuppositions which do not match up with actual reality. In fact, everyone does this to some extent because we don’t know everything.

    In your case, at some point in your life you came to the conclusion that the Naturalistic presuppositions make the most sense. Based on that belief system you see and evaluate everything through that lens. In my case, I have come to the conclusion that there is a personal creator God who created material reality, revealed himself to mankind and that I can know in a personal relationship – all because of my own experiences. I cannot prove it empirically any more than you can prove yours. But I live life seeing and evaluating everything through that lens. That is the way worldview works. It is not empirically verifiable. It is a faith system and we all choose our faith based on the various experiences we have in life.

    This does not mean that any belief system is just as valid as any other. There is something that corresponds with the way reality actually exists. A faith system can be considered unreasonable if it has internal contradictions or if it asserts or denies things which people actually experience in life. (For instance, if someone’s worldview asserts that it is possible for a person to levitate without mechanical assistance, that obviously goes contrary to the way they actually live life). But you have to be careful in doing your evaluation because you can’t evaluate one faith system based on the presuppositions of another. If you are going to look for the contradictions and inconsistencies, you have to find them based on that worldview’s own presuppositions.

  94. RBH says:

    Freddy wrote

    The fact that there are people who claim to be Christians yet believe in evolution only proves one thing, that they personally believe in evolution.

    No, it proves — an “existence proof” in technical terms — that accepting evolution as the best available scientific account of the diversity of life on earth is not incompatible with holding “a high view of scripture” (to quote one of the authors I mentioned).

    Freddy wrote

    The question is, what will the individuals try to use science for? They will try to use science to search for evidence that their presuppositions about the nature of reality is correct.

    No, the structure of scientific research takes the form of statements like “If this or that model/hypothesis is correct, then I should observe A and B, but I should not observe C and D.” That is, in scientific research we don’t just look for confirmatory evidence; we explicitly look for disconfirmatory evidence. We actively seek evidence that contradicts our hypothesis or model. As it happens, over three centuries of scientific research demonstrates that we do not need supernatural entities to account for what is observed. And, not incidentally, you propose what is essentially a scientific method — looking for disconfirming evidence — in the very same comment: see my remarks below about levitation and your criterion for testing a worldview.

    Freddy wrote

    It is not possible for Naturalism to prove its main presupposition – that the supernatural does not exist.

    Neither is it possible to prove that fairies don’t exist, or that elves don’t exist, or that an invisible dragon doesn’t exist in my garage. Carl Sagan had an excellent analysis of that argument in The Demon-Haunted World. One can’t prove a non-specific general negative statement; one can only provide evidence that reduces its likelihood.

    However, you have insulated yourself from “proof” by ruling out science as a methodology for gathering and interpreting evidence in favor of a sort of idiosyncratic subjective process. You write

    That is the way worldview works. It is not empirically verifiable. It is a faith system and we all choose our faith based on the various experiences we have in life.

    Sometimes you speak of the degree to which a worldview corresponds to reality, but you reject the strongest methodology we have for testing whether propositions correspond to reality, science. The moment that scientific evidence — from fossils, DNA, comparative anatomy, biogeography, molecular biology, etc. — support the proposition that “life forms can evolve from lower to higher forms in a continuous line,” you resort to saying that given your interpretive framework — your worldview — you don’t interpret the observations that way and that scientists do so only because of their “Naturalistic” worldview.

    You claim that our “life experiences” determine our worldview, but that “There is something that corresponds with the way reality actually exists.” The only way I know to determine “the way reality actually exists” is via the scientific method: Systematically testing propositions against empirical evidence. But if the evidence generated by that method contradicts your worldview you reject it; or more accurately, you re-interpret it to fit your pre-existing worldview. There is no way into that intellectual system: You have effectively insulated yourself from potential contradictory evidence. That becomes crystal clear in your final sentences:

    If you are going to look for the contradictions and inconsistencies, you have to find them based on that worldview’s own presuppositions.

    You are saying in effect that one can test one’s own presuppositions only by interpreting evidence through the lens of those presuppositions. That effectively insulates those presuppositions from any contradiction.

    Let me take your example of levitation to illustrate. Suppose that I claim (like some Transcendental Meditators do) that with sufficient faith and training, I can levitate. You say, “Show me.” I respond that it can’t be done in the presence of skeptics — the psychic energy given off by a skeptic makes it impossible — and that it’s only in the presence of true believers that it can occur. You say, “Well, then film it.” I respond that recording devices are a tool of skepticism, and that it’s only the direct perception by believers that enables levitation to occur. How can you break into that defense? You can’t; I have totally insulated my worldview from your empirical testing.

    In one place — the levitation example — you say

    A faith system can be considered unreasonable if it has internal contradictions or if it asserts or denies things which people actually experience in life.

    But I can easily defeat that, as illustrated above — you cannot find evidence that I cannot levitate under the conditions I specify.

    Your proposed criterion — “if it asserts or denies things which people actually experience” — is a form of scientific empirical test: Observe the world in a systematic and disciplined way (that can be replicated by other people regardless of their prior beliefs) to ascertain if what is observed (= “experience”) is consistent with the claim. That’s science! And you apply it to the levitation case.

    But then you turn right around and reject that very same form of scientific testing when you claim that

    That is the way worldview works. It is not empirically verifiable.

    You propose an empirical test of the levitation claim, but then reject empirical testing when it comes to your own claims. Thus you insulate your own view at need while simultaneously subjecting other views to the methodology that you reject as inapplicable to your own.

  95. RBH says:

    Postcript

    A blogger has transcribed Sagan’s dragon-in-the-garage parable. He identifies it as being on page 160 of The Demon-Haunted World. That’s apparently in the hardback edition; in the paperback edition I have it’s on page 171. I commend it to Freddy’s attention.

  96. Freddy Davis says:

    RBH

    The fact that there are people who claim to have a high view of Scripture yet personally believe in evolution (note how I turned that around), absolutely does not prove anything. How can you say that it does? That is not an empirical test. It only proves that they hold some contradictions within their worldview belief system.

    You still don’t seem to understand the nature of worldview. You are trying to apply Naturalistic reasoning to something that does not have those kinds of answers. To get at a comprehensive understanding of a person’s worldview, here are the questions that need to be answered.

    1. What is the nature of ultimate reality? (Is there a God or not? If there is, what is he like? Is there a spiritual world? If so, what is it like?
    2. What is the nature of material reality? (Created, self-existent, etc.)
    3. What is the nature of a human being? (Special creation, evolved animal, etc.)
    4. What happens to a person at death? (Heaven? Hell? Cease to exist? Etc.)
    5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? (Created with that capacity? Evolved brain, etc.)
    6. How do we know what is right and wrong? (Revealed? Social construct? Etc.)
    7. What is the meaning of human history? (Given by God? No meaning? Etc.)

    You are insisting that these questions be answered by empirical means. The only problem is, there is no way to answer them empirically. Your insistence that we use science to get at worldview simply is not possible. We have to look at different categories of evidence to do it. Thus, science is valuable as a means of evaluating some of the evidence which might be considered as we deal with worldview, but science cannot answer the questions.

    Of course it is not possible to prove that supernatural reality does not exist. I think I stated that pretty plainly. It is also not possible to empirically prove that it does exist. So, since neither of us can empirically prove our point, what shall we conclude? Does God exist or not? In this case, someone is right and someone is wrong (I can’t think of a third possibility). And whichever one it turns out to be, the reality itself is independent of what either one of us believes. So, Carl Sagan’s analysis is not really useful in dealing with worldview. He was trying, just like you, to use Naturalistic presuppositions to address a topic that cannot be dealt with in that manner.

    Why do you keep saying that I have ruled out science as a methodology for gathering and interpreting evidence in favor of a sort of idiosyncratic subjective process. I don’t know how many times I have to say that I believe in science. But you have to use science in places where it is possible to use it. It will not answer worldview questions no matter how hard you try.

    I imagine you are familiar with the movie, The Matrix. How do you know right now that you are not living in a pod with your brain hooked up to a computer which is feeding you information which makes you think you are living a real life while you are really not? We can’t possibly know it empirically. Now, I don’t know about you, but I believe that the life I am living is a real life in a real world. But even that, ultimately, is a faith assumption.

    It is very interesting that you have said, “if the evidence generated by that method contradicts your worldview you reject it; or more accurately, you re-interpret it to fit your pre-existing worldview. The fact is, this is the case for you as well as it is for me. This is what everybody does. Why don’t you believe the evidence about the validity of the Christian faith? Because “you have effectively insulated yourself from the potential for contradictory evidence.” You will only accept empirical proof, even if God insists that the proof has to be of another kind.

    Your example of levitation is well taken to a point. My understanding and interpretation of worldview and analysis of other worldviews is constrained one belief which is an intrinsic part of my worldview (I did make the point earlier that even the way we evaluate worldview is affected in some respects by our own). The thing that constrains me is that I do insist that the natural world is real and operates by physical laws that one cannot break by their own internal abilities. But this should not affect the validity of my point with you since you believe the same thing. The problem with your conclusion is that the empirical test is all you allow. For instance (again, just an example), I believe in God because he has revealed himself to me personally. That is not subject to the laws of nature because it operates outside of nature. It cannot be observed and tested empirically by others. At the same time, it doesn’t contradict any natural laws.

    As I have said over and over again, I do not reject science as a methodology for testing whether or not propositions correspond with reality. But you keep insisting that science has proven that “life forms can evolve from lower to higher forms in a continuous line.” So, for the gazillionth time, show me the proof. In my last post I specifically listed how Naturalists could prove that evolution is the correct way to interpret the evidence we have. I haven’t seen it yet. All I get is assertions about how the evidence must be interpreted, but without the Naturalistic presuppositions it simply doesn’t wash.

  97. James says:

    Freddy,

    I do agree with your meaning of evolution (micro-evolution). My point is that given this change on small scales in small periods of time, the conclusion that big changes can occur over large periods of time (what you would call Darwinistic evolution, I think) is a perfect valid scientific conclusion, especially given the evidence we have of such drastically different organisms living in the past. I don’t see how this is contradictory. Or to think of it another way: given a couple small changes over a smaller period of time, thousands of small changes over a larger period of time should constitute a larger change. No presuppositions needed, just simple logic.

    I was never treating science as a worldview. I have been emphasizing over and over again the exact opposite–like when I said:

    “You make the distinction earlier–and I agree–that science is not a worldview.”

    “I think most people would agree that science is not a worldview”

    “science is not a worldview;”

    and references elsewhere.

    For clarification, I have been using the term “science” mostly, if not always, to mean systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. After rereading my earlier post, I can see that in several instances I was referring to the knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. Perhaps this is where confusion arose.

    Again, when I talk about science “working,” I mean that when we apply the systematized knowledge of science, we obtain sounds results; I also mean that what constitutes this knowledge (such as gravity, Newton’s Laws, evolution, etc.) operates constantly and has throughout history. So you say:

    “Nature operates a certain way and it has throughout history. The means that people use to observe and interact with nature have changed without changing the way nature works.”

    This is exactly what I’m saying. I am saying that this “certain way” has been systematized into the body of knowledge we now call science. I am saying that evolution is part of this body of knowledge. (Please remember what I mean by evolution!!!) So since evolution is a part of nature, and nature has been operating a certain way throughout history, so has evolution. This is the basis for my main point that the evolution by natural selection we observe today has always been operating–hence my point that small changes observed today in small periods of time makes large changes in large periods of time a valid scientific conclusion, especially since we have evidence that life on earth used to be drastically different than it is today. We know that life was not always as it is now, so all the evidence we have now and the mechanism for change we have point to the result that life today is descended from whatever lived in the past–no Naturalistic presuppositions made.

    This is where your worldview enters the picture. I think you would make the claim that we are descended only from other humans, if I understand your worldview correctly. But even in that worldview we have a common ancestor(s)–namely, humans.

    I would still say the principle of common ancestry is a valid conclusion.

  98. Freddy Davis says:

    James

    You seem to be mixing concepts and even though you are saying you mean evolution only means natural selection, your conclusions require that it mean Naturalistic evolution. My assertion is that there is a limit beyond which an individual life form cannot progress – period. If that is true, then there is a stopping point and “the big changes over a long period of time” that you are claiming is impossible. To say that it is even possible for the change you are asserting to occur is the result of Naturalistic presuppositions. You seem to be struggling to understand the difference between a Naturalistic and Theistic approach to this issue. Your “simple logic” does not work.

    I think I understand what you mean about science “working” but you also have to be careful about the application of that. Applying the systematized knowledge of science does not always result in sound results. All you have to do is look at all of the experiments (in every field of science) which have fizzled. Also, if you start with faulty presuppositions, you are bound to end up with faulty results. This is one of the main things that has been being argued in this entire string.

    You stated, “… this “certain way” (that nature has operated throughout history) has been systematized into the body of knowledge we now call science. I am saying that evolution is part of this body of knowledge. (Please remember what I mean by evolution!!!) So since evolution is a part of nature, and nature has been operating a certain way throughout history, so has evolution.”

    In spite of what you have said, you truly seem to be asserting that micro and macro evolution are both operating. If so, you are arguing for Naturalism and I disagree and challenge you to prove your assertion. If, however, you are really using the word evolution to only mean change within kinds, then I agree with you completely. But whatever you are saying, it is totally confusing. You really do seem to be claiming both points.

    You are doing the same thing with the term “common ancestry,” Common ancestry for a Naturalist means the process of evolution has allowed the original life form on earth to gradually become more and more complex until ultimately man emerged. So, in a manner of speaking, the fish is our ancestor. It is rather usual to use the phrase “common ancestor” in a conversation about evolution to simply mean that human beings have human ancestors. Your logic in saying that the principle of common ancestry is valid if either one of these approaches is true is very fuzzy.

  99. James says:

    Freddy,

    Why do my conclusions require Naturalistic evolution?

    “To say that it is even possible for the change you are asserting to occur is the result of Naturalistic presuppositions.”

    What Naturalistic presuppositions have I made?

    “My assertion is that there is a limit beyond which an individual life form cannot progress – period.”

    Does this just come from your worldview? If so, then it cannot be a scientific conclusion–in which case, why does this matter?

    Since any experiments that “fizzled” would not be included in the body of knowledge that constitutes science, none of the application I discussed would include any of these.

    My ultimate objective was to show that the only difference between micro- and macro-evolution is time, but then I suppose I don’t technically know how you are defining micro- or macro-evolution. How is the operation of micro- and macro-evolution different in nature–in your opinion?

    Just disregard what I said about ancestry for the moment.

  100. RBH says:

    Just a quick note for Freddy — I haven’t abandoned this thread, but spring break is over and students come back to classes tomorrow, so I’m pretty snowed under with grading papers for a bit.

  101. Freddy Davis says:

    No problem. No shortage of work around here either.

  102. Ed Darrell says:

    Freddy said:

    Let me try again. Metaphysical naturalism is a theology. Theism is a theology. People who believe in either one of these can use science. The question is, what will the individuals try to use science for?

    There are other questions necessary before we get to what science is used for. One of those questions is, what can we agree on as the bases for weighing whatever evidence we find as accurate? For Christians for nearly 2,000 years, that has been methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism was developed by Christians at the behest of the church to answer a number of questions in different spheres, such as when feast days would fall, how to keep the calendar from creeping into inaccuracy, why do stones fall from the sky, what is the nature of disease, and what can we do to improve the lot of mankind as Jesus commanded us.

    I want you to understand that what you claim to be counter to faith, was in fact developed by faithful people working to find ways to make sense of the glory of God’s creation. They used the scriptures and religious tradition as their guides, firm in their faith that God is an all-knowing, ever-present God who generally does not shoot dice with the universe, to use a phrase Einstein once used ill-advisedly. As a general rule, that methodological naturalism has served civilization well, particularly in the area of faith. Your out-of-hand rejection of anything that has the word “naturalism” I find to be silly, unnatural, counter to the faith, and obsinately counterproductive to serious study of God’s universe. I believe God calls us to wonder and study at the universe He created. (I also reject the claim that all of the universe is corrupted, but we can probably ignore that for the moment.)

    Benjamin Franklin, to pick one particularly famous example, rejected your rejection of methodological naturalism as unwise. He turned it into a key tool to win the minds of the British during the Revolutionary War. Just prior to the outbreak of hostilities, he discovered that his aesthetically-pleasing lightning arrester with a ball on the end, was not nearly as effective as a needle-shaped lightning arrester. The crown ruled that Franklin’s latest discovery was from the wrong “world-view,” in essence, and ordered that it was incorrect, and should not be used.

    When he was in France, Franklin subscribed to many English newspapers. When they carried news of another church in another English town burning as a result of lightning strike, he would write a letter under a pseudonym to the paper, noting that God must be on the side of the American colonists, since their churches were not being destroyed by lightning, but England’s churches were. Franklin knew the answer, and he knew it had nothing to do with God’s wishes. Thus ever will the uninformed, and especially the willingly malinformed, be at the mercy of science.

    Aquinas was right. We shouldn’t dismiss science when we find what appears to be a contradiction between science and scripture, lest it make us appear foolish in contrast to God’s creation. Nor should we when it kills us. Every cancer cure, including surgery, is based on applications of evolution theory. We dismiss it as an error of worldview at great peril to ourselves, and to our souls — which of us will turn down a cancer-curing procedure when we have the cancer, on the basis that it is the fruit of a poisoned worldview?

    They will try to use science to search for evidence that their presuppositions about the nature of reality is correct. It is not possible for Naturalism to prove its main presupposition – that the supernatural does not exist.

    Nor is it possible to prove a counterargument, that the supernatural does exist. Methodological naturalism is based on a clear understanding of these limits of the processes, something you appear to be unaware of, or at least reluctant to admit. It is not the goal of science to disprove God — it has been a long-time goal of science to do the opposite, to prove the existence of God. It’s very bizarre to know the history of science in this regard and hear you call it contrary to the faith, or somehow erroneous in its conclusions.

    The search for God and God’s ways provided a great proving ground for the methods of science. Methodological naturalism is what’s left, the best methods for determining the truth of what can be known, while recognizing the limits of the methods: God can’t be found if God wants to hide.

    Recognizing that limit should bring another understanding: What God wants revealed will be revealed; and in Christian understanding, God hides little or nothing in creation, and reveals what is revealed completely honestly (though sometimes we don’t have the tools or theory to fully comprehend what we see).

    Freddy, not once have I seen you acknowledge here that we can understand anything about nature, or that God has revealed anything truthfully. I wonder, truly, how I can distinguish your worldview from mental illness. How much is pathological denial, and how much is denial built on faith? How can anyone know, even someone inside the faith?

    But it should be possible for science to prove that evolution is true – if in fact evolution is true. All it has to do is empirically demonstrate that life can come from non-living chemicals, life forms can evolve from lower to higher forms in a continuous line and that consciousness can emerge from non-consciousness. I keep saying, prove these things by science and I will defer. Until then, Naturalism is nothing more than an alternative theology.

    That’s like saying, “It should be easy to prove that gravity is true. All science has to do is empirically demonstrate that life can come from non-living chemicals. Until then, I will defer.”

    Evolution theory doesn’t attempt to explain the origins of life. Your claim to wish to ignore what science shows in one field, because that field cannot answer a question in another field, is counterlogical, and a product of no worldview I can find from your site. It’s like denying that Richard Petty won a particular NASCAR race because we can’t prove that Petty invented the automobile. Who invented the automobile is not connected with the fact that Petty crossed the finish line first.

    It’s telling that we’re reduced to trying to use analogies to get you to understand the difficulty with your line of reasoning. Your line of reasoning doesn’t deal with facts well. I wonder whether your line of reasoning deals with facts at all.

  103. Freddy Davis says:

    Ed,

    I absolutely cannot believe what you have written. Your assertion that “not once have I seen you acknowledge here that we can understand anything about nature, or that God has revealed anything truthfully” only indicates that you really haven’t read anything that I have written. You have somehow gotten in your head what you think I believe and have not read what I have actually said about it.

    I have not rejected everything that has the word naturalism in it. I don’t know how many times I have said that I have no problem with methodological naturalism. When talking about this topic, I have tended to use other vocabulary, but even the vocab you are using now has been part of this discussion. If you want to play the semantics game I can do that, but it really doesn’t advance the discussion very much. Until a big issue was made about this particular vocabulary I was primarily using the word Naturalism to refer to metaphysical naturalism – the assertion that the supernatural does not exist (and I was very careful to define what I meant). Even the first blockquote that you inserted refers specifically to one of my assertions about metaphysical naturalism. Your argument seems to be trying to keep the distinction from being made between the two so that you can attack me some more. I am not necessarily accusing you of that, but your comments can sure be interpreted that way. Your insistence on equating metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism simply cannot be demonstrated empirically. As I said before, metaphysical naturalism is a theology, not science. It cannot be demonstrated empirically. Beyond that, I absolutely agree that methodological naturalism is valid. I guess you have not read at all the discussion that has been going on between me and RBH. We have really dealt extensively with all of this.

    The reason that I keep insisting that you empirically demonstrate the origins of life is because all of your arguments use Naturalistic assumptions – in spite of the fact that you still keep insisting that you are a Christian. If you are going to argue from a Naturalistic point of view, then I insist that you back up the presuppositions. But okay, I’ll play your game. Skip the non-life to life presupposition and just show me the empirical proof for the last two. Those two are required for the Naturalistic evolutionary process to be valid. And, once again, my assertion that the only way you can demonstrate either one is to begin with your Naturalistic presuppositions. Without that starting point it does not wash.

    Of course it is not possible to prove that God does exist – if you are insisting on empirical proof. Here is your problem. Theism does not require empirical proof of God. The Bible teaches that God can reveal himself through other means. Naturalism does require empirical proofs because it simply doesn’t acknowledge any other possibility. Your dilemma is that you have to make that assertion based on faith in your presuppositions, not on methodological naturalism.

    (By the way, your gravity example is totally flawed. The effects of gravity can be empirically demonstrated – macro-evolution cannot.)

    When we left off our previous discussion, I offered to pretend that my Theistic view of God is wrong and that maybe your (seemingly Deistic belief) is right so that you can show me the error of my ways. But I really can’t evaluate that until you actually share what you believe about God. You made the statement that, “Recognizing that limit (of God’s methods) should bring another understanding: What God wants revealed will be revealed; and in Christian understanding, God hides little or nothing in creation, and reveals what is revealed completely honestly (though sometimes we don’t have the tools or theory to fully comprehend what we see).” You allude to being able to discern everything about him though nature, but you still don’t back up how you can know that. You certainly don’t seem to be getting your understanding of him from the Bible, so there must be some other source. Are you making this all up about God? Where do you get your information about him? You are making assumptions about who he is and how he works, but how do you know (and by the way, even the assumptions you made about God in that comment stem from Naturalistic presuppositions)? I am still waiting to get your take on it.

    Your insults to me about my line of reasoning are no more valid now than when you were making them before. In fact, they hold even less meaning because you have not even understood what my position is. Theism allows for methodological naturalism. But methodological naturalism does not demonstrate macro-evolution. Christian Theists do believe that God created an orderly universe so we can study it. I am still blown away that you don’t at all understand the Theistic point of view.

  104. Ed Darrell says:

    I have not rejected everything that has the word naturalism in it. I don’t know how many times I have said that I have no problem with methodological naturalism.

    Remind me now, what is it you accept? Red-shift phenomena in stars and galaxies? Spectrum analysis to learn the content of the cosmos? COBE photos of the universe shortly after Big Bang? Any part of Big Bang theory? Geological claims of old age of continents, formation of mountains, formation of fossils, formation of fossil fuels? Geological dating of rocks by sequence? Any part of paleontological dating of fossils showing transitions between species and genera? Paleontological claims of human evolution? Chemistry? Physics? Archaeology that shows Jericho has been continuously occupied for the past 12,000 to 15,000 years, with no evidence of a great flood? Linne’s analysis that shows house cats related to tigers and lions? Linne’s work showing finches related to finches? Similar work that shows the Galapagos woodpecker to be a finch, and not a woodpecker at all? The DNA that confirms the finch relations? Biogeographical data that show the paths of plant communities as ice sheets retreated after the peak of the last ice age? DNA evidence that shows the relationship between cows and grasses? DNA showing relationships between hippos and whales? DNA showing relationships between father and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister, cousins? DNA showing human relationships to other great apes? Tree ring dating (dendrochronology) covering the past 20,000 years? Ice core data showing precipitation in the Antarctic, or Greenland, over the past 200,000 years? Radioisotope dating that shows Lucy lived about 3.5 million years ago, and that the foot prints made by an upright walker at Laetoli about that time were made by some members of her species? Radioisotope dating of anything, by any isotope?

    I’ve seen you say that many of the things shown by nature is shown wrong — at least, that’s what I think you’re saying. I have yet to find any part of science you agree can be accurate, that you don’t dismiss as an error of my Christian worldview. (Though you don’t call my worldview Christian, a great insult to me and to other Christians here, I think — but I guess you think you’re special and get to insult people willy-nilly and because you claim to have the mantle of God with you, it’s okay; I’m reminded of Lincoln’s note that it’s not whether God is on our side, “but whether we are on the side of God.” Do you believe a man like Lincoln, a professed atheist, could have an understanding of God, or that Lincoln even existed? I digress.)

    Evolution is not only empirically demonstrated — see Weiner’s book, will you? — but we know how it’s done, and we can manipulate it. We can direct evolution with pressure, substituting artificial selection for natural selection, or we can engineer it, as with the modifications we’ve made to e. coli to produce insulin to save human lives — a good application of evolution theory that you refuse to acknowledge so far, apparently no matter how much it supports the healing ministry of Jesus. We know evolution directly and can manipulate it.

    In contrast, it’s only recently that we learned gravity is carried on gravitons. No one has ever detected gravity directly, though massive experiments in Japan and the U.S. hope to do that in the near future. No one has ever succeeded in directing gravity in any fashion. We know gravity only indirectly, and no one’s got a clue how to manipulate it.

    So I think the analogy is quite solid. You argue that that the effects of gravity can be empirically demonstrated, while you dismiss such empirical demonstrations of evolution, but you won’t tell us why sauce for the gravity goose is not good for the evolution gander. You seem to think we know a lot more about gravity than we do know, and you demonstrate you think we know a lot, lot, lot less about evolution than we do know.

    All science arguments use naturalistic assumptions. That’s how Christians thought it best to work, to be honest. It’s becoming clear to me that you use the word “naturalistic” as a substitute for honest, probably as part of an subconscious desire to avoid facing the facts that creationism does not have and never will.

    When we left off our previous discussion, I offered to pretend that my Theistic view of God is wrong and that maybe your (seemingly Deistic belief) is right so that you can show me the error of my ways.

    I think that’s a bizarre offer, I resent your calling Christianity “deistic,” and I fail to see what my views of God have to do with science (nothing, but it gives you opportunities to insult me and my faith while avoiding discussing the facts of creation).

    We can’t show the error of ways to anyone unwilling to look. It’s not a sincere offer on your part. Your error in this discussion is your hubristic assumption that you understand science and the facts of science well enough to show well-proven science wrong. That’s not an error you’ll give up easily or willingly.

    But I really can’t evaluate that until you actually share what you believe about God.

    What good it would do I cannot imagine. You claim to be an evangelist, I gather from your website, but you won’t tell us what you believe about reality, about God’s role in creation other than to deceive anyone who studies it. What’s the point? Anything I say about my faith is one more peg for you to hang an insult on, one more way for you to avoid discussing the elephant in the room, the mountain of facts you refuse to acknowledge.

    I’m willing to wager you never recognize me in church, either.

    You made the statement that, “Recognizing that limit (of God’s methods) should bring another understanding: What God wants revealed will be revealed; and in Christian understanding, God hides little or nothing in creation, and reveals what is revealed completely honestly (though sometimes we don’t have the tools or theory to fully comprehend what we see).” You allude to being able to discern everything about him though nature, but you still don’t back up how you can know that.

    You mistake my statement that we can study creation and learn a lot, for a statement that we can know God completely by studying nature. That’s a fatal mistake in your worldview, that scientists are seeking to prove or disprove God with their every move, rather than understanding that scientists are seeking to understand nature when they study nature, and that they do not plan to make any finding about God except as God chooses to be revealed. Scientists don’t have the agenda you insultingly accuse them of having.

    The issue here is this: If we can’t learn nature, accurately, by studying nature, then that means God is a deceiver, to a Christian who starts from the faith statement that God is the creator.

    For that matter, you cannot prove that any finding of science is wrong, you know. But I, and billions of others, believe God is not a deceiver.

    I hope you share that view, but so far you’ve not mentioned any area of science you find to be non-deceptive.

    You certainly don’t seem to be getting your understanding of him from the Bible, so there must be some other source.

    No, you’re projecting again: Remember it is your claim that the universe is so corrupt it is deceptive that is not from scripture. According to every translation of Holy Scripture I can find, God’s fingerprints in nature mean it is not deceptive. See John 1, for example. In the beginning was the Word. I do not believe the Word was “April Fool!”

    Are you making this all up about God? Where do you get your information about him? You are making assumptions about who he is and how he works, but how do you know (and by the way, even the assumptions you made about God in that comment stem from Naturalistic presuppositions)? I am still waiting to get your take on it.

    We’re not going to get anywhere on my views of God. I pointed out to you the scriptures that say how God regarded creation; you made one weak run to suggest one verse said creation is corrupt.

    I regret you found my post insulting. I regret you won’t acknowledge God’s creation as being from God, and not corrupted to the point of making God a liar. I wish you weren’t out there trying to mislead children. I wish we were discussing science, and not whether I’m a deist.

  105. Ed Darrell says:

    Hmmm. That first line probably should be “are shown.” apologies.

  106. Freddy Davis says:

    Ed,

    It seems that you left something out of your list – the kitchen sink. It appears that you are simply throwing all the mud you can find up against the wall and hoping that something will stick.

    Your approach of making the list you made is nothing more than an old lawyers trick – the one McCarthy used when he was trying to root out Communists in America before he was disgraced. Your list contains such a wide assortment of different things that there is literally nothing to respond to. Some of them are simply scientific observations, some are assumptions you are deriving from an examination of data based on Naturalistic presuppositions, some is nothing more than making assumptions about what I believe based on … well I have no idea what you are basing them on because they relate to nothing we have specifically discussed.

    Your big problem is that you still don’t seem to be able to make the distinction between empirical science and philosophy. I have never, even once, said that “anything shown by nature is wrong.” What I have said is that the filter you are using to draw conclusions about the evidence you are evaluating is wrong. You simply do not seem to be able to make the distinction between actual science and your Naturalistic presuppositions. I certainly don’t know why. I have pointed it out over and over again, and instead of acknowledging the distinction you only repeat your assertions. It really doesn’t matter how many times you repeat a falsehood, it still doesn’t become true.

    You continue to draw an equivalence between macro and micro-evolution. You make assertions about macro-evolution based on conclusions observed in the micro-evolutionary arena. Now, I know that you don’t see a distinction, but if you are not going to allow that distinction, you have no choice but to base your assertion on Naturalistic presuppositions. That is metaphysical naturalism – a faith point of view. Everything that you assert that requires those presuppositions is also based on faith. Prove the presuppositions and I will defer, but until then your points are simply not valid.

    When you say that evolution is empirically demonstrated you can only be talking about the parts of the evolutionary process that involve micro-evolution. Everything that relates to macro-evolution requires Naturalistic presuppositions. It doesn’t matter if you are coming up with your own examples or referring me to someone else’s work, that is still the case.

    What is this with example of insulin and the healing ministry of Jesus? Are you saying that insulin is a living thing? For some reason I thought it was a hormone. It seems to me that tinkering in that area relates to chemistry, not biology – unless, of course, you start with the Naturalistic presupposition that it originated as the result of evolutionary processes – which, of course cannot be proven empirically and must be accepted by faith. Other than that, it seems like tinkering with it to create modifications falls within the arena of empirical science, not evolutionary science.

    Are you saying that the healing that Jesus did was totally natural and was not miraculous at all? I am not sure I understand your point on this one at all. How was Jesus’ healing ministry a result of evolution?

    And gravity? Who ever said anything about observing it directly or manipulating it? If you will read what I actually wrote, I said the “effects” of gravity can be empirically demonstrated. If you want to check that out, all you have to do is drop an apple out of your window. But that kind of demonstration is quite different than empirically demonstrating evolution. Again, notice how you don’t distinguish between micro and macro-evolution. If you are only talking about micro evolution, I agree with you 100%. If you are talking about macro-evolution, there is nothing that you can show directly. All you can do is gather evidence and analyze it based on some set of presuppositions. If you use Naturalistic presuppositions, then you are going to have to demonstrate that they are valid. Somehow, you keep leaving that out of your replies and just repeat the mantra that “evolution is proven science.” I do tell you why the sauce is different, but you simply do not acknowledge it.

    When you say that “all science arguments use naturalistic assumptions,” you are once again mixing terms. Well, if you are talking about methodological naturalism, you are right. That is the way Christians define science and that why Christians have no problems working in the field of science. But when you shift to metaphysical naturalism, it departs from what Christians acknowledge. And your problem is that you continue to use methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism as if they are the same thing. They are not!! It seems to me that if anyone has a subconscious desire to avoid facing the facts it is the one who is unable to acknowledge the faith basis of his Naturalistic worldview lens. Your attempt to sever Christianity from science by requiring that science acknowledge metaphysical naturalism is bogus.

    I love it. I would love for your to discuss for me the facts of creation. So far you have refused every offer and every prod I have made to tell me what you believe about God and creation – except to say you believe God exists. (By the way, I never called you a Deist and I never said you were not a Christian. This is not an insult, it is simply my observation based on the things you have said.) What I did say was that the explanations you have given are “seemingly Deistic” and that the teachings about religion you have expressed do not contain anything related to the doctrines of Christianity. I would certainly love for you to share with me what you do believe about these things rather than you simply blasting my observations.

    And, once again, (we have been over this ground before) the only reason the topic of Christian belief has come up in the first place is that you have claimed to be a Christian yet you espouse beliefs which are not compatible with the teachings of the Bible as it relates to God, creation, Jesus Christ and salvation. By doing that, you are opposing my beliefs and, by default, saying that my beliefs about Christianity are wrong. When you do that, I have every right to challenge you. It would be so easy for you to straighten me out.

    Interesting quote, “I fail to see what my views of God have to do with science” See, that is the problem. You do not seem to be able to understand where the line is between your understanding of science and theoleogy. You are treating God as if he were not a real objective person – as if he were some disinterested observer with no direct, personal connection with mankind other than as mental construct of some kind. If you want to believe that, I have no issue with you. Believe what you want. But to say that it does not affect your view of science is ludicrous. Yours is a theological position which does not acknowledge that God directly created the world and its inhabitants. Yours is a theological position which only acknowledges the possibility of Natural origins and development. It all comes directly from your belief about God.

    You said, “We can’t show the error of ways to anyone unwilling to look. It’s not a sincere offer on your part. Your error in this discussion is your hubristic assumption that you understand science and the facts of science well enough to show well-proven science wrong. That’s not an error you’ll give up easily or willingly.” It seems to me that the only one who is not willing to easily or willingly give up (or even acknowledge) the existence of assumptions (unproven and unprovable, by the way) is yourself. Once again, I acknowledge science. What I don’t acknowledge is metaphysical naturalism. Some of what you are calling “well-proven” science is simply not.

    You claim that I won’t tell you what I believe about reality and God’s role in creation other than to claim that he deceives us in the creation. Once again, I really wonder if you have even read what I have written. I don’t know why I must keep answering the same questions over and over again just to let you blast me for what I believe without justifying yourself at all. Okay, I will try again. But if you are going to dispute what I am saying, you better be ready to show me what you are going to replace it with (although I already know that) and be ready to prove empirically that your replacement is the truth (which you cannot do because the presuppositions that you will have to prove are faith assumptions).

    As I list out these beliefs, please note that it is not exhaustive and that if you want to play games and nit-pick on any particular point, we can do that till the cows come home. This is a basic outline and serves to illustrate Christian Theistic presuppositions, not to give exhaustive, detailed answers to every question you could ever think up. Unlike you, I readily acknowledge that what follows does represent faith presuppositions – but they are presuppositions based on the teachings of the Bible, not just thoughts and beliefs that I picked up out of thin air. You still have not been willing to say where your presuppositions come from (oh yeah, you don’t have faith presuppositions). Please note that if you start blasting me simply because you don’t like my beliefs, you are required to explain to me how you know that your approach is the truth and mine is not.

    1. God is an objective person who created mankind for the specific purpose of personal fellowship. He created mankind as a person “in his own image” which means that man has the characteristics of personhood which God himself has (this does not mean that man is a god).
    2. God personally and directly created the material universe in general, and earth in particular, as a place for mankind to exist.
    3. When God created the universe he created it perfect. It was not subject to decay and was held in place by his sustaining power. (Now, before you jump all over me on this one, recognize that to dispute me you are going to have to either deny the existence of God or assert that he created the universe in its current state and that it never changed (which will also require that you make a faith assumption about the nature and purposes of God). If you are going to try and kill me on this, then you must tell me how you know that your point of view is true.
    4. Man was created to live eternally in the original physical environment and God made provision for that possibility.
    5. Initially, God and man enjoyed fellowship on earth which was, at the time, a paradise and not subject to decay.
    6. At some point, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and did the one thing he said they could not do.
    7. Because of this disobedience, God withdrew his hand from the creation and sin entered the created order. At this point, the natural laws of the material order which had been stayed by God’s power was released and the unaffected laws of nature began to take their course. [This is the place where you have this tendency to accuse me of believing in a God which has tried to fool us. Someone trying to fool another represents something purposeful. The fact that the order of creation took a turn actually was not a part of God’s purposes, so cannot be said to be something God has tried to fool us with. He did not create the universe for the sole purpose of man exploring it, so its changing does not represent a capricious God.]
    8. The main effect of God’s withdrawal of his hand, though, was not related to the effects it had on the natural universe but on humankind, because it broke the fellowship that was before possible with God. The horribleness of sin required the death penalty. This is a reference to spiritual death (eternal separation from God) not physical death, though physical death was a part of the physical consequences of God having withdrawn his sustaining power over paradise. Since man is the one who had sinned, man is the one who would have to suffer the consequences of the sin.
    9. God was not going to allow this to stand, so he implemented a means for this fellowship to be reversed, and the reversal required that the sin problem be undone (theologically referred to as redemption). It required that another man, without sin, serve as a substitionary sacrifice for the guilty one. This was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
    10. On the third day after Christ’s death, he rose from the dead and demonstrated his power to overcome sin and death.
    11. The application of this sin fix is not universal, but is applied to those who acknowledge God’s provision and ask for it.

    So, you think I would not recognize you in church? That may be true if I only saw you. But if we ever got talking it would only take a second – that is unless you work as hard at hiding your Christian beliefs at church as you do in this conversation. But also remember that there is a picture of you on your website. Maybe I would recognize you.

    You sure spend a lot of time telling me that I am saying things that I am not saying at all. When have I ever accused any scientist of trying to prove or disprove God? That is not even within the realm of scientific inquiry, and not even anything we have been discussing. Gees. When you make assertions like that about me you are only demonstrating once again that you are simply not reading what I am writing. It also demonstrates that you are chasing rabbits which have nothing to do with the conversation at hand. You are trying so hard to find anything you can to blast me with that you are just grabbing things out of thin air. For example. Here we go again with the semantics. Cannot a person use a little hyperbole. In the context of all I have said it just shouldn’t be that hard. You have made this big deal about me using the phrase “knowing God completely.” You have totally and completely misrepresented my comment.

    Let’s try this again. You said, “If we can’t learn nature, accurately, by studying nature, then that means God is a deceiver, to a Christian who starts from the faith statement that God is the creator. For that matter, you cannot prove that any finding of science is wrong, you know. But I, and billions of others, believe God is not a deceiver. I hope you share that view, but so far you’ve not mentioned any area of
    science you find to be non-deceptive.”

    See? Again, after all of the times I have affirmed that science is non-deceptive, you make an accusation like that. The problem is, some of the stuff you are calling science is simply not science. Your stated belief that life emerged from non-living chemicals – is that empirical science? Your assertion that macro-evolution is a fact – is that empirical science? Your assertion that consciousness emerged from non-consciousness – is that empirical science? No, it is your belief about how things must be since you don’t acknowledge the possibility that God created things the way I believe them to be. But that is the point. Your presuppositions are not science, they are faith.

    And maybe I am projecting into your beliefs about Scripture (Unfortunately I am left to simply react to what you say since you have not been willing to say it yourself). Tell me again, what you believe about sin, salvation, Jesus and the resurrection. If you are going to resort to Scripture to prove your points, you can’t just pick and choose what you accept and don’t accept out of the Bible. You can’t just make up interpretations to suit your own purposes. There are legitimate hermeneutical principles for interpreting Scripture and on top of effectively denying anything related to the supernatural in Scripture, you are not even using legitimate interpretive principles. You can’t have it both ways – accepting what you like and denying what you don’t like. The Bible is either true or it is not.

    And help me out here. Where is the Scripture passage which says that “God’s fingerprints in nature mean it is not deceptive.” Not that I disagree with that concept, but I don’t recall ever reading that one. (By the way, I really do understand your point with this one, and what you are calling deceptive, I am saying is a your wrong understanding of what the Bible says about creation and the fall.

    And your quote of John 1:1 is also quite interesting. That is a direct reference to Jesus Christ being God in the flesh. So far you have completely refused to affirm that concept. Are you now saying it is true?

    Look, I really don’t care if you believe in Naturalistic evolution or even if you are a full blown Naturalist. What I do care about is making legitimate distinctions between what is actual and what is unprovable assumption. That distinction is really not that hard to make. You are welcome to your faith. But to assert that your faith is actually empirically proven reality is crossing the line. And you tell me that I ought not to be working with children?

  107. Ed Darrell says:

    Bad? Can you save that massive post?

  108. Ed Darrell says:

    While I figure out what to do about my response that got sacrificed to the internet gods, Freddy and others, see what our buddy Ray is saying about religion and science fighting, here:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/why-intelligent-design-shouldnt-bully-texas-high-school-kids/#comment-70196

  109. Freddy Davis says:

    Cute response by Ray, but he, as you, have so effectively avoided the main issue that virtually all Naturalists don’t want to deal with. Such a big deal about Creationism not being science, yet the massive insistence on basing all arguments on metaphysical naturalism – which is just as much a faith position. In order for Darwinism to be true in the whole, metaphysical naturalism must be true. The point is, it is a faith position that is not and cannot be empirically proven. It just happens that in our current day, the religion of metaphysical naturalism rules in much of academia. And those who believe in it simply will not consider any other possibility and will not tolerate those who have a different point of view.

  110. Ed Darrell says:

    If creationism won’t use methodological naturalism, which is a key tool for all life sciences, how can it be science, Freddy?

    How can creationism be science if it’s not in even in the same philosophical hall? If creationism is supported solely by a faith position, as you argue, and if creationists disregard all science as a faith position, haven’t creationists excluded themselves by definition, willingly?

  111. Freddy Davis says:

    First of all, Ed, I used the word Creationism in my previous post to make a particular point about the religious nature of metaphysical naturalism. Even though I personally believe in God’s creation of the world and its creatures, my reference was not in defense of that point of view. I will defend that point of view (in opposition to metaphysical naturalism) in a discussion of religion, but that was not the point of that post. Your response totally missed the point.

    Secondly, and I don’t get why you cannot take me at my word for this, Creationism (or even the broader Christian Theism)is not opposed in any manner to methodological naturalism. I keep saying this and you coming back as if I never said it.

    For some reason, you seem not to be able to make the distinction between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism. You see them as one and the same. They are not. Metaphysical naturalism is a religious position. Methodological naturalims is the basis for doing science.

    Now, since Metaphysical Naturalists and Christian Theists both believe in methodological naturalism, both can do science. Christian Theists (of every stripe) agree with this point.

  112. Ed Darrell says:

    Secondly, and I don’t get why you cannot take me at my word for this, Creationism (or even the broader Christian Theism)is not opposed in any manner to methodological naturalism. I keep saying this and you coming back as if I never said it.

    Then why do you refuse to discuss methodological naturalism here? Your refusal to set a foundation of common ground for discussion is a very annoying barrier to discussion.

    Not to mention that I don’t believe your statement. Creationism comes up with the business end of the ugly stick under methodological naturalism. And that is, I suspect, why you refuse to assent to any discussion using commonly understood methods of science and logic.

  113. Freddy Davis says:

    I have not refused to discuss methodological naturalism. I have no idea why you would say that.

    Again your refusal to distinguish between methodological and metaphysical naturalism comes to the forefront. You accuse Creationism of not fitting your understanding of methodological naturalism, yet still don’t see that metaphysical naturalism is in the exact same boat. If you are to beat one with your “ugly stick” you are going to have to beat both. They are both based on faith presuppositions.

    Your definition of science and logic assumes metaphysical naturalism so I am, by default, wrong simply based on your definitions. Until you make the distinctions between what is truly science and the faith based Naturalistic presuppositions you cling to, you are right, we will have a hard time getting on common ground. Methodological naturalism does not require metaphysical naturalism to be valid.

  114. Luigi Wewege says:

    Luigi Wewege

    Ben Stein Continues to Face the Hard Questions on Expelled!… from Calvinist Minister | The Bad Idea Blog

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