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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hawkeye is our Guest Blogger: Theology-Evolution

It has been said often enough that you can be a Christian (or a
member of ANY faith for that matter) and still believe in evolution.
Some people believe that God created life and then set the process of
evolution in motion which ultimately has been responsible for the
diversity of life we now see around us. This is a rather simplistic,
and some would say, elegant view that easily accomodates both theology
and the facts of science.

Obviously however, the "facts of
science" are not all that clear. As you can see from the articles and
the comments in this blog, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty
as to the methods, mechanisms, and even the definition of evolution.
Prestigious authorities in the field squabble and argue amongst
themselves. The "fact" of evolution is by no means certain.


I am forced to admit that this uncertainty provides me with no small
measure of comfort. I have never enjoyed trying to reconcile the
concept of evolution with my theological views. It is virtually
impossible to do so, and I believe that others who believe as I do no
doubt share the same difficulties.


Absentee God?
For example, the suggestion that God created
life and then set the process of evolution in motion carries with it
some rather dubious ramifications. One of those ramifications, I
believe, is that God has not been active in history (or for that
matter, prehistory). The implication of such a belief is that God put
the world on auto-pilot and sat back doing nothing for thousands of
millenia... and He is probably still doing nothing today.

This
view of God may be acceptable to some, but not to me. It completely
flies in the face of Scripture, which teaches that God has indeed been
very active in the affairs of man since the dawn of history in ancient
Babylonia and Egypt. If God has been active throughout history, why
would He not be active throughout prehistory? Was God not interested in
His other "evolved creations"? Was He just waiting around for Mankind
to evolve so He could then start stirring things up?

I think that
evolutionists would argue against such a view as well, since it implies
that evolution has a predicted outcome -- a goal. I think most
evolutionists will agree that evolution must be a random process
whereby heritable traits are passed on from one generation to the next.
Natural Selection then takes over, and those traits which are
beneficial (or, at least not detrimental) to the succeeding generations
will remain and/or lead to further changes in heritable traits.

This
very randomness causes other problems for evolutionists I think. One
is, the issue of increasing complexity. If all evolutionary changes are
random, then the laws of probability would suggest that on average,
about half of all evolutionary changes would be to greater complexity
while the other half would be to lower complexity. Let's face it,
sometimes simple is BETTER than complex. However, the fossil record
shows an unexplainable trend toward ever-increasing complexity.

Another
problem is that the laws of probability would suggest about an equal
number of "devolotions" to "evolutions". In other words, during the
transition stage between reptile and mammal for example, about half of
the creatures would start devolving back towards reptiles, or to some
other non-reptilian lower life form. Since this process would produce
an even greater abundance of "transitional" forms than a mere
forward-progressing evolution, the fossil record should be replete with
transitional evolutions, devolutions, and dead-ends. But alas it is
not. And I digress.

The concept of an absentee God further flies
in the face of other Scriptures which suggest that God indeed takes a
very active part in His creation. The longest and perhaps most notable
of such passages would be in the Book of Job, chapters 38-41. The
passage starts out with God asking, "Where were you when I laid the
foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who
determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the
line upon it?"
These four chapters then go on to say that God has
been directly and personally involved in nature, going so far as to
suggest that God gave various creatures their specific traits, taught
them how to survive, and even provides prey for the predators.

No
doubt some will say that such verses are mere prose and symbolism. But
I would strongly argue against such a view, especially when read in the
context of the whole book. When Job opens, chapter 1 lays out the
premise that God and Satan are very actively involved in the affairs of
men. The book ends with chapter 42 where God again involves Himself in
the affairs of men. Chapters 38-41, just prior to the final chapter,
constitute what might be called "God's Rant". He says in no uncertain
terms that He is Almighty, and that He can do whatever He wants to. He
says that He created all things, and took a very active part in the
creation. He declares His glory and His handiwork. He says nothing
about a gradual random process that runs on auto-pilot.

Omnipotent God?
Another
problem evolution presents to my theology revolves around the fact that
I believe God is Omnipotent, or Almighty. I believe that God can do
anything He wants to, whenever He wants to. If this is true, then six
days of creation sounds a lot more reasonable than 6 billion years (or
even 3 billion years for that matter). Do I believe that God created
everything in a literal six day period? Absolutely not. Do I question
the validity and reliability of dating methods currently in use?
Absolutely.

Some refer to 2Peter 3:8 which says, "But do not
ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a
thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." To an infinite God,
time is meaningless, and I understand that. To those of us who are mere
mortals, time is of far greater concern as we do not possess that much
of it. Nevertheless, Samantha on the "Bewitched!" show sometimes seems
to have more power than the Almighty God. If God is in fact
All-Powerful, then why does He choose to wait around billions of years
for Man to develop, who by the way, was supposedly created in His image?

Now
don't get me wrong. I know what the Bible says... "God is spirit" (John
4:24). So if Man was created in "God's image", then this clearly is a
reference to Man's spirit rather than his body. Perhaps God did indeed
choose to wait billions of years for Man to evolve from lower life
forms into a vessel suitable to contain "a spirit" that reflects the
nature of His own Spirit... but why?

And the implication of this
naturally, is that as soon as God implants "a spirit" into Mankind,
then He is once again meddling with evolution, which seems
counter-intuitive to a God that uses evolution to reach that point. If
God does not implant a spirit into Mankind, then it too must evolve as
well. Therefore, Christian scientists who believe in evolution, must
further explain the evolution of "spirit" as well as body. And to my
knowledge, we have barely started grappling with the evolution of
"intelligence".

Let's go back and look at that verse in 2Peter
3:8 again. Not only are a thousand years as one day, but "one day is as
a thousand years". Clearly, infinity goes both ways. If with God one
day is like a thousand years, that means that one day is like 365,000
days. One minute is like 365,000 minutes and one second is like 365,000
seconds (or more than 101 hours). And by the way, I would not want to
limit God to these numbers. Peter uses these examples in a very generic
sense.

In Biblical writings, the term "thousand" is very often
used to convey the idea of "complete quantity". For example, in Psalms
50:10-11 God says... "For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine." God here is not limiting Himself to merely a thousand hills. By implication, He means ALL hills... a number far greater than a thousand.

In Revelation 20:6 we are told... "Blessed
and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the
second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of
Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years."

The terms "Millenial Reign" and "The Millenium" were coined from this
particular passage, but it does not refer to a literal one thousand
years. It refers instead to some "complete quantity" of years, which
will no doubt be greater than merely one thousand.

Perhaps then,
it might be more correct to say that, with God a million years is as
one day, or one day is as a million years! Same concept. But it still
begs the question... If God is Omnipotent or Almighty, why would He
choose to do things slowly rather than quickly? Why not a mix? Why not
do some things slow and some fast? Why not do all things fast?

OK,
I'm not suggesting that God owes me an explanation. That's not where
I'm going with this. I'm just saying that an Almighty God and Evolution
do not SEEM to be compatible because, theoretically, an Almighty God
should be able to do things quickly as well as slowly if He so chooses.
He must not be locked into a box (even a box of His own making) that
prevents Him from doing whatever He wants to, whenever He wants to.

Omnipresent God?
Or
perhaps, that is in fact what God has done. Perhaps the idea of
"punctuated equilibrium" reflects the idea of God doing some things
slowly (micro-evolution) and some things quickly (macro-evolution).
Perhaps God has so many worlds throughout this infinitely large
universe, that He spends time "wandering around" enjoying His universe
and only comes back to Earth every million years or so... at which time
He "tweaks" things. But again, evolutionists (even Christian
evolutionists) would reject that concept because it implies that God is
again meddling with the process of evolution. It is in fact closer to
the concept of "Creationism" than to evolution.

It would further contradict the Bible's teaching that God is "Omnipresent" (everywhere at the same time)...

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,"
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.


-- Psalms 139:7-12

If God is Omnipresent, He is not
"wandering about". He is here, there and everywhere... all at the same
time. He does not use time like a tool as we might, to check up on
things from "time to time". If God is Omnipresent, He needs no time to
travel from place to place, because He is already there.

Conclusion
My
faith is rooted in my understanding of the Scriptures; that is, the
Bible. I believe that the Bible teaches various concepts, and portrays
the nature of God in such a way that, to me at least, seems
incompatible with the idea of evolution. Those are my personal beliefs,
but I know that at least a few others share them. And I find comfort in
that as well.

Is this a scientific argument? Of course not, and
in no way do I pretend that it is. It is instead a clash of faiths...
my faith in the God of Scriptures, versus the faith of others in
randomness, accident and chance. My faith lies in a God who is active,
dynamic and involved in history and prehistory, versus the faith of
others in a God who creates a process which runs on auto-pilot and who
then stands back and does nothing. My faith lies in a God who created
Man in His own image, versus the faith of others that we are but a
cosmic accident. My faith lies in a God who can do whatever He wants to
whenever He wants to, versus the faith of others in a blind, random
process that produces life from lifelessness, and then ultimately
proceeds without guidance from molecules to Man. My faith lies in a God
who is everywhere at all times and who is thus with me at all times,
versus the faith of others that God "wanders around" the universe or
worse, who exists nowhere at no time.

Does this mean that I could
never be persuaded to believe in evolution or some modified version of
evolution? Hardly. Having an engineering degree, I understand the basic
concept of 'scientific method'. If something can be proven using
acceptable and repeatable experiments, I must acknowledge that it is a
fact. Do I accept "micro-evolution" as fact? Indeed I do. Does that
mean that "micro-evolution" equals "macro-evolution" (or speciation)?
Absolutely not. Does that mean that "lots of micro-evolution" equals
"macro-evolution"? Absolutely not. Could I be persuaded that
"catastrophism" or "extinction events" might not merely destroy
species, but might create new ones as well? Indeed I could. But again,
I would not consider that "evolution" in the traditional sense
(although evolutionists would be quick to say it is, according to their
revised definition of "evolution").

Science has evolved over the
centuries from superstitious fairy-tales to extraordinary advances in
technology. The use of 'scientific method' has made possible tremendous
improvements in materials, medicines, transportation and communication.
Great changes have taken place in these fields since the 18th and 19th
centuries, and the results are clear for all to see. Except perhaps in
a few isolated areas (Newtonian physics for example), the science texts
of the 18th and 19th centuries are virtually obsolete, and would not be
useful for educating or training the students of today.

In the
area of evolutionary theory however, there has been little progress or
change in thought since the 18th and 19th centuries. Sure, we have
found more fossils. Sure, we have found out many things that evolution
is NOT. Sure, we have changed the definition of evolution to help it
conform with reality. But other than that, it is still in most respects
the same tired old theory that Darwin proposed, that is... molecules to
Man via genetic change over vast lengths of time (perhaps interrupted
by punctuations in equilibrium), driven by some natural process which
cannot be adequately defined, tested, or even agreed upon by experts in
the field, and/or which cannot be corroborated by evidence in the
fossil record. Those who believe in it are faced with innumerable, and
in some cases, insurmountable challenges.

On the contrary, the
Bible has stood as a pillar for thousands of years providing those who
believe it with a solid foundation for dealing with the difficult
questions of life and death. Through it, the rule of law was
established, which still guides our democracies today. It is a book
that gives hope, joy, and inspiration to millions. It is a book which
says that God is not merely involved in the affairs of mankind, but
that God in fact cares about mankind. Far from being a cosmic accident
of random natural processes, the Bible says that we were... created...
by a loving God... in His image... for a purpose... and with a future!

Perhaps
I am sentimental. Perhaps I am a fool. But given the choices, I will
hold onto my faith in the God of the Scriptures until the evolutionists
prove their hypothesis, or until the agnostics and/or the atheists pull the Bible from my dying hands.



Hawkeye blogs at View From Above . Thanks, Hawk, for taking Sunday for me!

79 comments:

creeper said...

The "God who creates a process which runs on auto-pilot and who then stands back and does nothing" was the one we got to meet during the tsunami. Supposedly omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent. I know, this is when you'll tell me that the Lord works in mysterious ways that are not for us to understand...

... but at the same time you try to glean meaning about why God would handle evolution this way or that, why He should choose to do it slowly or quickly, why He should do it some way if it were easier to do it some other way. Then suddenly God becomes someone whose thought processes are rational and comprehensible to speculate about to come to some reasonable conclusion, no?

"Does that mean that "lots of micro-evolution" equals "macro-evolution"? Absolutely not."

What barrier do you propose? If survival pressure has caused X number of changes, or X amount of change, should the organism lose its ability to keep varying in that direction? What should X be, and what causes this inability to keep varying in that direction?

creeper said...

"If God is in fact All-Powerful, then why does He choose to wait around billions of years for Man to develop, who by the way, was supposedly created in His image?"

Do billions of years have any significance whatsoever to God?

Hawkeye® said...

Radar,
You didn't follow the instructions in my E-mail.

creeper said...

Hawkeye,

Maybe Radar treats his e-mails like his comments and ignores most of them.

creeper said...

"I think that evolutionists would argue against such a view as well, since it implies that evolution has a predicted outcome -- a goal. I think most evolutionists will agree that evolution must be a random process whereby heritable traits are passed on from one generation to the next."

Where do you see the contradiction? God is all-knowing and eternal. Knowing the eventual outcome (or even having the wisdom to accept the eventual outcome) of a long-term process involving tremendous complexity and what to us appears to be random chance is supposed to be a serious challenge, nay, an impossibility for God?

The core of this whole argument seems to center on defining God as something very small and human-like, which then turns out to be incompatible with achieving something enormous and mysterious.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
As I said, "those are my beliefs"... Please feel free to not believe as I do.

I never used the word "benevolent" (although I believe that generally He is). It's a good idea to avoid putting words in other people's mouth... you might get your fingers bitten.

As I said in my article, if God is Omnipotent, He can do "WHATEVER He wants to"... including tsunamis. You try to impose a guilt trip on God because you think you know better than God. You think to yourself, "If I was God, I wouldn't have done THAT!" Well too bad. You're NOT God.

And we are not living in Paradise (yet). We are living in a world that is tainted by sin and corruption. This world will ultimately be destroyed, to be replaced by a new Earth. If you have no knowledge of such things, I would suggest you take some time to read the Bible. Then perhaps we can talk rationally, rather than with sarcasm and innuendo.

Then suddenly God becomes someone whose thought processes are rational and comprehensible to speculate about to come to some reasonable conclusion, no?... No... God is always incomprehensible unless He explicitly says something about Himself or His nature in the Scripture. FYI, He has done that a few times.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
RE: Your comments on micro-evolution vs. macro-evolution, let me quote "the most famous American advocate of evolution, Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould" who says about evolution...

"The strict version, with its emphasis on copious, minute, random variation molded with excruciating but persistent slowness by natural selection, also implied that all events of large-scale evolution (macroevolution) were the gradual, accumulated product of innumerable steps, each a minute adaptation to changing conditions within a local population. This "extrapolationist" theory denied any independence to macroevolution and interpreted all large-scale evolutionary events (origin of basic designs, long-term trends, patterns of extinction and faunal turnover) as slowly accumulated microevolution (the study of small-scale changes within species)." (Gould S.J., "Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes", Penguin: London, 1984, p13)

and...

"Orthodox neo-Darwinians extrapolate these even and continuous changes to the most profound structural transitions in the history of life: by a long series of insensibly graded intermediate steps, birds are linked to reptiles, fish with jaws to their jawless ancestors. Macroevolution (major structural transition) is nothing more than microevolution (flies in bottles) extended. (emphasis added) If black moths can displace white moths in a century, then reptiles can become birds in a few million years by the smooth and sequential summation of countless changes. The shift of gene frequencies in local populations is an adequate model for all evolutionary processes - or so the current orthodoxy states." (emphasis added).... (Gould S.J., "The Return of the Hopeful Monster", "The Panda's Thumb", Penguin: London, 1980, p156).

and....

"Macroevolution is decoupled from microevolution, (emphasis added) and we must envision the process governing its course as being analogous to natural selection but operating at a higher level of organization. [We would say that it is natural selection, working at a level higher than the local population.] In this higher-level process species become analogous to individuals, and speciation replaces reproduction. The random aspects of speciation take the place of mutation. Whereas, natural selection operates upon individuals within populations, a process that can be termed species selection operates upon species within higher taxa, determining statistical trends." (Gould S.J. & Eldredge N., "Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered", Paleobiology, 1977, vol. 3, p140)

If the most eminent American evolutionist doesn't believe it, then neither do I.

creeper said...

"I never used the word "benevolent" (although I believe that generally He is). It's a good idea to avoid putting words in other people's mouth... you might get your fingers bitten."

True, that is a good idea - but you did say this:

"It is a book which says that God is not merely involved in the affairs of mankind, but that God in fact cares about mankind."

Now maybe I presumed too much. Maybe God cares about mankind but is fine with the large scale death of innocents. It does seem like a contradiction to an omnipotent, omniscient, "caring about mankind" entity to me, but who am I to say?

"You try to impose a guilt trip on God because you think you know better than God."

No, I don't know better than God. I just don't think such a personified God exists. I am baffled, however, when believers in one breath say they can not explain God's motives when innocent people are wiped out by the tens of thousands, but feel that God's actions in other arenas need to be perfectly subordinate to motivations and tendencies comprehensible to us humans.

"God is always incomprehensible unless He explicitly says something about Himself or His nature in the Scripture."

- which is why I think it's pointless to try to figure out from God's side whether he chose one way of creating Man over another. You have put together some thoughts about how you think it all fits together, and that is fine, but I couldn't help but notice that you felt free to be much more restrictive of God's motivations and methods than would be necessary based on what He has to be like to be compatible with today's world - i.e. either utterly mysterious or not terribly benevolent. We have no reason to then try to figure out how such a being would be trying to save a few billion years etc.

My questions stand, by the way.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
Do billions of years have any significance whatsoever to God?

No, and I believe I said that in my article...

To an infinite God, time is meaningless, and I understand that. To those of us who are mere mortals, time is of far greater concern as we do not possess that much of it.

Why don't you spend some time trying to answer the questions I pose in my article, rather than criticizing me about things I acknowledge in my article?

creeper said...

My question "Do billions of years have any significance whatsoever to God?" was in response to your question:

"If God is in fact All-Powerful, then why does He choose to wait around billions of years for Man to develop"

Pardon me - I hadn't noticed that you had already answered your own question: nothing speaks agains God waiting around for billions of years for Man to develop.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper
Now maybe I presumed too much. Maybe God cares about mankind but is fine with the large scale death of innocents.

All men and women die at some point. Men, women and childrent have been dying for thousands and (dare I say it?) milliions of years.... Does it really matter whether or not it takes place in bed at age 97 or in a tsunami at age 6? ...or premature in a hospital at age 6 months (from conception).

Look, I cannot presume to defend God or to understand everything He does. I believe that to God all life is precious. He says it and I believe it. He never says that everyone will live to be 100. To me, it's more important to live life in the best way possible day-by-day, because we never know whether or not tomorrow will be our last.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
I couldn't help but notice that you felt free to be much more restrictive of God's motivations and methods than would be necessary based on what He has to be like to be compatible with today's world

I don't think so... I just said I don't understand it is all. I said that I'm not expecting any explanation from God. I was just questioning why God isn't more like Samantha on "Bewitched!"

Hawkeye® said...

creeper
Where do you see the contradiction? God is all-knowing and eternal. Knowing the eventual outcome (or even having the wisdom to accept the eventual outcome) of a long-term process involving tremendous complexity and what to us appears to be random chance is supposed to be a serious challenge, nay, an impossibility for God?

This is in fact the crux of my entire argument, and you missed it! Either God created all things or He did not. If He did in fact create all things, then it was NOT random but planned (a veritable example of Intelligent Design). If it was random, then God did not do it.

Q.E.D.

creeper said...

A peculiar point, Hawkeye...:

"All men and women die at some point. Men, women and children have been dying for thousands and (dare I say it?) millions of years.... Does it really matter whether or not it takes place in bed at age 97 or in a tsunami at age 6?...or premature in a hospital at age 6 months (from conception)."

I would think that, yes, to the person involved it matters very much. I suppose if you're convinced you're stepping right into a peachy afterlife, I could see how you could place comparatively less value on life in the here and now.

Still, the large-scale death of innocents is a key point that made me question and ultimately reject the notion of a personified, benevolent God. I have yet to hear a good argument against it.

creeper said...

"This is in fact the crux of my entire argument, and you missed it!"

I didn't miss it, Hawkeye, I disagree with it:

"The core of this whole argument seems to center on defining God as something very small and human-like, which then turns out to be incompatible with achieving something enormous and mysterious."

What can appear random to us may well not be random to God.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
I don't know whether my after-life will be "peachy" or not... but I would like to think that it will be. And you're right. Christians do not place nearly as high a value on life in this world as do others. It's clear from the teachings in the Bible...

2Cor. 2:6-8 "So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Romans 8:18-23 "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

creeper said...

I wish you all the best with that afterlife, and I hope it works out for you.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
What can appear random to us may well not be random to God.

I take it then from this and other of your comments that you do in fact believe in God, albeit not a "personal" God. Further, you believe that this impersonal God established the "laws of nature" which He then set in motion for us to discover. And finally, that evolution is not "random" at all, it was rather "planned" by God all along.

I am reading that right, or am I out in left field somewhere?

creeper said...

No, you're out in left field with these thoughts, but thanks for asking. I'm just speculating about what such a God could or could not do or be, usually when presented with the false dichotomy (and the surprisingly small-minded notions of God) that creationists see in this debate.

When I say "God this" and "God that" (instead of constantly amending it with "if there is such a thing bla bla") it is generally out of politeness to believers.

As for randomness, think of it this way: What appears random to us is actually quite predictable if you only have more information and perception. Say you have a pair of dice in a perfectly controlled environment. If you can throw them in a perfectly controlled way, you can predict every bounce, and predict exactly where and how they will land, and that numbers they will show. Yet to someone who has less information, this is a completely random process.

Or think, for example, of Brownian motion: individual particles appear to be moving randomly, but if you look closer, you see that they are being impacted by other particles. Being aware of these other particles and all their paths makes it possible to predict every movement everywhere.

It's not possible to us, though. It requires something like God to accomplish this, since the laws of physics prevent us from ever constructing anything that could contain within it information about every particle in the universe.

But since God is all-knowing and eternal, it is possible for Him to accomplish this. And so what would appear to be utterly random to us, can easily be part of a planned process for God. I'm not sure if I've explained this well, but that is why in theory I see no contradiction between God planning something that contains randomness - to God, there is no randomness, since randomness requires a certain level of not-knowing and not-seeing, of which God is not capable.

Hawkeye® said...

creeper,
Interesting concept. However, it merely reinforces the idea that God could have planned the creation of Man all along by using the process of evolution. That is a concept which most evolutionists (I believe) disregard. Again, it implies planning. It implies progress. It implies a goal (i.e., molecules to Man). I don't think you'll find too many "ordinary" evolutionists who agree with you. For example, consider this statement by Richard Lewontin in his January 9, 1997 article, "Billions and Billions of Demons"...

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."

FYI, I got the quote Here.

Jake said...

Dammit, creeper.

You've left nothing for me to say. How utterly unfair!

cranky old fart said...

"...it merely reinforces the idea that God could have planned the creation of Man all along by using the process of evolution. That is a concept which most evolutionists (I believe) disregard".

They may disregard it, Hawkeye, because it's irrelevant to science. The one has nothing to do, as a practical matter, with the other.

creeper said...

"However, it merely reinforces the idea that God could have planned the creation of Man all along by using the process of evolution."

That's what I was saying. The two are not necessarily incompatible, and there is no reason to dismiss the theory of evolution on account of being incompatible with a belief in God.

"That is a concept which most evolutionists (I believe) disregard."

If by evolutionists you mean non-creationists (and especially non-YECs), they need not necessarily see a problem with this. There are plenty of Christians who have formed a coherent worldview that combines accepting the theory of evolution with a belief in a personal God.

If by evolutionists you mean scientists, then yes, they should disregard this. It does not fall under the purview of science. Science works from the observable outwards which, yes, makes it naturalistic. Science does not claim that God doesn't exist (and neither does the theory of evolution, obviously), nor can it make a claim that God does exist.

But science isn't everything, and it's not meant to explain everything. Each person has to form their own worldview, based on religion, science, and other fields, and there are many, many different ways to do this.

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Anonymous said...

Dan S.

Maybe Mr. surveyvw.com will explain how kangaroos got to Australia . . .

"Theology-Evolution"

What an odd title. Imagine Theology-Dentistry, or Theology-Gravity, or Theology-Engineering?

So, a few quick bits (to snatch at those scraps left after those rather good comments by cranky and creeper).


What is evolution? Go find out!
Hawkeye, your presentation of evolution, and questions about it, seem to demonstrate a limited understanding of evolution and science itself, something (like I've been saying) common among creationists. Again, nothing wrong with ignorance (I'm full of it!) if mixed with a willingness to learn. For example, the bit about "tremendous uncertainty" and how "authorities in the field squabble and argue amongst themself" - the standard creationist presentation - sees a vibrant, "hot" field of scientific research (which do tend to be contentious in regard to details) as a disorganized disarray.

The bit about evolution not having a goal, as an idea favored by evolution people - well, the theological side of this has been pretty well presented by creeper. Additionally, it's almost a sort of misunderstanding, sort of like when you walk into a room and misinterpret the tail end of something being said. If I understand correctly, the fuss about evolution not going towards any goal is at least in part not about religion at all! It's a reaction to early non-Darwinian ideas of evolution - ie, orthogenesis again - that held that there was some sorta life force or whatever pushing organisms along a certain path (fewer toes! bigger size! etc.), along with vague but long-lasting ideas of evolutionary progress. Like so many things creationist, you folks walk into an internal science debate and start appropriating it - oh, they must be saying that there's no God! Or at least an otiose one! I can't say that aspect plays no role whatsoever - it might a little, in popular writings, even though it shouldn't - but it's not by any means the point.

So it turns out that as far as science can tell -more on this later - it's hard to see definite intrinsic trends of this sort in the fossil record. Instead, through natural selection, change is seen as occuring in the context of the environment (physical and in terms of other life). Grasslands spread across the planet? A great opportunity for equid grazers, if you happen to have the teeth for it. But grasslands are wide open spaces, so you have an edge if you're fast and alert, since predation is now the stalk and dash, rather than the hide and pounce . . . This understanding is somewhat missed by your questions. Why should organisms go towards complexity? Well, the whole definition of complexity is sorta iffy - can you define it, in this context? After all, it tends to gather around it vague ideas of progress and vetebrate-centrism . . Within the constraints of chance and structural possibilities, organisms tend to go for what works. There certainly has been quite a bit of an arms race going on - when your local predators get more "complex" (whatever that means), that's putting a good bit of selection pressure on your population to follow suit - for the last couple hundred million years. Some organisms have become more simple, in a sense (which is in itself a rather advanced trait, then!) - parasites, for example. At the same time, though, it would seem that in general complexity is a bit of a trap. Once you've tried, for example, organs, it's hard to go back - you've gotten all dependent on them, and evolving out of 'em sucessfully is probably going to be pretty unlikely. (Why is it that creationists see these great walls of improbability everywhere except where they actually are?)

The bit about "devolutions" is the same kind of thing. It's part of the thinking of the ladder, and also the creationist idea that evolution is really just random change, rather than understanding about environmentally-based selection pressure acting on variation. Why should mammal-like reptiles randomly start becoming reptiles again? Clearly,the changes that eventually result in mammals were beneficial for the creatures involved. Hindsight is 20/20. Had you been watching, the significance of the changes probably wouldn't be clear (one of the reasons macroevolution is so tough to see - when we're talking about divergences at higher taxonomic levels, the short term view on the ground isn't that clear. Go back to the early days of the age of mammals, when a lot of groups were just splitting off, and what you'd probably see is a bunch of fairly similar looking species, closely related - obvious microevolution - who when you fast-forward a couple of 10s-of-millions of years, end up being dogs and cats, or mice and men, and etc.) The idea of, say, horses evolving back down the ladder misses the bit how equids were branching off all bushy like in response to various pressures, a view that - besides the factors discussed above - was encouraged by the fact that we have an obvious and singular endpoint, so we can trace a clear path back from Equus to eohippus . .

It gets fairly complicated here. On one hand, lineages don't maintain a save file. They can't just reverse evolutionary change (although in some cases the old instructions are still around, just altered a bit or metaphorically sitting in the attic, slowly decaying). On the other hand, we have convergent evolution, where environmental factors and plain old physics seem to favor certain traits as the best way of doing something - so for example, fish, ichthyosaurs and dolphins all look a lot alike, despite being , well, fish, reptiles, and mammals. But it's not at all clear how this would apply to general physiology and reproduction, which is what you're talking about with mammals and reptiles. Anyway, the thing is, if a mammal like reptile 'starts going back to being a reptile' - well, there are all these reptiles already there, doing quite a good job of it. It would have to outcompete them.

Of course, that fishy example above indicates that evolution does 'work backwards' - except that'ss obviously not it, exactly. Millions of years after some creatures hauled themselves out of the sea, some of their descendents started looking back (just like kids, eh? you work your arse off to give them a good life on dry land, and look what they want to do!) - or , more exactly, luck and selection favored adapting to a more aquatic lifestyle. But it turns out that while you can go home again, you can't step in the same river twice. A metaphor might be meeting a childhood sweetheart again, years later. You're different people now. However things turn out, it will be different from the last time (ocean-living - just a lifestyle choice? Tune in at 11!). The ancestral cetaceans and ichthies (not to mention the dog-family seal/walrus/sea lion ancestors, and the weasel-family sea otter ancestors) were different from the unimaginably long-ago odd-looking stubby-finned fish ancestor that they might well had snapped up had they been transported back in time and met it going the other way (a variation on the grandfather paradox much beloved of more philosophically inclined sea otters).* There were all sorts of structural constraints for example - so chance and selection gave us all sorts of marvelous adaptations - blowholes! - but so far no breathing underwater. Perhaps if one of these groups last long enough (the ichthies have already been voted off the island, um, ocean, of course) chance and selection will kludge together a solution. As far as we can tell, evolution doesn't work by animals really wanting to not have to come up for air, and as far as we can tell, it can't plan ahead. It works with what it gets.

"In the area of evolutionary theory however, there has been little progress or
change in thought since the 18th and 19th centuries."

This made me laugh so hard I wet myself.** Excuse me while I put on some dry clothes. I'll be back in a bit to go on a little about "as far as we can tell" and methodological naturalism, although frankly it's all been said upthread.

Oh, wait one minute though -
Hawkeye: "I was just questioning why God isn't more like Samantha on "Bewitched!"

Wait - have I got it all wrong? Is the Christian God really a hot witch-wife with a thing for nose-wiggling? Dude! Forget the whole puppy-killing baby-eating atheist thing - sign me up!

Oh. You're just asking why He isn't like this. Yeah. You and me both, brother . . .

* I made this bit up.
** This bit too. Really.

Dan S., disappointed.

IAMB said...

F*@$ing spambots!

Two words, Radar: Word Verification.

It works, most of the time.

Anonymous said...

-Dan S.

It is weird that Hawkeye apparently has such limited familiarity with theistic evolution. I mean, he mentions some bits - although the weird wanderin' God bit may be his own invention? - but the hilarious back and forth in the comments - haha! I got you! that would mean God is the Man with a Plan! - well, yes. obviously, that's the idea . . . - makes it seem as if he never really thought it through except to try to knock down his fellow (though more 'modernity'-oriented) believers.

Same old same old:
'look, whatever I might personally believe, accepting modern biology doesn't mean you have to think that life is a blind random process, and that we are just cosmic accidents, all alone in a meaningless world without any external purpose (although you can if you want, I guess) and here are some other optio -' 'I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I HAVE MY FINGERS IN MY EARS AND ARE CHANTING RANDOM BIBLE VERSES AS LOUD AS I CAN SO I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!" 'But if you'd just listen for a sec-' "NOT LISTENING! FRUIT FLIES! STPEPHEN JAY GOULD! GOO TO YOU! DATING ERRORS! DINO BLOOD! 'oh never mind.'

Geez, the creationists are still beating a dead Gould. Poor guy. It actually rather upset him, y'know.

Later.

-Dan "God is completely beyond human comprehension, therefore it's obvious how he would act? What's up with that?" S.

Hang on -
"Could I be persuaded that
"catastrophism" or "extinction events" might not merely destroy species, but might create new ones as well? Indeed I could"

What are you talking about, Hawkeye? Adaptive radiation?

And, in general, you do realize that accepting the fact of evolution (and the current best-guesses as to the details) doesn't involving signing, in blood, a pledge to rip up Bibles and kick puppies and stuff, right? Well, not for most of us, anyway . . .

-Dan S., trying to remember what God told Job about snow . . .

IAMB said...

Funny thing: last time I looked The Evil Atheist Conspiracy (tm) doesn't even have a puppy grinding division any more. Lot of jobs lost during that downsizing...

cranky old fart said...

Is it my imagination, or has radar abandoned his own blog?

Jake said...

Well I for one am not going to let it linger. I think, if radar isn't going to update or respond to comments, we should pick up the slack for him.

Iamb, would you be up for doing a brief lecture on evolution for us, say once a week, in the comments of the top post? I think that would be awesome. Maybe we could get PZ in on it too. And any other biologist bloggers you know about.

creeper said...

""Theology-Evolution"

What an odd title. Imagine Theology-Dentistry, or Theology-Gravity, or Theology-Engineering?"


In all fairness, Dan, the title of Hawkeye's original post was "My Theology And Evolution".

Though he kinda skipped the subject of his own evolution in the post...

Just joshin', Hawkeye - course you didn't evolve.

IAMB said...

Tempting, but feels slightly unethical to hijack someone else's blog for my own enjoyment. I know I wouldn't want it done to me (and I'm betting Meyers would say the same thing, but I'll run it past him anyway).

Might I suggest instead just placing a link to an article of interest in a comment post. Hell, I'll have something for you every Wednesday at least.

Now I'm going to wander off and see if I can find any good papers on the effects of rapid salinity and temperature changes on diatoms (just in case our host ever decides to answer my question on how marine microorganisms might have survived a Biblical flood)...

creeper said...

I'm going to give Radar the benefit of the doubt re. his time pressure - right up until the next time he reposts a claim that has been questioned in his own comment section.

creeper said...

"Might I suggest instead just placing a link to an article of interest in a comment post."

No shortage of that.

No reading ensues.

IAMB said...

I didn't mean for Radar's benefit. I was just trying to make Jake's suggestion into something that wouldn't make me as hesitant as actually posting my own lectures in the comments. Not that I mind lecturing, but I'd rather do that on my own space than someone else's. I feel much better about linking than about writing basically an entire article here.

radar said...

Letters, we have letters!!!

I have been fortunate enough to have escaped the tornadoes that hit our area, we had nothing happen of note except having a fence blown down.....and losing our internet connectivity.

I first lost connections on Friday for part of the day when the first storm came through. Then Sunday was bad and I had no connection from Sunday night until Monday afternoon. I had also taken the weekend "off" from the blog so that Hawkeye had the forum. But I have returned to an absolute hail of missives! Wow!

You will all be glad to see my next posting...a bit later tonight.

highboy said...

Creeper: You reject the idea of a benevolent God because the God we teach is not what YOU would have Him be. To you a benevolent God would protect everyone from death. You say "innocent", accept no one is truly "innocent" except those not able to choose to reject Jesus, namely children, who God is not the one killing wholesale in America, you can blame abortion clinics for that. God leaves responibility to us, not Him. He have us this world, we destroyed it, and continue to do so. I'm only giving the Christian perspective of that particular argument. Not all Christians just flippantly gloss over atrocity or tragedy by saying "The Lord works in mysterious ways." The Lord didn't have to have anything to do with the tsunami killing thousands. True, He could have prevented it, just like He can prevent anyone from dying, even from old age. As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that was His idea to begin with, before Adam and Eve chose death for themselves and the world. I hear Christians talk that Katrina was God's judgement on New Orleans for all the gambling and such. That is a bunch of crap. But rejecting God because He doesn't fit what we want Him to be is also a bunch of crap.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

radar said :"I have been fortunate enough to have escaped the tornadoes that hit our area,"
I didn't even think of that! Glad to hear it.

* * *

Hawkeye:
You admit your position is not scientific, and I appreciate your honesty. The frustrating part - and I was perhaps a bit dramatic earlier - is that we're talking over this huge gap not so much of knowledge as of attitude, sorta.

Imagine if people were saying: Christians are weird. They have three gods, except one of them is dead, killed by people! They tell adherents to leave their families, and sometimes they even castrate themselves! And imagine no matter how many times you tried to explain matters, to clarify misunderstandings, referred them to religious and historical texts, they just kept going? And more - they kept trying to have it decreed that this 'point of view' would be discussed and debated in churches?

But this is misleading, in that it - like you - suggests this is a clash of faiths. In a sense it is, as all action in the world partakes of a kind of faith: that the rules will hold, that we can trust what we see, etc. But although some folks no doubt take it on faith, and others interpret it in light of their faith (or lack thereof), evolution is first and foremost science. "I have never enjoyed trying to reconcile the
concept of evolution with my theological views. It is virtually impossible to do so . . ." Would you say this about germ theory? Orbital mechanics? Meterology? Why not? To the best of our knowledge, ever increasing evidence from many fields indicate that all life on earth descends from a common ancestor an unimaginably long time ago. As far as science can say, this process appears to be unguided.

As creeper and cranky mentioned, this is a major point. Science can't really make theological claims (well, it can, but it doesn't have any authority). One of the guiding bits of science, which we can refer to as methodological naturalism - although the IDists have done their best to make that a dirty word. What does it mean? It's a fancy version of what happens when your car breaks down, or your pipes clog up, or any of a hundred other similar situations. Do you assume there are demons tormenting you by damaging your stuff, or perhaps that God is punishing you by clogging up your toilet? No. You , and any professionals involved, go by strictly naturalistic assumptions - that's your methodology. Would an engineer rely on God holding a bridge together, or the walls up? No. Does any of this say anything about these folks' beliefs? No. Can a Christian be a plumber, an auto mechanic, an engineer, a doctor? Sure! A Jew, a Hindu, a Muslim, an etc.? Sure! Anybody can.

One of the things Lewontin is saying (and while I think he's great, make no mistake - he is not a representative scientist, although in some ways he's like Gould. I suspect most scientists who write for the general public are very unrepresentative, actually...) is that science has to act like this. It's been accused of being all mean to God by not letting him in, but think about it. Imagine if we "let God in" to plumbing or auto repair? Imagine if the legal system did? God/The Devil made me do it would be a potential defense in its own right, not just evidence for an insanity plea! Science has tried that, and it doesn't work, In order to get anywhere, it can only deal with the physical world, the natural world. It has to act as if natural was all there is, more or less - just as you do in solving all the little problems mentioned above. Does that mean it's saying that the natural world really is all there is? How could it do that? How could it tell? That's metaphysics, not physics. Science doesn't have the tools for that, any more than auto mechanics do. All it can say is this is what it looks like, in science's opinion. Some people do take that latter view about nature being all there is - philosophical naturalism. One can argue that science's methodological naturalism encourages philosophical naturalism - but this argument would involve the fact that science has been spectacularly sucessful.

There's an old joke - stop me if you've heard it before.

Once there was a small town which was ravaged by a flood. As the water levels rose higher, the local fire department drove through the streets telling all residents to evacuate their homes.
One man named Jones refused to leave. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he said.
An hour later, with the flood worsening, Jones was forced up to the second floor of his house. At which point a boat rowed by: "Get in Jones, we're here to rescue you!"
"Oh, no," he said, "I'm waiting for God to save me."
An hour later, Jones was up on the roof of his house, with little time to spare. A helicopter flew by and lowered its ladder. "No, thanks," said Jones, "I'm waiting for God to save me."
The waters continued to rise and soon Jones was swept away and drowned. When he got to heaven, he was furious and wanted to speak with God. "I trusted in You, but why didn't you save me?!" he asked the Lord.
"What do you mean?" said God, "First I sent you a fire truck, then a boat, then a helicopter! What more did you want from me?

This story says many things, but the one I'm getting at is, for one reason or other, this is how the world generally works. If you're bit by a rabid dog, for example, the rabies vaccine can save you (if given in time, anyway). For whatever reason, prayer generally won't. (Don't try this at home, kids!) If anything, the evolution-doubting believer is faced with the question: why would God have made it look as if evolution happened?

Sometimes you should just get on the boat. Or is virtually impossible to reconcile your religious views with boats?


As already pointed out, your general argument is kinda weird. You state that "the Bible . . portrays the nature of God in such a way that, to me at least, seems incompatible with the idea of evolution." But nothing you mention seems to support this. A God who is all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, for whom "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" - how could we imagine what He might do? Yet instead you insist He's like a kid on Christmas morning who sneaks down to see what he got, or a cook so impatient that they keep lifting up the lid to see if the water's boiling yet . . .

Odder still in this context is your use of Job. After all, 'God's rant' (nice term!) is basically saying (among other things), look, who are you to presume? You don't know %^&$!" - and you are very much presuming here: like all creationists, you insist on real limits for God - why, I've never understood, You also say that your are against the view that it this long passage is "prose and symbolism." But this is complicated:
"By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
25: Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;
26: To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
27: To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?
28: Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
29: Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?
30: The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
31: Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
32: Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
33: Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?
34: Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
35: Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are? "

Is God literally responsible, in a hands-on sense, for the weather, the lighning, the (apparent) movements of the stars? Obviously I don't think so, since I'm an atheist. But I would guess that you don't either. (Nowadays, this view seems more appropriate to the old pagan gods who were in part anthromorphic representations of /explanations for natural phenomena.) But if you don't think so here, why do you run into so much trouble with evolution? If you don't struggle with reconciling your beliefs with this, then, again, what's the problem with evolution? While creationist literature has led you to believe otherwise, evolution is a major concept, one that as far as anyone can tell is only more and more strongly supported as time goes by, one that provides a framework of meaning for all the biological sciences. Almost bragging about how you don't want to reconcile it with your beliefs - well, it's your call, but imagine saying that for heliocentrism? germ theory? the idea that maybe angels don't move the planets about? the scientific explanation of lightning?

And the weird thing is, a God of evolution is in some ways a far grander God. Any ol' god can create, but to make a universe within which life itself has creativity (in a sense)?
In a way, everyone who accepts evolution is a creationist. Thing is, we don't imagine the the creation is finished.

"In the area of evolutionary theory however, there has been little progress or change in thought since the 18th and 19th centuries."

18th century evolution, eh? Tell me more, please, about how there's been "little progess of change in thought" in evolution since the 18th century.

And while this statement is so absurd that I'm going to have to wait 'til tomorrow to really respond, it's struck me that this also is a kind of backhand compliment: that the core of evolutionary theory has withstood the test of time, has survived test after test, tens of thousands of opportunities to be disproved, for literally decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after decade after . . .

-Dan S.

creeper said...

highboy, the idea of an omniscient and omnipotent being that cares about us is falsified by the large scale death of innocents. You can add whatever tortured just-so corollaries you would like that try to make the idea of a personified God compatible with what we see around us, but absence or non-existence explains it just the same.

"The Lord didn't have to have anything to do with the tsunami killing thousands. True, He could have prevented it, just like He can prevent anyone from dying, even from old age. As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that was His idea to begin with, before Adam and Eve chose death for themselves and the world"

Lovely story, that, but this is simply part of the just-so creation myth that was invented a long time ago to serve as an explanation of Why Things Are The Way They Are, and evidently the same question occuped its authors: if God exists, then how can bad things happen to innocent people? It serves as mythical truth, not as a historically true account (as has been demonstrated a number of times on this blog recently).

radar said...

Creeper-

"It serves as mythical truth, not as a historically true account (as has been demonstrated a number of times on this blog recently)."

I missed the part where you demonstrated this. Maybe you don't want to buy what I have said, but you sure haven't proved the Genesis account to be untrue, sorry...

creeper said...

Radar,

"I missed the part where you demonstrated this."

Maybe you did. It was in the comments section of your blog. The Genesis account as literal, historical truth is disproven by, among other things, the continuous existence of an ancient civilization at the time that Genesis claims everyone on Earth except for eight people was dead.

In response you pointed to what Genesis had to say about Egypt. Unfortunately the earliest mention in Genesis has Egypt as an already existing and quite prosperous civilization, which hardly serves as a contradiction.

radar said...

""I missed the part where you demonstrated this."

Maybe you did. It was in the comments section of your blog. The Genesis account as literal, historical truth is disproven by, among other things, the continuous existence of an ancient civilization at the time that Genesis claims everyone on Earth except for eight people was dead.

In response you pointed to what Genesis had to say about Egypt. Unfortunately the earliest mention in Genesis has Egypt as an already existing and quite prosperous civilization, which hardly serves as a contradiction."

~

Sorry, Creeper, no such thing has been proven. First of all, much of the Egyptian chronology comes from one source, Manetho, and many experts believe that some of the kingdoms occurred simultaneously in different sections of Egypt rather than consecutively. This makes Egypt's history considerably shorter.

Second, no Egyptian documentation can be authenticated to be nearly as old as the chronologies claim. The fact is that no one can be certain of how long Egypt had been around in pre-history, just as no one can be certain what date the Ark hit the ground. It would be reasonable to believe that Egypt was thriving a few generations after the Ark landed without having the scope we ascribe to it now. Men listed as "kings" in ancient geneologies often were no more than chieftains with a few dozen followers.

Historians know there are problems with the length of Egypt's history and I acknowledged that we cannot pinpoint the date of the landing of the Ark. Ussher's dates were based on a father-to-son chronology in Genesis whereas customarily it was often grandfather or even great-grandfather-to-son because the purpose was to establish bloodlines and better known ancestors were sometimes claimed rather than the direct father or grandfather. This was typical of the times and people before the Temple was established and exact geneological records were maintained. Even then, in common speech, men might claim to be a "son of Abraham" and Jesus was sometimes referred to as "Son of David."

Archaelogists would have been proclaiming proof of Egypt existing during the time of the flood and therefore the demise of the flood as history if they had proof of this. There is no such proof.

highboy said...

Creeper: Once again, as I said previously, it is YOUR notion that an omnipotent God that cares about us is falisfied by the death of "innocents." That is YOUR idea of what a loving God should be. That doesn't make it so. The idea that there is no God is falsified by Creation itself, which could not possible have appeared out of no where by itself, regardless of how old it is.

creeper said...

"Once again, as I said previously, it is YOUR notion that an omnipotent God that cares about us is falisfied by the death of "innocents." That is YOUR idea of what a loving God should be."

Indeed it is, based on a straight understanding of the meaning of the words loving, omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent. You can add your tortured corollaries all you want, but the absence or non-existence of God is just as plausible an explanation for something like the tsunami - namely a natural disaster. A tragic fluke without rhyme or reason.

"That doesn't make it so. The idea that there is no God is falsified by Creation itself, which could not possible have appeared out of no where by itself, regardless of how old it is."

Could God possibly have appeared out of nowhere by Himself? Could the universe always have existed?

creeper said...

Radar,

"Archaelogists would have been proclaiming proof of Egypt existing during the time of the flood and therefore the demise of the flood as history if they had proof of this. There is no such proof."

Do archaeologists really care that much about disproving something as far on the fringe as young earth creationism? Kinda doubt it.

Interesting that you've thrown out the idea of Genesis representing an ironclad historical account though - now it looks as flexible as a rubber band.

highboy said...

"Do archaeologists really care that much about disproving something as far on the fringe as young earth creationism? Kinda doubt it."

Sounds like a smoke screen to me.

highboy said...

"Indeed it is, based on a straight understanding of the meaning of the words loving, omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent. You can add your tortured corollaries all you want, but the absence or non-existence of God is just as plausible an explanation for something like the tsunami - namely a natural disaster."

You're still talking as if a benevolent God would save the lives of all the innocents ever killed on this earth. I thought you were pro-choice? Should God not give anyone a choice, and brainwash us all into loving Him and each other? Natural disasters are not the only cause of death on this planet. Liberal enviromentalists would argue that the world is the way it is because of man's destructive behavior in it. Some even blamed global warming on man, and so man was blamed for the tsunami. Ask any tree-hugging hippy who was to blame for the tsunami and the answer you get isn't "God", or "mother nature", its "George Bush."

"Could God possibly have appeared out of nowhere by Himself? Could the universe always have existed?"

A good question to be sure, but I'd rather not let you divert attention from my previous statement which went unanswered, in that it is impossible that the universe was created by itself. For every effect there has to be a cause.

Anonymous said...

". Some even blamed global warming on man, and so man was blamed for the tsunami. Ask any tree-hugging hippy who was to blame for the tsunami and the answer you get isn't "God", or "mother nature", its "George Bush."

Unless Bush has even greater power than even the most hate-crazed of us lefties (or most leader-worshipping of righties) think, that's fairly unlikely, since the tsunami was caused by a large earthquake.

You may be thinking of Hurricane Katrina. And really, I don't think people would say "George Bush" unless they're a bit dumb, or being flippant: to the extent that global warming may have contributed to the recent recordbreaking warm spell over the last few years, and the unusually long and destructive 2005 hurricane season, Bush wasn't really responsible, given he only had a few years. He has, however, simply wasted those years in terms of trying to slow down global warming, and these wasted years will probably have an impact on your child's life, if not your own.

Oh well.

-Dan S.

highboy said...

Wrong, it was not Katrina, it was the tsunami. Many leftist critics of Bush blamed him for the disaster because he did nothing to stop global warming, supposedly.

IAMB said...

Highbooy, I think you'd better either find us an example, or retract... though I doubt you'll do either since I see you've yet to give proper credit on your auto manufacturing analogy in your EvC post.

I hate to disagree with you, but I'm what one might consider a "regular" in the lefty blogosphere and I have never seen anyone with even a quarter of a brain blame a tsunami on global warming. Find a citation for your claim, and I'll consider myself corrected and apologize accordingly.

And please, give proper credit for your auto analogy. To not do so makes you look dishonest.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe it - I found out what highboy is talking about!

And it turns out to be the same kind of situation as with the equus/eohippus claim! Call it bias-aided information decay . . .

In the wake of the tsunami, a few folks pointed out that rising sea level from global warming (along with coastal development, etc.) could make low-lying areas and islands (like the Maldives) even more vulnerable to future tsunamis or global-warming fueled storms.

This then apparently trickled down into right-wing/anti-science media as - to quote one headline: "Media Linking Killer Tsunami to Global Warming".
Happy yahoo search results here.

Wild.

-Dan S.

IAMB said...

Blaming global warming for the extent of the damage on the danger of even worse future damage is a bit different than saying "global warming caused the tsunami.

However, since Highboy was half right, I offer my apology.

Anonymous said...

I don't know - I haven't found anybody saying that this tsunami was made any worse by global warming - maybe you looked further down that search list than I did . . definitely agree they're quite a bit different . . .

Partial credit? You're being quite generous . . .

But it does bring up an interesting thing. I'm assuming that we never heard of it because we were reading the Washington Post (etc.) and liberal blogs instead of the Washington Times and free republic etc. (if I'm wrong, sorry). For all the silly secession talk in '04, in a way, it's already happening, just in terms of perception, rather than government. As our host puts it: "far from the Blue States both geographically and ideologically. "

I can't imagine what '08 is going to be like . . .

Anonymous said...

Last one's mine
-Dan S.

highboy said...

"And please, give proper credit for your auto analogy. To not do so makes you look dishonest."

First of all, try looking at the post you're talking about, and you'll see I have it in block quotes, from the link that the entire post is based on. Thanks for coming out.

Here is a bunch of opinionated leftists who either blame the tsunami on Bush, the U.S. as a whole, global warming, or all three.

Anonymous said...

"Here is a bunch of opinionated leftists who either blame the tsunami on Bush, the U.S. as a whole, global warming, or all three."

First claim (All claims are cited and discussed in a Wisbang blog post; all emphasis added):
Wizbang translation: U.S. blamed for earthquake!
Source of original text: "Applegate News and Classifieds. An Interactive Online Newspaper for Applegate, Oregon"
Sample: "The USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] failed to issue a warning to coastal countries which were most likely to suffer tsunami destruction from that earthquake. Tens-of-thousands have died. Who is going to accept responsibility for the failure to issue the tsunami warning? . . . President Bush should fire the director of the US Geological Survey.
Actual claim: The USGS was asleep at the wheel! Fire the director of the USGS!
Status: Undertermined/probably false. More importantly, it doesn't seem there was an regional early warning system in place.

Second claim:
Wizbang translation: "Sure "they say" it was an earthquake (wink, wink, nod, nod) but we all really know it is the fossil fuels we burn."
Source: Reuters
Sample: "Experts: Global warming, pollution add to coastal threats
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in future, experts said on Monday. "
Actual claim: See above.
Context:People taking advantage of the disaster to raise public awareness about possible related threats in the future.
Status: True. Experts do say this.

Third claim:
Wizbang translation: Some goofball on daily Kos replied to a quote about 60,000 dead with an anti-Bush rant - what a surprise! [I assume that's their point]
Source: dKos comments.
Sample: "No deaths are easy to take, but the tsunami deaths can not be blamed on anyone.  This is in marked contrast to the deaths in Iraq which can all be laid at Bush's feet.  Now the Chimp will dole out a little miserly aid, and he would not deign to cut down the pomp of his coronation to aid others- he simply doesn't give a damn about anyone else."
Actual claim: a) Bush is an evil sociopath who is responsible for the deaths in Iraq and should be impeached. b) He will not spare money from his lavish inauguration to help tsunami victims. c) Bush will be miserly with U.S. aid to tsunami victims.
Status: a: Undetermined.
b: Undetermined/Probably true. (Note: the inuguration was funded by private donations).
c) Underterminable/Value Judgement*

Number of claims placing even partial blame for tsunami-related destruction on anyone: 1
Who's being blamed: The U.S. Geological Survey; specifically, the director of the USGS.

Number of "Bush is evil- impeach the Chimp" anti-Bush rants that explicitly state that no one is responsible for tsunami deaths: 1

Number of sober articles Whizbang uses to (metaphorically) hurl poop at scientific experts, aping the global warming denial/junk science!/experts can't be trusted anti-science refrain of organized industry lobbyists and front groups: 1

Similar campaigns by industry in the past:
* Lead is harmless!
* Our cars are perfectly safe! Seatbelts are bad for you!
* Cancer, smancer! Us tobacco companies haven't seen any proof of health risks! Smoking is good for you!

Short term results of a focus on immediate profit over responsiblity to future generations, future sustainability of industry, future cost to industry of punative publicly-imposed regulations following backlash: large amounts of money.

Value of human life damaged or destroyed by intentional denial and obfuscation of health/environmental risks in the name of short-term profit: priceless.


* Total U.S. Government assistance to the region has been given as over $841 million, a large contribution nevertheless dwarfed by the astonishingly generous flood of private donations said to exceed $1.8 billion. (Source: USAID fact sheet, 12/21/05.) However, Bush initially pledged relatively small amounts - first $15 million, then $35 million - but increased this figure significantly following widespread criticism. I cannot find figures comparing countries' tsunami aid as a proportion of GDP.

-Dan S.

highboy said...

You forgot the opinion that stated Bush was to blame because he didn't sing Kyoto. This is also found in numerous places elsewhere.

Jake said...

highboy, stop making people find your sources for you. Find cites for your own damn claims.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

Highboy:"You forgot the opinion that stated Bush was to blame because he didn't sing Kyoto"
You mean this, in the comments:
"Uh, the 9.0 earthquake was the only warning Indonesia and Thailand needed. . . But admit it. It is Bush's fault. He didn't sign Kyoto!"

"i·ro·ny NOUN: pl. i·ro·nies
1. a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. b.An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning. c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect . . ."

ETYMOLOGY:
French ironie, from Old French, from Latin irina, from Greek eironeia, feigned ignorance, from eiron, dissembler, probably from eirein, to say

Definiton of "irony" from the American History Dictionary.

"Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear and shall not understand, and another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware, both of that “more” and of the outsider’s incomprehension."- from Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler.

I also didn't mention this bit:
For the sake of argument, let's give them their point. "Let's pretend the seas rose 6 inches in that area... Compared to a 50 foot wall of water? Apparently Reuters' "experts" are bad at math."

Apparently there are still a lot of people who don't realize that 'the sea rising 6 inches' doesn't mean that we lose six inches of beach but that the sea level is literally six inches higher. Leaving off the effects of increased coast erosion - which is a big part of the claim - especially if you have low lying coastal regions, it means any future 50 foot walls of water can travel possibly much further . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Goreinventedtheinternet andandand JohnKerryisaflipflopper!!!

Sigh.

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"highboy, stop making people find your sources for you. Find cites for your own damn claims."

I did. That is what we are talking about. I don't make "damn" claims by the way...

"Oh, and Goreinventedtheinternet andandand JohnKerryisaflipflopper!!!"

True, except Gore is not that smart.

highboy said...

Here is another tin foil hat wearing liberal who blames Bush for the tsunami. Before you claim that its i-r-o-n-y, read the whole article, and the list of "evidence" presented. He is expected to be taken seriously, though its hard to do that with any "progressive."

Not to mention others that claim it was a tactical nuke test. Or just way to eliminate enemies.

And liberals call themselves "free-thinking." Heh. Though it is definitely cheap thinking.

IAMB said...

First of all, try looking at the post you're talking about, and you'll see I have it in block quotes, from the link that the entire post is based on. Thanks for coming out.

I did. When looking at someone else's post I have to decide whether they are the ones speaking in the quotes or whether the blockquoted material is actually quoted. Some people (actually quite a few) do things backwards of everyone else when it comes to style. The reason I figured you for the reverse style type in that post was because it was submitted to a carnival as your material when in reality almost nothing in the post was actually yours. Unfortunately, there's no note on the post anywhere that says: "the material from this post came from..." so I naturally assumed that the phrases outside the blockquotes were yours as well, set aside for emphasis and page breaks.

Either way, I stand corrected. Sorry about that.

Oh, and while you're busy knocking us liberals for criticizing Bush and Co. global warming policies, I might point out that the wingnuts on your side of the aisle have been known to say that there really isn't global warming because we still get snowstorms. Not all of the loons are on my side, you know.

mantis said...

Here is another tin foil hat wearing liberal who blames Bush for the tsunami. Before you claim that its i-r-o-n-y, read the whole article, and the list of "evidence" presented. He is expected to be taken seriously, though its hard to do that with any "progressive."

Highboy what you don't realize, for whatever reason, is that BlameBush! is a satirical blog. It's a conservative poking fun at liberals who blame the President for everything. He doesn't expect to be taken seriously, except by the humor-impaired.

highboy said...

"Oh, and while you're busy knocking us liberals for criticizing Bush and Co. global warming policies, I might point out that the wingnuts on your side of the aisle have been known to say that there really isn't global warming because we still get snowstorms. Not all of the loons are on my side, you know."

I totally agree. Don't worry, I'm not partisan. Those nuts that claim their isn't global warming are just as ridiculous. If it makes you feel better, I think Sean Hannity is a partyhack that has forever lost the ability to think for himself, and Anne Coulter is nothing more than a glorified comedian. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that I find most of liberalism ideology to not only be destructive but rather insulting to humanity at the same time.

That post was absolutely NOT submitted to any carnival, but that's okay.

Anonymous said...

The tactical nuke test claim is made on a website that is just weird - all Ruby Ridge and New Order and big bad ATF stuff. They don't like Bush, but I can't really tell what they do like.

As for the portland indymedia %@&%& nonsense - now you know how science advocates feel looking at creationism!!

I'm not saying we don't have a lunatic fringe. But those folks are so far out of the liberal/left mainstream they can't even see the water.

"Those nuts that claim their isn't global warming are just as ridiculous."
Well, that's good. I mean, it could turn out to be wrong, but it's our best guess so far, and the clear scientific consensus, even if a lot of details are still hazy.

Huh. That sounds familiar . . .

"Anne Coulter is nothing more than a glorified comedian"
Oh, I think she's a lot more than a glorified comedian. Ok folks, imagine she was born in Germany or Austria around the turn of the (20th) century. What do you think she might be doing?

"I find most of liberalism ideology to not only be destructive but rather insulting to humanity at the same time. "

Any ideology taken to extremes eventually becomes an idol to which people sacrifice freedom, creativity, and ultimately life (whether merely in the sense of wasted effort and opportunities, or far more directly, as we've seen so abundantly over the last century. What don't you like about liberalism?

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"But those folks are so far out of the liberal/left mainstream they can't even see the water."

Very nicely put. You have my admiration.

"What don't you like about liberalism?"

Maybe we shouldn't do that on this thread?

Anonymous said...

"Very nicely put. You have my admiration."
Aw, thanks! Feel free to use it!

Maybe we shouldn't do that on this thread
Ah, you're right . . .

-Dan S.

creeper said...

highboy,

me: "Do archaeologists really care that much about disproving something as far on the fringe as young earth creationism? Kinda doubt it."

you: "Sounds like a smoke screen to me."


All right, what percentage of archaeologists are young earth creationists?

What percentage of geologists are young earth creationists?

How many geologists started out as young earth creationists and after examining more and more of the evidence came around to believing in an old earth?

How many geologists started out believing in an old earth and after examining more and more of the evidence came around to believing in a young earth?

Young earth creationism is just not an issue in the fields of most archaeologists and geologists. Day in, day out they're looking at evidence that the world is older than 6,000 years. You think they're going to waste time pointing this out to a fringe cult who is determined not to be convinced otherwise anyway?

creeper said...

Radar,

the chronology of ancient Egypt does not stem from only one source. It is confirmed by at least one other source, the Turin Royal Canon.

"Historians know there are problems with the length of Egypt's history"

To the tune of a whole millennium? Link please.

highboy said...

"Day in, day out they're looking at evidence that the world is older than 6,000 years."

Depending on how you interpret "evidence."

highboy said...

What's all the bruh-ha with the tsunami and every other natural disaster? Why do evolutionists care? Is this not just an example of natural selection?

IAMB said...

That post was absolutely NOT submitted to any carnival, but that's okay.

You're right. I really shouldn't try to do too many things at once. That's how these types of mistakes are made. Actually, I once switched a pair of names around on accident on Panda's Thumb because I was reading an email from PZ and trying to post at the same time. Very embarrassing then and now.

Consider this a total apology, if you'll be so kind.

IAMB said...

Ok folks, imagine she was born in Germany or Austria around the turn of the (20th) century. What do you think she might be doing?

Godwin's Law in action.

creeper said...

highboy,

"You're still talking as if a benevolent God would save the lives of all the innocents ever killed on this earth. I thought you were pro-choice? Should God not give anyone a choice, and brainwash us all into loving Him and each other?"

I'm not really that concerned about what God should or should not do. His absence or non-existence explains the world around us just fine.

me: "Could God possibly have appeared out of nowhere by Himself? Could the universe always have existed?"

you: "A good question to be sure, but I'd rather not let you divert attention from my previous statement which went unanswered, in that it is impossible that the universe was created by itself. For every effect there has to be a cause."


My response was to question the assumptions underlying the question: on what do you base the assumption that the universe had a beginning?

"The idea that there is no God is falsified by Creation itself, which could not possible have appeared out of no where by itself, regardless of how old it is."

1. Who says it appeared out of nowhere?

2. Your argument is a non sequitur:

a. (unsubstantiated claim:) The universe appeared out of nowhere.
b. This is an effect.
c. All effects have causes.
d. Since the cause predates the beginning of the universe, it must be supernatural.

e. Therefore a personified God exists..

See the disconnect?

creeper said...

"Depending on how you interpret "evidence.""

Indeed. And you have to bend those interpretations rather heftily to conclude a young earth.

creeper said...

"What's all the bruh-ha with the tsunami and every other natural disaster? Why do evolutionists care? Is this not just an example of natural selection?"

Should generic "evolutionists" only care about everything as it pertains to some scientific theory?

Anonymous said...

"All right, what percentage of archaeologists are young earth creationists?
What percentage of geologists are young earth creationists?"

It would be interesting to see firm figures . . .
I've never (knowingly) met an YEC archaeologist. I know there are a few YEC geologists floating around . . .
I would guess that the total percentage is < 2%, - and that would include folks whose work allows them to practice big time compartmentalization, and those who are employed by various YEC institutions. Dunno for sure, though. Maybe 3%?

"Godwin's Law in action."
Whadayamean? I think she would have been a famous aviatrix! Or possibly a cabaret singer! : )

More seriously - while I'm sure she doesn't actually want to see liberals rounded up and shot, across the multiverse there are alternate Coulters gleefully joking about the intimidation and violent death of their side's political enemies. In the ones where things do slide into bloodshed and destruction, she's probably quite sorry, and not really responsible insofar as someone would have filled that role, and it probably didn't make that much of a difference anyway . . .

Next week on American Inventor . . ."Look! I made God!"

""Depending on how you interpret "evidence.""

Is that like talking about what the meaning of "is" is?

-Dan S.