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Saturday, December 09, 2006

How well do Christianity and evolution mix?

Allow me to have a dialogue here with Xiangtao, via his latest commment:

If the evidence for evolution is so unconvincing, as long as your worldview is not already slanting your opinion in favor of disbelief in god (as I belive your assertion stands Radar. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that), why then do we have so many biologists such as Francis Collins, about whom you posted, or Kenneth Miller or Richard Colling or Denis Lamoureux... who believe both in god and in evolution.

Indeed, why? It is not an intellectually satisfactory position to my way of thinking. Yet it true that there are quite a few God-believers who also accept evolution.

These are clearly not people out to replace god with a materialistic worldview and yet, after years of studying the evidence much more closely than any of us here can claim, they are all both outspokenly Christians AND evolutionists.

Not a compelling argument. There are people who have studied world history and politics who still trust in the United Nations. There are people who have squinted at stars through telescopes for decades who believe in space aliens. Years of study do not guarantee one particular viewpoint.

If evolution is really a "theory in crisis" then why are there so many examples of Christians with legitimate degrees in intimately related fields who not only believe in evolution, but see it as an absolute fact of life? I am sure that this list is many times longer than any list you may find of qualified YEC scientists.

It may be. I know of know list comprised of God-believers who are evolutionists. I know of several lists of creationists and several lists of evolution-doubters and I know of several lists of evolution-believers. None of that means a hill of beans in terms of real evidence.

I think that what has happened is that evolution has been taught as an established fact and all sorts of people from every walk of life just believe it. In our newspapers, magazines, movies, whatever, the suppositions of evolution are presented as factual every single day! It is truly the most magnificent job of advertising or perhaps I should say brainwashing imaginable.

Macroevolution has never been demonstrated to occur and has never been proven to have ever occurred. Period. Refute me if you can. Yet news articles, even science articles will talk about dinosaurs that lived 130 million years ago as a proven fact.

I am told continually that evolution has a testable hypothosis that has been proven. I am waiting to see it demonstrated to me. Tiktaalik would not qualify, since it cannot be shown to be an actual transitional form. I want to see something that is tested and proven...not just told that it has been done. Not relating to microevolution and not a simple matter of genetics that is not necesarily evolution either. Show me your results that prove evolution, I am waiting.

Nor can I prove creation by God happened. Nor can I go back in time and see it happening and bring back the video. As always, we have to look at the evidence and come to the best conclusions available. I have asserted often enough that I believe the evidence, in the best tradition of Occam's Razor, more clearly supports the likelihood of creation and not evolution. I have asserted this for nearly a year on this blog. So I suppose rubber meets the road time might as well get here. Don't just talk about the testable hypothesis, let's see it!

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lava said...

How do YECs explain vetigial organs, ostriches, emus, ostriches...?


What vestigal organs? We tend to discover that vestigal organs have uses, don't we. Know of any that you are certain are totally useless?

Why is there a need to "explain" an emu or an ostrich? I mean, more than there is to explain a bat or a shark? I think you have a harder time showing that it evolved than arguing that an ostrich is a mistake, if that's what you mean?

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cranky old fart said...

Lava,

There's noting to explain. Everything is as it was when everything and everybody stepped on and then off the incredible ark.

And if ya buy that, Santa's still coming in a few weeks...


Very compelling argument, Cranky, enough to convince anyone completely. Other than you know that YEC'ers don't quite believe it that way because we know and accept microevolution, which is the loss of genetic information over time due to stress on genetic populations and changes in environment. Many animal types have become extinct and many have lost some of their possible characteristics since the Ark released its contents. Furthermore, I have previously demonstrated that the Ark was plenty big enough to carry the cargo that it was asserted to have carried in Genesis and it's dimensions prefigured by many centuries the design of large ocean-going vessels used today.

Oh, and Santa is actually imprisoned in a plastic snowglobe on the front yard of one of my neighbors, saw him there as we pulled in this evening. It looks like he is stuck there, so don't wait up.

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lava said...

So evolution hasn't been proven true. And creationism hasn't been proven true. So, we have nothing. Wonderful.


In fact, creationism cannot be "proven" to be true since it asserts that creation has already occurred and won't happen again. Hmmm, sounds kind of like a law of theromdynamics in a way, eh?

However, evolution is supposed to be an ongoing process, so were it true one would expect it to be "proven" at some point. We are a couple of hundred years into the study of the thing but no proof, so I think it is quite safe to say that it won't be proven to be right, either...Which is just what creationism would predict.

Ooops! Just found one of them-there testable hypotheses for creation. I say that creation asserts that evolution does not occur. Tests will take place seeking evolution in progress. Creation says that such tests will fail to observe creation. Such tests have been made. They have failed. Creationists therefore see their assertion being proven over and over again.

Just wondering- what are creationists main problems with evolution? Is it the incomplete fossil record? Or what?

If you do a search here on my blog for keywords like "science" and "creation" and "scientist" and "Darwin", you'll see more information than you can digest in a week's time, I would venture to say. The fossil record is certainly a problem for evolution as is the formation of the rocks themselves. The remarkable complexity of living things (oh yeah, search for "intelligent design", too) is strong evidence that evolution is ridiculously unlikely to the point of imposssibility. I could go on, but the main problem from my point of view is that with a creation, there has to be a God and there are so many people who cannot stand the thought or concept of God. Which brings us back around to the title of this post.

How well do Christianity and evolution mix?

If you insist on the actual purity of what evolution asserts, it is very difficult for a Christian to get on board. So many Christians make an alteration to evolution to accomodate God and go on their merry way. They will insist that God created but evolution was, and is, the ongoing method by which he continues to create.

Evolutionists like the idea that they have compromised their positions enough to agree with them, in part, but you can tell (check out that Time series of posts again) that many of them kind of laugh or sneer at theistic evolution, since evolution has no room or need for God at any point.

There is the problem of how life sprang from non-life. Abiogenesis has been impossible to explain outside of a supernatural agent involved. The study of abiogenesis, or rather now called chemical evolution, I believe, is a lot like the search for the philosopher's stone. Hundreds, nay, thousands of scientists seek to find the unfindable thing.

I like what Hubert Yockey once said:

"The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it." (emphasis mine)

I believe this sums up why evolution remains so popular. It really is not well supported by the facts, but no one has presented a new idea to take its place and the previous idea, creation, was passed by because of worldview rather than science so it will be hard to reinstitute generally. However, the paucity of the idea of evolution should become more and more obvious over time and it will be interesting to see what people will be saying about it twenty years hence...when it still will be unproven...when its difficulties will have been shown to be insurmountable. What will the naturalistic materialists look to for their next solution?

7 comments:

lava said...

radar said: "What vestigal organs? We tend to discover that vestigal organs have uses, don't we. Know of any that you are certain are totally useless?

Why is there a need to "explain" an emu or an ostrich? I mean, more than there is to explain a bat or a shark? I think you have a harder time showing that it evolved than arguing that an ostrich is a mistake, if that's what you mean?"

Are you saying God made a mistake, radar?

Hind leg bones in whales, human coccyx, the blind fish Astuanax Mexicanus, Male nipples and breast tissue,... I could continue to write things but here is a link from wiki with a bunch of them vestigial organs.

The virgin whiptail lizards exhibit vestigial 'behavior'- they are pretty interesting. Why do penguins have wings and hollow bones? These are just two phenomena that point to either- evolution or god messing up. Maybe god just gave penguins hollow bones to test his subjects and separate the true believers from the heathens. Maybe not.

I know you will howl, Radar, when you see appendix on the list on wiki- you will probably find some article prepared by creationists that professes the benefits of the appendix and post it in response. While the appendix may not be completely useless, its function has most likely changed as humans have evolved.

Anonymous said...

"I know of know list comprised of God-believers who are evolutionists."

Such lists are compiled not as a matter of routine, but for political purposes, to make a point. The argument that believing in God and accepting the theory of evolution are compatible is not a a big battleground is not a big issue for "evolutionists" and doesn't much warrant such an effort, unlike IDers and creationists, who desperately seek scientific credibility and when they can't obtain it the conventional, honest way need to resort to political means instead.

"Macroevolution has never been demonstrated to occur"

For the simple and obvious reason that given what macroevolution is (try to read up on this from a scientific perspective, not a propaganda one), it is not something we would ever expect to see in a human lifetime, especially not at the scale you're thinking of.

"and has never been proven to have ever occurred."

I think you've been informed about the use of the word "proven" more than once, Radar. Still, it keeps on slipping in there, doesn't it?

Macroevolution is shown by organisms showing up in the fossil record in correspondence with the phylogenetic tree, with simpler organisms followed by more complex organisms. You'll probably try to willfully misunderstand or misrepresent this any number of ways, but if you look at older layers with simpler organisms succeeded by newer layers with more complex organisms that then branch off into different variations, that is a clear demonstration of macroevolution having occurred. YEC and a global flood scenario have no plausible way to account for this.

A testable prediction re. the theory of evolution? We've asked you any number of times to read up on evolution from a non-creationist point of view, simply so you can familiarize yourself with the actual arguments instead of distortions of them.

The prediction that fossils will be found in layers according to their place on the phylogenetic tree (testable prediction) is consistently confirmed, and the Tiktaalik find took it one step further: scientists were looking for a particular transitional fossil, could determine by other fossils on the phylogenetic tree in which layer they could expect to find it, and then found it there - they didn't find a preceding or succeeding species, but the transitional one they were looking for. Prediction confirmed.

"Tiktaalik would not qualify, since it cannot be shown to be an actual transitional form."

??? Define transitional form, and then explain why this is not an "actual" transitional form. Is this based on anything other than a willfully distorted understanding of "transitional form"?

"However, evolution is supposed to be an ongoing process, so were it true one would expect it to be "proven" at some point. We are a couple of hundred years into the study of the thing but no proof, so I think it is quite safe to say that it won't be proven to be right, either...Which is just what creationism would predict."

Not "proven", but observed.

What has been observed during this time is microevolution where we would expect to see it, macroevolution where we would expect to see it (and not where we wouldn't) and testable predictions coming true - including testable predictions that confirm the theory of evolution and conveniently refute a YEC scenario.

What exactly has creationism brought to the table in the thousands of years that we're "into the study of the thing" other than a bunch of dishonest propaganda pieces and not a single testable prediction that would confirm a YEC scenario? By your logic it's safe to say we can't expect to see more happening in that corner. I would say that's additionally confirmed by the utter lack of curiosity and research on the YEC side.

How does YEC plausibly account for the neatly consistent allocation of fossils to certain layers? It's wildly incompatible with any kind of global flood scenario. The precision with which the Tiktaalik find was pinpointed is simply impossible according to YEC/global flood. And yet it happened.

"There is the problem of how life sprang from non-life. Abiogenesis has been impossible to explain outside of a supernatural agent involved. The study of abiogenesis, or rather now called chemical evolution, I believe, is a lot like the search for the philosopher's stone. Hundreds, nay, thousands of scientists seek to find the unfindable thing."

Adding a supernatural agent has added precisely nothing in terms of an answer as to how it happened. The question of the origin of life remains unresolved. Scientists employing a naturalistic process have been making progress on finding this answer; fundamentalist creationists have not, and have no intention of advancing knowledge by doing so. That is their prerogative.

-- creeper

cranky old fart said...

"It [evolution] really is not well supported by the facts, but no one has presented a new idea to take its place"

Even with all the great YEC scientists hard at it night and day?

"...and the previous idea, creation, was passed by because of worldview rather than science so it will be hard to reinstitute generally"

What was the old world view anyway?

When the Bible was the unquestioned and inerrant last word on everything. You remember, the fixed earth, heliocentrism. etc...

By the way, when was it that all the animals and people left Egypt for 40 years? I seem to have missed your answer.....

xiangtao said...

"There are people who have studied world history and politics who still trust in the United Nations. There are people who have squinted at stars through telescopes for decades who believe in space aliens. Years of study do not guarantee one particular viewpoint."

To the first, history and politics are not strict sciences, that is they do not utilize the scientific process and have a great deal of opinion involved with no way of it being tested. Naturally there is plenty of debate on pretty much any topic within these fields, espescially politics.

As to astronomy, there is really no evidence one way or the other whether aliens exist or not. Statistics seem to be in favor of them, as there are such a vast number of stars out there, it just seems likely that at least a few others will support life.

When it comes to evolution, there is really no debate about this among those who study the life sciences. There is copious amounts of evidence in its favor and shutting your eyes tight and saying it aint so will not make it go away.

xiangtao said...

Also, you don't earn a biology PhD by going to a couple of classes, then when the teacher says "evolution is a fact, m'kay?" you nod and say "yes, Professor." In order to earn your doctorate, you must have a thorough understanding of evolutionary theory. This is true for any of the biological sciences.

I would venture to say that Francis Collins fully understands all the aspects of evolution, espescially DNA, and yet, he doesn't seem to see it as being even remotely unlikely. Maybe you know something about DNA that he doesn't?

radar said...

Let's just say that tomorrow I'll address this again...and it will take a major illness or accident to keep me from my next post!

xiangtao said...

I just found this and I thought that radar of all Christians would appreciate it. Just so you know radar, I don't think that you are this bad, although we have heard quite a few of these from you.

click here