Young-Earth Creationists Don’t Believe That Creation Was Finished in Six Days

I have been having an interesting conversation on Facebook with someone who describes himself as a young-earth creationist. I was surprised when this individual said that it is a problem for Christians who accept evolution that God is said thereby to have made diseases and other things which Christ fought against.

It seems to me that the opposite is the case, and so I asked him whether he doesn’t believe that God made the flesh-eating bacteria, the parasites, the viruses, all in response to the “Fall,” unleashing them on all life on this planet at the same time he gave the command for saber-tooth tigers to start eating meat.

I wonder how many young-earth creationists have never thought through the implications of their claims. Their view has God continuing to create after the six days of creation are over – creating specifically with the aim of causing terrible suffering.

Perhaps one alternative, if they really want to blame Adam and Eve and shift responsibility for these things away from God, might be for them to acknowledge that the story in Genesis is symbolic, and say that Adam and Eve were scientists, whose genetic and other experiments carried out in disobedience to God created viruses and genetic anomalies and split the Earth’s crust and so on.

But that would be to turn a perfectly good myth into second-rate science fiction.

On an evolutionary view, bacteria and viruses and death are all by-products of the same processes that have produced us, with our ability to laugh and make music and ponder the meaning of existence. Whether it is worth it is a good question. Few of us would prefer not to exist, to never have existed, over existing in a world like this one.

And for those asking from a Christian perspective why God would create through evolution, while we can only speculate at the answer, one plausible one is free will.

If God had literally created as per the Genesis story, are we to understand that Adam and Eve were created as adults, or as children? Either way, not having the human upbringing that their descendants would have, they would have had to have been preprogrammed to be able to speak and do various other things appropriate for that age. And being preprogrammed by God could be viewed as detracting from the free will Christian theology emphasizes as so important in our creation.

If Adam and Eve had been made as newborns, would they have been raised by angels? The free will issue pops up again. But when sentient life is brought about through a long process of evolution, these issues disappear, even if new ones are created in the process.

And so creation through evolution provides an account of God creating to accomplish what Christian theology has traditionally said was a key aim in creation. And it does so while removing the need to have God intelligently design flesh-eating bacteria and bubonic plague for no other reason than to torture and kill.

Young-earth creationism, on the other hand, emphasizes that God finished everything on the sixth day – but on closer examination, they seem not to really mean it.

Can someone explain to me why anyone finds the inconsistent nonsense that is young-earth creationism, with its depiction of God as cruel and sadistic, is preferable to accepting what science has to say?

 

  • Dr. David Tee

    Your title is misleading and painting with a very broad brush. You speak to 1 YEC and then condemn all? That is outrageous and just wrong. Your whole thesis is wrong as Genesis 1:30-2:2 tells us that everything was completed in 6 days.
    No one has ever said God created diseases afterwards. Your disorted thinking has lead you astray once again to accuse people of things they did not say or believe.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

      “No one has ever said God created diseases afterwards”

      If He didn’t then I see only three possibilities:

      1 There were diseases in Eden before the Fall (created, like everything else, by God).
      2 Satan created diseases after the Fall. But if so, God could have stopped him and didn’t.
      3 Disease organisms evolved from harmless ones. Which, again, God could have prevented.

      Which do you believe? Or do you see another possibility?

      • Dr. david Tee

        None of them. i think you do not grasp biblical teaching and seek to charge God with things He did not do. Romans 5:12 tells us how death entered into the world via sin thus since God i snot sin He had nothing to do with it. Then you misunderstand the words in Genesis 1 ‘God saw all that He had made and it was good.’ Obviously He did not reate disease, sin, or death.
        disease organisms did not evolve but came as a result of the corruption that entered the world at Adam’s sin. Ridley did an excellent job in pointing out the little bits of corruptiuon that affect the genetic code in his book Genome. He, of course, attributes that corruption’s existence to the wrong source, just like you did, but he documents it quite well so that we can see what took place back in the Garden of Eden.
        Let me illustrate: you build a wood table, you kep it inside from harms way and after a bit of time termites were allowed in. Did you create the termites to attack your table? Did you open the door to let them in? Would you like to be falsely accused of doing it even though it was your table and you thought it was good?
        Think about it.

        • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

          Germs, viruses, and miscoded strands of genetic material are just as much part of creation as birds, flowers and stars. To say that disease is not part of creation is just silly or obstinate or both.

          • Dr. david Tee

            Really? chapter and verse where they are included in God’s creative act please. Also please provide evidence of where they would fit in–God saw all that He had created and it was good.

            • Harper Grey

              God also created evil, according to the Bible itself. Thus, according to your logic, evil is good.

              Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

          Is it a law of nature that sin causes mutations that turn harmless organisms into disease carriers? I confess I don’t see how that would work. And where does it happen – near the sinner or everywhere?

          If it is a law, presumably God willed it so and could have willed otherwise. In that sense he is responsible for the existence of disease. I don’t have that choice with regard to termites.

        • Hannah Yelin

          Hey “Doctor” (if you actually have a doctorate degree, that is), if God didn’t create disease, sin, or any form of evil, then how do you explain Isaiah 45:7, in which God says that he did, in fact, create evil?

          (Ten bucks says you’ll completely ignore this question. After all, you fundies don’t like to admit when you’re wrong. You’d rather delusionally believe that your beliefs are perfect than actually be mature and open-minded enough to admit that sometimes you’re misinformed about what the Bible says.)

        • Dan

          One snag there, kemosabe. God is supposed to have created EVERYTHING, right? He is also supposed to know EVERYTHING that happens or WILL happen EVERYWHERE, right? This means your “table-maker” analogy is fundamentally flawed.
          If god didn’t create everything, why call him omnipotent? If he couldn’t predict that evil would occur, why call him omniscient?

        • lynnnoe

          If God did indeed make everything, then he made the ‘termites’ and would have been responsible for the destruction of the table.

  • Just Sayin’

    “Can someone explain to me…”

    I bet you Tee can.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    Because these YECs do not worship God. Rather they worship the Bible, which was never supposed to be its role. It is supposed to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths–not a cave in which to hide from the real world.

    • Dr. David Tee

      Really? i have never met one Christian who worships the bible. The accept it for what it is, God’s perfect work. Calling it inerrant isn’t worshipping it is declaring, please learn the difference between the two actions.
      If the Bible is in error, how can it be a ‘light unto our feet’? If one area is wrong, how do we know another isn’t? Who gets to choose what is true and what isn’t true in the Bible?
      Your demotion of the Bible from being inerrent creates more problems than it solves and basically imports confusion into people’s lives. God is not the author of confusion, that comes from evil.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Ah, I am beginning to see why you are so confused! You think that when someone wrote a psalm referring to God’s Word as a lamp unto their feet, they were talking about the Bible! Of course, had you actually given even a tiny bit of thought to what you were reading, you would have realized that when the psalmist was writing that, most of what you call “the Bible” had yet to be composed, and that psalm itself was not yet part of a collection known as “the Bible.”

        • Kaz

          @James: For those who accept the notion that there is a category of writings properly called “God’s Word”, that designation could properly be understood to apply to the writer of the Psalm, along with writers who would came later. Whether or not the Psalmist viewed his own writings as inspired doesn’t seem relevant.

      • rmwilliamsjr

        re:
        God’s perfect work.

        is anyone familiar with the historical development of Western ideas about the Bible as Christianity encounters Islam? i know the Quran is thought to be perfect and brought down from heaven, how much of inerrancy/infallibility can be a result of Islamic ideas leaking into Christianity?

        • aaronpxian

          Hm, that’s an interesting idea. From what I understand, innerrancy began to develop in the enlightenment as Protestants sought an authority to counter the Pope as well as to mesh with current philopshical ideas about truth. It Basically ended up being the Catholics saying that the Pope was infallible, and the Evangelicals coming back and saying the bible is “innerrant in the original manuscripts”.

      • Gary

        The Sanity Inspector, “Because these YECs do not worship God. Rather they worship the Bible, which was never supposed to be its role.”….best two line summary I’ve seen. Seems as though the writers of some of the gospels (John 1) had thoughts on “Word”, “light” as Jesus, not the bible. I find it interesting that the evangelicals and fundamentalists worship the bible as inerrant, when a group of Catholic (Universal) bishops decided what went into it and how it is to be interpreted, 300 years after Jesus. If you follow the bible as inerrant, then you are following the Catholic bishops. I’m not knocking the Catholics…I rather like some of their stuff in recent years. But ironic that fundamentalist take the lead from a conclave of bishops in 300 AD. They assume God made the Catholic bishops in 300 AD incapable of errors, at least for that limited window of time. Wonder what’s magic about 300 AD. Amazing. Why not later during the inquisition. Or earlier, when there was no bible in 70 AD. Even the disciples didn’t agree…they kept arguing about which one had the true teachings of Christ correct. I expect that the one that shouted the loudest, or perhaps was the best politician, won out. So the bible reflects the thoughts of the best politicians? That is a scary thought.

        • Duncan Vann

          Not really, Kaz

          It’s a common mistake to suppose that as soon as you hear a prophecy you have to kowtow and accept it as absolutely the word of God. Paul suggests instead that we ought to weigh prophecy, to confirm words that come from God. The bishops didn’t write the scriptures, they continued the biblical process of confirming them. The books had been written long ago by then; and the choice of books very similar (but not identical) in the selections we have before that time. So we’re not following the bishops, but the disciples who witnessed Jesus and wrote about him under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If you like, you too can do as those bishops hopefully did and prove the bible for yourself, by putting it into practice to confirm that it really is the word of God.
          Although I do agree that fundamentally Jesus is the word of God; and the bible is just a reflection of that. That doesn’t mean the NT is in error any more than Moses’ books, just that it hasn’t been completed yet. One day believers will see Jesus face to face and know him fully; and then we won’t need the bible any more, will we?

          • Kaz

            @Duncan: I think that you meant that reply for someone else, as I didn’t address prophecy or Jesus as God’s Word in my comments.

            • Duncan Vann

              Sorry, Kaz it was directed at Gary. No idea why I thought that was from you, I even remember thinking it didn’t seem at all consistent with your other post …

          • Gary

            The bishops didn’t write the gospels. But the bishops didn’t like many of the gospels, like the gospel of Thomas, or any gnostic gospel. Especially because those gospels do not necessarily require a clergy. If that is not political, how about adding Revelation, which is rather crazy, and was used to bolster at first, the Roman Empire as the beast, then after Constantine converted, was used to bolster the attack on any “heresy” from within the church (Catholic/Unversal), “heresy” being anything that differed from the clergy. How about Mark 9:33-34. Even when Jesus was kicking around, the disciples were arguing about who was greater among them. What do you think they did after he was gone. Magically, more gospels than you can shake a stick at. If they had included the Gospel of Thomas, and thrown out the Book of Revelation, you’d have something quite different. Then there’s Paul :-)

          • Gary

            Duncan, probably not worth discussing with me, since I guess you believe Moses actually wrote some books. I think you and I couldn’t really agree on much. Sorry. I still don’t like Irenaeas and Athanasius.

      • Harper Grey

        If the Bible is inerrant, then why does it contradict itself in the first 2 chapters of Genesis (regarding the order of creation)? Why does it claim rabbits chew cud? Why does it claim that all the animals in the world can fit on an ark smaller than a modern cruiseliner?

      • wfraser11

        David, And the slaves and the polygamy, inerrant? The flat earth references, inerrant? Do the rest of the world a favor, learn how to think.
        Its a man made text, written tot reflect the scientific understanding of 2000 years ago(and not even that because the Greeks knew the earth wasn’t flat). As a Christian I find your position odd. And so apparently do the following debnominations with regards to oyyour position on evolution, which you do not have to state for us to know. here they are(Catholic Church and Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran).
        Pray tell. Where or where is your PhD from. I’ve got $50 its not from an accreditted university.
        Get help. Its not inerrant. Its religion. Based on FAITH. look it up.
        In the meantime, stop trashing Christianity with your ignorant rants attacking science.
        Got that DOCTOR ?
        Will Lutheran, Scientist(hint, you’re not), conservative(hint , you’re not), veteran (no way there either)

  • Duncan Vann

    James has picked up on the main part of our Facebook
    conversation and kindly notified me of his blog; but he hasn’t quite put the
    argument as I would. I think David Tee
    grasps point rather better. Let me
    repeat my key comments (from my perspective).
    Then I’ll add some further posts addressing questions like: did God
    create diseases; am I really a YEC; etc.

    So my key comment was as follows:

    The bible sets out a fantastic story
    along the following lines: God creates a good world and entrusts this world to
    men and women, but they sin, creation is corrupted, Jesus brings redemption
    through the cross and resurrection, the future age intrudes into the current
    age, birthing a new and perfected heaven and earth.

    Evolution sets out quite a different
    story, in which sickness, competition, pride, sexual dominance and ultimately
    death are already present in God’s good creation prior to Adam’s sin. To me
    this feels like a trick, to accept sickness etc. as part of the ordinary
    operation of creation, instead of seeing them as enemies of Christ; separating
    his power from our current age.

    James then challenged me to say when God
    created parasites etc. (next post [James I'm summarising a bit here, hope that's ok] …)

    • Kaz

      @Duncan: You said:

      “Evolution sets out quite a different story, in which sickness, competition, pride, sexual dominance and ultimately death are already present in God’s good creation prior to Adam’s sin. To me this feels like a trick, to accept sickness etc. as part of the ordinary operation of creation, instead of seeing them as enemies of Christ; separating his power from our current age.”

      There is another trick that evolution — at least in its purely materialistic form — sets out that should be evident to all thoughtful people, the apprehension of which is not contingent upon accepting the Bible as God’s Word: The preposterous notion that the awe-inspiring design features exhibited by creatures — from the molecular level, to the tissue level, to the organ level, to the systemic and sense levels, etc — came about without the direct interaction of a guiding intelligence.

      • Duncan Vann

        Hi Kaz. Yes I agree, I was focusing on Christians in my arguments, so assuming they probably don’t hold such a materialistic view. Oddly enough granddad made your point over dinner yesterday, quite unaware of my recent discussions.

        • Kaz

          @Duncan: Just to clarify, I actually did have in mind liberal Christians like James who believe that the Bible is the uninspired word of men, not the inspired word of God, and who do favor interpreting the emergence of the many life forms according to the presupposition of materialism. James often promotes “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kenneth Miller, and recommends it as evidence that a Christian can accept a form of evolution that rejects God’s direct hand in the creation of life forms. This quote by Miller, who is here musing about comments made by Stephen Jay Gould which Miller just quoted on the same page, reveals the sort of ideology that such advocates for materialism, including Miller himself, often accept:

          “No question about it. Rewind the tape, let it run again, and events might come out differently at every turn. Surely this means that mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained, that we are here not as the products of an inevitable procession of evolutionary success, but as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out. I agree.” (Finding Darwin’s God), p. 272

          When I see James assert that Christians can accept the form of evolution that Miller promotes, I think he’s jumping the gun. He’s not only denying what any reasonable person should be able to discern, IMO — i.e. that marvels of engineering don’t emerge without the guidance of an intelligent being — but he’s leaving out the fact that in doing so Christians would be transforming their belief system into something radically different, something that may be closer to deism than to biblical Christianity. Now, James may ask “Well, what’s wrong with any of that?” That’s a very good question, and if he has to ask then I would suggest that his recommendation of Miller should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.

          In my opinion Miller does as much to confuse the issues as he does to clarify them. The Dover Trial, for example, was a fiasco, largely because of Miller’s imprecise understanding of ID, which resulted in imprecise testimony. If you’re interested, immunologist Dr. Donald L. Ewert had much to say about this “Masterful Feat of Courtroom Deception”:

          http://intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/entry/2010-12-20T15_01_03-08_00

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Well, it seems we agree that the Dover trial was a fiasco for Intelligent Design, although my own view is that judge Jones was right to declare the “breathtaking inanity” of those who ever since have been shown to be cdesign proponentsists – a transitional form as those who made a creationist textbook tried to update it by turning “creationists” into “design proponents” and failed to accurately select the entire word when cutting and pasting. It was there that Michael Behe was presented with a huge pile of research that he said did not exist, and it was also exposed that a straightforward research project to test his claim about irreducible complexity he had also had no interest in carrying out.

            So the Dover trial exposed Intelligent Design as a fiasco. It was not a fiasco for any other reason that I can see.

            • Kaz

              @James: It was a fiasco for those interested in an unbiased presentation and analysis of the issues. Only those with small minds are impressed by manufactured theatrical moments, such as the one where a stack of papers was plopped in front of Behe in an attempt to show that the evolutionary pathway for the immunity system has been demonstrated. Dr. Ewert is an immunologist who has read the papers, and he’s therefore in an excellent position to get to the truth of that question. When people have to resort to such tactics in a pathetic effort to make a pretense of having refuted Behe, it isn’t ID that stands exposed.

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                I am not as persuaded as you are that everyone is biased except for the proponents of Intelligent Design.

                • Kaz

                  @James: I would say that everyone is biased, without exception. That appears to be part of what it is to be human, particularly if by ‘bias’ we mean that we have presuppositions that bear upon how we assess evidence in favor or against propositions. That’s not what concerns me, as it’s just part of the human dialogue. What concerns me is when those presuppositions are so pronounced that folks resort to deception, whether deliberate or accidental, in an effort to either shore up one’s preferred view or to ‘refute’ the view of one’s opponent. For example, if none of the papers that were plopped down before Behe provide a plausible pathway for the evolution of the immunity system, then people were deceived, were they not? How was that helpful? Because the end justifies the means? Your fellow Christians have been subjected to ridicule because of such deceptions, and everyone, whether they accept ID or not, should find that appalling.

                  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                    And if those papers do provide a plausible pathway for the development of the immune system?

                    I think the only relevant question is whether it is appropriate for those of us who are not working in the natural sciences to reject the overwhelming consensus of those who do, and choose instead a viewpoint which mainstream scientists consistently regard as precisely what you said, a deceitful attempt to shore up their own theological viewpoint with claims about science that even most Christians among biologists and geneticists find specious.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: A scientific consensus is only as good as:

                      1) The arguments that support it;

                      2) The ability of its proponents to answer counter arguments honestly and compellingly;

                      3) The presuppositions upon which the consensus is founded.

                      Since you and I could probably argue until 72 minutes past eternity about #1 and #2, I’ll focus here on #3. You’ve doubtless heard quoted the now famous words of geneticist Richard Lewontin:

                      “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.”

                      See: http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm

                      Lewontin may express the issue more unequivocally than some would be likely to do, but he draws attention to the primary problem with your view that we should all just accept the consensus vis a vis ID/evolution. Lewontin shows that the “consensus” is founded upon an a
                      priori adherence to material causes.

                      To put it more simply: The consensus is founded upon the notion that supernatural causes must be ruled out because to be a scientist means to accept the notion that supernatural causes must be ruled out.

                      In other words, ID is wrong because of a pre-commitment that rules out the possibility that ID is right. THAT’s the foundation of the consensus to which you regularly defer.

                      Now, I can understand why an atheist might be happy to embrace Lewontin’s view that “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in
                      the door”, but I can’t understand why someone who professes to be a Christian would accept this pre-commitment to exclude God. Indeed, I think that all Christians should universally reject any consensus that is founded upon a pre-commitment to exclude God. As Christians our commitment should be to reject such Satanic pre-commitments.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kenneth R. Miller, Gerald L. Schroeder, Francis Collins, and a host of other eminent Christian scientists with (individually or collectively) far more peer reviewed research and publications than Behe would disagree with you that the consensus against ID is “founded upon the notion that supernatural causes must be ruled out.” That is most certainly not position of these scientists.

                      In your quotation from Miller above, you conveniently left out his conclusion:

                      “Case closed?

                      Not so fast. The biological account of lucky historical contingencies leading to our own appearance on this planet is surely accurate. What does not follow is that a perceived lack of inevitability translates into something that we should regard as incompatible with a divine will. To do so shows no lack of scientific understanding, but it seriously underestimates God, even as He is understood by the most conventional of Western religions.” Finding Darwin’s God, page 273

                      . . . later:

                      “Can we really say that no Creator would have chosen an indeterminate, natural process as His workbench to fashion intelligent beings? Gould argues that if we were to go back to the Cambrian era and start over a second time, the emergence of intelligent life exactly 530 million years later would not be certain. I think that he is right, but I also think this is less important than he believes. Is there some reason to expect that the God we know from Western theology had to preordain a timetable for our appearance? After 4.5 billion years, can we be sure He wouldn’t have been happy to wait a few million longer? . . . “, page 274

                      Clearly Miller (nor the many other Christians who support evolutionary science) do not “accept a pre-commitment” to exclude God. They simply reject the lack of evidence for “ID” as proposed by Behe and others.

                      Since you claim to have read such scientists, I can only assume that you are purposefully misrepresenting them.

                    • Kaz

                      You’ve misunderstood the point. I didn’t say that Miller excludes God in the sense that he argues that God doesn’t exist. He and other scientists exclude God’s active participation in the creation of life forms. They have a commitment to the notion that science must exclude supernatural causation if it is to remain “science”. They have a pre-commitment to materialism, and, whether you’d like to concede the point or not, the “consensus” to which James refers is reached largely upheld because of that pre-commitment.

                    • Kaz

                      “Since you claim to have read such scientists, I can only assume that you are purposefully misrepresenting them.”
                      That’s because you not only lack Christian grace as a non-Christian, but you lack humanity. If you don’t like what someone says you immediately impute bad motivations to them. Shame on you.
                      I never said that Miller excluded God in the sense that he contends that God does not exist. That’s not what the presupposition of materialism is about.
                      Can I assume that you are calling Richard Lewontin a liar, too?

                    • Kaz

                      I had said:

                      “In other words, ID is wrong because of a pre-commitment that rules out
                      the possibility that ID is right. THAT’s the foundation of the
                      consensus to which you regularly defer.”

                      I should note that even the above is founded upon a misrepresentation of ID, i.e. an assertion that ID implies a specific designer, whereas the designer is inferred by other arguments. As Michael Behe once noted, none of the irreducibly complex structures he discusses have God’s name stamped on them. The inference that God is the designer has to be substantiated via an argument, and ID as a science doesn’t make that argument. Many advocates of ID may make the argument based on evidence and argumentation that goes beyond the science of ID, but that doesn’t mean that ID as a science promotes a specific source of intelligence.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      If ID is a science, it barely exists as one. It is more commonly referred to as a pseudo-science, most notably perhaps, but a scientist who you quoted in “support” of your views.

                      You have “pulled a fast one” that is common among ID supporters in quoting Richard Lewontin. To be clear Lewontin supports the view that life evolved on this planet through the process of natural selection and related events. He does not support the “pseudo-science of intelligent design” as he puts it.

                      This is a common Discovery Institute tactic. They take out-of-context quotations from eminent scientists who oppose ID, and use them to imply that the quoted scientist supports ID.

                      Shame on you!

                    • Beau Quilter

                      OK, “shame on you!” goes too far. You do quote Lewontin to try to discredit him, after all.

                      But as eminent scientists have said of IDers who wish to debate them, “better for your resume than mine.”

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Or they use the quote to “associate” themselves with better known scientists, even if the scientists mention ID only to refute it.

                    • Kaz

                      You are apparently having a really hard time following the logical flow of the argument. Where did I ever say that Lewontin supports ID? The force of my point was based on the fact that he would not be able to support ID while remaining faithful to the presupposition of materialism that he defined! I quoted Lewontin for the specific reason that I clearly stated in my post, which you’ve somehow managed to miss, completely.

                      Since this endless back and forth over misapprehensions is not productive, and, frankly, just too bloody time consuming, I’m going to ask you to restate the purpose of my last post to James. What was my primary point? Why did I quote Lewontin? What did I use the Lewontin quote to underscore?

                      Once I can see that you understand the point I made, then I’ll be happy to address any substantive comments or criticisms you have to offer in relation to said point.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      No need, Kaz, I sincerely apologize.

                      I don’t think that a presupposition of materialism is what keeps the consensus of scientists (especially Christian scientists) from accepting ID ideas.

                      But more importantly at the moment, you are right that I did not read your post at all thoroughly and jumped to a wrong and rather scornful conclusion.

                      I should behave better in comments. I am sorry for my rudeness, and you were quite right to chastise me.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Thank you for the apology. These sorts of discussions often get off track and lead to irritations and frustrations, and I’m not free from blame for occasionally contributing to such breakdowns in communication.

                      The presupposition of materialism may not be the obstacle in every case, but it is at the heart of the problem. You’re right that some Christian scientists may have other reasons for rejecting ID. Francisco Ayala, for example, has made it clear that he rejects ID because he believes that if ID is true, then God is a monster. That’s not a scientific bases for rejecting ID, though, and it clearly seems to be based on ill-conceived philosophical assumptions.

            • Kaz

              I should probably point out that the question about whether any school should be required to teach ID is not something about which I’m concerned one way or the other. I can’t see any reason why a school shouldn’t be permitted to teach ID if they choose to do so, particularly if they can demonstrate that the teacher has a better understanding of the subject than one typically finds from the uninitiated and from ID’s critics, but I also wouldn’t argue that it should be a required part of the school’s curriculum.

              My concern is with issues such as the use of theatrics to try and buffalo folks into thinking that Behe was refuted, when the reality is apparently quite the contrary. According to immunologist Donald L. Ewert, it is just as Behe contended in court, i.e. that stack of papers simply didn’t address his arguments.

              • Beau Quilter

                Kaz

                The stack of immunologists who wrote that stack of papers would disagree.

                • Kaz

                  @Beau: Thank you for that helpful contribution to the dialogue.

                  • Beau Quilter

                    Your welcome!

                    Just pointing out the obvious.

              • Beau Quilter

                You should also be aware that there is no such thing as a theory of intelligent design. Behe et alia have no scientific theory. (They would tell you the same thing themselves). They only propose to prove that it is impossible for evolution to produce certain biological systems. And their actual scientific research to support this proposition is miniscule. And their predictions keep getting disproven. Behe has to continuously update his statements about such systems about the bacterial flagellum, the immune system, and the blood clotting system, because his statements are continuously being demonstrated as false. Simpler flagellum and related cellular organs are shown to operate with few working parts than Behe asserted were necessary. Animals are shown to have working blood clotting systems with fewer factors than Behe asserted were necessary.

                His “irreducible complexity” has been shown, time and again, to be simply a matter of irreducible imagination on his own part. Fortunately, evolution is demonstrates more flexibility and power than Behe’s mind.

                I think that Ken Miller, Gerard Schroeder, Francis Collins and others would say that God has more flexibility and power than Behe’s mind.

                • Kaz

                  @Beau: You’re wrong on all accounts, I’m afraid. But I don’t want to get sidetracked right now. It is important to me that you grasp the point I made in my last post to James, so before I address further misapprehensions on your part, I want to see that you’ve come to understand the point I made. Can you please restate my point in your own words? Why did I quote Lewontin? What do his words underscore vis a vis my argument?

                  • Beau Quilter

                    Again, I am sorry for my rudeness.

                    I was wrong in jumping to the conclusion that you were quoting Lewontin to promote ID. Instead, (and correct me if I am wrong) you were quoting Lewontin to demonstrate that he rules out supernatural causes in any scientific explanation of phenomena. As he says, “we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” You then suggest, I think, that though other scientists may not state this as explicitly as Lewontin, the general consensus of scientists that argue against Intelligent Design (as espoused by Behe, Dembski, and others) would share this materialist commitment with Lewontin, and are, therefore, biased against ID.

                    I think you later point out that ID science does not propose a particular god or source as the intelligence behind ID phenomena.

                    If I’m wrong on any of these particulars about your point of view, please correct.

                    In the meantime, a quick question. Regarding your second point about the source of ID, William Dembski has said (in making the same point) that the intelligence behind ID could conceivably be a race of advanced aliens – ID science does not presuppose a particular intelligence. My question then is this: given that the source of intelligence is not defined by ID science, how does ID science differ from science that has a presupposition of materialism?

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: You asked:

                      “My question then is this: given that the source of intelligence is not
                      defined by ID science, how does ID science differ from science that has a
                      presupposition of materialism?”

                      Because it doesn’t have a pre-commitment to rule out intelligent causation in the emergence of life forms as a controlling presupposition. ID advocates typically state that science should go where the evidence leads, and that people should be free to discuss problems with the current consensus without fear of negative repercussions, such as loosing teaching positions or being denied tenure. Indeed, until more scientists in the related fields begin to embrace the growing dissent from Darwinism, particularly in reference to its grander claims, scientific progress in that area will be delayed.

                      Now I have a question for you: Do you believe that humans are capable of detecting or inferring when intelligent causation is involved? If not, why not? If so, then what methodology would you propose for making such detections/inferences?

                      How many people would be able to assemble an outboard motor without instructions? Of those who could — and I have a friend who can do such things — what would they depend upon when completing such a task?

                    • Beau Quilter

                      I don’t think that the detection of intelligent causation has been a priority in very many sciences simply because it hasn’t been necessary. Occasionally, in archaeology, scientists spend some time trying to determine whether a sharp piece of flint occurred naturally, or was designed by a human as an arrowhead, but for the most part, archaeological finds are intuitively made by humans, and archaeologists don’t require formulas to determine whether intelligence was responsible for a piece of pottery.

                      Of the examples that William Dembski uses, the most pertinent are crime detection (in which a criminal may purposefully attempt to, for example, make a murder look like an accident) and the SETI project which seeks for intelligent life through messages in radio waves. I don’t think that crime detection is a very good parallel to ID, and nobody yet knows whether the SETI project has developed a process that can or will actually work.

                      When you apply the concept of nonhuman intelligent causation to phenomena in the universe, historically humans have had a bias toward the supernatural. For thousands of years, humans have assumed that anything in the natural world for which they could not find a natural explanation, must be attributed to the gods. Phenomena such tides, storms, volcanoes, the movements of the spheres, etc. were all assigned to God or the gods. Periodically religious institutions will “give way” to scientific pursuit and allow natural explanations for phenomena previously attributed to God, but more often religious institutions seek to limit scientific discovery. This is why, during the renaissance, men like Copernicus and Galileo either had to publish their findings after their deaths or face church persecution. The church at that time felt that a geocentric view of the universe was in opposition to the Bible.

                      Today, many (but not all) Christians feel that an evolutionary view of the universe is in opposition to the Bible. Catholics are generally accepting of evolution, but the previous Pope famously asked physicists not to search for answers beyond the Big Bang, because, for him, the Big Bang was the moment of creation, attributable only to God.

                      So my answer to the question “do you believe that humans are capable of detecting or inferring when intelligent causation is involved?”

                      I think that a yes or no answer would be wrong. Humans are capable of “detecting” human intelligent causation, though it’s really only necessary in cases of crime or a few instances in archaeology. More often what we are really detecting is a human tool – the scrape of a stone knife or a bit of gunpowder residue. In both cases, we rarely use a scientific formula, and we can be wrong. In the case of supernatural intelligent causation, humans have been incorrectly ascribing supernatural intelligent causation to natural phenomena for thousands of years. So IF there were such a thing as supernatural intelligent causation, I don’t think humans have a very good track record of correctly “detecting it”. That’s a big IF, by the way. Your question assumes either supernatural or superhuman (advanced space aliens?) intelligent causation, otherwise you would say “when and/or if intelligent causation is involved?”

                      Now I do understand that ID science tries a different approach, by trying to formulate a system for detecting intelligence via Behe’s irreducible complexity, and Dembski’s formulas (which rely on Behe’s IC detection first). However, it has been clearly demonstrated that Behe’s notion of irreducible complexity is flawed and impossible to prove. And in the few biological systems to which Behe has attributed IC, he has been shown to be incorrect. For example, after Behe posited that removing one protein from a bacterial flagellum would break the system, scientists have shown flagellum with far fewer proteins in addition to closely related cellular systems that have other functions. Behe also posited that the removal of one factor from our blood clotting system would break the system. Yet there are animals that do, actually, have working blood clotting systems with fewer factors. This has all been documented in peer review. Behe always argues that such research doesn’t answer his basic premises, but what he fails to admit is that his original examples of irreducibly complex systems have been proven wrong. He has yet to show that his notion of IC can be demonstrably proven to exist in a known biological system.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Where are you getting your information, Beau? Have you read any literature from the proponents of ID, or do you only read their critics?

                      I only have time right now to address two points. You said:

                      “For example, after Behe posited that removing one protein from a
                      bacterial flagellum would break the system, scientists have shown
                      flagellum with far fewer proteins in addition to closely related
                      cellular systems that have other functions.”

                      Can you provide the reference where Behe asserted that removing a single protein from the flagellum would break the system? I’m not asserting that you’re mistaken, but I’ve followed his work, including both of his books, his online answers to critics, and his debates and lectures, and I can’t recall ever seeing that claim from him. I certainly could have missed it or seen it and forgotten, but from my observations he asserted that removing one of parts (not an individual protein) would break the system. Behe identified a function, motility, and argued that if you remove one of the parts of the flagellum, that function is lost. He didn’t argue that individual parts of the flagellum couldn’t perform other functions in other contexts.

                      You further said:

                      “Behe also posited that the removal of one factor from our blood clotting
                      system would break the system. Yet there are animals that do, actually,
                      have working blood clotting systems with fewer factors.”

                      What your source apparently left out is that the animals that have been referred to by Miller and others are not missing the particular components that Behe identified as the core of the clotting system that he argues is irreducibly complex. Behe made it clear 17 years ago in Darwin’s Black Box what parts of the blood clotting cascade comprise the part that he considers irreducibly complex:

                      “Leaving aside the system before the
                      fork in the pathway, where some details are less well known, the
                      blood-clotting system fits the definition of irreducible complexity…

                      …The components of the system (beyond the fork in the pathway) are fibrinogen, prothrombin, stuart factor, and proaccelerin.”
                      (p. 86)

                      For further clarification, see:

                      http://www.discovery.org/a/14081

                      This is what I’ve been complaining about, Beau. Miller and others construct straw man after straw man and refute them instead of answering the arguments Behe actually offers.

                      I don’t personally claim to know whether the blood clotting cascade or the bacterial flagellum are irreducibly complex, nor do I think that ID stands or falls on that concept. To my mind there is something that even more obviously points to the activity of a mind: The instructions that put the structures together in the first place. As I asked, how many people could put a boat motor together without instructions, and, of those who can, what do they relay upon to complete the task?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I hope this won’t interrupt the conversation that you and Beau are having, which I appreciate immensely and have been following with much interest. But I did want to say that I appreciate your last point, and think that it gets at one of the reasons I find the debates over Intelligent Design unhelpful. On the one hand, the most serious proponents of ID have acknowledged that there isn’t a full-fledged science of intelligent design – not that there could not be, but just that more work would have to be done in order to reach that point. And on the other, it seems as though there is more widespread agreement that there is something at least awe-inspiring and mysterious about the nature of the universe, which has fundamental laws and workings which make the appearance of life and its development possible. And so I wonder whether Christians who focus on something that the vast majority of molecular biologists find unpersuasive, rather than something that most physicists will acknowledge is amazing and some see as pointers to a Mind that precedes or underpins the cosmos, it does not in fact do more harm than good.

                      Again, I hope that this comment won’t disrupt the flow of your conversation with Beau – if it seems like it will, please feel free to ignore it.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: Don’t worry, your comments aren’t an “interruption”;-)

                      I think that the debates over ID are sorely needed at this point in history, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the observation that it clearly appears to be true. If someone can make a compelling case that intelligent causation is behind the emergence of life, which ID advocates have, IMO, then I for one want that information presented to all who will hear it. This not only serves the important objective of testing ID, but of testing the complacent consensus.

                      About the “consensus”, you’ve again appealed to it to justify opposing or ignoring ID, yet I’ve tried to demonstrate that it’s founded upon a two-pronged presupposition:

                      1) To be a scientist means that you are only allowed to infer material causes (i.e. God is to be ruled out as a precondition);

                      2) The only plausible source of intelligence that could be responsible for the emergence of life is God, and therefore to infer intelligence vis a vis life is ipso facto to infer a creator God, which is religion, not science.

                      Since the consensus exists because ID is ruled out as a precondition, appealing to the consensus to discredit ID is circular.

                      Furthermore, whether one ultimately decides to reject the proposition that ID is “science” has nothing to do with the much more interesting and important question: Is ID true? Because science has been raised to a place on par with the deities, many people assume that if they can demonstrate that ID is not science, then they’ve thereby also shown that it’s an unworthy intellectual pursuit, which obviously doesn’t logically follow.

                      FYI, you might find this article interesting:

                      http://www.frame-poythress.org/is-intelligent-design-science/

                      Studying ID has helped re-animate my own sense of wonder and
                      appreciation for the myriad cases of awe-inspiring design in nature. The more I learn, the more I can appreciate the words of immunologist Donald L. Ewert, who said:

                      “All I’ve studied and researched over
                      the past 30 years has only strengthened my belief that nothing makes
                      sense in biology apart belief in an intelligent being who has created
                      us. Those who do not believe in an intelligent being must go to
                      great extents to rationalize that what they see as design is not the
                      product of intelligence.”

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      It seems to me that, if there is to be a scientific investigation of design, meeting the rigorous standards of the natural sciences, then it should not bypass the academy and engage in a campaign to sway the public to its cause before taking the same arduous route that all scientific work must follow. There have been credible scientists who’ve suggested that life could have come from elsewhere, perhaps even being deliberately seeded. If one or more scientists had come together to work on how to detect such design and then whether it can be detected, and published their work in the appropriate venues, I don’t think that it would have caused the consternation that the ideological approach to ID outlined in the infamous wedge document has had, aiming not to test and evaluate its claims scientifically but to advocate and promulgate them.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: What if the mindset of the majority who comprise “the academy” define what “science” is and isn’t according to a set of presuppositions that ensures that ID will continue to be ruled out as a precondition, which is what I’ve tried to demonstrate is the case? It isn’t as though proponents of ID can just tighten up their arguments to make them more compelling and thereby win over the opposition. As long as the two presuppositions I’ve highlighted remain firmly in place, it won’t matter how compelling the case for ID can be made by those leading the movement.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      If they are going to make the case for changing the definition of science, when science has served us so effectively, then that too needs to be made in the appropriate manner, in the realm of philosophy of science. The public at large is not well poised to evaluate the relevant issues and competing claims, are they?

                      But I wonder what you would say in response, were I to point out that objections to materialistic and naturalistic explanations could have been and were offered against Newton and Einstein and all the other scientists whose work eliminated the need for divine intervention where they were previously assumed to be required, such as in the orbits of planets – whether in terms of their motions or in terms of slight adjustments to keep them in line.

                      The ID stance looks a lot like an attempt to insist on the need for interventions, at a time when the approach of methodological naturalism that has served science so well seems to be producing important results. I don’t see the need for it, and I don’t see that it is helpful for those interested in relating their faith to the work of the natural sciences.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: First, any definition that has arbitrary philosophical elements that unnecessarily shutdown potentially fruitful inquiry should probably be refined. Second, and more importantly, in this case scientists wouldn’t even have to give up the definition; they’d merely have to abandon the non-scientific insistence that “intelligent cause” vis a vis biological design is equivalent with “God”. That equation comes from philosophical apprehensions that are outside of the scope of science, yet I would argue that it is the primary prong upon which the exclusion of ID is sustained.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      But let me return us to our original point. Is this a matter in which those with ideological aims ought to be allowed to either redefine science from the outside, or bypass science as currently practiced? Is there any sense in which anyone other than those who work in the natural sciences, and those who do that and reflect on its methods philosophically, can or should be the ones to decide what is or is not science? I think this is a fair question to ask about every discipline, from physics to history. Would not any legitimate change need to take place from within, and would it not, in order to be legitimate, have to show that it is producing valid results?

                    • Kaz

                      @James: It isn’t a matter of redefining science; it’s a matter of getting those who form the consensus to recognize that the 2nd prong that is used to sustain the rejection of ID is not based in science.

                      Tell me, is the following a scientific statement or a philosophical one:

                      “Since the only intelligent cause that could plausibly account for the appearance of design in biology is a creator God, an inference to intelligent causation is therefore ipso facto an inference to God, which is religion, not science.”

                      Think carefully before answering.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I do not think it is either, since we have clear evidence of how evolution involving natural processes can result in “designoid” features. Without any addition clarifying what is meant by design and how it is to be distinguished from things that look designed but are not, I would view it as unworthy of both a scientist and a philosopher, if written in the present day. It also seems to be logically problematic, since as even many design proponents point out, unless one means by design something that no biological organism could produce, then there is no necessary God inference. And indeed, that is part of the problem, is it not? Unless one is looking for signs of design in our biology that was presumably carried out by other biological entities, then what could we possibly conclude? Do we have any way to know what a non-biological entity that allegedly can work through natural processes would or could produce, and whether it would be distinguishable from the product of natural processes? Is there the possibility that to assume so might introduce a false antithesis?

                    • Kaz

                      @James: So you are asserting that the following statement is neither philosophical nor scientific:

                      “Since the only intelligent cause that could plausibly account for the
                      appearance of design in biology is a creator God, an inference to
                      intelligent causation is therefore ipso facto an inference to God, which
                      is religion, not science.”

                      Be forewarned that I’m going to quote you;-)

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I hope you are not going to engage in the despicable and underhanded tactics for which proponents of ID are notorious. I am giving you my impression of a brief quotation, given without context. I have no way of telling from it whether any of the points that cause me concern might or might not have been addressed in the preceding or following sentence.

                      Such games with quotes are one of the reasons that ID has such a poor reputation. Do you really want merely to reinforce that impression?

                    • Kaz

                      @James: No, James, I’m not engaged in despicable or underhanded tactics, but you are certainly showing a willingness to impute ill motivations to people just because you don’t like what they are saying.

                      The sentence was created by me to capture part of the ideology that is behind the consensus that ID is not science. If I was quoting a specific person then I’d have named him/her.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      I don’t think that your statement is representative of the consensus that ID is not science. The array of scientists who find fault with the few publications in ID science range widely from atheists to conservative Christians. Their personal feelings about the relation between God and science vary about as far as it is possible to vary. But their criticisms are focused on the short-comings of ID science efforts.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Hi Kaz

                      Great dialogue between you and James. I’m sorry I dropped out of the conversation. Some time passed between my last post and your follow-up, so that I missed when the conversation started up again.

                      I see a problem with your basic premises:”To be a scientist means that you are only allowed to infer material causes (i.e. God is to be ruled out as a precondition)”
                      and”Since the consensus exists because ID is ruled out as a precondition, appealing to the consensus to discredit ID is circular.”
                      I know that you began by quoting a scientist who ruled out the “supernatural”, but most critical reviews of ID take issue with errors in the research, not with a presumption of the supernatural. In fact, ID science itself claims not presume the supernatural – only to look for signs of intelligent causation, and, as Dembski has pointed out, ID science does not rule out intelligent causation by advanced civilizations. ID scientists actually do their best not to presume the supernatural; this is one of their main arguments for getting ID science into classrooms as something that does not “promote religion”.The most important aspect of scientific consensus, however, is not presumption, but has always been repeated experimentation or observation. For a valid theory to hold ground, one experiment or observation is never enough. Experimental results must be replicated again and again by different scientists. Observations must be made by multiple researchers working in a variety of situations. This is the real value of scientific consensus: replicated results performed by numerous researchers. This is what ID science lacks. Rather than coming up with results confirmed by numerous researchers in the same field, Behe (are their any other ID biologists?) finds his results contradicted by numerous researchers in the same field – as does Dembski. David Wolpert, one of the mathematicians behind the No Free Lunch Theorems wrote a critique titled “William Dembski’s Treatment of the No Free Lunch Theorems is Written in Jello”, in which he had much to criticize in Dembski’s math, but nothing to say about God or the supernatural. The biologists who criticize Behe have much more to say about his few IC examples and how they fail to be irreducible, than about Behe’s religion.ID promoters often talk about the “Theory of Intelligent Design”, but ID scientists, when prodded, will admit that there is no actual scientific “theory of intelligent design” only a general field of research. That research is miniscule, when compared to the wealth of research available in all other fields of biology, supporting scientific theories that have earned their place in our public education.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I have yet to see Behe’s arguments from Darwin’s Black Box refuted by any scientific researcher, so I can’t concede your point.

                      If Darwinism is “science” then there is a scientific theory of intelligent design, because ID is founded upon the same scientific methodology that Darwin himself used, which can go by the name “Inference to the best explanation” or “multiple competing hypotheses”.

                      I note that you said the following:

                      “For a valid theory to hold ground, one experiment or observation is
                      never enough. Experimental results must be replicated again and again by
                      different scientists. Observations must be made by multiple researchers
                      working in a variety of situations. This is the real value of
                      scientific consensus: replicated results performed by numerous
                      researchers. This is what ID science lacks.”

                      What you don’t seem to realize is that what you’ve stated above is what Darwinism itself lacks vis a vis its larger claims. Darwinism vis a vis macroevolution is nothing more than a hodgepodge of “just so” stories that are untested, untestable, and, frankly, preposterous!

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      Even Behe would admit that Darwin’s Black Box is not a scientific treatise on the level of peer-reviewed research. It is a book about Behe’s scientific ideas written for a popular audience. Even so it has been critically refuted by numerous scientists including Kenneth Miller, Joe Catalano, Peter Atkins, David Ussery, Richard Thornhill, Robert L. Dorit, Keith Robison, H. Allen Orr, Jerry A. Coyne, and Francis Collins among many others.

                      So when you say that you have yet to see Behe’s arguments refuted, you either have not read these scientists or you don’t think they have successfully refuted Behe. May I suggest that unless you have done the former (read them) you cannot evaluate the latter (their refutation). I might also suggest that, unless you are a biologist, you are ill-equipped to evaluate the latter.

                      The vast majority of biologists would disagree with your last statement. The evolutionary branching observed by over a hundred years of fossil research are being continuously confirmed by parallel branching seen in genetic research.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Have I not made it clear that I’ve considered the counterarguments and found that they are based on straw men?

                      What experiments have been conducted showing that a fish can become a bird, or a mouse a man?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Speaking of straw men, you are repeating classic creationist canards that indicate a profound misunderstanding of evolution. A fish into a bird, or a mouse into a man? Is this deliberate misrepresentation, or misunderstanding on your part? Either way it is disappointing that, despite our past interactions, you seem not to have read anything basic about biology that would help you understand, or otherwise are deliberately claiming that mainstream biology says something other than it does.

                      As for testing, the same tests that are used to determine paternity can also be used to determine relationships at greater distances, and thus we can work out precisely what the relationship is between humans, mice, birds, and fish. That is why Francisco Ayala says that, despite what anti-scientific creationists keep saying, there are no longer any gaps in our ability to reconstruct the tree of life connecting living things, since we no longer rely on inferences from piecemeal paleontological evidence and homology.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: You’d like your readers to think that I have a defective understanding of evolution, because that gives you a way out of the difficult problems I’ve presented to you. Sorry, bud, I don’t intimidate that easily. Noting can help you escape the fact that you reject ID based on circular argumentation. The mouse to a man, fish to a bird statement was sarcasm based on past claims I’ve personally encountered from evolutionists.

                      But I’m happy to be enlightened. Tell me what specific creatures preceded man, and what specific mutations/selections caused man to emerge from that/those predecessor(s). Further tell me what creatures directly preceded the creatures that preceded man, and what specific mutations/selections effected those transition(s). If there is no direct predecessor to man or to other creatures because everything that ever lived was itself a transitional form, as two evolutionists once asserted, then provide the specific mutations and selections that caused the transitions from those who proceeded in whatever indirect why this view finds sensible.

                      You can’t, James. All you can do is rely upon current interpretations in the field of genetics, a science that is in its early stages, and which has new findings almost monthly that either disprove or further qualify previous ones.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      And since all those results fit well within the evolutionary paradigm, or result in improvements to it, don’t you think that your statements about what scientists supposedly cannot do are premature? What evidence we have clearly points towards an evolutionary understanding, and there is much more still to be done. Mapping every genetic change is obviously still in the future, since it is only relatively recently that we mapped the entire human genome. But some data is already available, such as the Denisovians’ sharing of the chromosomal fusion that is one of the distinctives of our own lineage among the primates.

                      http://biologos.org/blog/denisovans-humans-and-the-chromosome-2-fusion

                      The amount of information available is ever-increasing, and I suggest that you acquire it directly from biologists and geneticists rather than mediated by a Biblical scholar. And I would encourage you to do what you made sound like an accusation rather than a compliment. There is nothing better that a non-biologist can do than to rely on the current consensus of experts in that field.

                    • Kaz

                      @James: Really? How does the fact that the DNA molecule contains more information than is contained in every book ever published in the U.S. fit within the evolutionary paradigm? Curious minds want to know;-)

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Are you asking about the origin of life? Clearly once the self-replicating molecules that are found in all living things existed, they were able to chamge and develop through mutations, duplications, and other processes which are evidenced throughout the genomes of related living organisms as well as between living and extinct ones where DNA has been recovered. Do not forget that this information is found in an “alphabet” of only four letters, in which all “words” have three letters, and every combination of letters means something. It is impressive in its flexibility and its capacity to give rise to “endless forms most wonderful” from simpler beginnings. But surely either you know this, in which case I don’t know why you are asking, or you don’t know this, in which case you should really read about contemporary genetics, evo-devo and other topics before engaging in public discussions of science. But perhaps you choose to discuss with people who are not biologists because they are targets liable to trip up or run out of answers where experts in these fields would not?

                    • Kaz

                      @James: In other words, you don’t know;-)

                      As to your repeated imputations of ill motivations, they are unbecoming, and perhaps say much more about you then they do about me.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      The only way to make sense of your request that a Biblical scholar list all genetic changes and their effects is to impute motives to you…

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      i’d appreciate you walking me through the math of this claim. it does not seem at all correct. but the knowledge is in the details which in this case is the math. so, please “show your work” i’d like to understand this math.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      To the sorts of challenges you present: “Tell me what specific creatures preceded man, and what specific mutations/selections caused man to emerge”, evolutionary biologists have presented and continue to find plentiful evidence; but asking biologists to identify every mutation that ever occurred is tantamount to asking astronomers to identify every star that ever blinked into existence. It is what you call a “straw man.”

                      More to the point, does ID science do better? Take a look at Behe’s website. He states: “My current research involves delineation of design and natural selection in protein structures.” So even Behe, the authority that you subscribe to, says that he is trying to figure out which protein structures are the result of natural selection and which are the result of design.

                      I’ve already noted in my former comment that Behe believes in common descent, and so your challenge would be as applicable to him as it would be to any biologist. At Behe’s level of research, one organism at a time (and very little of it appears in peer reviewed publication), even giving ID science the benefit of a doubt in it’s one-off conclusions, ID science is farther away from answering your challenge than evolutionary science.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I have yet to encounter a biologist who has provided specific demonstrable evidence of specific mutations that effected the transition from one form to another. To clarify, I’m not talking about “just-so stories”, but about specific genetic mutations and selections that occurred and combined to effect major transitions. As far as I’m aware, science has documented precisely zero of these. This is why I keep telling James that Neo-Darwinism has the explanatory power of a bumper sticker, because it can’t tell us what specific mutations/selections occurred to effect major transitions in the past, nor can it anticipate what specific mutations/selections will occur in the future, and what creatures will result.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I would recommend any of Sean Carroll’s books from a few years back which provide lots of concrete examples of the sort you ask for, in a manner accessible to a general audience.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      James gives the best suggestion here. If you’d like to read about the evidence of specific mutations, the Carroll book is really excellent!

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I have both of the books by Carroll that James recommended to me previously. What specific examples do you believe Carrol provides that meet the specific request I made?

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      in general his argument is that control and mutation of the hox gene sets gives variation on body plans. you can get lots of scientific detail by googling “hox gene evolution body plans”. the bottom line is the extraordinary “amount” of change a SNiP can cause in a homeobox gene.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      While experimentation does show evolutionary change in small time frames, the biological forces that result in change over millions of years, like the tectonic forces that move continents over millions of years, are supported by the wealth of evidence that has been left behind.

                      Perhaps, on this question, you would trust the opinion of the biologist who made the following statement:

                      “Despite some remaining puzzles, there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives.” – Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution

                      Further on in the text, Behe says:

                      “The bottom line is this. Common descent is true; yet the explanation of common descent—even the common descent of humans and chimps—although fascinating, is in a profound sense trivial. It says merely that commonalities were there from the start, present in a common ancestor. It does not even begin to explain where those commonalities came from, or how humans subsequently acquired remarkable differences. Something that is nonrandom must account for the common descent of life.”

                      Of course, what any evolutionary biologist would tell you is that natural selection is not a random process. Even Behe concedes that natural selection takes place; he just thinks (contrary to the vast majority of biologists) that natural selection can’t explain all of common descent.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: None of that answers the point I made, Beau. You made a specific assertion about how only testable propositions are “science” yet Darwin’s larger claims are not testable. If you are now conceding that, as a historical science, Darwinism must be evaluated by a different methodology, then you are conceding that testability is not in fact the only methodology that is appropriate for evaluating historical sciences. Since ID is based on the same methodology that Darwin used, it cannot be ruled out because it is perceived to be untestable.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      Here’s a website from the National Center for Science Education that corrects the common misconception about so called “historical science” that you’ve expressed:

                      http://ncse.com/creationism/analysis/historical-science-vs-experimental-science

                      Scientific observation often has the same evidentiary value as laboratory experimentation. Consider the astronomical observation of starlight bending around the gravitational pull of the sun that verified Einstein’s theory of relativity.

                      Evolutionary theory is indeed testable: As Haldane once said “fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.”

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Stephen Meyer documents his case that he used the same scientific methodology that Darwin used when constructing his argument that intelligent causation is the best explanation for the information in the DNA molecule. Have you read Meyer’s book?

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Stephen Meyer is a philosopher, not a scientist.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I didn’t ask what Stephen Meyer is; I asked if you’d read his book wherein he documents that his argument for ID is based on the same methodology that Darwin used. Have you? The philosophy of science entails understanding the various methods used by scientists.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      No, I haven’t. Have you read any of Sean Carroll’s books documenting evolutionary biology?

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Yes, at James’s recommendation. I would highly recommend that you take the time to read Signature in the Cell. Whether you agree with Meyer’s primary argument or not, you’ll probably come away with a better understanding of ID.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      James and Kaz

                      If the opportunity presents itself, perhaps we should continue this discussion on another post.

                      I’m having a lot of trouble keeping up with our comments, which have been answered, which have not, etc. The indentation only occurs at one level.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I’ve said what I have to say, so I’m content to let the discussion end here.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Yeah, I think we’ve come to an impasse. Perhaps we can revisit some of these topics in a later post.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz, I have a question for you, now.

                      But first I’d like to apologize again. I looked again at some of your responses to me, and I realize that I was not only wrong about a point that you were making – I was wrong and mean-spirited to attribute bad intentions or intentions to deceive to you. Again, you were completely right to chastise me. Shame on me!

                      So even though I still disagree with your assessment of ID science, I completely agree with your assessment of my snide comments!

                      Now my question. Part of what you are arguing is that the consensus of scientists have a prior bias against supernatural explanations of phenomena.

                      But outside of religious contexts (mythologies, sacred texts, religious traditions), what do you mean by “supernatural”. It seems to me that if science detects a phenomena, that phenomena is “natural”. I have heard one definition of the supernatural as phenomena not detectable by science, but if that is the case, then how can ID science detect it?

                      What is your definition of supernatural?

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: Sorry for taking so long to
                      reply to your questions, but my online time seems to come in spurts.

                      I’m not suggesting that science should be able
                      to investigate the supernatural; I’m suggesting that they should be
                      willing to infer intelligent causation if that’s where the evidence
                      leads. But most scientists won’t do that, because they
                      apprehend that if intelligence is the cause of design in biology,
                      then God is the most plausible source of that intelligence.
                      They then conflate “intelligent cause” with “God”,
                      and thereby dismiss ID as non-science or pseudoscience.

                      As I
                      mentioned previously via paraphrasing Michael Behe, none of the
                      irreducibly complex structures in living systems have God’s name
                      stamped on them. That God is the source of intelligence must be
                      determined by way of argumentation, and ID doesn’t offer that
                      argumentation. ID proponents may offer such argumentation, but
                      when they do so they are speaking from the standpoint of philosophy,
                      not from standpoint of ID science.

                    • Beau Quilter

                      Kaz

                      I understand you, but I don’t agree that “most scientists” dismiss ID because they conflate “intelligent cause” with “God”. Though some scientists argue with this philosophical stance of ID scientists (certainly not all or even most), their critiques address the scientific proposals of ID, very specifically.

                    • Kaz

                      @Beau: I don’t think that “most” scientists have formally critiqued ID, so I’m not sure what your basis is for making the above claim.

              • Beau Quilter

                Again, let me begin sheepishly with an apology for my rude misreading of your points about Lewontin.

                However, I don’t think that the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial was unfair to the ID movement.

                The textbook in question, Of Pandas and People was clearly and (as it turns out) badly altered to merely replace creationism references with ID references. This is indisputable.

                Further, though I threw out rather lightly the comment “the stack of immunologists who wrote that stack of papers would disagree”, my point still stands. As the National Center for Science Education has pointed out (truthfully, verifiably), hundreds of scientists have worked on the evolution of the immune system and “any one of these researchers has quietly produced more research results than the entirety of the intelligent design movement”.

                Contrary to this fact, Behe stated in Darwin’s Black Box “We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system.” The “stack of papers” presented at the trial clearly refuted him. And Behe had to admit, on the stand, that he had read not read most of them.

                The NCSE documents the research that was presented at the trial, all carefully selected and demonstrating vastly more research than Behe has ever published. Behe and Ewert have said that the research does not address his arguments, but far more biologists have concluded the opposite.

    • Duncan Vann

      (2) So I was challenged to say when God made diseases and
      parasites.

      My main point here is that we should distinguish between
      God’s good creation and the consequences of sin. On Facebook I used the following illustration
      (although I’ve rewritten rather than quoted it here):

      Suppose my little boy rushes out into the road and I grab
      him quickly and yank him back. Then he
      complains that I’ve hurt him. Is that a
      punishment, a natural consequence of his actions or even a gracious
      restraint? He think’s he’s hurt because
      of my actions; but I think it’s down to his own stupidity and disobedience
      (although I am not a perfect father as God is).
      Anyway it’s much better than what’s going to happen if I let him carry
      on running across roads.

      I’m not very clear on precisely how disease, parasites and
      thistles arose. Scientifically: did they
      develop from the original perfect creation, or did God create them, or what? Morally: to what extent should we view them
      as a judgment, a natural consequence or a grace?

      But what I am clear about is that sickness, death etc. do
      not reflect God’s goodness in his original creation, but the corruption of sin
      (mitigated by God’s grace).

      This raises the question though, if I don’t have a more
      detailed view about how micro-organisms arose, can I properly represent a YEC
      position and should I be disagreeing with scientists who have looked into these
      issues in more detail (next post)

    • Duncan Vann

      (3) So why am I responding as a YEC without backing up my
      response with more detailed scientific arguments?

      I began by responding to James’ original post where he objects
      to YECs (well one YEC, Ken Ham) calling him, secularist; but I can see on his
      own blog that he calls the YEC perspective anti-Christian.

      Christians who believe in evolution tend to dismiss YEC as a
      weird and unhelpful view; and accept atheists as having a much more reasonable
      viewpoint. James goes further than most
      Christians I know; and seems to require a detailed logical argument as a justification
      for faith [and I’d be interested to hear from James as to whether this reflects
      his wider viewpoint fairly, as we’ve been focused on the creation debate].

      I also hear quite a lot of talk to the effect that YECs
      don’t accept others as proper Christians (I haven’t knowingly met anyone with that
      viewpoint this millennium, but I live in England where YECs are rare).

      Now Moses wrote about Jesus; and the Genesis account begins
      to tell us about those things that matter:
      God’s good creation; why things don’t work; why people die; God’s hatred
      of sin, sickness and death; his mission to bring release from oppression and
      restore creation. Why would I give up on
      such precious truth and love, even if evolution were to offer a better
      explanation for the formation of chalk cliffs?

      So the Christian creation debate does not belong to those
      with the best scientific explanation; nor to those who believe as I do that God
      made the world in six days; but to those who love God and share his mission
      through faith. (And I accept the need to
      also debate with those who don’t believe, but I’m not addressing that point
      here).

      This does raise the question though: does scripture, does
      our faith require us to take a particular view of creation, or can we just
      leave it to the scientists and accept what they say?

      (And I haven’t finished explaining what kind of YEC I am
      yet.)

    • Duncan Vann

      (4) So does scripture require us to take a particular view
      of creation, or can we just leave it to the scientists and accept what they
      say?

      It’s fairly obvious, I think, that a straight evolutionary
      view per Dawkins is not compatible with the Christian faith.

      But in England at least, we’ve seen lots of people come to a
      true and vital faith in Jesus (very different from a nominal Christianity),
      without adopting a conservative position on evolution. They feel they can hold to the main messages
      of scripture (and often a pretty literal interpretation beyond the early
      chapters of Genesis) without coming into conflict with science.

      That’s why I brought up the ‘sickness and death’ argument
      you can see as the first of my responses.
      I still haven’t heard a viewpoint on sickness and death that’s
      consistent with both evolution and scripture.

      So that leaves me with two possible creation viewpoints:

      -
      YEC

      -
      Some version of the ‘I’m not sure about creation
      and evolution’ viewpoint (aka pan-creationism).

      Since the YEC view fits very well with both the scripture as
      a whole and a pretty literal interpretation of Genesis, I take that view.

      In saying I am a YEC, I’m not necessarily subscribing to
      some formal YEC viewpoint or claiming to represent everybody; I’m just giving
      the best common description for my own views.
      That leaves a final question in this set of posts: what then am I
      arguing for?

      • Duncan Vann

        (5) So what am I looking for?

        Firstly, I invite everyone to search for Jesus. That produces faith: more widely accessible,
        testable and applicable than scientific evidence.

        Secondly, I ask believers to look for a commonality of faith
        above a consistency of logic or doctrine when we decide who is with us.

        Thirdly, I ask theistic evolutionists to consider the
        implications of evolution upon the Christian message as a whole; and to accept that
        we are concerned about issues that affect our understanding of Jesus’ mission,
        not just literal semantics.

        Fourthly, thanks to those of you who’ve looked into the
        science, even though it’s not so important to me as it used to be.

        Thanks to anyone who got this far.

        Duncan

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          The heart of the matter is that the creation itself provides the evidence of evolution, and you are opposing the evidence from creation itself based on the writings of human beings thousands of years before we had the tools to examine the creation as closely as we can today. That seems to me a foolish way of going about drawing conclusions about the Creator and the creation.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        The YEC view, as I have said before, only fits well with a literal interpretation of Scripture if one is happy to ignore those parts of Scripture where it does not – the dome or “firmament” over the Earth, a realm “under the Earth” in a variety of texts, the heart as the seat of human reason, and so on and so on. This is why I view young-earth creationism as anti-Christian at its most basic level. It pretends to be doing something it isn’t, and pretends the Bible says things that it doesn’t or doesn’t say things that it does.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I am more than a little concerned that you wrote that David Tee, who has been telling lies about the stances of those with whom he disagrees, dealing dishonestly with what the Bible, science, and scientists have to say, arguing illogically and generally behaving like an internet troll and making Christianity look bad in the process, represents a stance that resonates with you.

      • Duncan Vann

        James

        David seems to articulate the distinction between God’s good creation and the consequences of sin; and I think he represented that point more closely than you did. (This is a point that YECs seem to grasp right away; and that others really seem to struggle with even if they otherwise tend to interpret scripture as I do. So it’s not that surprising you put it a bit differently.)

        As for the other things you say about David, I really don’t know whether there’s any truth in them or not, do I? I’m hardly going to search the internet to find out whether he’s reliable before I agree with him on a specific point, now am I? I’d prefer to suppose that David is fair minded until I see him acting otherwise.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I am only referring to what he has done on this blog, not elsewhere.

          You still seem not to grasp that your own view, unless you repudiate young-earth creationism, involves God creating flesh-eating bacteria. Or do you think that Adam had the capacity to create such things, and if so, how? I am not “struggling with” this point other than struggling to get you to actually admit what your view implies, or to repudiate it. But to avoid being honest about your own view, and then suggesting that a different view has a bigger problem than your own, is simply not acceptable. We will either have honest discussion informed by the relevant information provided by the Bible in the original languages in conjunction with relevant linguistic, historical, and cultural data, and informed by relevant and accurate scientific data, or otherwise you are free to go on believing whatever you wish and not caring what the Bible says or the data from creation indicates, but as long as you are engaging me in conversation, I will not allow trickery and sleight of hand to be engaged in without pointing it out.

          • Duncan Vann

            James

            I’ve tried pretty hard to explain myself clearly and to respond fairly to your position, but I can’t see how to continue without simply exasperating you further. Nor do I remember David saying anything to warrant such harsh criticism from you. Sadly, I think you’re right to suggest that our differences run pretty deep.

            So I think it’s best to simply call it a day.

            I do hope that God will bless you in the coming year; and that you have a good chance for some quality time with your wife before term starts.

            Yours

            Duncan

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              I appreciate having had the chance to talk. I wonder if David Tee’s talking in circles really seem polite and intelligent if one shares certain presuppositions with him, or whether (as seems to me more likely) it is just that you have not witnessed most of his recent comments on other threads on this blog in recent weeks.

              Might I encourage you to take the time to inform yourself more about the scientific matters about which you hold such strong opinions? Ken Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God is simply fantastic, since it exposes both the scientific and the theological problems with young-earth creationism and intelligent design. But Francis Collins’ book is also excellent, as are Karl Giberson’s. As Proverbs says, the first person to present his case seems right, until another steps forward and questions him. I hope you will allow these Christians with expertise in the natural sciences to offer their explanations of why they draw the conclusions that they do.

              • Duncan Vann

                (I misunderstood your earlier comment to refer to David’s comments on this article rather than the wider blog – I still think it’s best to call it a day though)

                • Dr. David Tee

                  I am not going to say much in my defense. Jesus said they hate you because they hate me and we can see that in Dr. McGrath’s words. i haven’t spoken anything that wasn’t the truth yet I am accused of lying among many other false accusations.
                  As for ‘evidence in nature’ it depends where you are looking and whom you are listening to. The reproduction systems support-after its kind. The hybrid experiments support –after its kind. The sun, moon and stars support that verse related to them. And on it goes
                  But if you listen to Darwin an dhis supporters then you get nothing but lies, even from those who try to christianize that theory. To make these alternatives work, you have to toss out about 90% of the rest of the Bible for the rest of the Bible teaches that Gen. 1 is real and historical.
                  If you toss out Noah’s flood, then you have to toss out the final judgement in revelation. If God didn’t judge or punish sin in Genesis, how can He judge sin in the end?
                  No, the alternatives do not work, and those who teach alternatives are false teachers for they are teaching a lie and what is not in the Bible.
                  The one question I have aksed that has still not been answered is: Where in the Bible did God give permission to follow science over His word?

            • wfraser11

              Its always sad when a creationist can’t answer a simple questiion and then they run away.
              I’m a Lutheran, i find your creationism anti science stance gross.
              So apparently do the following denomainations, catholic, mehtodist, Lutheran, Episcopalina, Presbyterian.
              No? Okay then go to NCSE nad magically wipee out those church statements supporting evolution and decrying your creationism fraud pseudoscience trash science.
              I grew up with darwin and the Bible on the same shelf. If your faith is so tenuous that you can’t accept the MOUNTAINS of evidence in science supporting the central theory in the biologic sciences, evolution(and its intertwined with many others including geology(you know gasoline? your car?)) perhaps you need some psychotropuic drugs.
              Leave science alone and stop damaging Christianity with your hateful idealogy of ignorance.
              Throw out your antibiotics and sell your car. you don’t deserve either.
              Hurt? Good. leartn hoiw to think please.creationism, its unconstitutional in public schools. deal with it.

        • wfraser11

          Lets be clear here religionist. Science has nothing to do with supernatural events, philosophy or religion. It deals with observeable, testable, identifiable, data and logic and reason. YEC and creation science do onone of those things. if you were a scientist (and you are definitely not) you would know that.
          My suggestion is, it may still be possible to train your mind to think using logic and reason rather than a 2000 year old religious text.
          Usually though YECs are in one of the following categoriesa. mentally ill, b. ignorant, c. stupid d. liars. Which one are you?
          Do us a favor, write a research paper using data and submit it to nature or Science supporting your magical designer hypotheses.
          Since people like you want this YEC stuff in our public schools, you should have no problem getting that work published right?
          Until you or any one of your crazed friends can do that, please stop wasting space here.
          Will

      • wfraser11

        Great post James.

  • Guest

    “On an evolutionary view, bacteria and viruses and death are all by-products of the same processes that have produced us,….”

    Well, bacteria and viruses aren’t any more “by-products” of evolution than we are.

    But I thinkthat

    • wfraser11

      Guest, please write a research paper making your points and submit it to Science or Nature. So far, no creationist has. In the meantime, stop attacking science.

  • Hjalti

    So let me get this straight. If your god would have chosen to create “de novo” mankind, the effect of Adam and Eve not having “free will” (if we assume that angels raised them up, although I don’t see how being raised by an angel would cause that) would be so terrible that using a process that produces the flesh-eating bacteria and malaria-parasite is preferable? Do you really think that this makes any sense?

    Either way, even if those pathogens are “by-products” (they aren’t “by-products” according to evolution), they still are the creations of your god. You and YECs just don’t agree on why he chose to have millions upon millions of people suffer. Why not just dump the idea of a supernatural creator?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Hjalti, I am not sure whom you were addressing, but let me reply. It isn’t clear what you mean by a “supernatural creator” in this context. There are lots of different ways of thinking of the cosmos in relation to the divine, and as you are surely aware I prefer to think of God panentheistically. And so I am not at all clear whether your point is that one ought not to introduce a God of the gaps into processes that we now understand scientifically, in which case presumably what you wrote was not aimed at my own views, or were suggesting that it is inappropriate to make reference to God – not in an anthropomorphic sense – even in the exploration of the mysteries at the edge of what is inherently knowable, in which case I would simply ask, “Why not?” But I suspect that you may be assuming that I am thinking of God as a rather big and powerful person and simply debating what that individual does or doesn’t do, in which case, I suppose that I must clarify once again that the disagreements between myself and those of a young-earth creationist viewpoint run far deeper, and have to do with what we mean when we use the term God, and not only what the same concept of God does or does not do.

      • Hjalti

        James: I was addressing the blog-post, so I was addressing you. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

        Don’t you think of your god as a powerful person? Because from reading this post I got the impression that you thought that your god created man through evolution, that sounds like a powerful being, and that he had wants (e.g. wants beings with free will) and preferences, that sounds like a person. Maybe you have some reasons for not liking those terms, so maybe the crux of the matter is this: Do you think that your god/force couldn’t have created man without using evolution? Because if “it” could create man without creating all the horrendous diseases that plague mankind, then it should have (unless of course it’s pure evil).

        I think people should stop talking about god’s involvement in creation, because it’s baseless to begin with and ends up in absurdities (whether it be YEC or your speculations about the horrendous idea of A&E having no free will because of angelic upbringing).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Sorry if I was not clear about what I was attempting to do in this post. I was attempting to show that, even working within a traditional theistic framework, and from core doctrinal convictions of Christian theology, there is good reason to embrace evolution and reject the stance of young-earth creationists. I did not intend to advocate that particular theistic viewpoint – although I think it is much preferable to young-earth creationism, it is not my own way of viewing things. I agree with you that there are serious problems for all those who say that God could have done otherwise, being all powerful, and chose not to, whether it is a matter of creating living things or the healing of illness. But from my perspective, all such talk of God willing and doing is at best symbolic and mythological, pointing to aspects of existence that we do not understand, and if treated as literal statements of fact, they lead to all sorts of problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/herman.cummings.12 Herman Cummings

    If pastors, priests. rabbis, and “so called” Christians would stop their false (old Earth) and foolish (young Earth) teachings, and start promoting the truth of Genesis (Observations of Moses), then there would hardly be any room for the ridiculous teaching of evolution. Collectively, Bible believers are so “blind”, that their approach to Genesis is a joke. Instead of seeking the truth, they continue to support the current lies and foolishness of Creationism. Genesis does not have any “Creation accounts”. When you keep telling a person that their car is running out of gas, and they refuse to look at the fuel gauge and go to the gas station, you begin to wonder how “dumb” they are. Perhaps they are just like the Jews, who value tradition over the truth of scripture. Is it strange that Atheists want the cram their false beliefs down everyone else’s throats, without allowing a (valid) opposing view? Herman Cummings ephraim7@aol.com

  • Jovan Brown

    Good Morning,

    This is my first venture into your blog. This post appears to be written to the believing community – was it intended to further peace and encourage unity among us? It seems instead to have stirred up a lot of intense argument. Argument is not always a bad thing, particularly if it leads to a clearer understanding of Jesus; but if we spend our time beating each other over the head with logic about things we can’t prove…who wins?
    If we can’t be Jesus to each other, it doesn’t matter much that we know him at all…does it? If love isn’t the prime motivation, we’re just a bunch of gongs.

    respectfully,
    j oliver

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thank you for your comment. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about young-earth creationism is that it is a viewpoint which makes false claims about things which can be “proven” to the extent that anything can be proven. If they simply held a different view on some ethereal matter of metaphysics, I would not take the hard line I do about them. Speculating around what we do not know is one thing, and making false claims about what we do know is quite another, in my opinion.

  • wfraser11

    This is all well and good, but the article is about philosophy and religion, not science.
    So, a really great theological treatise, however, I find the natural world and science, much more engaging, useful to mankind and based on logic and reason. Spending ones life wondering what if with regards to the trivia of a scriptural text written by some Middle eastern shepherds 2 or 3 thousand years ago, seems a little, well, archaic. Sanity Inspector, I REALLY like your comments however. “YECs worship the Bible rather than God” Thats priceless. And why not. Why would someone reject most of scripture in order to adghere fanatically to fallacious and incorrect scientific arguments from 20000 years ago, long since refuted. Four options, mentally ill, stupid, ignorant,a liar. Thats it. Take your pick.


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