The candidates on evolution

The science journal NATURE sent both candidates a series of questions about their position on various scientific issues. Only Barack Obama replied, but the journal cobbled together statements that McCain has made on the subjects. Sample:

Do you believe that evolution by means of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for the variety and complexity of life on Earth? Should intelligent design, or some derivative thereof, be taught in science class in public schools?

Obama: I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.

McCain said last year, in a Republican primary debate: “I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” In 2005, he told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of humanity. But the next year a Colorado paper reported him saying that such viewpoints should not be taught in science class.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Can Nature make their questions any more leading?!?

    The editorial in the latest issue of Nature (Volume 455 Number 7212, p.431) makes their position clear, as in this excerpt:

    In the case of stem-cell research, Obama has vowed to lift the Bush administration’s restrictions on federally funded research into human embryonic stem cells. McCain, too, voted to end such restrictions when the issue arose in the Senate, but in the heat of the campaign, he now refuses to say whether he would lift the ban as president. Instead, he emphasizes research on adult or induced pluripotent stem cells in place of human embryonic ones. This could spell dire news for the country’s stem-cell biologists, many of whom have been driven overseas or into privately or state-funded parallel enterprises to continue their work.

    The most worrying thing about a McCain presidency is not so much a President McCain as a Vice-President Palin. Sarah Palin, Alaska’s governor and McCain’s running mate, opposes all research into human embryonic stem cells. She is a creationist. And until lately, at least, she has been a sceptic of human-created climate change — a disquieting thought, as Palin recently said that energy will be “her baby” in the White House, thanks to her previous service as chair of the Alaska state oil and gas commission.

    What is still unclear is how Palin’s views will reconcile with McCain’s. McCain has courageously bucked his party’s more parochial viewpoints in the past, as when he fought for a cap-and-trade system long before it was politically popular. But his selection of Palin as a running mate suggests a new-found willingness to pander to his party’s far-right wing.

  • Joe

    Best part of Obama’s’ answer:

    “I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.”

    I guess I missed those experiments where scientists turned dogs into birds.

  • eric

    Joe #2. Turning a dog into a bird is magic. Turning a wolf into a dog is natural selection.

  • Joe

    eric – turning a wolf into a dog is not evolution. It is merely changes within the created kind and creationists do not dispute that variety within kinds has and can occurred.

  • Mark Young

    @eric: And, micro-evolution, via natural selection, is not something that even folks that subscribe to young earth creationist view of origins would disagree with (read all the great stuff over at answersingenesis.org). That is variation within a kind. That sort of speciation is not what brings about molecules to man evolution. Where’s the repeatable experimental scrutiny to which we subject such macro-evolution theory?

  • http://www.libertasacademy.blogspot.com/ Kathy in VA

    Interesting…both say “I believe in evolution.” So is it a belief or is it a true scientific theory?

    I believe = credo = I give credence to = (for Christians throughout history) I stake my life on it. Augustine said we need to believe in order to understand. So what do the beliefs of these men tell us about what they understand?

    Language is telling.

  • Anon

    Carl,
    of course Nature can’t avoid being leading, it is very much a neo-Darwinist proselytizing broadsheet – at least as far as the editorial section is concerned.

    I have never seen a doctrinaire neo-Darwinist correctly describe intelligent design or give any credence to creation-model scientists – though Stephen Jay Gould in particular has stolen a number of their observations and claimed them for his own (or saw the same things years later, whichever the case may be)

    Eric, breeding wolves into dogs (the same species (by any rational definition) for crying out loud) is intelligent design, not natural selection.

    The Institute for Creation Research is a lot better at accurately reporting science than Ken Ham’s operation, and the Creation Science Quarterly is even better. However, the best work is still being done by individual scientists, not the organizations which tend to get caught up into theology and evangelism – legitimate tasks, but mixing them together tends to make the science -seem- less reputable to the skeptics and bigots.

    It is a good thing that the LCMS still at least on paper, officially, holds to Biblical Creation and Fall, for with intelligent design or theistic evolution one can have some form of Deism, one cannot have Christianity.

  • Michael the little boot

    Joe @ 4,

    “[T]urning a wolf into a dog is not evolution. It is merely changes within the created kind and creationists do not dispute that variety within kinds has and can occurred.” Here’s the problem: this is the ONLY kind of change which is occurring. “Species” is really just a term we use to discuss the different types of living things we can see and experience. If you picked up a random human being, got in a time machine and went back a thousand years, that human would generally be able to procreate with nearly ALL other humans of the opposite sex living at that time. Drop him/her off, pick up a human from THAT time (we’ll call this one Number Two), one-thousand years in the past, and go back another thousand years. Number Two will be able to procreate with those humans of the opposite sex which exist then. Etc., etc., etc.

    The point is, species is a convenient term. It is basically used to describe living things which are unable to procreate with “others.” So we divide along these lines and say things which CAN procreate with each other (and produce viable offspring) are of the same “species” and those who can’t are not. If all the intermediate “species” between us and chimpanzees were still alive, and we were put into a circle placing us next to chimps; then all the intermediates were placed between us in their proper order; EVERYONE in that circle would be able to procreate with each person sitting on either side (you know, if they were opposite genders) of him/herself EXCEPT us and chimpanzees. It’s what is known as a “ring species.” There are examples alive today.

    If we could all understand “species” is just a technical word used for purposes of categorizing and NOT actually useful RELATIONALLY, more people would have less of a problem accepting evolution as the best explanation for “the variety and complexity of life on Earth.”

  • Michael the little boot

    Mark @ 5,

    “That is variation within a kind. That sort of speciation is not what brings about molecules to man evolution. Where’s the repeatable experimental scrutiny to which we subject such macro-evolution theory?”

    This micro- vs. macro-evolution stuff is ridiculous. See my explanation of species @ 8. It’s not perfect – I’m not a scientist – but it is an attempt to show where the mistake is made. The repeatable experimental scrutiny? How about ALL of the (possibly unethical) experiments with lab animals? More importantly, how about the e. coli experiments being done by Richard Lenski? The best evidence through experimentation is in the study of dna. I cannot get technical with the info as I am not a molecular-biologist. So any of you molecular-biologists who hang out here and want to prove me wrong, go right ahead and try.

    It is telling, though, that you refer to “all the great stuff” over at Answers in Genesis. That website is nothing but propaganda, and props itself up with weak and mostly outdated arguments.

  • Michael the little boot

    Kathy @ 6,

    “Interesting…both say ‘I believe in evolution.’ So is it a belief or is it a true scientific theory?”

    Agreed. They make poor language choices here. To me it shows they are obviously pandering for political reasons. A better way to say it is to say “I accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation yet devised for the variety and diversity of life on Earth.” That’s clearer, and makes the point that someone who accepts evolution is no different than someone who accepts the theory of gravitation.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon @ 7,

    Your comment is confusing. So you don’t accept intelligent design in favor of full-blown Creationism? But you do argue FOR intelligent design being a better explanation than evolution? I’m lost.

    “I have never seen a doctrinaire neo-Darwinist correctly describe intelligent design or give any credence to creation-model scientists – though Stephen Jay Gould in particular has stolen a number of their observations and claimed them for his own (or saw the same things years later, whichever the case may be)”

    Could you correctly explain intelligent design then? That would be helpful. Also, could you give examples of what Gould stole? (And Gould was no neo-Darwinist, btw. He actually debated AGAINST the neo-Darwinists on a number of occasions.)

    As far as “giv[ing] any credence to creation-model scientists,” of course they haven’t. So-called “Creation Scientists” aren’t doing science. They’re looking for scientific-sounding answers to prop up things they already believe. Why is it there isn’t a scientist who has been able to show actual scientific evidence for ID? Why have there been no ID articles in peer-reviewed journals? You can say it’s because the journals are biased, and I’ll give you that. They ARE biased – towards SCIENCE. And ID is not science.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The field of evolution since the time of Darwin has been charged with metaphysical assumptions of naturalism and materialism. Modern, hard-edged secular Darwinists including Dawkins and Dennet make their assumption of atheism from Darwin’s theory of evolution largely by random process of natural selection.

    Frm the time of Origins Christian scientists including Asa Gray of Harvard had no problem reconciling evolution with Christianity. In our time Francis Collins, a world-class scientist, head of the Genome Project, is an evangelical Christian who in fact has come to the view that the language of the genome supports both the scientific theory of evolution and the biblical view of Creation in Genesis. He has written a marvelous book, The Language of God: A Scientist presents evidence for belief.

    Given the response of McCain and Obama to Nature McCain’s is actually the more sophisticated and comprehensive.

  • Jim

    Peter @12 – what did I miss? You say that McCain’s answer to Nature was “the more sophisticated and comprehensive,” yet Veith says that he didn’t respond at all, that the journal had to “cobble[] together” his views from statements in other journals.

  • Michael the little boot

    Peter @ 12,

    “Given the response of McCain and Obama to Nature McCain’s is actually the more sophisticated and comprehensive.”

    If it’s actually his position. We don’t know, since he never answered the questions himself. His positions vary – as do almost all politicians – depending on what group he is addressing. He has said the things they quote him as saying in the past; but that doesn’t mean they are his actual positions, or that they remain his positions, or that they are even relevant in context.

    Since we have to deduce his position, it’s much more difficult than it would have been had he simply answered the questions. McCain says all positions should be available to students, but has also suggested these things should not be taught in science class. So he’s not exactly on the “teach the controversy” page. In fact, if you put what he’s said about the teaching of evolution and what Obama’s said, they almost agree exactly. So I don’t see where McCain’s position – which, once again, had to be pieced together from past statements because McCain wouldn’t comment – is “more sophisticated and comprehensive” than Obama’s.

    Not to say Obama’s position isn’t politically motivated. I’m not taking sides. Obama was good enough to answer the questions, though. Personally, I wish McCain would have done so, as well.

  • Anon

    Ring species I think -can- interbreed at the antipodes, but then tend not to because of (in the case of birds) the appearance or song has changed slightly, and they don’t properly recognize each other.

    But as long as they -can- interfertilize, we are still talking about the same species (I’m not a splitter, as you may guess from this).

    Chimpanzees vary from our genome by 5%. The known animal furthest from us is a certain anelid worm, which differs from us in 20% of DNA. Hence Chimpanzees are actually a good distance away, in the animal kingdom.

    We don’t accept neo-Darwinian evolution because it is contrary to science and logic from the start, and because the data do not show it occurring. We also reject it because God has said otherwise, and He was there and would know.

    Despite all the hoopla, Lenski hasn’t actually proven anything.

    Intelligent design as proposed by the Discovery Institute and numerous scientists (Including of all people, Richard Dawkins) has to do with two major findings: Irreducible complexity and specified complexity (language). Carl Sagan once said that if a message could be found deep in some non-repeating fraction such as pi, that he would believe in God. Well, we’ve found language, it is written on DNA, RNA, protiens and possibly even carbohydrates. They have very highly specified mathmatical tests for specified complexity, and if they are always wrong about irreducible complexity, then this should be taken as good news by biology grad students everywhere who need a thesis.

    In general, those who propose intelligent design also accept neo-Darwinian evolution except where they find irreducible complexity and specified complexity.

    Yes, I believe God, and that means that I believe in the historicity of Genesis 1-11, as does the entire Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. That does not forbid irreducible complexity or specified complexity in the least.

    Small point on Gould, it is possible that his punk-eek might not be classified as neo-Darwinism.

    Many of the items in his book that he takes as indication of punctuated equillibrium can be found earlier in creationist papers as indicators of creation. I have no idea whether or not he was aware of them. He may have discovered these things independently. He isn’t stupid!

    Those publications are biased towards the religious philosophy of philosophical materialism a.k.a. atheism, and ID -is- science.

    As you know, the atheist proselytizing publications will not publish ID articles because of their religious bias. An entertaining documentary on this is _Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed_ by Ben Stein.

    Peter, and how to Asa Grey and Francis Collins understand what Jesus did on the Cross? And, since they don’t believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, what is their source of authoritative information on God and Jesus? Some Calvinists have no problem because they see salvation purely sola fiat, and see no original sinless pristine creation, no need for the Fall, and no need for Jesus to have died on the Cross, and their only theodicy is to say shut up, God is bigger than you, or as you would say it in Arabic “Allahu Akhbar”

    But as Francis Schaeffer pointed out in _Genesis in Space and Time_ and the Lutheran Church believes, if there was no pristine creation and no historic space-time fall, we *have no answers* And no gospel. And Jesus died on the cross utterly pointlessly.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Anon, St. Augustine made the salient point point long ago that Christians are mistaken when they contradict scientifically proven truth. He further wrote that Genesis was written more as profound poetry than as scientific truth. Asa Gray and Fancis Collins, both devout Christians, view Darwin’s idea of natural selection as sound and that there is no good reason that God could not have included natural selection in His plan of Creation.

    Christians who read Genesis as some sort of scientific trreatise are mistaken and often an embarassment to serious, orthodox and evangelical Christianity.

  • Don S

    Peter @ 16: The problem is when you label evolutionary theory as scientifically proven truth. The scientific method involves making a hypothesis, designing and conducting experiments permitting observations which will prove or disprove the hypothesis, and then analyzing the results for the purpose of evaluating the hypothesis. However, we have no way of making observations to conclusively prove or disprove evolutionary theory. Until someone conclusively proves otherwise, I accept the accounts of the Scriptures as being wholly truthful and inerrant. Genesis is not a scientific treatise, to be sure, but where it addresses scientific issues, it is truthful. To the extent that science and the Bible differ, I choose the Bible. However, to my knowledge, science based on observation (and not merely on theory) has never contradicted the Bible in any way.

    I am a scientist, as I have an engineering degree (though I now take refuge in the law). Being familiar with the scientific method, and having been taught that caution is the watchword when a scientist makes claims based on his/her research and observations, it is amazing to me that in the areas of evolutionary theory and global warming theory, scientists throw caution to the wind, and state with certainty and without even being open to alternative theories and explanations, that the matters are irrefutably settled. Evolutionary theory rests entirely on an incomplete fossil record open to alternative explanations, and makes conclusions regarding events that occurred allegedly billions of years ago and over billions of years of time. Global warming theory is based entirely on dubious computer modeling and runs counter to current observable science, which shows no warming over the past decade. It also projects predicted climate changes over the next 25-100 years. No dissent is accepted, in either case. Shouldn’t that strike people as strange?

  • Anon

    Peter,
    I take it that you did not read my post before responding to it.
    You did not answer any of my questions, you just reasserted that some people whom you think are Christians, are suffering from cognitive dissonance.
    Answer my questions.

    As to Evangelical Christians and the Bible, BY DEFINITION, evangelical Christians believe in the inerrant, verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible, if you don’t believe that you are not an evangelical, you are what has been called for nearly one hundred years now, a liberal.

    All serious evangelical Christians believe the Bible and don’t fall for shenanigans concerning creation, fall and redemption.

    I also take it that you are not a confessional Lutheran, for you do not walk together with us.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Anon, Like AsaGray and Francis Collins, I believe in the basic inerrant truth of the Bible including the Incarnation, Ressurection, Creation, the Fall, and Redemption.

    To the extent that any truths including evolution by natural selection have been proved true empirically and logically I see no contradiction between them and Christ who was the light , the way and the truth[Logos].

    Don, I’ve read Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial and am well aware of the weaknesses of the theory of evolution. Francis Collins in Language of God does say, however, that evidence from the genome is compelling that at the physical- not spiritual- level humans share a common descent with animals. This doesn’t bother me as it could weel be that God in his wisdom of Creation might well have incorporated some structure of evolutionary process.

    Don, On globl warming I quite agree that the scientists plumping for it have gone well beyond the evidence. They, also, don’t really know empirically to what extent the measurable climate change is caused by man made greenhouses gasses or by ordinary climate change.

  • Joe

    Peter – the DNA evidence that suggests we share a common decent only does so if you assume a common decent. The mere fact that we have many similarities in our code with other creatures is not evidence of anything except that we have many similarities in our code with other creatures.

  • Anon

    What do you mean by the words ‘creation’ and ‘fall’, Peter?

  • Peter Leavitt

    FW,Simply that eternal God created the universe and that humans universally are fallen beings. This come from from an understanding of the powerful, poetic verses of Genesis. As to whether Creation took place in six days or that ones named Adam and Eve really had a Fall in the Garden of Eve no one really knows, as Genesis was written in the mythopoeic style of its writers time, influenced by the Holy Spirit.
    We may certainly believe in both Creation and the Fall in that these concepts come from the Word of God through an inerrant Biblical Revelation.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@22), you may doubt the existence of a literal Adam and his and Eve’s literal Fall, but the apostle Paul clearly didn’t, as indicated in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Timothy 2.

    Was Paul mistaken? If so, how did sin enter the world? If Paul was not mistaken, how do you explain those verses above in light of your beliefs?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Joe, Francis Collins, the evangelical Christian and world-class geneticist head of the Human Genome Project writes:

    The study of genomes leads inexorably to the conclusion we humans share a comon ancestor with other living things. Some of that evidence is shown in table 5.1 where the similarity between genomes of ourselves and and other organisms are displayed. This evidence does not, of course, prove a common ancestor; from a creationist perspective such similarities could simply demonstrate tha t God used successful design principles over and over again. As we shall see, however, … the detailed study of genomes has rendered that interpretaton virtually untenable-not only about all other living things but, also, ourselves.

    Collins, with St. Augustine, is aware of the risks of turning the text of the Bible into precise scientific treatises. This has cost the churdh of Christ much embarrassment in the past. Again, to the extent scientists can arrive at valid empirical and logical truth, Christians need to respect it as at least an approximation of the Logos and not necessarily contradictory to God’s truth.

  • Joe

    I will admit I have not read the Collin’s book but I have listened to several in depth interviews with him about his book. Does his book provide any detail regarding this claim:

    “the detailed study of genomes has rendered that interpretation virtually untenable-not only about all other living things but, also, ourselves.”

    My understanding of what is labeled “virtually untenable” about the theory the God simply used an effective code multiple times is simply that today’s scientists, without really explaining why, think evolution is a better answer. Does the book offer any deeper level of insight into this? I want to have someone explain why it is a virtually untenable position. So far I have not had anyone give a decent answer to that question, except to say that scientist think it is untenable.

  • Peter Leavitt

    tODD, Paul in those verses refers to the one man, Adam who brought sin into the world, though he says nothing about the basis for the reference. It matters little to me whether Adam and Eve in the Garden are or are not for real. What matters is a firm and unquestioning belief in the elemental Biblical concept of original sin.

    Reinhold Niebuhr, America best theologian after Edwards, in Nature and Destiny of Man, while not a literal believer, makes a compelling biblical case for original sin, as the following indicates:

    Niebuhr, taking the doctrine of original sin seriously but not literally, believed that the biblical image of man conveyed a deeper understanding of the human situation than any alternate scheme. He felt that the biblical portrayal of the human predicament could liberate the liberal mind from its rationalistic fixations, show the limitations of all human schemes, and save men from guilty despair when their visions did not bring in the Kingdom of God. In some twenty books and a thousand articles he restored words like sin, grace, judgment, conscience, obligation, and mercy to the American vocabulary, showing believers arid skeptics alike that the Christian message can deal realistically with the modern world. His penchant for polemic against both secularist and saint made his theology dialectical rather than systematic

  • Anon

    Jesus also believed in the pristine creation and then the Fall, and the literal Adam and Eve. Not believing those things, but claiming to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture is simply dishonest. Genesis 1-11 is written in the same vav-consecutive narrative as the rest of Genesis and the other historical books written in Hebrew.

    If there was neo-Darwinian nature red in tooth and claw prior to the Fall, then the effects of the Fall were prior to the Fall, and God used what God’s Law calls evil. We are to imitate God’s morality. Therefore there is no sin. That being the case, why exactly did Jesus die upon the Cross? Was it all a big mistake? Was Jesus just an ordinary itinerant rabbi who got caught up in colonial politics?

    The profound difference between the assertion that Christians believe that Genesis 1-3 is a precise scientific treatise written according to Nature’s style sheet – a straw-man argument commonly used by people who don’t want people believing God – with our actual belief that God is honest and truth-speaking, and was there, and is the Author of Scripture, is something Peter, you should take note of if you wish to be taken as anything other than an anti-God of the Bible agitator.

    Joe, quite true, Collins is simply assuming. Code-reuse is well-known among programmers, and cell biologists talk these days in terms of reverse-engineering, not evolution. As one tenured professor at the University of Iowa puts it, “it is as if a UFO crashed and we are trying to figure it out, taking out parts and saying ‘this is neat’ and trying to see what it does, while the UFO’s technology is beyond our present level of knowledge”

  • Peter Leavitt

    Joe, Collins regards the human genome as essentially the language of God. He has a chapter Deciphering God’s Instruction Book: The Lessons of the Human Genome.

    Another interesting book on this topic is by Arthur Peacocke, a distinguished British molecular biologist who became an Anglican priest:Evolution: The Disguised Friend of Faith?

    In my view the modern scientific evidence for evolution is compelling; equally compelling is the biblical view of creation that is not necessarily contradictory to evolution. Not a few first-rate, devoutly Christian scientists presently accept the scientific principle of evolution, though they well know that scientific principles have historically been ephemeral while the Bible is the eternal revelation of the Word of God.

  • Joe

    Peter – but I would like to understand *why* he believes reuse of an effective code by God is an untenible conclusion. If your answer is go read the book – that’s fair but could I get a summary?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Joe, in summary Collins finds what are known as “ancient repetitive elements” [ARES]in the genome. About 45% of the human genome is made up of what Collins terms the inactive “flotsam and jetsam” of these ARES.

    He, also, talks about human “pseudogenes” that have allmost the same properties of a functional DNA instruction packet but are inflicted with by glitches that turn their script into gibberish.

    There is a lot more; Collins as an honest genetic scientist, as well as a devout Christian, has come to the conclusion that Darwin’s principle of evolution by natural selection has been proven by modern genetic discoveries that he views to be essentially the language of God.

  • Anon

    Peter,
    What sort of universe did God create? What methods did He use?

    What exactly, is the Fall – you still haven’t answered that, you merely asserted that you believe in something which you give the phoneme ‘fall’ to.

    What evidence do you have that God gave mythopoeic material to Moses when He said it was true? Was Jesus confused? Or dishonest?

    Niebuhr was neo-orthodox. That is not the same as evangelical.

    If when Collins wrote, he still believed that there was junk DNA, I wonder what he thinks now that we know that it isn’t junk DNA at all, but may well be the operating system, which has to be -somewhere-.

    Surely he couldn’t have said that these ‘pseudo-genes’ contain gibberish, because he would have known even then that the way the cell reads DNA involves nano-machines going back and forth, making skips, engaging in decryption and error-correction. If he really said that, that would be utter nonsense, even at the time of his writing.

    Remember, devotion is not the same thing as truth. Saul very devoutly persecuted the Christians.

    19 very devout men flew airliners into the Pentagon, the Twin Towers, and tried to do so to the White House.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon @ 15,

    Wow. I wish I could have gotten to this yesterday, before the hubbub.

    “Ring species I think -can- interbreed at the antipodes, but then tend not to because of (in the case of birds) the appearance or song has changed slightly, and they don’t properly recognize each other.” That’s an oversimplification. Perhaps you’re looking to much at Answers in Genesis, or something like it? I was not clear in my explanation, and I apologize for that. What I was trying to say is, yes, for a certain amount of time, two parts of a “ring species” – those in the spots I placed humans and chimps – CAN interbreed. They tend not to for a variety of reasons, a couple of which you mentioned. The biggest thing that usually happens is the two are separated by some new geographic feature, or they get separated because they need to search for food in different locations. It doesn’t matter how it happens, the result is the same: a speciation event. It’s as easy as two family groups living across a river from each other. If, at some point, the river becomes impassable, the two family groups will not be able to interbreed, even though, genetically, they would be capable of doing so. Eventually, though, because of the differences in DNA and it’s inability to copy itself perfectly, coupled with the fact that these two families will not interbreed, you MAY have them become so divergent that we call them different species. This is useful for purposes of examination and categorization, but not for understanding each other. Of course, this will make no sense to people who have a desperate need to be higher or better etc. than all the other animals (let alone plants).

    How about this? Do you look like your first cousins (assuming you have any)? Second cousins? Do you even KNOW your ninth cousins? Well, just extrapolate this over three-and-a-half billion years. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or even a scientist at all – to see this makes sense.

    “But as long as they -can- interfertilize, we are still talking about the same species (I’m not a splitter, as you may guess from this).” Really? So horses and donkeys, or lions and tigers, these are all the same species? They can interfertilize. Do you mean as long as they can interfertilize AND have fertile offspring, we’re talking the same species? See what a gray area “species” is when you really look closely at the supposed points “between” species?

    “Chimpanzees vary from our genome by 5%.” Not exactly so. Depending on what is being measured, the variance is from 95-99%. The lower percentages, however, are usually due to measuring noncoding regions. In other words, we do not differ in our genes by more than 1.23%, only in what our genes DO. This has mostly to do, if I understand correctly, with things like how much protein is produced, for example; it does NOT have to do with what TYPE of protein is produced or THAT it is produced. The genome differs more than the genes do. If you don’t understand that (I am no scientist, and this is difficult stuff to discuss for laypeople), don’t just dismiss it. Try to learn more. Try to stretch yourself.

    “We don’t accept neo-Darwinian evolution because it is contrary to science and logic from the start, and because the data do not show it occurring. We also reject it because God has said otherwise, and He was there and would know.” I suggest you don’t reject “neo-Darwinian” evolution so much for the former reason as the latter. You have beliefs which you think (Peter obviously does not) mean evolution can’t have occurred. As a consequence, you have to look for reasons why it is wrong. Unfortunately for you, none of your arguments thus far withstand scrutiny.

    “Despite all the hoopla, Lenski hasn’t actually proven anything.” Really? Well, oh Learned One, can you explain this statement? I think you’re too committed to your bandwagon. Or you’ve drunk the Discovery Institute Kool-Aid. You can make statements without providing details, but they don’t serve your position well.

    “Intelligent design as proposed by the Discovery Institute and numerous scientists (Including of all people, Richard Dawkins) has to do with two major findings: Irreducible complexity and specified complexity (language).” First of all, when did Dawkins propose ID? I must assume you’re referring to what he said in that Expelled movie you suggest people watch. You do realize Dawkins was told the movie was about something completely different, yes? He was told it was to be titled “Crossroads” and that it was about the historical problems between science and religion. He was asked questions that were completely irrelevant to that topic, and he said as much when asked. He answered them hypothetically, and then was quoted out of context.

    I say this not to defend Dawkins – he needs no other defender than himself, AND I don’t personally care what people think about people who aren’t me. I bring it up to show how unethical the anti-evolution side can be. If the ends justify the means, what really separates the believer from the non-believer as far as ethics is concerned? You can quote him out of context and say he believes certain things; but, as people here are fond of saying, that doesn’t make it so!

    Irreducible complexity has not been shown. Every time one of the ID proponents brings up another piece of biological machinery they think is evidence of this idea, it is shown to BE REDUCIBLE. The two major examples are the eye and the bacterial flagellum. The eye example is ridiculous, since it’s been around since Darwin, and even he had an answer to it (you can get to a complex eye through a series of mutations beginning with a primitive “pit” eye, adding a lens, light receptors, etc.). The bacterial flagellum was a nice try, but it, too, failed the ultimate test, as there are numerous examples of how it is reducible. Michael Behe himself had to say UNDER OATH that there is nothing demonstrable scientifically about this part of bacterial anatomy.

    I have to admit to never having heard of specified complexity. It sounds like rhetorical junk, as does most of pseudo-science, which would, *sigh*, HAVE to include ID until it can come up with something scientific to say. As it is, ID mostly consists of poking non-existent holes in the theory of evolution, like saying “they don’t have all the transitional fossils!” or “evolution doesn’t AT ALL explain how life began!” or “carbon dating doesn’t even work!” Unfortunately for the ID crowd, these are irrelevant. We don’t even have all the FOSSILS, as the process of fossilization is not so easy as saying “EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER EXISTED MUST HAVE A FOSSIL.” Evolution doesn’t explain how life began because that is not it’s theoretical purpose. It just shows what happened after life came to be. There are interesting theories about how life began – I personally am very interested in the theory of abiogenesis (don’t quote me here, as it may not yet be considered a theory but an hypothesis); but evolution is not a theory that even talks about how life began.

    Trying to say a scientific theory is untenable because it doesn’t explain absolutely everything right out of the box is also ridiculous. A theory is a body of knowledge, of facts. It is built up over time. A theory as young as evolution is still on it’s way to figuring many things out. This doesn’t mean it is not valid, only that it is not yet complete. It may never BE complete. Something else may come about that supplants this theory, if the evidence is in its favor over evolution. That’s why science, in my opinion, is more honest than religion. When it is proved wrong, it admits that and moves on. Not always right away, but eventually. Religion just backpedals and reimagines itself so that it can support the ideas it has always held, whether they are shown to be less accurate, or even completely incorrect, ways of looking at the world.

    “Yes, I believe God, and that means that I believe in the historicity of Genesis 1-11, as does the entire Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. That does not forbid irreducible complexity or specified complexity in the least.” Cool. So do YOU have an explanation for the two divergent creation stories in those chapters?

    “Small point on Gould, it is possible that his punk-eek might not be classified as neo-Darwinism.” I don’t even comprehend what you’re trying to say here.

    “Many of the items in his book that he takes as indication of punctuated equillibrium can be found earlier in creationist papers as indicators of creation. I have no idea whether or not he was aware of them. He may have discovered these things independently. He isn’t stupid!” Um, you mean Gould is still alive? Or was he just taken bodily to hell, as Elijah was to heaven? I don’t buy punctuated equilibrium anyway, so hack away at a dead man all you wish.

    “Those publications are biased towards the religious philosophy of philosophical materialism a.k.a. atheism, and ID -is- science.” They are biased in that way. I agree. They are also biased against pseudo-science, and ID fits that description. If you’d like to show how ID IS science, rather than simply stating it is, I’m all ears. But I won’t get into a childish “Yes it is!/No it isn’t!” back and forth.

    “As you know, the atheist proselytizing publications will not publish ID articles because of their religious bias.” But ID always says it is NOT religious! Are you saying it IS? Interesting…

    “An entertaining documentary on this is _Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed_ by Ben Stein.” Right. It is more than biased, too. It’s an outright fabrication. Go to Expelled Exposed-dot-com (all one word) and get the skinny.

  • Michael the little boot

    A note on my “ring species” explanation: I am not suggesting humans and chimpanzees are NECESSARILY parts of a ring species; only that, if we could go back to the speciation event between our ancestors and the ancestors of chimps, we might find we are very like – or perhaps definitely WERE – a ring species. It was just an example, anyway.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael (@32), you said, “So do YOU have an explanation for the two divergent creation stories in those chapters?” You’ve mentioned this before, and given that it’s the only thing here I can intelligently (?) comment on, I’ll ask: what are you referring to?

    Specifically, what conflict do you see there? When I read those two chapters, I don’t have to exert myself mentally to make them consistent. What are you pointing to?

  • Joe

    Michael wrote: “A theory as young as evolution is still on it’s way to figuring many things out. This doesn’t mean it is not valid, only that it is not yet complete. It may never BE complete.”

    That is an honest statement and I commend you for it. But I think you give your own side of the debate way to much credit. It is not taught in our public schools (at least not the ones using the text books in my local district) as a theory. Sometimes the word theory is found in the text book but it is taught as fact. There is never any discussion of any problem with the theory. But even if the science texts were accurate it would do little good, as my first had experience with my kids taught me, by the time they get to second grade they are lead to believe that evolution is proven. Not because they have science classes; they don’t, but because it is weaved into the other subjects.

    I have no problem with it being taught as a theory. My problem is with the intellectual dishonesty of those who preach its absolute truth.

  • Michael the little boot

    tODD @ 34,

    “Specifically, what conflict do you see there? When I read those two chapters, I don’t have to exert myself mentally to make them consistent. What are you pointing to?”

    I must wonder if we’re reading the same thing. Is the NRSV (the translation I prefer) all that different from the translation you use?

    Let’s go through it, beginning – where else? – with the first story. On the first day, God makes the heavens and the earth, as well as separating light from darkness. On the second, God creates the dome of the sky to separate the water under the sky from the water above it. On the third, God separates the land and the water under the sky, then causes vegetation – specifically “plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it” – to come forth from the ground. On the fourth, God puts the lights in the dome of the sky. On the fifth, God makes the animals of the sky and of the water. On the sixth, God makes land animals, culminating in the creation ON THE SIXTH DAY of humans – male and female, both on the same day. Then God, either tired or proud (it doesn’t specify), rests on the seventh day.

    So, then we come to the second story. There are no divisions as to on which day God created which thing; however, there is a clear ORDER of progress, and it is not implied. God first creates the heavens and the earth. One must assume God has already separated the sky from the earth and waters, the land from the waters, etc., since it is not mentioned (that is not something I am suggesting is a problem, I’m just trying to be thorough in my explanation). In this version, God immediately creates man – not humankind, but the first male, Adam – after creating the heavens and earth. Isn’t this contradictory to the first story? It specifically says God made man BEFORE God makes vegetation. What? In the first story, God makes vegetation first. Well, which is it? (This is really important, since the “dust” from which man is made – only in the second story, mind you – is available to God, as the story specifically indicates, because there was not yet vegetation growing there.

    Well, either way, next God makes the vegetation. But where are the animals? In the other story, they appear at different times. Why switch the order? It is not implied, as I’ve said. It is overtly stated. So God makes the animals AFTER man and vegetation. Plus, God creates males first, then other animals. AFTER Adam names the animals and finds no suitable partner (“helper”), God decides this isn’t good, and makes Eve. This contradicts the other story in which God made humans – male and female – on the same day.

    Am I saying the details are important to the meaning of the story? Well, we’re not talking about that. Are we? I don’t have any problem with these stories contradicting each other, since I have no vested interest in the historicity of the Bible, or any ancient text, for that matter. To me the meaning of the story has nothing to do with whether the stories happened in history. But to believe in the Bible literally means you DO have an eye toward detail, and believe those are the details of the actual past as it occurred.

    So, how do you put these stories together without exertion? I would propose that you do it this way: you take ONE of the two stories literally, then harmonize the other to fit. How else could you do it? These are two different stories. You may not do this, I admit. Of course I’m speculating. So, tODD, how do you read these stories?

  • Michael the little boot

    Joe @ 35,

    Thanks. I try to be as intellectually honest as possible.

    Most people believe in absolute truth, and they tend to define it as “the things I believe to be true.” Many scientists, being only human, trust themselves too much. So on this we agree: evolution should not be taught as absolute truth. Of course, we disagree on the reasons why. My reason is that absolute truth, as I’ve said over and over and over again, is so difficult to nail down as to be nearly impossible, and so it becomes pretty pointless. I don’t get a lot of agreement on this opinion. :)

    But I do have a little correction to make, even though it’s been made here before by others: it is not a contradiction to teach a theory as having been proven, since a theory is not accepted as a theory until it has been. Evolution HAS been proven to happen. Does that mean it should be taught as absolute? Well, let me ask you, Joe: do you believe the theory of gravitation should be taught as absolute?

    The problem here is with the understanding of the term “theory.” In technical use a theory is “a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for known facts or phenomena.” So saying that something should be taught not as a “fact” but as a “theory” is missing the point. If there are no facts in a group of general propositions, this is known as an hypothesis. Evolution is not an hypothesis. So teaching the theory of evolution is to teach the facts that lead us to a conclusion, which is, in this case, that all life on earth descends either from a single organism, or at least from an extremely small population of them. We should not, however, teach this as absolute; rather, we should say this is our best explanation so far.

    “There is never any discussion of any problem with the theory.” I’m interested to know what you mean by this statement. What are the problems as you understand them?

    I do believe that teaching evolution as “survival of the fittest” is wrong and dangerous. It is not an idea Darwin had, although that doesn’t mean anything, really. Even if he HAD thought that, it wouldn’t make it any less wrong – and Darwin was wrong about plenty. But it is BEYOND OVERLY SIMPLISTIC to boil evolution down to this. It basically teaches kids “only the strong survive,” as well as giving them justification to do ANYTHING to ANYONE in order to “win” in the end. It seems this comes from the Elite Capitalists. I have no evidence to back up that statement, other than anecdotal stuff, which isn’t evidence until it is corroborated by facts. But it does play into the idea that it’s okay to walk all over people to get ahead, so it seems safe to say it’s at least a possibility Capitalists, whether they believe the theory or they don’t, support teaching “survival of the fittest” as a way to achieve their own ends.

  • Anon

    Michael, yes, I simplified so that people could understand it. Stop the cheap rhetorical tricks.

    The rest of your statement about ring species is total speculation.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that life does not come from non-life, and that an effect cannot exceed the sum of its causes.

    All you provide is fantasy.

    Yes, I do mean that felids, equids and canids should be regarded as one species in each case, as long as they can interfertilize. I’m not a member of the splitter faction, I side with the joiner faction in the current debate.

    As far as we now know, Michael, there are no non-coding regions. That is the OS, and a few other programs.

    I only dismiss stuff that I’ve looked at and seen the fallacy, or the lack of proof for. I used to believe in evolution.

    Stop the insults.

    You do NOT know what goes on in my mind or what my reasons are. Please stop speculating about my thought processes.

    The Discovery Institute scientists understand evolutionary biology a whole lot better than you do. So your kool-aid comment is -also- out of bounds.

    Yes, the e. coli experiments do not show speciation. They do not show evolution. The show an expression of -pre-existing code- to fit the environmental condition. That is a sign of intelligent design, of someone putting in the code so that the e. coli could survive if placed in that situation.

    Dawkins agreed with ID in his interview with Ben Stein. He could accept ‘space aliens’ being the designers. His sole concern was that there be no God. That is his chief motivating principle. He sees and said so, that neo-Darwinism is insufficient (as many evolutionary biologists also agree with) and that ID is indeed possible. He just hates Christians and Jews.

    Please don’t lie about the movie. Ok?

    He wasn’t quoted out of context. Dawkins has no real ethics, other than his own will to power and pleasure, being an atheist.

    Darwin’s explanation of the eye is completely inadequate to explain what we know about the eye. You are 150 years behind the times there. Major examples do include the bacterial flagellum, the living cell, the clotting cascade, and many, many others. No disproofs have yet been provided, and the PRINCIPLE has certainly not been disproven. Each case of irreducible complexity that is put forth is an opportunity for some atheist evolutionist to write a paper or a thesis. That is a good thing from their perspective. Unless their goal is in fact religious, as I think we see that it is.

    What is your source on Behe under oath, and what specific bacterial machine was he supposedly talking about?

    Language is an example of specified complexity as is computer code. It is not pseudo-science – you yourself are using it in this discussion. You just ASSUME that it can’t be true. Why is that?

    You then follow on with a number of false statements about what ID theorists and creation model scientists believe, respectively.

    And evolution IS the theory of molecules to man, where Dawkins and others wish to redefine science in order to disallow the possibility of God -by definition- rather than by proof. But evolutionists are very ‘good’ at using rhetorical tricks and changing definitions moment by moment as it suits their rhetoric.

    You really need to read Thomas Kuhn’s _The Nature of Scientific Revolutions_. You do not understand how science works. You have an idealistic model which isn’t how it really happens. Especially not when it is so ideologically-loaded as evolutionism is. What you describe about ‘religion’ is actually how -science- works!

    There are not two divergent creation stories in Genesis 1-2. That is a falsehood that some translators, wishing there to be two, in order to undermine God’s account of Creation, have tried to make appear. It isn’t there in the Hebrew.

    I’m sorry you don’t know enough about the different currents in evolutionism to keep up with me. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so dogmatic under those circumstances.

    How does ID fit a definition of pseudo-science. You keep asserting that in order to dismiss ID, but you haven’t proven anything.

    I’m talking about the religious bias of the atheists. Somehow you managed to reverse what I said.

    Ben Stein’s movie is NOT a fabrication. The cases he deals with are quite real, from the incredibly unethical persecution of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez on down. Whoever told you it was a “complete fabrication” was giving you falsehoods.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael (@36), well now that I’ve seen what you’re pointing to, I have to admit that it did cause me to think a bit harder. So I was wrong on that point.

    You asked, “Is the NRSV (the translation I prefer) all that different from the translation you use?” Well, having compared the NIV, ESV, and NRSV, I’d have to say yes. Consider Genesis 2:4. (I’ve included the translations’ subheads, since they often shape one’s perceptions of the text, though of course they are editorial suggestions and not part of the Bible.)

    NRSV:

    4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

    Another Account of the Creation
    In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, …

    ESV:

    The Creation of Man and Woman
    4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

    NIV:

    Adam and Eve
    4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

    When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens — …

    So you see already there is disagreement over how to translate some words, and which phrases were modifying which sentences, or even which accounts of the creation! This, no doubt, will play a part in our different readings. I am unqualified to comment on which translation is the best, however.

    You seem to think that Genesis 2 is a complete retelling of the creation. In short, I do not. I see it as Moses, having told the whole story of creation from beginning to end, jumping back and highlighting one particular aspect of it — that of the creation of man — since it will become integral to his subsequent story. Read more of Moses’ (or other contemporary Hebrew) writings and tell me if this isn’t a common technique.

    Now, I see where you are coming from here and there, and I am afraid I must rely, lamely, on what the translators have given me — I cannot translate independently.

    You think that the Genesis 2 account rewinds all the way back to the beginning, since it says (in v.4 of the NRSV) “In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, …”. However, there is reason to believe that this is not the same as if the translators had chosen to say “On the day that …”. The latter is used in English to refer to a particular 24-hour period. The former is used to refer to a general time (e.g. “back in the day when …”). I’ll admit that I am relying here on the translators making an accurate choice, but then, so are you.

    Then we come to the issue of creation order, in particular, that of plants and man. Genesis 1 clearly puts them in that order, respectively. Genesis 2 seems to say something different! However, I’d like to first disagree that the issue of vegetation is not “really important” to the presence of dust or not, anymore than it is today. There is “dust of the ground” right now, though there is also lots of vegetation.

    Anyhow, this is going to come down to word choice again. Let’s see what the two accounts say. Genesis 1:11-12 (NRSV):

    Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it.

    So “plants yielding seed” and “(fruit) trees”. The NIV and ESV are in agreement on this as well. Now to Genesis 2:5 (NRSV):

    when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up–for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; …

    Different choice of words here. It mentions “plant[s]” and “herb[s] of the field“. Is that a direct synonym for the plants mentioned in Genesis 1? Maybe, but it seems more like a subset, doesn’t it? It’s referring explicitly to “field[s]” which, unless I’m mistaken, refers to agriculture. This tenuous claim is strengthened by the explicit mention of agricultural work: “till[ing] the ground”.

    Now we know from later in Genesis that there was no agriculture at this point: man was apparently living off the “plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind”. Why do I say that? In Genesis 3:17-19, when Adam is told the consequences of his sin, God says, “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” Hey, there’s that phrase again: “plants of the field”. Connected again to the idea of toil for man! Coincidence?

    In short, it seems clear to me that plants were created on the third day, as made clear in Genesis 1. Genesis 2, in focusing on the creation of man, wants to make clear that man was not, at this point, toiling for his food. It was still a paradise.

    Does that make sense?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    More on “in the day” vs. “on the day”: I did a quick search of ESV (I cannot find a searchable NRSV) uses and found that, in Moses’ writings, there are translations resulting in both phrases. Clearly, there is a distinction being made here, though I cannot tell you what the underlying textual reasons are.

  • Joe

    Michael – my terms maybe out dated but when I went to school we had a step passed theory call Scientific Law. This was the step at which things were considered “proven.” Gravity falls into that category.

    It maybe that the terminology has left but that was how I always understood it.

  • Anon

    The head translator for the ESV is a guy I took Hebrew from (nice guy, but. . .) He believed in evolution because he had previously been a chemist, and believed that he had to grant ‘the scientific community’ the right to say what was and was not true with regards to origins. At least, that is how he told it. As a result he elaborated the thoroughly debunked ‘framework hypothesis’ (it just isn’t that was in Hebrew poetry versus the historical prose of Genesis 1-11ff. He wanted to believe in two accounts, *even though that is not present in the Hebrew* because it would lend support to God’s account of how He created to be poetry and not factual, and wanted to translate to fit that desire. for that reason I don’t really trust the ESV, especially at that particular point. (It is also clunky in terms of English style whenever they depart from the RSV it is based upon)

    The NRSV is a distorted translation, made to fit Bultmannian unbelieving positions, contrary to the grammatical-historical reading of the text. Probably on the Message – a flow-of-consciousness commentary not a translation, and that abomination the Archdruid of Canterbury likes are worse.

    If you must use a translation, the NASB (2nd ed) is the best for the NT, and the NIV is the best for the OT, according to my seminary professors.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon @ 38,

    “I simplified so that people could understand it. Stop the cheap rhetorical tricks.” You OVERsimplified it. There’s a difference, which is what I was talking about. I’m not using tricks. Since you’re calling yourself Anon, I have no way of knowing whether you are the Anon with whom I’ve had interactions. But if you were paying attention you’d know I don’t use tricks.

    “The rest of your statement about ring species is total speculation.” You like to make statements like this without providing any details. Can you pull a quote out of what I wrote and speak to it? We’re supposed to be having a discussion here, not two simultaneous monologues. I can’t respond to criticism if it amounts to “Nuh-uh! You’re wrong!”

    “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that life does not come from non-life, and that an effect cannot exceed the sum of its causes.” It’s a THOUGHT people are having, sure. It SEEMS to make sense that life couldn’t come from non-life; but it could also be our definition of life which is faulty. Things that are living sure have an interest in defining themselves as “more than” or “better than” things that are not, but it may just be our bias. Since you, once again, provide nothing for us to discuss, I can’t say much else. Well, other than to point you back to the studies of abiogenesis. Our conclusion that life cannot come from non-life seems to be a pet idea of ours, if you listen to what some of the scientists studying it say. I’m not saying they’re correct; but the idea is interesting to some people.

    “All you provide is fantasy.” Where? Can you actually point to something?

    “Yes, I do mean that felids, equids and canids should be regarded as one species in each case, as long as they can interfertilize. I’m not a member of the splitter faction, I side with the joiner faction in the current debate.” I admit I have NO IDEA what you’re talking about regarding “splitters” and “joiners.” If you can provide details, I would appreciate it. As far as the first part of your statement, it is ridiculous. You’re saying donkeys and horses are the same species? Does that mean tigers and lions are as well, since they can produce “liger” offspring? This is, perhaps, the most inane statement you make, if in fact you ARE saying what I think you’re saying. Since we use the term species for identification and categorization purposes, it is not useful to start saying any two animals that can interfertilize are part of the same species. The fact they can procreate, but have infertile offspring, to me is evidence that they are “in the cracks” between species. This, of course, is because I accept evolution. Since you don’t, I realize you will probably disagree with me here.

    “As far as we now know, Michael, there are no non-coding regions. That is the OS, and a few other programs.” What is the OS? You do not provide any information to dispute what I’m saying here, you just say I’m wrong. I remember saying I wasn’t going to have that kind of discussion with you; however, I am pretty patient, so I will await your response to see if you include any information to show mine is incorrect. As far as my research shows there ARE non-coding regions of DNA. They do what I said they do: give genes information for how much of a certain thing (usually proteins) to produce. They do not regulate heredity or anything like that. If you can show me where I’m wrong, I’d appreciate it.

    “I only dismiss stuff that I’ve looked at and seen the fallacy, or the lack of proof for. I used to believe in evolution.” Well, Anon, I used to be a Christian. And your point is…?

    “Stop the insults.” What insults? I’m careful not to call names. I’m sorry if you felt insulted by something I said, but I am unable to find anything you could call an insult in my last comment. Point it out and I’ll be happy to give a specific apology.

    “You do NOT know what goes on in my mind or what my reasons are. Please stop speculating about my thought processes.” Provide some information and I will stop speculating. As it is, you’ve left me nothing to go on.

    “The Discovery Institute scientists understand evolutionary biology a whole lot better than you do. So your kool-aid comment is -also- out of bounds.” I picked up the Kool-Aid line ON THIS BLOG. In fact, I’d never heard it before. But the Discovery Institute is not a scientific organization. I don’t even know where to begin debunking them, but I feel compelled to provide something here, since you mostly do not. One problem I’ve found in my searching through the DI website, is there are not a lot of POSITIVE claims made by proponents of ID. Rather, they usually say “Here’s where evolution is wrong!” Well, sorry to say, that’s not evidence for a theory. It MIGHT be evidence evolution is not correct, and if they can provide ACTUAL DATA that shows this, awesome. I have no problem with evolution being incorrect if it is SHOWN to be. It has not yet been. And DI has no evidence to offer FOR it’s claims. Showing evolution is wrong doesn’t automatically make YOUR position right. It just makes evolution wrong.

    I lament I am not able to find anything I can directly dispute on the DI website. See my reasons above.

    “Yes, the e. coli experiments do not show speciation.” I never said they showed speciation.

    “They do not show evolution. The show an expression of -pre-existing code- to fit the environmental condition. That is a sign of intelligent design, of someone putting in the code so that the e. coli could survive if placed in that situation.” But most of them DIDN’T survive! Only those with the necessary mutation lived. If it was a pre-existing code, why could Lenski reproduce the result if he began ONLY with the original group, and continued from generation 20,000? He froze cultures every 500 generations, allowing him to, in effect, “replay history” from any point; but it would not reproduce the same result if he began with a different culture, or before generation 20,000. In other words, this code could not have been pre-existing, or it would have reappeared in ANY of the generations, and under ANY experimental conditions. It did not. How do YOU explain this, Anon?

    “Dawkins agreed with ID in his interview with Ben Stein. He could accept ’space aliens’ being the designers. His sole concern was that there be no God. That is his chief motivating principle. He sees and said so, that neo-Darwinism is insufficient (as many evolutionary biologists also agree with) and that ID is indeed possible. He just hates Christians and Jews. Please don’t lie about the movie. Ok?” Ok! No problem! I haven’t lied, and will continue NOT lying. I don’t think you’re lying, BTW, even though you are misinformed. But allow me to set you straight. Prior to being interviewed for the film, Dawkins and many others received an email saying “My name is Mark Mathis. I am a Producer for Rampant Films. We are currently in production of the documentary film, ‘Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion.’…We are interested in asking you a number of questions about the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between Evolution, Creationism and the Intelligent Design movement.” Nothing in there that would lead someone to believe they would be interviewed for the kind of movie Expelled turned out to be.

    Here’s what the “Rampant Films” website gave as a summary of the film: “It has been the central question of humanity through the ages: How in the world did we get here? In 1859 Charles Darwin provided the answer in his landmark book, ‘The Origin of Species.’ In the century and a half since, geologists, biologists, physicists, astronomers, and philosophers have contributed a vast amount of research and data in support of Darwin’s idea. And yet, millions of Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other people of faith believe in a literal interpretation that humans were crafted by the hand of God. The conflict between science and religion has unleashed passions in school board meetings, courtrooms, and town halls across America and beyond.” Sound like Expelled to you? Of course not. It makes no mention of professorships being lost, journal articles being rejected, etc., due to anything ID related. In fact, it makes the documentary sound as if it will be a balanced look at both sides, which it was not.

    As far as the “Aliens could have done it” stuff, you are absolutely wrong. Dawkins WAS quoted out of context. Here’s Dawkins’ response: “My concern here is that my science fiction thought experiment — however implausible — was designed to illustrate intelligent design’s closest approach to being plausible. I was most emphatically NOT saying that I believed the thought experiment. Quite the contrary. I do not believe it (and I don’t think Francis Crick believed it either). I was bending over backwards to make the best case I could for a form of intelligent design. And my clear implication was that the best case I could make was a very implausible case indeed. In other words, I was using the thought experiment as a way of demonstrating strong opposition to all theories of intelligent design.” Hmmm. But he must be lying. Right? Even though Stein posed the question as a hypothetical, and Dawkins was reticent to answer. When Stein pressed him, reiterating this was “only hypothetical,” Dawkins answered. To put it nicely, Stein was misleading. To be blunt, STEIN was the one lying, because he proceeded to clip out all the things Dawkins said about being uncomfortable with the question, or that he would answer it as a thought experiment to show ID at its most plausible was still highly improbable. That, Anon, is the very definition of “out of context.” Stein basically quote-mined his own interviewee.

    “He wasn’t quoted out of context. Dawkins has no real ethics, other than his own will to power and pleasure, being an atheist.” This is not true. If you’d like to know what Dawkins ethics are, you can read his books or check out his website. But I don’t want to go on about this anymore, as it makes me seem like a Dawkins-head. I don’t even call myself an atheist anymore. I decided that after dialoging with people on this blog, and realizing the atheist position is TOO CERTAIN, just the same as the religious position. I’m not interested in SAYING I’m certain when I’m not.

    “Darwin’s explanation of the eye is completely inadequate to explain what we know about the eye. You are 150 years behind the times there.” Actually, it’s the DI that’s behind here, or ID in general. They’re the ones who bring up the eye all the time. It’s evolved independently many times, and these eyes are all different. Some are better than others. NONE are perfect. ALL have their problems. I would say this is evidence that they were not created in a lab. Paley’s argument from design may posit a watch on a heath; but does anyone really want to compare HUMANS to WATCHES? Ridiculous.

    “Major examples do include the bacterial flagellum…No disproofs have yet been provided, and the PRINCIPLE has certainly not been disproven.” Right. This one is pretty easy, because it HAS been disproved. Here is one argument, from Kenneth R. Miller, professor of biology at Brown University:

    “Pathogenic, or disease-causing, bacteria threaten the organisms they infect in a variety of ways, one of which is to produce poisons and inject them directly into the cells of the body. Once inside, these toxins break down and destroy the host cells, producing illness, tissue damage, and sometimes even death…In order to carry out this diabolical work, bacteria must not only produce the protein toxins that bring about the demise of their hosts, but they must efficiently inject them across the cell membranes and into the cells of their hosts. They do this by means of any number of specialized protein secretory systems. One, known as the type III secretory system (TTSS), allows gram negative bacteria to translocate proteins directly into the cytoplasm of a host cell…At first glance, the existence of the TTSS, a nasty little device that allows bacteria to inject these toxins through the cell membranes of its unsuspecting hosts, would seem to have little to do with the flagellum. However, molecular studies of proteins in the TTSS have revealed a surprising fact – the proteins of the TTSS are directly homologous to the proteins in the basal portion of the bacterial flagellum…Stated directly, the TTSS does its dirty work using a handful of proteins from the base of the flagellum…The existence of the TTSS in a wide variety of bacteria demonstrates that a small portion of the “irreducibly complex” flagellum can indeed carry out an important biological function. Since such a function is clearly favored by natural selection, the contention that the flagellum must be fully-assembled before any of its component parts can be useful is obviously incorrect. What this means is that the argument for intelligent design of the flagellum has failed.”

    (Apologies, as I don’t know how to do any of the fancy HTML stuff others do…)

    Since this is long, I will save the rest – including the Behe stuff – for another post. That’ll give you a chance to do some rebutting, if you can.

  • Michael the little boot

    Joe @ 41,

    Yeah, you’re right. Evolution falls into that category, too, unfortunately for you.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon,

    The NRSV is translated conservitavely. It only translates the words based on context and knowledge of the language, rather than on a theological basis. So, if it doesn’t agree with your theology or philosophy, that’s why.

    “If you must use a translation, the NASB (2nd ed) is the best for the NT, and the NIV is the best for the OT, according to my seminary professors.” The NIV is best for nothing. It is theologically biased. The best translation of the OT – or, rather, the First Testament, or better still, The HEBREW SCRIPTURES – is a Jewish translation. It doesn’t insert a bunch of stuff that wasn’t there in the first place.

  • Michael the little boot

    Oops. “Conservatively.” Need more coffee…

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon @ 38 again,

    “What is your source on Behe under oath, and what specific bacterial machine was he supposedly talking about?” His own testimony in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case, for one. Here are some excerpts from the judge’s decision: “… in turning to Defendants’ lead expert, Professor Behe, his testimony at trial indicated that ID is only a scientific, as opposed to a religious, project for him; however, considerable evidence was introduced to refute this claim. Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition’s validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe’s assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition…”

    Okay, that is just to set up Behe’s bias. Here’s something from New Scientist: “Because ID has been rejected by virtually every scientist and science organisation, and has never once passed the muster of a peer-reviewed journal paper, Behe admitted that the controversial theory would not be included in the NAS definition. ‘I can’t point to an external community that would agree that this was well substantiated,’ he said. Behe said he had come up with his own ‘broader’ definition of a theory, claiming that this more accurately describes the way theories are actually used by scientists. ‘The word is used a lot more loosely than the NAS defined it,’ he says. Rothschild suggested that Behe’s definition was so loose that astrology would come under this definition as well. He also pointed out that Behe’s definition of theory was almost identical to the NAS’s definition of a hypothesis. Behe agreed with both assertions. The exchange prompted laughter from the court, which was packed with local members of the public and the school board.”

    So, there you have it. Since people don’t seem to be reading this thread anymore, or at least have stopped commenting, I’ll just leave a couple last comments…

    “And evolution IS the theory of molecules to man, where Dawkins and others wish to redefine science in order to disallow the possibility of God -by definition- rather than by proof.” Who’s disputing evolution being the theory of molecules to “man” besides you, Anon? I’m certainly not. I actually called into question our love of the idea that there’s a huge difference between molecules and humans, or molecules and any other animal, or non-living things and living things, for that matter. I’m saying it sounds possible to me that the change from simple to complex could have given rise to consciousness. I’m not saying it did. Just saying it’s a plausible argument.

    “There are not two divergent creation stories in Genesis 1-2. That is a falsehood that some translators, wishing there to be two, in order to undermine God’s account of Creation, have tried to make appear. It isn’t there in the Hebrew.” Really? Because I learned that it IS there in the Hebrew from my theology and scripture prof’s at a CHRISTIAN college. So at least we can agree there is a dispute? You didn’t provide any evidence for your claim, so it sounds like baseless defensiveness.

    “I’m sorry you don’t know enough about the different currents in evolutionism to keep up with me. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so dogmatic under those circumstances.” Who’s name-calling and speculating NOW, Anon? You obviously can’t keep up with the SCIENCE, as you have had a couple days to respond to my last comment, and have not. Perhaps you’ve lost interest? Or are you just so far past me down the road of superiority that you can no longer hear me calling out to you?

  • Michael the little boot

    tODD,

    Still pondering your comments, in case you’re monitoring this thread…

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon,

    Sorry. Behe was referring to the flagellum, as we were discussing.

  • Michael the little boot

    tODD @ 39,

    Okay, after some reflection I would say you’re doing a bit of theological flailing here, dude.

    “You seem to think that Genesis 2 is a complete retelling of the creation. In short, I do not. I see it as Moses, having told the whole story of creation from beginning to end, jumping back and highlighting one particular aspect of it…” I have to wonder why he changes things so much in the retelling. You talked about the vegetation exclusively, even though I mentioned other things. You didn’t say anything about the different order in which God created the animals, and you failed to discuss the BIG difference in how God created humans. But we’ll leave those aside for a moment.

    “Read more of Moses’ (or other contemporary Hebrew) writings and tell me if this isn’t a common technique.” It tends to be a common technique of ancient Hebrew poets. Hebrew prose is not uniform in this usage, so we have no way of knowing if this is an example of the practice. As an aside, can you really think these are books of Moses? That’s a rhetorical title, as most writings were attributed to a famous persona at the time these books were written. I mean, Moses DIES in one of the books…You can say it’s a case of someone finishing the writing, as in the new Dune or Tolkien books, but there’s no evidence to support that. There’s no evidence to support ANY specific authorship.

    “Now, I see where you are coming from here and there, and I am afraid I must rely, lamely, on what the translators have given me — I cannot translate independently.” All good. Me too, so don’t worry about it. We’re both lame on this count! :)

    “However, I’d like to first disagree that the issue of vegetation is not ‘really important’ to the presence of dust or not, anymore than it is today. There is ‘dust of the ground’ right now, though there is also lots of vegetation.” That’s the thing: I’m not deciding what’s important. The author did that! The author says specifically that there was dust BECAUSE there was no vegetation. This is the difference between schools of translation. The school I find to be more responsible does AS LITTLE “inserting” into the text as they can manage (they are, after all, human!). They just translate, as plainly as they can. Yes, there is dust of the ground now, even though we have vegetation. What does that have to do with the fact that the AUTHOR draws the parallel? I think you’re the one not really looking at the text here. You don’t get to decide what’s important, tODD. If it’s there, it’s important, because the AUTHOR decided it was so.

    I see the distinction you’re making between the types of vegetation mentioned. If that was the only thing I had brought up to call these two accounts into question, I’d say you at least presented your case well. But you failed to mention the other two things I brought up. There’s nothing in the two accounts that makes a distinction between types of animals (on one day, the birds and sea animals were created – a total blunder, since some “sea animals” are actually mammals – and on the next, the animals of the ground) in the same way as it does vegetation. In addition, you didn’t say anything about the fact that in one account God created male and female humans on the sixth day, THEN RESTED on the seventh; but in the other account, God creates man first, lets him go on his merry way naming animals, THEN discovers Adam needs a partner. Are you saying Adam named ALL THE ANIMALS ON EARTH between the time God created him, and, say, NOON on that day, giving time for God to see IN LESS THAN A DAY that Adam needed a helper, putting him to sleep and creating Eve, ALL BEFORE GOD RESTED on the seventh day? Of course, I’m speculating. You may not be saying that. But NOTHING is in the text to harmonize these two accounts. The reader is forced to do so, IF the reader wants to read these two stories as being parts of the same account. Yours is not a conservative reading of the text, as you’re inserting a lot of things that may or may not be there.

    Which leads me back to my original estimation of your reading: you pick the reading of the first account of Creation, then harmonize the second account to fit the first. You still haven’t shown how your reading doesn’t add a lot to what is there, nor have you accounted for the further differences between the stories which I highlighted.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Michael, this has gotten insanely long! Email may be better for this at some point, or maybe we’ll both peter out soon. Anyhow, you can reach me at an email address where the first part is my handle here, and the part after the “at” sign is toddstadler.com.

    Anyhow, you said (@50), “I have to wonder why he changes things so much in the retelling.” Of course, I would argue (and have done so) that such is not the case. I’ll expound on that further in this comment.

    I didn’t mean to ignore your other comments — I just didn’t see them when I reread your comment in order to compose mine. You must understand that I now have several tabs open on my browser to various Bible translations, not to mention tabs open to your various comments. It’s hard to keep track of everything and then condense it into one comment. Just saying.

    Regarding the “importance” of there being no vegetation to the presence of dust, you said, “I’m not deciding what’s important. The author did that! The author says specifically that there was dust BECAUSE there was no vegetation.” Sorry, but I don’t see it in the text (NRSV quote here, for you):

    In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground — then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

    We’re getting out in the weeds here (ha), but all he says is that at that time, when there were no “plant[s] of the field”, God “formed man from the dust of the ground”. There is no expressed causality, though you infer it. All I see is the author setting the scene and time. The only causality in that passage is the clause that begins “for the LORD God”, which explains why there was no “plant[s] of the field” yet.

    I would argue that this is a good example of how difficult it is to translate anything in a truly neutral way. We both agree that it’s important to translate things as accurately as possible, but even in reading an English passage as plainly as we can, we come to different conclusions. You may question my ability to do so impartially (I may do the same to you), but that’s the point. There is no truly neutral position. When more than one translation is possible, something must guide us.

    As an example, there’s your statement, “Can you really think these are books of Moses? That’s a rhetorical title, as most writings were attributed to a famous persona at the time these books were written.” Boy, and you accused me of reading into the text! :) Of course, in this case, the text I refer to is the whole of the Bible, which contains several references to these books as being authored by Moses, including in the Pentateuch itself. (For the sake of brevity — or what’s left of it — I’m not going to go into these references, but we can talk about them if you want.)

    Of course, one could argue that these references are to pieces of the Pentateuch, not the whole thing. Fair enough. I’m not going to argue that Moses wrote more than the Bible itself says he did, though you’d have to indicate why you believe Moses didn’t write the parts not specifically credited to him.

    As to the idea that Moses’ dying in the Pentateuch precludes the possibility of him writing them, this is more an admission of your not accepting the possibility of prophecy. Jesus told the disciples much about his own death and resurrection, and many other prophets told of things that had not yet happened, so why could Moses not be inspired to write of his own death? The only answer you could give me, I think, is that you don’t believe God inspired those words or that prophecy is possible — both answers from outside the text and indicative of a bias, no?

    Anyhow, on to the order of the Creation. First, to an aside of yours: “on one day, the birds and sea animals were created — a total blunder, since some ‘sea animals’ are actually mammals” This is, of course, only a “blunder” if one is trying to harmonize the biblical order with evolution. I’m not trying to do so. Regardless, this can only be judged a blunder if one brings in external sources, not from reading the text itself.

    Now, I did notice one thing that I can’t find if you brought up, so I’ll just do so myself: the question of whether God made animals before or after Adam. This, unfortunately, will be left unresolved by me, since it comes down to a translation issue. Here is how Gen. 2:19 (well, most of it) is translated in the NRSV:

    So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them

    And in the ESV:

    Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them

    “Formed” vs. “Had formed”. Does the Hebrew text allow both? Is one a “reading into”? I have no idea. I couldn’t even tell you if the whole passage, which appears to be one very long sentence in the Hebrew (from what little I can tell), carries with it a strong chronology or not, as it seems to do in English.

    This does raise an interesting question. Why do you prefer the NRSV if you don’t know any Hebrew? I get my information on translations’ accuracy from pastors, whom I know to have studied Hebrew quite a bit. So I outsource my Hebrew knowledge, as it were. On what authority do you consider the NRSV best?

    Anyhow, I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your problem with the timing in the second account. Can you spell it out for me, assuming I’m not familiar with your argument?

    That said, I will comment on one thing you said: “Are you saying Adam named ALL THE ANIMALS ON EARTH … ?” Hold on, let’s go to the text again (again, in NRSV for you):

    So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the manb there was not found a helper as his partner.

    I may be reading it too literally (not something you’d accuse me of, I’d think), but I don’t see in that passage Adam naming “ALL THE ANIMALS ON EARTH”. I see cattle, animals “of the field”, and birds. I couldn’t necessarily tell you what subset of all known members of kingdom Animalia that specifically includes, but it does seem to be a subset, no?

    Of me, you said, “you pick the reading of the first account of Creation, then harmonize the second account to fit the first.” Well, yes, the text itself would suggest this, wouldn’t it? It puts the first account … first. And it doesn’t call the second account a different one. It just presents it. So either way, you and I both are going to be reading into it our analysis of whether the accounts conflict or not. I have stated my reasons for why I see no conflict, apart from the “had formed/formed” issue (which I cannot resolve, and, I predict, will devolve into an issue of which (biased) translator we think is best), and the issue of the chronology of the sixth day, which you’ll have to explain to me more clearly so I even see the problem.

    I really am not trying to be daft here. I really don’t see what you see. Do you bring this reading technique to any other work you encounter? Is it really your assumption that adjacent passages in a work are in conflict? That seems to be what you’re bringing to these two chapters here.

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