Evolution Weekend

Evolution Weekend January 25, 2014

Evolution Weekend 2014 is fast approaching – it is February 7-9 this year. Progressive Christians in particular will want to seize the opportunity to emphasize that rejection of mainstream science is not something that Christians need to do or ought to do.

 

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  • Just Sayin’

    And I’m willing to bet that whatever Hamster has to say about Evolution Weekend won’t exactly be very “irenic”!

  • Tony Breeden

    Progressive Christian is just a name for someone who cannot answer the basic questions of the faith without being recognized as a heretic or an outright apostate because they don’t really believe . Christianity’s sourcebook in the first place.

    • Presumably there was some identification of Christianity’s “sourcebook” in that last sentence that was inadvertently left out?

      I’m not sure that Paul was overly concerned that some called him a heretic, when he argued for the inclusion of uncircumcised Gentiles in the people of God despite the clear teaching of Scripture. But as a Christian, I would be concerned to be lining up in the way you are on the side of the logic of Paul’s opponents.

      • Tony Breeden

        You’re a Christian? How would one ever objectively come to that conclusion except for your claim to the title? You treat the Bible like Aesop’s Fables and claim that the accounts of his burial and resurrection were fabrications meant to cover up an embarrassing Messianic mis-fire simply because you hold to a purely naturalistic philosophy and like to pretend that’s objective even though it subjectively rules out the supernatural from all consideration a priori; you even regurgitate Oppenheimer’s debunked mass hallucination speculation when it comes to the resurrection of Christ; as per Romans 10:9. you could never be considered an authentic Christian believer because you refuse to embrace that Jesus physically died and rose again [by this we mean he medically died and then came back to life]. It’s as if you decided one day you’d like to be called black and when faced with the obviously contrary shade of melanin in your skin you re-defined black calling it “progressive black” rather than admit that you weren’t black. A man with more intellectual integrity would stop pretending he’s a Christian. For example, when I believed the sort of tripe you now believe, I called myself an agnostic [and never an “agnostic Christian”] and answered questions of my unbelief in a concise and forthright manner rather than the dissemblance I often get from you and Zimmerman. [Or do you not recall the whole Ackbar resurrection question dodge you pulled a few months back?]

        • Ackbar resurrection dodge? It is not my fault that in your last comment you didn’t finish your sentence, leaving your meaning obscure. What were you going to say is the sourcebook for Christianity? And why do I have a feeling that what was missing was something other than the name Jesus?

          I am a Christian first and foremost because I surrendered my life to God and had the experience of being born again. Have you had such an experience? What additional things are you inclined to add alongside it in order for someone to qualify as a Christian?

          • Tony Breeden

            The Bible is Christianity’s sourcebook. Odd that you “surrendered” your life to God but treat the Bible like Aesop’s fables. Any born again experience that does not include believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead [rather than believing it was all a mass hallucination or whatever] is invalid per Romans 10:9. Just saying you’re a Christian doesn’t make you one. It is hubris to suggest anything other than that Jesus as revealed in the Bible is the sourcebook for Christianity. You’re a pretender, McGrath. Your fruit of unbelief reveals what sort of tree you are; Christianity and salvation are about belief not doubt and unbelief.

          • Even if one were to grant that the Bible is Christianity’s sourcebook, that still would not justify your stance. The Bible includes a wide array of different kinds of literature. Mine does not include a preface to the Book of Genesis instructing the reader to set aside everything they know about literature, and to not mistake stories featuring talking animals for something other than history.

          • Darth Robo

            If just saying you’re a Christian isn’t enough, then every claim on Earth is just as valid.

            You didn’t think that through very well, did you?

        • From what I’ve heard, Tony, James McGrath hasn’t even been circumcised, and has been known to eat meat offered to idols. Thank goodness that you deny Christianity to the ignorant hordes who don’t agree with you.

  • Sean Garrigan

    It’s a good time to reflect on the fact that:

    a) Evolution is embraced by many for religious and anti-religious reasons, with atheists on the one side reflecting an ABGP mentality (anything but God, please!), and deists and theists on the other side offering the ill-conceived notion that if creation is true then God is a monster (Ayala, McGrath).

    b) Scientists have admitted that we have no Darwinian accounts of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of *wishful* speculations.

    c) Inference to intelligent causation is ruled out in biology because it is assumed that, in the context of that discipline, intelligent causation implies supernatural causation and science can’t speak to the supernatural.

    d) Even folks as anti-theistic as Richard Dawkins admit that biology is the study of things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. I would put it even stronger: All around us are life forms that exhibit a patently purposeful arrangement of exquisitely coordinated parts.

    e) Folks like McGrath often parry with questions like, “Do you reject the science of meteorology?” Or, “Do you believe that God is responsible for every thunderstorm or tornado?” The questions are not thoughtfully conceived, because (1) Darwinism touches theistic and anti-theistic motivations to an extent greater than any other theory out there, and this makes it inevitable that biases will influence people’s thinking, and (2) such questions are comparing apples with oranges. For evolution to be comparible with tornados, for example, the latter would have to do things like sweep through a dominoes factory, picking up millions and millions of dominoes, then gently set them all down so that they formed a beautiful artistic representation of the Brooklyn Bridge. Moreover, they’d have to be arranged in such a way that when you dropped one domino against another, they’d all begin to fall in sequence in a breathtaking display.

    f) The hyperbolic statement that nothing makes sense in biology except in light of evolution is logically equivalent to the statement that everything makes sense in biology in light of evolution, yet scientists admit that there’s much that we don’t know and understand, and it doesn’t seem to make much sense to claim that what we don’t know and understand makes sense in light of evolution.

    g) In harmony with f, irreducibly complex structures don’t seem to make sense in light of evolution.

    etc, etc, etc…

    I’ll conclude with a question I’ve asked before: If all the parts of an outboard motor lay on a counter before you, what would you rely upon more than anything else to assemble the parts into a working motor? Hint: The answer is not “instructions”, because there are people out there, like an old friend of mine, who can assemble motors and get them working without instructions.

    • $41348855

      I think point c is an interesting one. As you imply, it is wrong to rule out design on the grounds that the designer must be supernatural. I think we should assume that if there is a designer then the designer must be a non-supernatural one – perhaps something like ourselves. This makes the theory of design eminently testable.

      If there is a designer then it must have been at work over a period of literally several billion years. The first bacteria appeared about 3.5 billion years ago; the first eukaryotes appeared about 2 billion years ago; the first animals appeared about 600 million years ago; anatomically modern humans appeared about 200 thousand years ago. That is one very dedicated designer. Since the designer has been at work for so long, we have no reason to think that it has stopped now. We should expect new species to be still appearing now. Perhaps we should look out for a delivery of a completely new species from an alien spaceship.

      Another thing that we should bear in mind about the products of design is that they break down. Evolution is the only known means by which mistakes can be corrected without intelligent intervention. Therefore, we should expect to see life constantly breaking down and having to be repaired by the designer.

      By the way, here’s that link again to the essay about the evolution of the flagellum: http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

      I look forward to your detailed critique.

      • I also think it must be noted that this argument puts the cart before the horse. We as human build complex things, but that is often us imitating nature. We also have complex systems within us. And so to say that, because we as being who consist of complex systems and observe complex systems also make complex systems, therefore only beings like us can make complex systems, simply begs the question.

        Even more than that, however, there is the question of whether God can make a universe capable of self-organization. If so, then there is no way to make the case that design reflects direct design by a tinkering god as opposed to the result of natural processes in a universe made by an extremely clever God. And if not, then you are insisting that God must by definition be limited in these particular ways.

        • $41348855

          Indeed. I am reminded of the ontological argument. A God who creates a universe in which life can evolve is greater than one who creates the universe first and then has to create everything in it separately. I wonder what Plantinga would make of that?

        • Sean Garrigan

          “And so to say that, because we as being who consist of complex systems
          and observe complex systems also make complex systems, therefore only
          beings like us can make complex systems, simply begs the question.”

          To say that since science provides the best answer to questions a and b it therefore also provides the best answer to question c is also begging the question. If the ID side is correct and intelligence was and is involved in biology, then science, in light of it’s own self-imposed restrictions, won’t be able to give the right answer.

          “Even more than that, however, there is the question of whether God can
          make a universe capable of self-organization. If so, then there is no
          way to make the case that design reflects direct design by a tinkering
          god as opposed to the result of natural processes in a universe made by
          an extremely clever God. And if not, then you are insisting that God
          must by definition be limited in these particular ways.”

          The sort of self-organization you describe would be an example of intelligent design.

          • Not the sort of Intelligent Design that seeks to undermine the work of biologists.

            Criminology provides a nice analogy, as it too deals with normal occurrences of cause and effect. If we cannot find a mundane explanation for someone’s death, we leave the case unexplained. To allow the conclusion to be drawn in such cases that God must have wanted the person dead and brought it about is problematic. To do so prematurely is criminal.

            Can you imagine what would have happened if we had ceased to seek natural explanations for things that previous generations said could only have a supernatural explanation? Can you really not see the scientific and theological problems with your stance?

          • Sean Garrigan

            “Can you imagine what would have happened if we had ceased to seek
            natural explanations for things that previous generations said could
            only have a supernatural explanation? Can you really not see the
            scientific and theological problems with your stance?”

            As I’ve pointed out, comparing things like tornadoes to biological structures is a flawed comparison. To be truly analogous, tornadoes would have to do things like taking up a billion dominoes and creating an exquisite representation of the Brooklyn Bridge. Moreover, the dominoes would be setup in such a way that you could start at one end and drop one of them against the next one and then watch them all fall in an exciting artistic display. That’s not what tornadoes are like, though.

            I am not aware of any theological problems with ID that are not shared by your side, but I am aware of significant problems with your side from a biblical and a philosophical perspective that are not shared by ID.

            One big problem with your side of the argument is that death and suffering aren’t the result of man’s fall, but just mundane parts of life as a physical creature in a physical environment. God isn’t allowing pain and suffering to occur because they are the consequences of our sin; he’s just letting it happen, just as he has since the beginning of the emergence of life. Assuming he has control over creation, he could choose to stop the death and suffering — the communities wiped out by tsunamis or earthquakes or volcanoes or sickness and disease and hunger — but he just doesn’t, for no reason we can discern with any confidence since the biblical one is supposedly false.

          • You are merely asserting what you need to prove. We find living things in nature. We do not find tornados stacking things into bridges. Saying that the former is like the latter at best merely begs the question, and at worst seems like an attempt to short-circuit discussion by pretending that your analogy demonstrates something other than your deep conviction that life arising through natural processes in a universe like ours is so unlikely as to be impossible. But putting it in that more honest way is less likely to fool anyone into thinking that you have some spectacular insight.

          • I don’t think ID proponents would appreciate your argumentation here:

            You say, “If the ID side is correct and intelligence was and is involved in biology, then science, in light of it’s own self-imposed restrictions, won’t be able to give the right answer.”

            Too bad for all the proponents of ID, who claim that it is a “science”; in fact, all the top proponents of ID claim that it doesn’t presuppose God.

  • John B. Andelin

    There is no evidence that any laws of the universe can result in the spontaneous generation of complexity.

    • So? Do you think that has some bearing on the extensive evidence for biological evolution?

      I take it you have never taken a close look at a snowflake?

    • Darth Robo

      Then nothing in the universe exists, according to Mr Andelin. Naive little philosophical rookie.