Ben Stein Vs. Sputtering Atheists

Townhall | Brent Bozell III | Apr. 18, 2008

Everyone should take the opportunity to see “Expelled” — if nothing else, as a bracing antidote to the atheism-friendly culture of PC liberalism. But it’s far more than that. It’s a spotlight on the arrogance of this movement and its leaders, a spotlight on the choking intolerance of academia, and a spotlight on the ignorance of so many who say so much, yet know so very little.

[...]

I confess that when the producers of Ben Stein’s new documentary “Expelled” called, offering me a private screening, I was less than excited.

It is a reality of PC liberalism: There is only one credible side to an issue, and any dissent is not only rejected, it is scorned. Global warming. Gay “rights.” Abortion “rights.” On these and so many other issues there is enlightenment, and then there is the Idiotic Other Side. PC liberalism’s power centers are the news media, the entertainment industry and academia, and all are in the clutches of an unmistakable hypocrisy: Theirs is an ideology that preaches the freedom of thought and expression at every opportunity, yet practices absolute intolerance toward dissension.

Evolution is another one of those one-sided debates. We know the concept of Intelligent Design is stifled in academic circles. An entire documentary to state the obvious? You can see my reluctance to view it.

I went into the screening bored. I came out of it stunned.

Ben Stein’s extraordinary presentation documents how the worlds of science and academia not only crush debate on the origins of life, but also crush the careers of professors who dare to question the Darwinian hypothesis of evolution and natural selection.

Stein asks a simple question: What if the universe began with an intelligent designer, a designer named God? He assembles a stable of academics — experts all — who dared to question Darwinist assumptions and found themselves “expelled” from intellectual discourse as a result. They include evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg (sandbagged at the Smithsonian), biology professor Caroline Crocker (drummed out of George Mason University), and astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez (blackballed at Iowa State University).

That’s disturbing enough, but what Stein does next is truly shocking. He allows the principal advocates of Darwinism to speak their minds. These are experts with national reputations, regular welcomed guests on network television and the like. But the public knows them only by their careful seven-second soundbites. Stein engages them in conversation. They speak their minds. They become sputtering ranters, openly championing their sheer hatred of religion.

PC liberalism has showered accolades on atheist author Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book “The God Delusion.” But when Stein suggests to Dawkins that he’s been critical of the Old Testament God, Dawkins protests — not that Stein is wrong, but that he’s being too mild. He then reads from this jaw-dropping paragraph of his book:

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Comments

  1. Steve Kurian says:

    I loved the movie I just wished that he spent more time explaining what Intelligent Design actually is. The viewer can’t go in with the assumption that creationism is interchangeable with ID.

  2. It’s understood that God had nothing to do with the origins of life on Earth. What, then, is the alternate explanation? Stein asks these experts[...]

    I’m not sure if the conflation here is Bozell’s or the film’s, but the theory of evolution (so-called “Darwinism”) isn’t a theory about how life began; it’s an explanation of speciation.

  3. The viewer can’t go in with the assumption that creationism is interchangeable with ID.

    That’s a good point. Doesn’t intelligent design leave open the identity of the designer? I’m not sure Bozell’s article makes this clear.

  4. Jim Holman says:

    Some friendly advice before anyone takes this movie “to the bank.”

    A number of web sites, including some by the very atheists/evolutionists interviewed in the movie, have raised some serious questions about the movie, including PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, both of whom were interviewed in the movie.

    The movie producer originally presented this movie as simply a balanced look at the issues involved under the title “Crossroads.” Thus the evolutionists interviewed did not understand that this movie was going to be a critique of evolution and a defense of ID.

    This led to some innocent statements being taken out of context. For example, Richard Dawkins explains the “aliens” reference in the Townhall article:

    Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred….and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet….I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence…

    Well, you will have guessed how Mathis/Stein handled this….Stein said something like this. “What? Richard Dawkins BELIEVES IN INTELLIGENT DESIGN.” “Richard Dawkins BELIEVES IN ALIENS FROM OUTER SPACE.”

    Another problem is that people have investigated the folks who were supposedly “expelled” from their jobs for supporting ID. The stories, upon investigation, deviate considerably from what the movie claims.

    The movie actually contradicts the most important claim of ID — that it is a completely scientific, non-religious, non-theistic theory. The Townhall article states that “Stein asks a simple question: What if the universe began with an intelligent designer, a designer named God?” Ok, great question, but that’s completely different from the argument raised in Kitzmiller v. Dover.

    But don’t take my word for it. Do the research yourself. There’s a lot of information available. See what you think.

  5. Jim, We all know that your liberal definition of “balanced” really means, “with a predominantly leftist/secularist or radical liberal slant”, so of course the movie will not look “balanced” to you. Thanks for the good laugh!

  6. Jim Holman says:

    Chris B. writes: “Thanks for the good laugh!”

    Happy to oblige. But the fact is that the scientists who participated in the film were misled about the true purpose of the film. They agreed to be in a film called “Crossroads” that was about evolution and intelligent design. They ended up in a film called “Expelled” that was about people who supposedly lost their jobs because of their view on intelligent design.

    As the New York Times reported

    Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist who heads the National Center for Science Education, said she agreed to be filmed after receiving what she described as a deceptive invitation.

    “I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where people’s views are different than mine, and that’s fine,” Dr. Scott said, adding that she would have appeared in the film anyway. “I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/science/27expelled.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    On top of that, their interviews were often edited to make them appear to be fools. Thus Richard Dawkins is made to appear that he “believes in aliens,” and so on.

    Since the domain name for the Expelled film’s web site was purchased before any of the interviews were done, it is clear that true intent of the film was intentionally withheld from the participating scientists from the start.

    I think you also would be offended were you interviewed for a movie that supposedly was about examining different religious views, and then you discovered that the movie was made by atheists attacking religion, in which you were made to look like a sputtering fool. Certainly there would be something unfair about that, yes?

    But as I said before, there’s plenty of information on the web, so people should feel free to do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

  7. How does one prove “scientifically” the existence of a “designer”? What does that mean, anyhow?

    Science concerns itself with the testable and quantifiable (i.e., that which can be “measured”). While I’m personally dissatisfied with much of evolutionary theory (even from a scientific stand point), I’m not sure how one can scientifically approach that which is completely beyond all that is in any way measurable. It’s just not the realm of science any more than a study of physics is useful in critiquing a musical performance.

    Philosophy perhaps.

    The other thing is that even if philosophy leads us to conclude that there is a First Cause (and this, to me, is not an unreasonable conclusion), I’m not sure that the philosophy can conclude much about that Cause given the state of humanity.

    What does Creation say about the designer? I don’t know. You tell me.

  8. Note 6. Jim writes:

    Happy to oblige. But the fact is that the scientists who participated in the film were misled about the true purpose of the film. They agreed to be in a film called “Crossroads” that was about evolution and intelligent design. They ended up in a film called “Expelled” that was about people who supposedly lost their jobs because of their view on intelligent design.

    I find this a bit far-fetched simply because what I have seen on the trailers (have not seen the film yet) meshes with many public statements these prominent evolutionists have made about religion. The truth is that they are flabbergasted that anyone takes religion at all seriously, and when asked to explain their own views it is clear they have done little serious thinking on the higher questions. For them the “God question” is already closed — precluded by assumptions of the Darwinist narrative (random creation, etc.). What strikes me as particularly ironic is that the notion of a “big bang” (to which they all ascribe) depends solely on linear time — a concept introduced into human culture through Genesis. They are Judeo-Christian in their deep structure thinking (the bedrock categories), but fail to see how science itself is indebted to the religion that they think is outmoded.

  9. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “I find this a bit far-fetched simply because what I have seen on the trailers (have not seen the film yet) meshes with many public statements these prominent evolutionists have made about religion.”

    Well, all I can say is that the “expelled” domain name was registered in March 2007, before most of the interview invitations were even sent out. It should have been easy to tell the people being interviewed what the movie was actually about.

    But more to your point, why were atheists chosen to represent the “scientific” viewpoint? For many religious people, there is no inconsistency between religious beliefs and an acceptance of evolution. One blog explains this nicely:

    Expelled makes a big point of connecting atheism to advocacy of evolution, reinforcing the “conspiracy” theme that atheist scientists are actively repressing intelligent design advocacy. The movie sets up an unnecessary dichotomy between science and religion by pretending that a selected group of atheist scientists represent all scientists…. In truth, the religious views of scientists reflect a wide range: it is impossible for any one scientist to reflect the diversity of opinion among scientists, any more than the Pope or Jimmy Swaggart can speak for all Christians. To present only one of the views about religion among scientists as characteristic of all of them is inaccurate at best, and dishonest at worst. But it is part of the strategy to link evolution to atheism.

    http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/science-religion

    But religious scientists were intentionally excluded from the movie. According to producer Mathis, in his personal opinion including them would have “confused the film unnecessarily.”
    http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=999

    Another big problem in the movie is that it inaccurately portrays the situations of the people who were supposedly discriminated against because of their ID-related beliefs.
    The following web site details the claims vs. the facts about those who were “expelled.”
    http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth

    Personally, I don’t worry about what folks in this venue think about the film, or whether they agree with me. All I’m saying is that if especially you want to defend the film in other venues, there is a lot of other contrary material that’s going to come up. My advice is to do the research and then decide if this is a film that you want to go to the barricades over or recommend to others.

  10. Note 7. James writes:

    How does one prove “scientifically” the existence of a “designer”? What does that mean, anyhow?

    You don’t. Intelligent Design contends that the universe is not a product of chance, that is, science it is proving that the Darwinian hypothesis, particularly random evolution, is untenable. Rather, the universe shows evidence of design which implies the existence of a designer, but no claim is made that science somehow “proves” a designer exists. Conclusions of this sort lie beyond the reach of science.

    Rather the Darwinian hypothesis depends on philosophical materialism, a philosophy popular in Darwin’s time that contends that only matter constitutes reality. Darwinian evolution is actually the creation story of the philosophical materialist.

    You need to read up on this more, James.

    Start here: Evolution and Me

  11. Rather the Darwinian hypothesis depends on philosophical materialism, a philosophy popular in Darwin’s time that contends that only matter constitutes reality.

    I don’t think that Darwin’s hypothesis is inconsistent with the philosophy that such things as energy and light exist, and their existence was certainly not unknown in his day.

  12. These paragraphs from the “Evolution and Me” article Fr. Hans posted, really cut to the core of the debate and reveal key truths about the Creator and His creation:

    As I pondered this materialist superstition, it became increasingly clear to me that in all the sciences I studied, information comes first, and regulates the flesh and the world, not the other way around. The pattern seemed to echo some familiar wisdom. Could it be, I asked myself one day in astonishment, that the opening of St. John’s Gospel, In the beginning was the Word, is a central dogma of modern science?

    In raising this question I was not affirming a religious stance. At the time it first occurred to me, I was still a mostly secular intellectual. But after some 35 years of writing and study in science and technology, I can now affirm the principle empirically. Salient in virtually every technical field — from quantum theory and molecular biology to computer science and economics — is an increasing concern with the word. It passes by many names: logos, logic, bits, bytes, mathematics, software, knowledge, syntax, semantics, code, plan, program, design, algorithm, as well as the ubiquitous “information.” In every case, the information is independent of its physical embodiment or carrier.

    [...]

    This reality expresses a key insight of Francis Crick, the Nobel laureate co-author of the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick expounded and enshrined what he called the “Central Dogma” of molecular biology. The Central Dogma shows that influence can flow from the arrangement of the nucleotides on the DNA molecule to the arrangement of amino acids in proteins, but not from proteins to DNA. Like a sheet of paper or a series of magnetic points on a computer’s hard disk or the electrical domains in a random-access memory — or indeed all the undulations of the electromagnetic spectrum that bear information through air or wires in telecommunications — DNA is a neutral carrier of information, independent of its chemistry and physics.

    By asserting that the DNA message precedes and regulates the form of the proteins, and that proteins cannot specify a DNA program, Crick’s Central Dogma unintentionally recapitulates St. John’s assertion of the primacy of the word over the flesh.

    After 100 years or so of attempted philosophical leveling, however, it turns out that the universe is stubbornly hierarchical. It is a top-down “nested hierarchy,” in which the higher levels command more degrees of freedom than the levels below them, which they use and constrain. Thus, the higher levels can neither eclipse the lower levels nor be reduced to them. Resisted at every step across the range of reductive sciences, this realization is now inexorable. We know now that no accumulation of knowledge about chemistry and physics will yield the slightest insight into the origins of life or the processes of computation or the sources of consciousness or the nature of intelligence or the causes of economic growth.

  13. Michael Bauman says:

    Oh come on Phil, matter/energy in physics is a continuum not a dicotomy: different phases of the same ‘stuff’ much as ice and steam.

  14. Note 10. Phil writes:

    I don’t think that Darwin’s hypothesis is inconsistent with the philosophy that such things as energy and light exist, and their existence was certainly not unknown in his day.

    Not really sure what this means but here is a point many armchair Darwinists miss: If Darwin was correct, not only did matter have to randomly arrange itself into sustainable structures, the laws that guided that arrangement had to emerge from the matter as it was arranging itself. IOW, most armchair Darwinists presume the laws pre-existed matter, when in fact a random universe allows no such conclusion to be drawn.

    I’m not sure (I don’t know) if Darwin saw this. My hunch is that he did not, steeped as he was in a Christian cosmology.

    The parallels between Marxism and Darwinism are uncanny. I know a lot more about Marxism than I do science, but the Marxist superstitions (for example, ideas are emanations of brain matter; they don’t really exist) are very close to Darwinian ideas (for example, physical laws have their source in the matter they govern). If Gilder is correct (Evolution and Me), these Darwinian ideas will be revealed as superstitions, and Darwinian evolution may find itself facing the same ignominious fate as Marxism. Give that both rely exclusively on philosophical materialism (matter is the ground of all reality), this conclusion is highly plausible. It also lends credence to the historical theory that Darwinism helped erode the moral barriers that may otherwise have resisted the murderous barbarism that Marxism (and its bastard step-brother: Nazism) fostered.

  15. After a bit of googling, I found an interview of Metropolitan Kyrill (Der Spiegel Online, Jan 10, 2008.) Here’s a portion:

    SPIEGEL: How do you feel about Orthodox priests who want to remove Darwin’s theory of evolution from the curriculum, because it contradicts the story of creation in the Bible?

    Kyrill: The study of the physical world should not be the subject of religion, and for this reason the church should not misappropriate any scientific theories. The Catholic Church made this mistake when it preached geocentrism. When scientists later discovered that it was not the earth but the sun that was at the center of our system, they were considered heretics. Copernicus was also a priest, and the Catholic Church of the day also saw itself as a community of science. The Orthodox Church never did this.

    SPIEGEL: How would you approach Darwin’s theories if you were a teacher?

    Kyrill: I would say that the theory has many adherents, but also a few unanswered questions. For instance, no one has provided precise proof of the transition from one species to another. It would be wrong to treat Darwin’s theory as the only correct one. It is the leading theory today, but it could be replaced by another theory tomorrow. There was also a time when Marxism considered itself the only correct and scientifically justified theory…

    SPIEGEL: But you cannot equate these two theories. Besides, Darwin’s theory is now largely undisputed.

    Kyrill: For the sake of objectivity, allow me to add that Darwin was a devout man…

    SPIEGEL: The fact of the matter is that Darwin, as a scientist, questioned his faith.

    Kyrill: Under no circumstances should Darwin’s theory be misused to fight religion. On the other hand, the Bible is not a textbook on cosmology.

  16. Reading assignment

    Go to Borders (B&N might have it too), buy a cup of coffee, find the latest issue of Commentary Magazine (April, 2008) and read God of the Gaps.

    If that’s too much of a hassle, you kind find the article here (very unusual for Commentary; usually you can never find their articles except on their site). Interesting, provocative, compelling.

  17. Father, thank you for the reading assignment. I’ve gone through it once, will read it a few more times. Here are a few initial reflections…

    Materialists demand too much when they insist that natural selection implies there is no God. But that’s to be expected of them. More significantly, anti-evolutionists concede far too much when they agree to the same point. I think this concession is the saddest and most overlooked aspect of the controversy. I guess you’d have to put me down as an evolutionary theist. Tentative evolutionary. Definite theist.

    I suppose that if someone is determined to take a literal reading of scripture, natural selection presents a real problem. Interestingly, most of the fundamentalists I know interpret at least some parts of scripture allegorically or figuratively. The battle, of course, is over just which parts.

    I wonder if one motivation for biblical literalism is the idea that “if we interpret this point less than literally, then who knows what will fall next.” I can understand that concern and I share it. But one problem with that particular concern is that it’s an example of pragmatism — belief that the truth of a statement is found in the utility of its consequences. Pragmatism is not enough.

    On the one hand, I’ve lost long-standing friends due to their astonishment that I had any skepticism or reservation, any scientific tentativeness and detachment, about the theory of evolution. On the other, I would risk expulsion from many churches if I expressed much willingness to consider natural selection as a viable scientific theory.

    I think anyone who is genuinely concerned with the debate, ragged as it is, should look at Copernicus — then and now. I think in analogies, myself. So I wonder if Copernicus and his controvery are the forerunners of today’s evolution fracas. With the advantage of hindsight, I am thankful that Christians did not concede that a heliocentric cosmology implied there is no God. After all, heliocentrism seemed to contradict scripture. But if they had conceded that implication for very long (and it would have been a big concession — to the devil I’d say) there wouldn’t be very many Christians today. After all, there aren’t very many anti-heliocentric people around these days.

  18. Jim Holman says:

    Actually I’m rather confused about why Christians would have any interest at all in intelligent design. Materialism is often denounced here, but it seems to me that intelligent design is ultimately a materialistic view of a spiritual concept.

    Michael Bauman always says that people have to read Athanasius on the Incarnation. So I did.

    According to Athanasius, out of love the Word brought all of creation into existence, and after the Transgression redeemed it from death and spiritual decay through His death and resurrection. As Athanasius said “He manifested Himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the Mind of the unseen Father.”

    In other words, one understands the divine nature of creation through the revelation of the Word made flesh. As Athanasius said “the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning,” and “as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe.” The Word sustains the creation, not only has a whole, but also in all of it’s details: “He sustains in one whole all things at once, being present and invisibly revealed not only in the whole, but also in each particular part.”

    Thus the fundamental reality is not matter, but Mind — the Word that created it, redeemed it, and sustains it, and who is continuously present in all of it.

    This is a spiritual understanding of the creation that has absolutely nothing to do with science. There is nothing in science that could lead to it nor is there anything in science that could detract from it. No appearance of “design” helps it. No alternative explanation of perceived design takes away from it.

    In other words, for the Christian, the divine nature of creation is something that is understood through revelation, not science. The assumption behind intelligent design is that the divine nature of creation can be demonstrated through science. In effect it is a materialistic argument for something that can only be understood through revelation.

    Since Christians already have a spiritual understanding of the world that cannot be helped or harmed by science, it is beyond me why they would want to pick a fight with science. One might argue that evolution leads to atheism. I would argue that when Christians go to the barricades over evolution that they lose that argument, and when they lose that argument they create atheists.

    This is a problem not just with ID but with all rationalistic arguments for the existence of God. They assume that the existence of God can be rationally demonstrated. The unbeliever then says “great, if it can be demonstrated, then demonstrate it.” And when the argument fails or turns out to be inconclusive, the unbeliever concludes that there’s no God.

    But a greater problem is that when the Christian argues from a materialistic or rationalistic viewpoint, he is arguing from a point of view that is actually contrary to faith. He’s using materialism and rationalism in order to persuade people not to be materialists and rationalists. That doesn’t work now, nor has it ever worked, nor will it work with ID. The proper response to the evolutionist is to say “you believe in evolution? That’s fine. Now, let me tell you about most important fact about the universe, which, by the way, you will never get to through science.”

  19. Oh come on Phil, matter/energy in physics is a continuum not a dicotomy: different phases of the same ’stuff’ much as ice and steam.

    This is true, but if someone made a claim like “ice is made of steam,” it would be wise to clarify to make sure you’re both on the same page.

    If Darwin was correct, not only did matter have to randomly arrange itself into sustainable structures, the laws that guided that arrangement had to emerge from the matter as it was arranging itself. IOW, most armchair Darwinists presume the laws pre-existed matter, when in fact a random universe allows no such conclusion to be drawn.

    I think this statement highlights some of the issues that beset the evolution/intelligent design discussion. First, it’s a mistake for anyone, scientist or non-, to present Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection as some kind of disproof of the existence of God or a supreme being. It’s simply an explanation for the behavior of existing matter. It’s based on observable evidence, but it does extrapolate far into the past.

    When you talk about “the laws that guided that arrangement,” are you referring specifically to the combining and recombining of DNA, or are you talking about all the laws that govern matter?–physics, gravity, etc.? One reason that scientific theories lack the grandeur of, say, religious beliefs is because they tend to be smaller, and have beginning and endpoints where other disciplines take over. Darwin just assumed that physical laws existed, he did not first prove their existence, then their pre-existence, and then hypothesize about the behavior of matter.

    Give that both rely exclusively on philosophical materialism (matter is the ground of all reality), this conclusion is highly plausible.

    Are you saying that _all_ scientific theories that rely on discussing the behavior of matter will be disproven, or only the ones that are politically controversial? I’m hard-pressed to think of a scientific theory that isn’t based in philosophical materialism. The theories of gravity, quantum mechanics, the speed of light, the spread of viruses–all of these rely on a materialist understanding of the behavior of matter and energy, and none of them has anything to say about love, or supreme beings, or transcendence.

    It’s not clear from your post how “Darwinian evolution” is somehow more materialistic than any other scientific theory, except that both materialists and non-materialists are misappropriating the theory as if it serves as evidence for or against the existence of the divine.

  20. Rudy writes:

    When you talk about “the laws that guided that arrangement,” are you referring specifically to the combining and recombining of DNA, or are you talking about all the laws that govern matter?–physics, gravity, etc.? One reason that scientific theories lack the grandeur of, say, religious beliefs is because they tend to be smaller, and have beginning and endpoints where other disciplines take over. Darwin just assumed that physical laws existed, he did not first prove their existence, then their pre-existence, and then hypothesize about the behavior of matter.

    I am talking about both. If matter is the ground of reality (notions of a random universe operate by this philosophical assumption), the laws that govern the arrangement of matter must arise from the matter itself. The laws cannot preexist the arrangement of matter into structures. If they did, then that arrangement would not be random.

    So, yes, I think Darwin must have assumed that physical laws just existed. Neo-Darwinists certainly do, but this assumption draws from a cosmology other than that which posits a random universe. It seems to me the neo-Darwinists have it only partly right. There is energy, matter, and logos. They assume the logos (the logic, the information, the intelligence, the agency of organization and hierarchy) exists in the matter, not apart from it — an assumption not logically, and increasingly not scientifically, tenable.

    Are you saying that _all_ scientific theories that rely on discussing the behavior of matter will be disproven, or only the ones that are politically controversial? I’m hard-pressed to think of a scientific theory that isn’t based in philosophical materialism. The theories of gravity, quantum mechanics, the speed of light, the spread of viruses–all of these rely on a materialist understanding of the behavior of matter and energy, and none of them has anything to say about love, or supreme beings, or transcendence.

    No, I am arguing that Darwinism (neo-Darwinism more accurately) at bottom isn’t a scientific theory but a cosmology.

  21. Jim writes:

    The assumption behind intelligent design is that the divine nature of creation can be demonstrated through science. In effect it is a materialistic argument for something that can only be understood through revelation.

    No. ID is a challenge to the philosophical underpinnings of the Darwinian hypothesis, ie: philosophical materialism. The most interesting part of the debate btw, comes from the scientists themselves who argue that the influence of philosophical materialism on the development of science (Darwinism is one example) actually hinders scientific understanding. That’s the thesis of Gilder’s piece Evolution and Me.

    In other words, one understands the divine nature of creation through the revelation of the Word made flesh.

    No. One understands the the divine purpose of creation. Material creation cannot have a “divine nature” unless you are a polytheist in which case no distinction between creators and their creation is possible. (The distinction between Creator and creation creates the distinction between divine and created natures. IOW, this distinction is only possible in a mono-theistic cosmology. This distinction is a major reason why the scientific method arose only in monotheistic cultures, BTW. No method or system of discovery can be developed without first presuming that the material creation is orderly.)

    The substance of the material creation is matter. It contains nothing of the nature, the substance, of God. However, this is not the same thing as saying that the non-material constitutents of human experience (love, beauty, syntax, logic, etc.) have their source and origin in matter (the position of philosophical materialists). But neither is this saying that these constituents operate independent of matter.

    Your presumption is that religion and science are polar opposites. But this presumption is increasingly seen as a prejudice (again, see Gilder), as scientists themselves throw off the shackles of philosophical materialism, that is, recognize that science has little to say about cosmology.

    I’m going to post an explanation of ID on the main page. It should help dispel some of the false notions I see in your reply.

  22. May a Christian accept that natural selection may be the physical means through which God has chosen to bring species, including the human species, into being?

  23. this assumption draws from a cosmology other than that which posits a random universe.

    Is it accurate to say that Darwin’s theory posited a random universe? I think that’s a stretch.

    However, this is not the same thing as saying that the non-material constitutents of human experience (love, beauty, syntax, logic, etc.) have their source and origin in matter (the position of philosophical materialists).

    You present a false dichotomy. A person need not choose between “being” a materialist and being a non-materialist. To say that someone finds the theory of evolution plausible does not mean that said person must therefore deny the existence of love, beauty, and logic. You seem to be someone who would describe himself as “not a philosophical materialist” and yet you clearly don’t deny the _existence_ of matter.

    No. ID is a challenge to the philosophical underpinnings of the Darwinian hypothesis, ie: philosophical materialism.

    So, what is your view on the rest of science? Are all scientific theories underpinned (to coin a phrase) by philosophical materialism, or is there some criteria that separates the theory of evolution from every other scientific theory of the past few centuries?

  24. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “No. One understands the the divine purpose of creation. Material creation cannot have a “divine nature” unless you are a polytheist in which case no distinction between creators and their creation is possible.”

    Let me substitute “aspect” for “nature.” In my reading of Orthodoxy, there is always an emphasis on understanding the “reality behind the reality” — that there is a spiritual reality behind the physical reality, and that one has to see (in a spiritual, not physical sense) beyond the surface of things in order to comprehend the spiritual reality. For example, an icon isn’t just a painted board, marriage isn’t just a way to propagate the species, Jesus wasn’t just some guy walking around, and the universe isn’t just all about matter and energy. In other words, there is a sacred aspect to life that cannot be apprehended only by looking at the surface of things.

    Fr. Hans: “Your presumption is that religion and science are polar opposites. But this presumption is increasingly seen as a prejudice (again, see Gilder), as scientists themselves throw off the shackles of philosophical materialism, that is, recognize that science has little to say about cosmology.”

    It’s not that they are polar opposites, but that they involve different realms of knowledge and experience. There’s nothing in science that can tell us if a painting is great, or if a book is profound. That does not mean that art and literature are the opposite of science, but that they are all about different things.

    There’s nothing about any physical aspect of the universe that necessarily constitutes an argument for or against the existence of God. For example, many centuries ago it was believed that the universe was very young, that all species were created at the same time, that the earth was the center of the universe, that the universe was relatively “small,” that stars were lights hung in the “firmament,” that heaven was “above” and hell “beneath.” Through science we know that that kind of thinking is completely wrong. But that didn’t entail that those errors in thinking somehow meant that God didn’t exist. To the extent that the church did actively try to defend geocentrism it was wrong, and ended up looking foolish.

    The same thing is going to happen to ID, and in fact has already happened. Specific examples by ID proponents of “irreducible complexity” have already been refuted in detail by scientists. So if you go to the barricades over ID, I think you’re eventually going to be very disappointed.

    Rudy writes: “First, it’s a mistake for anyone, scientist or non-, to present Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection as some kind of disproof of the existence of God or a supreme being.”

    Yes, exactly. The mistake is not the belief in evolution, but extrapolating a false conclusion from it.

  25. Phil asks:

    Is it accurate to say that Darwin’s theory posited a random universe? I think that’s a stretch.

    You’ve got it backwards. Darwinism is wholly dependent on philosophical materialism (matter is the ground of reality; only matter has concrete existence). Philosophical materialism posits a random universe since no logos (intelligence; agency of ordering and hierarchy) apart from matter exists.

    You present a false dichotomy. A person need not choose between “being” a materialist and being a non-materialist. To say that someone finds the theory of evolution plausible does not mean that said person must therefore deny the existence of love, beauty, and logic. You seem to be someone who would describe himself as “not a philosophical materialist” and yet you clearly don’t deny the _existence_ of matter.

    Again, you’ve got it backwards. Philosophical materialism denies the concrete existence of non-material human experiences and constitutents (love, beauty, joy, logic, wisdom, etc.). It’s not that people do not experience these things (they do), but that their ultimate reality has to be denied. (This led to pseudo-sciences like “scientific materialism” [Marxism] in the social realm, and, dare I say it? — Darwinism in the biological realm.)

    So yes, I do not deny the existence of matter at all. I affirm the existence of matter, but deny the assertion that only matter has concrete existence. Like I wrote above, the materialists have it only partly right. There is matter, energy, and logos. Read Gilder again.

    So, what is your view on the rest of science? Are all scientific theories underpinned (to coin a phrase) by philosophical materialism, or is there some criteria that separates the theory of evolution from every other scientific theory of the past few centuries?

    Learn to separate the legitimate findings of science from cosmology. If you can distinguish between the two, then you will understand the difference between science and philosophy/religion. The trouble with Darwinism is philosophy, not science.

  26. Note 23. Jim writes:

    It’s not that they are polar opposites, but that they involve different realms of knowledge and experience. There’s nothing in science that can tell us if a painting is great, or if a book is profound. That does not mean that art and literature are the opposite of science, but that they are all about different things.

    Are they? I’m not so sure. Speech requires more than vocal cords (or lung and brain function, etc.) but it still requires vocal cords (or lung and brain function). I still see that old shibboleth at work here: religion cannot speak to science, science cannot speak to religion. I just don’t buy it anymore.

    Take addictions for example. We know that addiction therapies require both a scientific understanding of the brain response to a drug and and a volitional dimension in order for healing to occur. (Ever watch “Intervention” on late Sunday night? It’s the love of the family that compels many addicts to finally abandon dependence on the drug, but it takes trained therapists who understand the biological and volitional dynamics to lead a person to recovery.)

    So sure, the material dimension of a good novel (the type and paper) is different than the non-material constituents (meaning, beauty, logic, wisdom, syntax, etc.) that make that novel “good”. But one cannot really exist without the other and still be called a “good novel.” This separation strikes me as completely artificial, albeit one that many people believe is true. Again, I point to the Marxists. If the non-material constituents of human experience have their source and grounding in matter, then matter, being maleable, could be refashioned to create new constituents and ultimately a “new man.” This is the logic behind eugenics, Marxist “rehabilitation,” Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP), and other devastating social “reengineering” projects of the last century. It drives some of the transhumanist thinking today.

    There’s nothing about any physical aspect of the universe that necessarily constitutes an argument for or against the existence of God.

    This is a confused statement. The universe does not deliver arguments, people do. So this brings us right back to the issues we are discussing: philosophical materialism; the distinction between material and non-material realities.

    Now if you really meant to say that science cannot prove the existence of God, I agree. But this is due to the necessary limits of science where, contra Darwin, cosmological claims lie beyond its purview.

    Or perhaps you meant to say that philosophy cannot deliver an argument for the existence of God. I would agree here too. But this does not limit the poet: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmanent proclaims his handiwork.” If you argue however that poetry is somehow an illegitimate way of knowing (“non-scientific”), I’d argue that you’ve crawled back into the materialist box that houses the questionable assertion that only matter constitutes reality. (Read William Barrett’s “Death of the Soul” on how philosophy hit the materialist dead-end and blinded man to the constituents of the soul. I’m sure you know of Barrett (“Irrational Man”).)

    The same thing is going to happen to ID, and in fact has already happened. Specific examples by ID proponents of “irreducible complexity” have already been refuted in detail by scientists. So if you go to the barricades over ID, I think you’re eventually going to be very disappointed.

    I’d be interested in reading some of these refutations. But remember, given the dependence of the Darwinian hypothesis on philosophical materialism, the issue here is whether or not the philosophy will hold. I don’t think it will. (Marxism has already collapsed.) And no, no one is “going to barricades” over ID, except perhaps the Darwinists who increasingly rely on the courts to enforce the dogma.

  27. The trouble with Darwinism is Darwin, not science.

    I think our language choices are getting in the way. Are all evolutionary biologists “Darwinists,” in your book?

    It’s safe to say that the theory of evolution would have been suggested even if Darwin had never been born. He actually published early because he heard that a competitor was working on a similar theory.

    The data was leading scientists in a similar direction.

    Learn to separate the legitimate findings of science from cosmology. If you can distinguish between the two, then you will understand the difference between science and philosophy/religion.

    Your reasoning is circular here: you’re saying that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a cosmology because it relies (wholly, or to a large extent) on philosophical materialism. Then you say that other scientific theories, all of which rely on a materialist view of the way the universe works, are different from the theory of evolution because they are not cosmologies.

    I think I agree with you that, from a social/religious/political standpoint, it is foolish for a scientist to point to the theory of evolution and say, “There! There is evidence that nothing but matter actually exists!” But you go further and claim that no one, scientist or layperson, can examine the available evidence and conclude, “The theory of evolution is the best explanation for speciation on the planet Earth,” without then believing that nothing that matter exists. I disagree. I think it’s possible for people who are strict materialists to find evolution plausible, but it’s also entirely possible for someone who believes in a higher power to believe that higher power set the events of evolution in motion (as many Catholics do), and it’s entirely possible for someone with no opinion about whether anything besides matter exists to find evolutionary theory compelling.

    In other words, yes, there are plenty of people who attach religious and sociopolitical significance to the theory of evolution. But it’s not inherent in the theory, and I don’t think anyone has illustrated either a) the criteria which causes the theory (not the use of the theory) to be a cosmology, or b) the difference between the way that the theory of evolution relies on materialism and the way that all scientific theories rely on materialism.

    Darwinism is wholly dependent on philosophical materialism (matter is the ground of reality; only matter has concrete existence).

    I think this is where you’ve either got it wrong or are using the term “Darwinism” to equivocate. I should ask you to clarify what a “Darwinist” is before I disagree. For example, I find the theory of evolution to be a plausible explanation of the way that the variety of species occurred on the planet earth. My friend Dave, with a Harvard PhD in evolutionary biology, tends to agree. Are we “Darwinists,” or is there some other class of people who constitute “Darwinists?”

  28. Michael P Bauman says:

    Augie, IMO a Christian cannot accept natural selection as anything more than a mechanism for adaptation within species. It is not related to creation at all. God creates ‘ex-nihilo’. Much as a master musician He uses variations upon themes. There is no mechanism by which God creates. “And God said….and there was” We put it in the past tense only because we lack the ability to express an infinite reality. We are too linear.

    Christ is Risen! Rejoice in the resurrection of your King!

  29. The same thing is going to happen to ID, and in fact has already happened. Specific examples by ID proponents of “irreducible complexity” have already been refuted in detail by scientists. So if you go to the barricades over ID, I think you’re eventually going to be very disappointed.

    Yes, yes. I am eager to see these, even though I don’t subscribe to ID.

    Actually, I have already seen these, and they are supremely embarrassing to the Darwinist cause. If that’s all the better they can do the gig is up.

  30. The “irreducible complexity” problem of the “chaos and randomness create super-complexity and reason” Cult Followers has never been dealt with. It’s a whopper of a lie to claim it has been. Either the studies show something else or the posters here have no idea what they’re talking about.

    As I wrote in my book review of “Uncommon Dissent” http://www.orthodoxnet.com/articles/Banescu/Review_Uncommon_Dissent_2004.php

    Michale Bebe’s “irreducibly complex” organisms present yet another stumbling block for Darwinists. Behe observes that most organisms are “irreducibly complex, meaning they need several parts working together in order to function.” (p. 142) According to him this creates “headaches for Darwinian theory because they are resistant to being produced in the gradual, step-by-step manner that Darwin envisioned.” For evolution to work, all the complex and finely tuned biochemical systems needed for an organism to live must “evolve” simultaneously and in perfect synchronization so this new creature can eat, remove waste, move, and survive. Since evolutionists maintain this all happened by chance, only a colossal miracle (or an intelligent designer) can account for these countless chaotic processes to instantly come into existence at once and with just the right configurations to allow even a simple organism to stay alive. Darwinism’s gradual steps and trial and error explanations simply do not suffice.

    Let me be clear, there is NOT ONE shred of evidence or scientific proof (verifiable and documented) that “irreducible complex” organisms can instantly come into existence fully formed via random processes. In the history of science, there is no verifiable theory or experiment that has ever shown how this can happen or that it has ever happened spontaneously, without the influence and power of a Designer or Creator.

  31. Jim Holman says:

    Fr. Hans writes: “I’d be interested in reading some of these refutations.”

    There are many web sites that address this issue. Do a search on “irreducible complexity” or “intelligent design” and you will find them. The arguments are really too extensive to do them justice here.

    Chris B. writes: “Let me be clear, there is NOT ONE shred of evidence or scientific proof (verifiable and documented) that “irreducible complex” organisms can instantly come into existence fully formed via random processes.”

    But that’s not the argument. No one suggests that, for example, a bacteria, or even a bacterial flagellum “instantly comes into existence,” or does so randomly. Rather, physical structures that are used for one purpose can evolve into a very different purpose. For example, check out this article on the “irreducible complexity” of the bacterial flagellum:
    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn13663-evolution-myths-the-bacterial-flagellum-is-irreducibly-complex.html

    There are hundreds of similar articles available on the web. By the way, is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed article supporting ID? I’ve never heard of one.

  32. Jim, You again offer proof of “D” when we are discussing “G”. Nice try, but again you missed the point and contributed a big fat zero as evidence.

    We’re arguing original design and you keep talking about “adaptation to the environment.” You’re using “micro-evolution” (adaptation to environment) studies and claiming they prove “macro-evolution/Grand Darwinism”. They don’t! They never have and never will.

    You state:

    Rather, physical structures that are used for one purpose can evolve into a very different purpose.

    Correction, specific structures ORIGINALLY DESIGNED by a Creator can adapt and transform (micro-evolution) — while acted upon by a creative force/energy/power beyond our understanding (who is it that drives and activates the code?) — within a limited range of options based on EXISTING biological CODES that were BUILT-IN into those organisms from the start. This says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about HOW those ORIGINAL structures came into being; obviously designed and created by a super-intelligence (we Christians call that God: Father-Son-HolySpirit). It also says nothing about the force/energy/power that is continuing to fuel-drive-activate the designed codes and make matter “live” and humans REASON. Remember Newton’s Laws? What is the FORCE that is acting on biological matter and continually activates the codes and makes matter be alive, multiply itself, and continually heal itself?

  33. Jim, This comment from you is hilarious:

    By the way, is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed article supporting ID? I’ve never heard of one.

    Look in the mirror. Look at an atom, a bee, a humming-bird, an eagle, a lion, a dolphin, a DNA strand, the human eye, the human brain, the sun, a molecule of water, light itself. When you’re done doing that go ponder why the Universe’s physical and biological environments are GOVERNED by LAWS. While you’re at it ponder how it’s possible that a PERIODIC TABLE of elements even exists and human intelligence forsaw elements before they were discovered and some elements before they were even created. Also go read NOTE 12 above.

    Epic poems and Boeing 747s do not come into existence by themselves, no matter how much time is available – and neither do cells, or even proteins.

  34. Jim Holman says:

    Chris B. writes: “We’re arguing original design and you keep talking about ‘adaptation to the environment.’”

    ID proponents such as Dr. Behe aren’t talking about “original design” either. They are talking about evidence of intelligent design found in the process of evolution through observation of physical structures and biochemical processes that are said to be “irreducibly complex.”

    In fact, as far as I can tell, Behe even believes in macroevolution (though not all ID proponents appear to). Where he differs from most evolutionists is that he believes that random mutation cannot account for all evolutionary change. This is where intelligent design comes in.

    One review of Behe’s most recent book states that

    For a start, let us be clear about what Behe now accepts about evolutionary theory. He has no problem with a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth, nor with evolutionary change over time, nor apparently with its ample documentation through the fossil record–the geographical distribution of organisms, the existence of vestigial traits testifying to ancient ancestry, and the finding of fossil “missing links” that show common ancestry among major groups of organisms. Behe admits that most evolution is caused by natural selection, and that all species share common ancestors. He even accepts the one fact that most other IDers would rather die than admit: that humans shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees and other apes.

    Chris B.: “Correction, specific structures ORIGINALLY DESIGNED by a Creator can adapt and transform (micro-evolution) — while acted upon by a creative force/energy/power beyond our understanding (who is it that drives and activates the code?) — within a limited range of options…”

    Apparently the limited range of options includes the ability to form new species. For example, here’s a web site detailing a number of new species that have arisen in recent times:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB910.html

    Chris B.: This comment from you is hilarious:

    By the way, is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed article supporting ID? I’ve never heard of one.

    I fail to see the humor. If ID is such an important contribution to science that it should be taught in public schools, is it too much to expect that it would have shown up somewhere in the scientific literature?

  35. Jim -

    You proved my point far better than I could have by citing this article. Let’s look at exactly what they offer as refutation of intelligent design (which, by the way, I don’t subscribe to):

    It has been proposed that the flagellum originated from a protein export system. Over time, this system might have been adapted to attach a bacterium to a surface by extruding an adhesive filament. An ion-powered pump for expelling substances from the cell might then have mutated to form the basis of a rotary motor. Rotating any asymmetrical filament would propel a cell and give it a huge advantage over non-motile bacteria even before more spiral filaments evolved.

    Oh, I see, “it has been proposed…” and “over time, this system might have been adapted…” and “An ion-powered pump… might then have mutated” and “more spiral filaments evolved”.

    This is all hand waving that is, frankly, embarrassing. What the non-technical reader does not understand, is that behind each of these “might have” statements lies vast oceans of improbablilty. For any individual step of what is a highly complex multi-step process, a number of things have to happen that defy reason. Proteins have to undergo random mutations that yield other proteins that have highly synchronous functionality, while at the same time, the cell or organism can suddenly do without the original functionality. But even more staggering, all these components have to be assembled by changes to regulatory regions of the genome that are far removed from the region that codes for the proteins. Yet somehow, the mutations to the regulatory regions don’t seem to adversely effect this organism that is happily building a flagellum.

    Invoking vast lengths of time does not solve the problem, because all of these changes that I outlined have to be carried along for millions of years in an essentially useless form until they suddenly come together to enable a new function. This scenario, or course, is directly in contradiction to the supposed “selection” of natural selection. If a mutation does not confer an advantage, it does not get passed on to succeeding generations. Now, apparently the claim is that every mutation gets conserved for a million years or so until it is deemed useful.

    Objecting to the Darwinian “mutation/natural selection” scheme, as I am doing here, does not imply rejection of evolution. It is rejection of a proposed mechanism of evolution.

  36. Invoking vast lengths of time does not solve the problem, because all of these changes that I outlined have to be carried along for millions of years in an essentially useless form until they suddenly come together to enable a new function.

    I don’t think the text that you quote concedes that the forms in question were “essentially useless,” however. If an “ion-powered pump” mutated and the mutation caused a flagellum to, well, flagellate, then that would be what the quoted text called the “basis of a rotary motor.” If a mutation creates an advantage, it increases the likelihood that it will be passed along, but if a mutation doesn’t create a disadvantage, there’s no reason to believe it will necessarily be “selected out.”

    Objecting to the Darwinian “mutation/natural selection” scheme, as I am doing here, does not imply rejection of evolution. It is rejection of a proposed mechanism of evolution.

    I agree, in that there is a world of controversy within the study of evolution itself. It’s a fascinating field, even if we assume that a large part of Darwin’s hypotheses were accurate.

  37. Tom,

    You’re quite right, the article Jim posted actually supports ID. :) This particular sentence says it all (key words bolded for emphasis):

    This means that the vast majority of the components needed to make a flagellum might already have been present in bacteria before this structure appeared.

    Thanks Jim, for helping to support our ID arguments yet again.

  38. Note 33. Chris writes:

    Epic poems and Boeing 747s do not come into existence by themselves, no matter how much time is available – and neither do cells, or even proteins.

    Yes, and probability theory posits that the chances of a single cell emerging from inert matter is greater than a tornado blowing through a factory and assembling a Boeing 747.

  39. Yes, and probability theory posits that the chances of a single cell emerging from inert matter is greater than a tornado blowing through a factory and assembling a Boeing 747.

    The problem with this misuse of statistics is that it presupposes that the end result was predetermined. Certainly, if you were trying to build a cell randomly from inert matter, that would be a nearly impossible burden.

    _Any_ arrangement of parts that occurred after a tornado blew through a factory would be incredibly unlikely. That is, if you set a “goal” for the tornado, there is a 99.99999999% chance that you would be disappointed.

    After the tornado blew through the factory, however, the parts would be arranged in some kind of sequence. It would be random, of course, and perhaps meaningless, but they would still be there. There was a 99.99999999% chance that those parts wouldn’t be in that sequence–but it happened anyway.

    If tornadoes kept blowing through factories, over and over, you would keep getting random arrangements of parts. Each random arrangement would be incredibly unlikely–and yet there it would be, lying on the ground, in trees, in the surrounding area, etc.

    It’s like poker: a royal flush is an incredibly unlikely hand. But it is no more unlikely than every other possible arrangement of 5 cards.

  40. Note 27. Phil writes:

    It’s safe to say that the theory of evolution would have been suggested even if Darwin had never been born. He actually published early because he heard that a competitor was working on a similar theory.

    Yes, because the theory is culture dependent, not the logical outgrowth of increased scientific knowledge.

    Your reasoning is circular here: you’re saying that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a cosmology because it relies (wholly, or to a large extent) on philosophical materialism. Then you say that other scientific theories, all of which rely on a materialist view of the way the universe works, are different from the theory of evolution because they are not cosmologies.

    You don’t really understand the term “philosophical materialism” nor its epistemological ramifications. Start here Materialism.

    Evolution is a cosmology in this sense: because of its dependence on philosophical materialism, evolution posits a random universe. One epistemological ramification is progress (the development of an organism) occurs through random mutation. Yet, this precept is fraught with problems (as Tom C. points out in note 34 above, for example).

    Further, there is a world of difference between philosophical materialism and the scientific method. My critique of the philosophy does not deny materiality (your implicit point). There is a difference IOW, between the term “materialism” and “materiality.”

    I think it’s possible for people who are strict materialists to find evolution plausible, but it’s also entirely possible for someone who believes in a higher power to believe that higher power set the events of evolution in motion (as many Catholics do), and it’s entirely possible for someone with no opinion about whether anything besides matter exists to find evolutionary theory compelling.

    More relevant, and certainly more interesting, are the scientists who find evolutionary theory wholly insufficient. If you are up to it read On the Origins of Life by David Berlinski (occasional contributer to “Commentary Magazine”; your Ph.D. friend will have heard of him), that challenges the notion that the evolutionary paradigm ought to be the organizing epistemological principle in some types of scientific reseach.

  41. Jim, look at the last paragraph of the article:

    Think of a stone archway: hundreds of years after the event, how do you prove how it was built? It might not be possible to prove that the builders used wooden scaffolding to support the arch when it was built, but this does not mean they levitated the stone blocks into place. In such cases Orgel’s Second Rule should be kept in mind: “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”

    Built?

    Evolution might be more clever than I am, but it certainly contains no room for a builder. Better to speculate about the millions of years need to hew the stone blocks into the same size and weight, the correspondence of the angles of the blocks in the arch, the cataclysmic earthquakes needed to hoist the blocks in place, the symmetry of one side of the arch with the other, the forces needed to hold up the arch until the keystone was placed, etc.

  42. Note 38. Rudy writes:

    The problem with this misuse of statistics is that it presupposes that the end result was predetermined. Certainly, if you were trying to build a cell randomly from inert matter, that would be a nearly impossible burden.

    So what are you saying here, that a cell evolving from inert matter is nearly impossible, or that we cannot apply probability to the assertion that a cell did indeed evolve from inert matter?

  43. Rudy, You’re saying that random actions create unique random patterns. That’s true, we see chaos create chaos in an infinite variety all around us. So? That still does absolutely nothing to prove how complex structures and design appeared in the Universe without a Creator or Intelligent Designer, why matter is governed by laws, how random forces organized atoms so there’s a Periodic Table of elements, and how the super-complex DNA double-helix came to be. Like Jim, we’re arguing “G” and you keep giving us proof of “R”. The arguments offered are nonsensical.

    Let’s simplify the problem. Forget the tornado passing through a junk yard a billion times over hundreds of millions of years and eventually leaving behind a fully formed and ready to fly Boeing 747. We’ll lower the bar all the way down. Show us how random actions/forces passing trough a junkyard can leave behind a simple paper airplane, the kind an 8-year-old can fold and make fly. We’ll be waiting…..

  44. Show us how random actions/forces passing trough a junkyard can leave behind a simple paper airplane, the kind an 8-year-old can fold and make fly. We’ll be waiting…..

    I think you illustrate my point here. If we start with the end result, it is always unbelievably unlikely. It will always sound implausible.

    But if we assume that there are random forces that can cause paper to fold or unfold along random axes (is that our assumption? It sounds like it), then a basic paper airplane such as this–

    http://www.amazingpaperairplanes.com/Basic_Dart.html

    –requires one lengthwise fold, one unfold, then two symmetrical angular folds, then two more symmetrical folds at a more acute angle, then a re-fold along the original lengthwise fold, then two symmetrical folds of the edges.

    That is a total of 9 “actions.” If our random forces are at work, folding, unfolding, refolding, etc., over and over again, is it really so hard to imagine that eventually something resembling the “basic dart” will occur?

    If we start with a set number of pieces of paper–ten? a million? a billion? a googleplex?–and then start our random forces folding and re-folding for an incredibly long amount of time–a year? a thousand years? a billion years?–we could ask ourselves, what is the likelihood that those eight actions will occur, in approximately the right position, in the right sequence?

    I’d guess that it would happen more quickly than you think.

  45. But if we assume that there are random forces that can cause paper to fold or unfold along random axes (is that our assumption? It sounds like it)

    Now, if you deny the existence of random forces that can cause paper to fold and unfold, then we aren’t really discussing probability at all, are we? We’re discussing the mechanism of action, not the probability of it.

  46. Jim Holman says:

    Chris B. writes: “Show us how random actions/forces passing through a junkyard can leave behind a simple paper airplane, the kind an 8-year-old can fold and make fly.”

    I suppose that would be an argument against the spontaneous origins of life. But with respect to ID, the topic of the article, that’s not a very good example, because it ignores the self-organizing aspect of living things, accomplished through DNA. Individuals show random variation in traits all the time, nonetheless they still exist as the same species and are able to function.

    Nonetheless, the argument of traditional evolution is that these small changes can eventually result in a new species that cannot interbreed with the original species (the common definition of a “species.”) From a scientific point of view there’s no reason a priori why such speciation cannot occur. In other words, there’s no reason to conclude that genetic variation can occur only to a certain point, but no further. But the fact that one species can arise from another does not somehow constitute an argument against the existence of God. For example, if one kind of lizard eventually arose from some other kind of lizard, and they could not interbreed, it would be illogical to somehow conclude that “God doesn’t exist.”

    Chris B.: “We’ll lower the bar all the way down for you Macro-Evolutionists Cult Followers.”

    It appears that Dr. Behe, one of the most prominent advocates of ID, is also a “Macro-Evolutionist Cult Follower.” I have not read his most recent book, but one review summarized his position as follows:

    “For a start, let us be clear about what Behe now accepts about evolutionary theory. He has no problem with a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth, nor with evolutionary change over time, nor apparently with its ample documentation through the fossil record–the geographical distribution of organisms, the existence of vestigial traits testifying to ancient ancestry, and the finding of fossil “missing links” that show common ancestry among major groups of organisms. Behe admits that most evolution is caused by natural selection, and that all species share common ancestors. He even accepts the one fact that most other IDers would rather die than admit: that humans shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees and other apes.”

    If I am a Macro-Evolutionist Cult Follower, it appears I am in good company.

    Tom C writes: “You proved my point far better than I could have by citing this article. ”

    Apologies for not providing a better article. But keep in mind that all my posts are moderated, and about half are rejected. That’s fine with me, but that also means that I’m not going to spend a lot of time doing research for a post that may never see the light of day.

  47. #36 Phil

    If an “ion-powered pump” mutated and the mutation caused a flagellum to, well, flagellate, then that would be what the quoted text called the “basis of a rotary motor.”

    Great. Up until a minute ago the organism depended on an ion-powered pump for its very survival. Now it has a flagellum power source instead. What happened to the critical need for what the ion-powered pump was doing beforehand? You are trying to get me to buy the concept that at the very moment a new structure with a new function was created, the organism no longer needs the very different original structure with a very different function. You are not grasping that a mutation does not just create something new, it by necessity destroys the prior thing as well.

    If a mutation creates an advantage, it increases the likelihood that it will be passed along, but if a mutation doesn’t create a disadvantage, there’s no reason to believe it will necessarily be “selected out.”

    This is not correct. A mutation only occurs in one organism of a population. For the altered genome to eventually dominate the population it has to confer an advantage over the non-mutated genome. This is a demand of Darwinian theory. So, why do the initially non-useful mutations hang around for a million years waiting for the other mutations to fall into place? That is the challenge of ID to Darwinism.

    Rudy – you need to read something about irreducible complexity if you intent to argue against ID. Your comments indictate that you don’t understand the concept.

  48. This is not correct. A mutation only occurs in one organism of a population. For the altered genome to eventually dominate the population it has to confer an advantage over the non-mutated genome.

    That’s not really true, and we can see it in existing species. Say, some cows have brown spots and some have black spots. They can mate with each other, they’re the same species, and the spots keep getting passed on to their offspring, even though neither one really confers an advantage over the other. This continues until, say, the brown-spotted cows give birth to a red-spotted offspring, which then attracts hummingbirds who clean parasites off of the cow’s hide (or whatever).

    The brown spots don’t confer an advantage, but they eventually led to the red spots. So the black spots did not represent a genetic disadvantage until the red spots came along. This is hypothetical, but it illustrates the point. A genetic mutation that doesn’t put an organism at a reproductive disadvantage may or may not die out. Even disadvantageous genetic conditions can last for generations and generations (sickle cell anemia, for example).

    Great. Up until a minute ago the organism depended on an ion-powered pump for its very survival. Now it has a flagellum power source instead. What happened to the critical need for what the ion-powered pump was doing beforehand?

    That is an example of the logical fallacy of “argument from personal incredulity.” You’re basically saying, “I cannot imagine a way for that to happen, therefore it must be incorrect, therefore, another, unrelated claim must be true.”

  49. Banescu says:

    Phil, Using Logic and Reason are NOT “argument from personal incredulity”. It is sheer idiocy to claim that random motions created the millions (billions and trillions) of perfect steps needed to occur in exactly the right order within a minimal amount of time (otherwise life cannot exist) that are absolutely required to create even the most basic components of life. No branch of science and no experiment in the history of mankind has ever shown this to be the case.

    The materialist claims of chaos and mindless matter creating anything are fantasy and science fiction of the worst kind, not borne out by the observed super-complexity of life, the mystery of matter, and the unchanging laws of the Universe under which matter operates.

  50. The materialist claims of chaos and mindless matter creating anything are fantasy and science fiction of the worst kind, not borne out by the observed super-complexity of life, all matter, and the laws of the Universe under which matter operates.

    Is there a single scientific theory which denies that the “laws of the Universe” exist? If anything, science is about figuring out what those laws are.