Darwin and Hitler: In Their Own Words

Human Events | Benjamin Wiker | May. 5, 2008

As David Berlinski recently noted, “the thesis that there is a connection between Darwin and Hitler is widely considered a profanation.” But striking an indignant pose — feathers in full ruffle — is not an answer to such a serious charge, especially when the words of both Darwin and Hitler speak otherwise.

Those defending Darwin cannot have read his Descent of Man, wherein he applies the principles of natural selection to human beings — a thing he prudently avoided in his earlier Origin of Species. In the Descent, the eugenic and racial inferences are clearly and startlingly drawn by Darwin himself.

Darwin understood the eugenic implications of his own theory, and warned his readers against imminent evolutionary backsliding. “It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” Insert a few terms like “Aryan” or “Jew” and that could be in any Nazi screed.

“If … various checks … do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has occurred too often in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule.”

While Darwin tried to soften the hard implications (by suggesting that we not kill the rogues; rather, we should just keep them from breeding), the eugenic edifice was his.

And the racial thing? Evolution is driven by competition, and competition brings extinction. Darwin notes, matter-of-factly in the Descent, that one tribe extinguishing another is the very engine of human evolution. In his words, “extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, race with race,” allowing the victorious tribe or race to pass on their superior endowments.

That is not a moral complaint; it is a detached scientific description uttered by Darwin entirely without angst. As the engine of evolution is never idle, it is also a prophecy.

[…]

Now for Adolf. I suspect that, just as a lot of folks haven’t read Darwin’s execrable Descent of Man, so also they feel free to enter the debate without having read Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

It is inaccurate to blame the entire of Hitler’s evil on anti-Semitism precisely because his anti-Semitism was part of a larger biological vision. “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology,” said the deputy Party leader of the Nazis, Rudolf Hess.

As Hitler made clear in Mein Kampf, the fundamental political category is biological. Consequently, “the highest aim of human existence is not the maintenance of a State or Government but rather the conservation of the race.” This aim accords with Hitler’s larger Darwinian view of the cosmos, wherein the “fundamental law of necessity” reigning “throughout the realm of Nature” is that “existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife….where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed.” Survival of the fittest.

Hence Hitler’s creation of a kind of “folk” religion, that is, a religion of the racially defined Volk. Worship was directed to the Germanic race as the only one capable of eliminating the weak and bringing the übermensch – “superman”– into existence in accordance with the cruelties of Nature.

. . . more

Comments

  1. Jacobse says:

    I never knew this. It looks like Darwin saw the cultural implications of his theory early on — and wholly embraced them. It reads like a Margaret Sanger* tract.

    *Founder of Planned Parenthood.

  2. It’s true that Darwin the historical figure said some pretty ugly things. Thank goodness one need not defend Darwin the person in order to find the theory of evolution plausible.

    How many self-identified “Darwinists” does the world actually have?

  3. D. George says:

    Phil #2:

    “How many self-identified “Darwinists” does the world actually have?”

    According to several comments regarding Darwinism lately, supposedly at least 99.9% of the scientific community would identify itself as Darwinist.

    These comments by Darwin caught my eye because I had a geology professor who said much the same thing. He taught that religious belief and other “irrational” thought interferes with the natural course of human evolution, and gave the example of aid programs to people who are starving. He mentioned Africa in particular. He taught that it is best to let them starve, because pandemic starvation is a sign of their inferiority and that they would degrade the gene pool if assisted. This was taught at a public college.

    I saw few professors actually espouse this line of reasoning (it was widely taught prior to WWII), but if the philosophy of Darwinism as taught in our schools is correct, it is difficult to avoid this conclusion.

  4. Jim Holman says:

    Phil writes: “Thank goodness one need not defend Darwin the person in order to find the theory of evolution plausible.”

    Ideology or theology aside, there is a very practical aspect to the concept of evolution. It is the concept that ties everything else together — paleontology, biology, molecular biology, genetics, geology, geography, anatomy, morphology, and so on.

    That doesn’t mean that everything is explained, nor does it mean that we understand in every case how evolution functioned. But without evolution, we are left with a kind of interesting collection of disconnected and independent facts. For example, without the concept of evolution there is no way to explain why different species of fruit flies ended up on different islands. There’s no way to explain why we have various species of fossil equuids or sharks or anything else. All we can do is shrug our shoulders and say “I guess some designer wanted it that way.” Why is human and chimpanzee DNA so similar? The designer wanted it to be similar. Why are there so many species of beetles? Who knows? What is the connection between all the ancient horses in the fossil record? Nothing apparently, except that they all kind of look like each other in some ways but not in other ways. Without evolution there’s no reason to believe that any of the creatures in the fossil record even were ever “alive” — perhaps the designer just felt like designing fossils in order to entertain and baffle the late-coming homo sapiens. The answer to everything becomes “who knows?” I guess the designer knows, but he’s not talking about it.

    Once you get rid of evolution all you have left is a set of disconnected sciences that may or may not have something to do with each other.

    Scientific theories are not rejected because someone just says “sorry, I think this is all wrong because of these unexplained facts.” They are not “rejected” at all, but rather replaced by better and stronger theories. The guy who discovered the role of bacteria in ulcers didn’t just “reject” the concept of ulcers as caused by stress. He came up with a better theory, one that had more explanatory power, one that led to a better therapy.

    This is why evolution will never just “go away.” The only way that it could “go away” would be if someone could advance a theory that had more explanatory power than evolution, a theory that tied disparate sciences even more closely together, that provided even better predictions. I would ask: in what way does intelligent design do all of that?

  5. Banescu says:

    Having failed to impress us with his calls to amorphous “scientific concesus” appeals, being unable to provide one conclusive scientific experiment showing how random actions cause order or how a mindless Nature stumbled on super-sophisticated design, having failed to point to a single fossil from the millions available across hundreds of millions of years of life on Earth that shows signs of “evolving” across species, and being unable to back up the Darwinist fiction with any current examples in Nature that show this process at work, Jim is left with subjective emotional appeals for his beloved myth. Gripping his atheistic-Darwinistic security blanket ever so closely, he cries out to the supposedly mindless Universe and blames an allegedly non-existant God and Creator for not making sense of it all. How ironic!

  6. Banescu says:

    Note to Jim: We’re looking for real experiments and hard scientific data that prove Darwinism. You and the other Secularist Fanatics have yet to come up with any. I will not approve subjective opinion pieces and propaganda materials that do not prove anything and simply attack ID proponents for asking for proof. The video you attempted to post was just more emotional appeals for blind belief and a wholesale insult on the ID scientists who are bringing up very important issues and are asking for evidence to back up the Darwinistic macro-evolutionary theories. The BURDEN of PROOF by the evolutionists has NOT been met. I’ve reminded you multiple times about this, yet you keep ignoring it.

  7. D. George,
    While it may be true that a large majority of the scientific community find the theory of evolution to be a good explanation of the way that most species got where they are, I don’t know whether it follows that the same people would say, “Yes, I call myself a Darwinist.”

    Jacobse uses the term “Darwinism” and “Darwinists,” claiming that they are followers of a cosmology/philosophy, and that it’s not a scientific theory at all. It’s not clear what the difference is between “evolutionists” and “Darwinists,” if any, but the conflation of (or distinction between) labels muddles the discussion.

    Consider, for example, someone who used a plainly offensive term (say, “Limey-Hater”) for anyone who opposed U.S. economic support to Great Britain. While you might find plenty of people opposed to such support, does it then follow that they are all “Limey-Haters?”

    “Darwinist” isn’t quite so offensive, but it’s clearly a loaded term. For example, a person could conflate the theory of evolution with Darwin the man (as this article seems to.) If someone decries one of Darwin’s racist statements, a listener could say, “Ah! So you reject Darwinism!” — when in fact, there is really no such thing as “Darwinism,” any more than there is such a thing as a “Limey-Hater.” Both terms are essentially meaningless. They are labels applied to people by others, not necessarily something people apply to themselves.

  8. D. George says:

    #7 Phil:

    To clarify, I was speaking of Darwinism as a cosmology. Most strictly scientific theories aren’t named for people with “ism” tagged onto the end. Sure, one could study or teach evolution as it pertains to speciation in a proper scientific manner, which would not include philosophical speculation about whether the speciation was driven by random forces or design. But what has happened in our schools and in the scientific community is that philosophical assumptions regarding the cause of speciation have been mixed with the science.

    This is why the professor I mentioned above said what he said. He assumes that people are strictly material beings, no different from animals, and the fit should live and the unfit should die. This also explains the insistance on randomness in the process of speciation, and even the open insistance that there is no intelligent design behind creation. I can tell you that most evolutionary biologists also believe and teach Darwinist philosophy. If they did not intelligent design would not offend them.

    This brings me to #4 Mr. Holman:

    “The answer to everything becomes “who knows?” I guess the designer knows, but he’s not talking about it.”

    Well, that is speculation. You appear to be looking for the meaning of the universe in the fossil record. As an aside, I would argue that the designer does talk about it, through Scripture and the tradition of the Church. But the point here is that the claim that no designer was involved in the formation of species and the world is just as much speculation as ID.

    What we do know is that the fossil record suggests that there has been speciation and adaptation throughout time. Intelligent design does not conflict with these observations any more than Darwinism. But you are correct in that if we strictly use scientific methodology, a point is reached where we must and should say “who knows?” The problem with Darwinism (the creation story cosmology) is that it has crossed the line from science into philosophy, but is taught as scientific fact. The argument between Darwinism and ID is a religious one that involves occasional appeals to evidence that support what are philosophical positions. Neither position can be proved by the evidence.

  9. #8

    I second D. George’s comments above. Darwinism is a metaphysical position that supposedly follows from scientific facts. So is Intelligent Design.

    Jim keeps pointing out the ID has no peer-reviewed papers, while “evolution” has thousands upon thousands. But this is to confuse the distinction between Darwinism and ID (metaphysics) and evolution (science). The thousands upon thousands of papers establish that the earth is very old, that ancient life was simple but became more complex over time, that species have certain commonalities, etc.

    We are still awaiting peer-reviewed papers that “prove” ID. We are also still awaiting peer-reviewed papers that prove Darwinism. My position is that the science will never be unambiguous enough to prove either of these metaphysical positions.

    Most scientists are not schooled in philosophy well enough to understand the proper distinctions in this debate.

  10. D. George,
    I think you present a false dichotomy when you suggest that science teachers either “take sides” by teaching about random forces or design, or remain silent in terms of philosophical speculation.

    “Randomness,” in some part, is a part of the theory of evolution, but it is not a refutation of belief in a creator, nor is it the opposite of design.

    If I’m not mistaken, Christians–and many other religions–believe that all events in our Universe happen because of the will of God. (The phrase that comes to mind is “Nothing happens but God wills it or permits it.”) This logic is applied to all manner of random events: weather, war, etc. One wouldn’t watch water droplets scattering down a window pain and say, “Look, that’s random! Therefore, there is no creator God!”

    For some reason, a fervent group of creationists and intelligent designers feel that there’s something illogical in a God who also allows or controls random events. It’s as if they believe that an omnipotent God cannot work through random acts, a logical fallacy.

    In short, one can believe that random events shaped speciation, and also believe that there was no Intelligent Designer. Or one can believe that random events shaped speciation, and that there was and is an Intelligent Designer. The beliefs are not mutually exclusive, nor are they illogical.

    It’s true that there may be teachers and scientists with ugly political beliefs, or people who overstate the claims of the theory of evolution. Obviously, that does nothing to prove or disprove the theory.

  11. Jacobse says:

    Phil writes:

    Jacobse uses the term “Darwinism” and “Darwinists,” claiming that they are followers of a cosmology/philosophy, and that it’s not a scientific theory at all. It’s not clear what the difference is between “evolutionists” and “Darwinists,” if any, but the conflation of (or distinction between) labels muddles the discussion.

    “Darwinism” is another term for Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis (organisms grow from simple to complex structures; specie differentiation is a relatively recent development; no pattern or design guided the development, everything evolved by random activity through environmentally beneficial mutation; etc.). Those who hold to Darwin’s hypothesis are reasonably called “Darwinists.”

    If you want to substitute “evolution(ism?)” for “Darwinism,” or evolutionist for “Darwinist,” that’s fine too. They essentially mean the same thing. Where distinctions might matter is within the system, such as, say, Troskyite vs. Leninist in Communist thought for example. The distinction is a true one, but both still uphold to central dogmas of communism. In the evolutionary camp distinctions exist, but all still hold to fundamental Darwinian (or “evolutionary” if you want) dogma.

  12. Jacobse says:

    Note 10. Phil writes:

    For some reason, a fervent group of creationists and intelligent designers feel that there’s something illogical in a God who also allows or controls random events. It’s as if they believe that an omnipotent God cannot work through random acts, a logical fallacy.

    […]

    In short, one can believe that random events shaped speciation, and also believe that there was no Intelligent Designer. Or one can believe that random events shaped speciation, and that there was and is an Intelligent Designer. The beliefs are not mutually exclusive, nor are they illogical.

    Phil, you are making a metaphysical point here, but it’s nonsensical. Darwinism does not allow for any force or power above random events. (Actually, there is no need for a higher power (call it “God” if you want) in your scenario anyway.)

    Again, you don’t seem to understand what Darwin meant by a random universe (you don’t grasp the metaphysical/philosophical ground of the Darwinian hypothesis). We can’t shove Aristotle above Darwin, because Darwinism, properly understood, does not allow this. Either the universe is random, or it is not. You can’t have it both ways.

  13. no pattern or design guided the development

    …you say that this is a key part of Darwin’s theory of evolution. But “patterns” occur in nature all the time. “Patterns,” like randomness or chaos, are in the eye of the beholder. (The same is true of “order.”) The ice that forms on a window could be said to be chaotic or random, but one might also say that it follows an intricate pattern.

    When you say a “design” here, you mean a designer. And by designer, you don’t mean parent organisms; you are referring specifically to a supernatural being, presumably an entity not bound by the “laws of the universe.” (I’d guess you consider that supernatural being to be God, but in theory, according to intelligent designism, it could be some other entity/entities who have the power of creating organisms from nothingness.)

    Paradoxically, you claim that the theory of evolution is not a scientific theory because it doesn’t include such a supernatural being. In fact, no scientific theory includes a supernatural being; if they did, they wouldn’t be scientific theories. Theories of gravity, the speed of light, or the existence of “dark matter”–none of them describe or include a “designer.”

    But for some reason you keep singling out evolution, as if it–and it alone–is a scientific theory that describes organisms as if they consist only of matter and energy. As if astronomy is rife with theories about how “God created the planets and his Hand moves them in orbits.” As if particle physicists collide protons together and write papers about how “a supernatural designer causes neutrinos to emerge.”

    Dude, no matter how many times you assert otherwise, the theory of evolution is not more materialist than other scientific theories. It just happens to conflict with some people’s views of the creation myth of a major world religion.

    Again, you don’t seem to understand what Darwin meant by a random universe (you don’t grasp the metaphysical/philosophical ground of the Darwinian hypothesis).

    No, Jacobse. Darwin’s theory does not require a random universe. It requires random mutations or other events which affect an organism’s genetic line. Nothing beyond that is proposed about the universe in general.

    The theory of evolution is not inconsistent with a random universe, but that is not the same thing as saying that it is required for the theory to make sense. The universe is orderly: planets revolve around suns, light travels at a constant speed, chemical reactions can be predicted and calculated, 2+2 always equals 4, etc. And yet, seemingly random things happen. Those two statements aren’t inconsistent, Jacobse. They’re basically truisms.

    Perhaps I don’t seem to grasp what Darwin “meant by a random universe” because the man didn’t make grand pronouncements about the entire universe, as you keep erroneously insisting that he did.

    Would you agree with the following statement? “Events that seem to be random can occur even in an orderly universe.”

  14. Banescu says:

    Phil, It is evident you are blind to your own self-contradiction and are confusing concepts left and right. You are now talking about a random process like water freezing on a window (the ice sheet is indeed a random pattern, but ice formation is governed by sub-atomic laws that make ice expand when becoming a solid) and comparing that with the super-complex patterns of DNA and life. That’s completely nonsensical. You are also saying that the Universe is orderly and follows laws, but design was the result of random actions. What? You’re really, really confused. Here we go, one last time: DNA = order, rain drops = random, human brain = order, items hit by tornado = random, Law of Gravity = order, water on window = random, humming-bird = order, volcano exploding = random, atom = order, local garbage dump piles = random, the Brooklyn Bridge = order, etc. etc. Stop using the concepts interchangeably, it’s completely idiotic to do so.

    There’s no point discussing this with you any further. You simply don’t get it. It’s like trying to teach basic algebra to my dog, it’s an impossibility. I now understand why Christ faced such insurmountable odds when He tried to bring the Truth to the world who rejected ultimate Reason and Truth. As Jesus said, even if a man was raised from the dead they will not believe! Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Man purposely blinds himself and denies God, reality, and truth, even when they’re self-evident and screaming at him across the entire Universe and all of Creation.

    This is exactly what the Apostle Paul so clearly explained in his Epistle to the Romans:

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

    Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)

  15. That’s completely nonsensical. You are also saying that the Universe is orderly and follows laws, but design was the result of random actions. What? You’re really, really confused.

    Well, the argument is a little more subtle than that, actually. I’m suggesting that what we perceive as “complexity” and “order” could be the result of random events, since order and complexity are simply something that we perceive, not necessarily something that “is,” in an objective sense.

    Further, I’m suggesting that even if evolutionary theory is correct, it still does not disprove or otherwise shed doubt on the notion that either a) the world was created or b) that there is a supreme being. The same supreme being who creates order should be able to create chaos. Finally, since “order” and “chaos” are just organizational schemas that we humans apply to things we don’t fully understand–that is, those concepts are simply in the eye of the beholder–there is no logical reason to believe that order and chaos cannot exist in the same universe, whether that universe was created or “just happened.”

    You need not reject your religious beliefs to accept the premises put forth in the previous paragraph. Yet, for some reason, you are uncomfortable with asking me to accept any argument that doesn’t require me to completely convert to theism.

    You simply don’t get it. It’s like trying to teach basic algebra to my dog, it’s an impossibility.

    I find that a little insulting, Banescu. I think you’re capable of more elevated discourse.

  16. Jim Holman says:
  17. Jacobse says:

    Note 15. Phil writes:

    Well, the argument is a little more subtle than that, actually. I’m suggesting that what we perceive as “complexity” and “order” could be the result of random events, since order and complexity are simply something that we perceive, not necessarily something that “is,” in an objective sense.

    Couple of problems here Phil. You sound like your saying that there is no congruence between how we perceive things and how the things really are. Is this what you really want to say?

    Second, the implied assertion, that order evolves out of random events has yet to be “proved”, which is to say that it’s a philosophical assertion when applied to the origin of the species, and one with a cosmological dimension because it posits how the world “works.” (Darwin’s hypothesis is fundamentally a creation narrative, not science.)

    Thus, when you assert:

    Further, I’m suggesting that even if evolutionary theory is correct, it still does not disprove or otherwise shed doubt on the notion that either a) the world was created or b) that there is a supreme being. The same supreme being who creates order should be able to create chaos. Finally, since “order” and “chaos” are just organizational schemas that we humans apply to things we don’t fully understand–that is, those concepts are simply in the eye of the beholder–there is no logical reason to believe that order and chaos cannot exist in the same universe, whether that universe was created or “just happened.”

    …it seems you achieve reconciliation between Aristotle and Darwin because you believe that our understanding of “order” and “chaos” are merely “organizational schemas,” that is, verbal propositions that don’t necessarily bear any congruence to the outside world.

    Again, the problem is that both Darwin and his detractors would strongly disagree. Chaos is not an “organizational schema.” Chaos is the absence of any schema whatsoever. Randomness is the not the result of a plan, it is the absence of any plan or blueprint. That’s why calling God into this picture is incoherent, as Dawkins and other prominent atheists understand with absolute clarity. God doesn’t fit here, and trying to shoehorn Him in only works in a relativistic universe where words don’t really mean what they say.

  18. Randomness is the not the result of a plan, it is the absence of any plan or blueprint.

    It definitely sounds like it makes sense, Jacobse, but if you think about it a little you’ll realize that’s not really accurate.

    Let’s say I want to record ten minutes of music. I could write some beautiful chords. I could write an aria. I could write a fugue. And so forth. That would be “order” resulting from a plan.

    But if I wanted ten minutes of randomness, I could do that, too. I could randomly select notes and sounds and record them. But my own selections might not be truly random, so I could use a random number generator to determine what sounds or notes to play. I could even purchase lists of random numbers designed for scientific research. In fact, if I were making music (or writing something on a page, or simply generating any kind of random output, from numbers to sounds to colors), the result would probably be more random if I planned carefully for it to be so.

    This does not mean that all randomness must be designed or planned. But it’s definitely incorrect–just plain wrong–to state that randomness cannot come from design.

    If I can plan to create random output, then it’s likely that an omnipotent being–whether hypothetical or real–can do the same.

  19. Couple of problems here Phil. You sound like your saying that there is no congruence between how we perceive things and how the things really are. Is this what you really want to say?

    Not in the sweeping way that you seem to be suggesting. But “order” and “chaos” are subjective states of being that are more like “beauty” than, say, “traveling at the speed of light.”

    We perceive beauty, and we perceive “ugliness.” We might even say, “If something is ugly, it cannot be beautiful.” And it might sound true. But it’s not “true” in a factual sense, because it was never a fact-based statement. You might find the peak of Mt. McKinley ugly, and I might find it beautiful. Neither of us is wrong.

    When you say, “Order cannot come from chaos,” it’s the same thing. “Order” isn’t an objective term; it’s just something you think you see. “Chaos” is the same; what we perceive as chaotic could be an order so complex that we simply can’t understand it. Even if the two of us agree that a system is chaotic, that doesn’t mean that it “is” chaotic, any more than if we agree that Sophia Loren is beautiful, that means that she “is” beautiful.

  20. Phil –

    I have a thought experiment for you.

    For 25 years or so there have been large antennae scanning the night skies for signs of extra-terrestrial life. They pick up radio signals coming from outer space. I think this effort is called the SETI project.

    Now, there are ordered radio signals that come from space – from pulsars and quasars, I think. They are timed sequences that can be more than just a periodic beep. Some can have a definite rythym. But, these have not been thought to be indicative of intelligent life. Just ordered signals that arise from rotation and translation of inter-steller bodies.

    So, here is the experiment: can you describe what sort of signal would be indicative of intelligent life? What would the pattern be like, and why would we rule out pulsars, etc. as an explanation? In short, what observation would point to an intelligent source.

  21. Banescu says:

    Phil, You make absolutely no sense. This comment from you summarizes the deep confusion and illogical thinking that permeates your arguments:

    But “order” and “chaos” are subjective states of being that are more like “beauty” than, say, “traveling at the speed of light.”

    This is categorically false because (a) it’s false on its face (laws of logic and reason) and (b) all of science (math, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, biochemistry, nuclear physics, engineering, etc.) across the entire history of mankind is based on the exact opposite presumption.

    Here’s some keen insights from C.S. Lewis that eloquently explain the key issues:

    The physical sciences, then, depend on the validity of logic just as much as metaphysics or mathematics. If popular thought feels ‘science’ to be different from all other kinds of knowledge because science is experimentally verifiable, popular thought is mistaken. Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic. We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought.

    […]

    I asked whether in general human thought could be set aside as irrelevant to the real universe and merely subjective. I now claim to have found the answer to this larger question.

    The answer is that at least one kind of thought — logical thoughtcannot be subjective and irrelevant to the real universe: for unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe. We reach our knowledge of the universe only by inference.

  22. Hi Banescu,
    You’re substituting “logic” for “order” in my statement, and that’s not really appropriate.

    We might say that a mathematical proof is logical. I wouldn’t deny that the proof was created by the person who came up with it. But you’re saying someone must have come up with the person who came up with the proof. (And then a logical person might say, who came up with the being that came up with the person that came up with the proof, etc.)

    But I never said that “logic” doesn’t exist. But one doesn’t look at a rock, or a crystal, or sperm swimming in a sea of semen, and say, “That is logical!” in any meaningful way.

    I hate to be dismissive, Banescu, but the tone of your posts on this subject has been insulting and your logic is not at the standard of college-level work.

    Tom C,
    I think that a good indicator of an intelligent source would be a clear message that something is aware that it might be monitored and thus made a choice to make a signal that is unambiguous, that couldn’t be mistaken for a random signal. A series of beeps which spell out the digits of pi might be a good start, but it would be even more interesting if the signal then switched to some other mathematical constant.

    The important thing is, if you’re trying to communicate your existence, and you have it within your capacity not to be vague, you should make that choice.

    I hate to trot out old arguments, but it’s really senseless to pretend you’re being logical when you say that “complexity cannot exist without a designer.” Any designer who could create an animal would be more complex than that animal, by your own logic. It would therefore need to have been designed by someone. And so on.

    On some level, belief in a supreme being requires a little bit of faith. It’s not just irrational, but it seems to be contrary to the very nature of faith to even suggest that the existence of this being is entirely provable in a materialistic way.

  23. Banescu says:

    Beside the obvious fact that even a 2 year old can tell the difference between Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (order) and the cacophony of street noises in an urban setting (random), there’s another important insight that the “chaos and order are just subjective tastes of the observer” proponents don’t get. It is only through logic and order that we can make sense of the universe around us and our own thoughts. Order helps us identify chaos or randomness, but not the other way around. Chaos is the abscence of logic, not its brother or cousin. Just like darkness is not on an equal footing with light, but it represents the abscence of light. Similarly, chaos is not the opposite of order (or a subjective taste), but the absence of order.

  24. Jacobse says:

    Somewhat related: The Templeton Foundation is running a series: Does science make belief in God obsolete?. Haven’t read any of it yet.

  25. Michael P Bauman says:

    On a personal note: I just found out that my grandmother and great aunt were heavily involved in the eugenics programs of the early 20th century on the ‘child welfare’ side through the U.S. Children’s Bureau. One of the programs they designed and promoted were Better Baby Contestd at state fairs. They were designed and judged just like livestock fairs using livestock judges. Of course only white kids of the ‘proper’ pedigree could enter.

    My grandmother’s popular books on child rearing were filled with many of the same ideas–raising children to perfection through strict, standardized routines. Ideas which my mother knew by heart and rejected out of hand. My mother’s child rearing ideas were to do everything the opposite of what her mother had written. Of course, my grandmother refused to raise her own children (my mother and her twin sister), putting them in a series of boarding schools and having as little as possible to do with them. My mother, may her memory be eternal, did all that she could do to prevent her mother’s ideals from being passed on in the family. That’s why I’m finding out about the involvement only now.

    That’s the whole evolutionist attitude in a nutshell in my family history. Kids are crops, at least the white ones. Even adults are just fodder for progress and objects for pleasure to be pruned and weeded as necessary for the improvement of the race. The past is not prelude but either a fantasy golden age or an inferior expression to be forgotten and abandoned as “time marches on” always progressing.

    The late 19th and early 20th century was full of such ideas, politically, socially, economically, scientifically in every which way imaginable. The end of the little ice age, the fall of kings, the industrial revolution gave birth to the pseudo-science of evolutionary biology, the perverse psychology of Freud, the insane ramblings of Nietzche, the escatological history of H.G. Wells, the fervent hope of the immenent parousia in Protestantism and of course the eugenics movement in which my grandmother played her expected part. The ultimate fruit has been not a rebirth of man, but our dehumanization and degradation epitomized in the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao. I also dare to throw in Woodrow Wilson as a prelude.

    Not that I’m entirely Malthusian (another of the wonderful intellectuals of the time). Good things have happened and continue to happen despite all of the horrible fancies we have entertained. We can do better.

  26. Michael P Bauman says:

    Chris, street noises are not random. They are the unorganized product of design: the streets, the buildings, the vehicles, the presence of people drawn to the economic and social activity other people have designed and implemented.

    Add a little further structure and arrangement and you have, if not exactly music, at least pleasing and uplifting rythmns, ala’ Stomp.

    Random does not exist.

  27. Jim Holman says:

    Michael writes: “That’s the whole evolutionist attitude in a nutshell in my family history. Kids are crops, at least the white ones. Even adults are just fodder for progress and objects for pleasure to be pruned and weeded as necessary for the improvement of the race.”

    Michael, that’s a fascinating story. But I would suggest that the idea you mention has much more do to with animal husbandry than evolution. In animal husbandry you breed so as to obtain “good stock,” while culling out the weaker members of the breed. This has gone on for thousands of years, and is even mentioned in the Bible.

    But I think you would agree that the practitioners of animal husbandry are not responsible for the application of that thinking to human beings.

  28. Michael,
    It’s not accurate to say that eugenics is “the evolutionist attitude.” That’s an example of the is/ought fallacy. Just because someone believes that a process does happen, it does not follow that they believe that the process ought happen, or that the process is moral.

    For example, I believe that, over millennia, the strongest traits in a species are more likely to survive. This doesn’t mean that the fittest ought to survive, or that it’s right that they do. It just means I believe that’s what happens.

    I also believe, for example, that if you feed large amounts of arsenic to a baby, then the baby will die. I don’t believe that you ought to feed large amounts of arsenic to a baby, or that it’s “right” that arsenic kills babies. But it really would be impractical for me to hold some other belief about the outcome, since I am correct in holding that belief. There’s nothing moral or immoral about accuracy; it’s the behaviors that you choose based on the facts that have moral weight.

    Doctors hold views that treat humans like animals made of meat and blood and bone. They have to, because we’ve learned that human beings are animals made of meat and blood and bone.

    Doctors used to treat you like your maladies were caused by evil spirits. That didn’t work well, because it was probably factually incorrect. Maladies are caused by mundane things, that have nothing to do with your soul, or with your reason for existence.

    When you go to a doctor to be treated for an illness, you don’t lose your reason for existence, and you don’t lose your soul. Just because scientists–all scientists, not just evolutionary biologists–must work from a set of materialist assumptions, it doesn’t mean that it’s the way the world ought to be. But scientists, such as doctors, have to deal with things that can be observed and detected, like matter and energy.

    You instinctively understand this, even if you claim not to, if you go to a doctor to treat a disease or illness. Even if there is a supreme being, materialism is a handy way to describe the behavior of matter and energy, up to and including the interactions of biological organisms. If a supreme being exists, he or she allows this, because if your appendix bursts, you know that centuries of materialist science have provided a better treatment than centuries of prayer.

  29. the cacophony of street noises in an urban setting

    Ah, but what about the cacophony of street noises in a movie or on a television show? Sound designers do some good work, these days, and it’s not impossible to think that a person, even an adult, might hear the “chaotic” sounds on a well-crafted soundtrack and think that they were “disordered” or “chaotic,” when, in fact, they were carefully placed by a designer?

    I think we can both agree that, if an intelligent designer wanted to, he or she could create something chaotic. Really, it amazes me that someone who purports to believe in an omnipotent being would even entertain the notion that such a being is incapable of creating disorder, incapable of creating randomness, or incapable of creating something chaotic. Of course an omnipotent being can do whatever it chooses, up to and including creating something random and chaotic. Why, on God’s earth, are you arguing otherwise?

    Pun intended. :)

  30. Michael P Bauman says:

    Phil, you are wrong. 1st there is a difference between chaotic and random, 2nd even you use the word ‘appear’ chaotic. Even random number generators behave in accordance with a designed alogrithim that simply makes the pattern imperceptible from a practical standpoint.

  31. Michael P Bauman says:

    The thought to be apply animal husbandry to human beings is only possible once humanity has been degraded to beastiality, when both God and human beings as His image are no longer a real consideration.

    Animal husbandry is a legitimate application of our God-given dominion. God is the only one who can husband us. He is the Bridegroom.

  32. Phil –

    I asked you to explain what sort of radio signal from space might be evidence of an intelligent source. You responded with this:

    I think that a good indicator of an intelligent source would be a clear message that something is aware that it might be monitored and thus made a choice to make a signal that is unambiguous, that couldn’t be mistaken for a random signal

    The key words here are “…unambiguous, couldn’t be mistaken for a random signal”.

    You suggested that the digits of pi might fit the bill. Let’s assume that for a minute, even though it is problematic since the digits depend on being base ten, and our alien neighbor might not have had ten fingers and ten toes, nor had a fascination with circles.

    OK, I am a skeptical scientist, and I concoct a theory that says the radio signal is produced by a rotational signal from a pulsar which could be modulated by a linear signal from deep space which could then travel through the gravitional field of a black hole which might have the effect of producing a Taylor series, which could…well, you get the idea. At some point, you would probably say “well, I think it much more likely that there are intelligent beings responsible for it.”

    The workings of a single cell contain fantastically more information than the digits of pi. You should be able to see that as “…unambiguous, couldn’t be mistaken for a random signal”. The apostle Paul suggests as much in the first chapters of Romans.

  33. The workings of a single cell contain fantastically more information than the digits of pi. You should be able to see that as “…unambiguous, couldn’t be mistaken for a random signal”.

    If we start from the position that the cell was a pre-set goal, then we can’t ignore the idea that the “information” contained in the cell is a message to us. If, say, you and I got together and drew up the plans for a building, or an animal, or if we even put together a sequence of random numbers…and then tomorrow, those plans/ideas/numbers were communicated to us by beings from outer space, then we would have reason to believe that those beings were privy to our ideas in some way.

    That’s the purpose of suggesting that the digits of pi would be evidence of an intelligent communicator: because pi, mathematically, is the same throughout the universe. So an intelligent being would have reason to assume that that is a good baseline to begin from. You’re correct that the digits would be different for beings that don’t use a base-10 number system, but a good mathematician should be able to translate a different number system if necessary.

    Any sequence of a million numbers, say, would be incredibly complex and unlikely to happen. If I received a sequence of beeps that totalled up to a million random numbers from outer space, it wouldn’t necessarily follow that I could say, “Look! Those million random numbers must be a sign of intelligence!” Every sequence of a million numbers is just as unlikely as every other, yet if there’s a pulsar capable of sending numbers randomly, then eventually, you’ll hit a million of something. It’s like a roulette wheel. It’s incredibly unlikely for four spins of a roulette wheel to come up “5, 5, 5, 5.” But it’s no less likely than “5, 29, 17, 8″–or any other random combination. Now, if you told me, “Watch this! This roulette wheel will turn up 5-5-5-5,” and then it happens, I would have reason to believe that you are capable of predicting or influencing the result of the wheel. But if you told me after the fact, “Look! I just made the roulette wheel turn up 5, 29, 17, 8,” I really don’t have evidence that you can influence or predict the wheel.

    So what we’re really discussing, when it comes to cells, is not whether they are complex or unlikely events. Of course they’re complex and unlikely. But if you spun a roulette wheel a billion billion billion times, you would come up with 5, 29, 17, 8, eventually.

    We really don’t know how many “spins” the Universe has had when it comes to the possible creation of life. But it seems that no one on this board is a young-Earth creationist (if you are, stand up and be counted!) So it’s safe to say there has been a lot of time for a lot of events to happen.

    Even random number generators behave in accordance with a designed alogrithim that simply makes the pattern imperceptible from a practical standpoint.

    Michael, it sounds like we are in agreement. I believe that an omnipotent supreme being could, if it wanted, create something that is random and chaotic. Do you disagree with that? If not, then I’m not “wrong,” I’m “right,” and we both agree with my post 29.

    Just because you and I have different religious beliefs doesn’t mean you have to contradict everything I say.

  34. Michael Bauman says:

    Phil, your understanding of an omnipotent being is really quite pagan because it assumes capriciousness on the part of said being. God as revealed in the Bible, the Person of Jesus Christ, the saints and the Church is not capricious at all.

    Love precludes capriciousness. Capriciousness is selfish, narcisistic even. The prayers of the Church describe Jesus Christ as “the only lover of mankind”.

    Love allows for order that enhances growth since love always wants the best for the beloved. Capriciousness, chaos and randomness are the antithesis of love.

  35. Jacobse says:

    Note 34. Michael writes:

    Phil, your understanding of an omnipotent being is really quite pagan because it assumes capriciousness on the part of said being.

    Yes, this is correct. Phil doesn’t understand the implications of his position. Here is another one: The “god” that Phil posits undermines the notion of progress that informs the Darwinian hypothesis. Any notion of progress is linear, that is, it requires as its philosophical ground the notion that time is linear; events have a starting point and, ultimately, an end point. This is, at bottom, a religious view because it includes cosmological assumptions that invariably ask the eternal/transcendent questions. Its origin is Genesis, although many Darwinists would probably reject their dependence on it.

    Phil does not posit a God of steadfastness, but a god of uncertainty, the author of randomness, and thus also chaos (it can’t be any other way). Welcome here the return ultimately of Manichean dualism — or even simpler, the pagan narratives. Further, if god is both the author of order and randomness, then time, in the end, must return to its pagan formulation, that is, circular instead of linear. The idea of progress, particularly with its dependence on the awareness that time is linear (one of the great gifts of the Jews to human civilization, IMO), will fade from view.

  36. Further, if god is both the author of order and randomness, then time, in the end, must return to its pagan formulation, that is, circular instead of linear.

    So, the argument you’re making, Jacobse, is that nothing anywhere, in the universe, is chaotic or random?

    Since we perceive things that appear to be random all the time, it sounds like–in between your poetic turns of phrase–you also agree with me. Whether what we perceive is actually random or simply perceived as random is immaterial; I’m contending that these random things don’t disprove the notion of your supreme being, and you also agree that they don’t disprove the notion of your supreme being.

  37. Michael P Bauman says:

    Phil, no we don’t agree. Your faith and mine are so fundamentally different I cannot imagine agreeing with you on anything of significance. I don’t think it is possible. I don’t intend that to sound mean, it isn’t. It is just a statement of fact. It has nothing to do with religion BTW. Your rejection of religion is simply a side effect that serves to illustrate my point. The rejection is not casuative.

  38. Jacobse says:

    Note 36. Phil asks:

    So, the argument you’re making, Jacobse, is that nothing anywhere, in the universe, is chaotic or random?

    No, I am arguing that you assertion that God creates both order and chaos, is incoherent. You can’t stand Aristotle on Darwin’s head — the cosmologies clash (Aristotle saw an ordered universe). The “supreme being” you are positing is a mish-mash of Judeo-Christian and pagan thinking.

  39. Michael Bauman says:

    Phil, what you call chaos, or randomness, etc. if, from a Christian understanding the result of sin, not of God.

    The way you conceive of it, you might as well be worshipping Shiva.

  40. James K says:

    Note 38: “I am arguing that your assertion that God creates both order and chaos, is incoherent.

    Actually, this is another one of those ideas that emanated from the fallout of the Reformation, I believe. If it’s rational to believe that God is also the origin of evil as many apparently believe (and here), it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that He creates chaos as well.

    Perhaps I spend too much time reading Reformed blogs as a means of intellectual self-torture, but it’s not as uncommon a sentiment as one might think.

  41. you assertion that God creates both order and chaos, is incoherent.

    I think you’re overthinking this. It’s a pretty simple idea. If both order and chaos exist, and if nothing happens that is not willed or permitted by God, then God clearly has the capacity to, at the very least, permit both order and chaos.

    So, for your claim to be coherent, you must argue that chaos and randomness simply don’t exist anywhere in the universe.

    And that’s fine; because my argument stands up whether there is actual chaos or simply events that we can perceive to be chaotic or random. And that’s pretty much a truism: we _do_ perceive events to be chaotic and random.

    So, while you provide vehement arguments against the existence of the God you believe in, I’m making a very simple, coherent statement: “The existence of something chaotic or random, or the existence of something that appears to humans to be chaotic or random, does not automatically disprove the existence of an omnipotent Supreme Being capable of love.”

    If you disagree with that simple, elegant statement, you are, in effect, arguing against the existence of the God you purport to believe in. There’s nothing “capricious” about allowing random numbers to exist, or allowing space debris to exist, or allowing radiation from a magnetic cataclysm to harm the DNA of animals, or any other random-appearing act.

    And Michael Bauman, I realize that we are of different religions, but I don’t think it’s Christian theology to suggest that space debris, random number generators, magnetic cataclysms, etc., are the result of “sin.”

  42. Jacobse says:

    Note 41. Phil writes:

    If both order and chaos exist, and if nothing happens that is not willed or permitted by God, then God clearly has the capacity to, at the very least, permit both order and chaos.

    “Permit”? Initially you were arguing cosmology, now you are arguing, –what?, systematic theology?

    Let’s not get sidetracked. You want to fit an Aristotelian cosmology (orderly universe; the unmoved mover) with a Darwinian cosmology (random universe) to conclude that God is the author of both order and the absence of order (the latter being an absolute requirement of Darwinian cosmology). It can’t be done.

    This is a different point than the one you are making above.

    Look at it this way: if evil exists, is God the author of evil? By your logic, the answer is yes. Hence my comment upstream about Manichean dualism (for this is where you logic will lead), and Michael’s correct intuition that your approach has a pagan ring to it.

  43. Initially you were arguing cosmology, now you are arguing, –what?, systematic theology?

    No, Jacobse. I don’t use that language. I don’t “argue cosmology,” because it’s pointless. I say something that is true, and then you disagree with me. You do this by trying to “frame” my comments within some kind of worldview that you disagree with. I have zero interest in the clashing of cosmologies, and your attempts to guess at my own cosmology are a form of ad hominem attack. A true statement is a true statement regardless of the political, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person saying it.

    The result is that, even though we can both agree that the statements I am making are true, you pretend that I am wrong because I’m coming from the wrong “cosmology.”

    Look at it this way: if evil exists, is God the author of evil? By your logic, the answer is yes.

    Dude, I didn’t make up the phrase “Nothing happens but God wills it or permits it,” I learned it in CCD from a priest. That’s not some bizarre concept. That God “permits” evil is self-evident: evil exists, ergo, if an omnipotent being exists, he/she permits it. This does not make God the “author” of evil; Catholics believe that God gave humans free will, so that even though he already knows every choice we will make in our lifetimes, we are still responsible for those choices. If God were to prevent all evil, he must also prevent free will. So God permits evil, even though he has the power (being all-powerful) to prevent it.

    The behavior of protons, neutrons, or subatomic particles can’t really be said to be “evil” since it doesn’t involve human agents exercising free will. I’m not really sure where a “random number generator” fits in the scheme of “things that are evil,” either.

    So, let’s look at this next statement as a statement. Ignore what you know or assume to be true about my philosophical beliefs. Just look at the statement:

    “The existence of something chaotic or random, or the existence of something that appears to humans to be chaotic or random, does not automatically disprove the existence of an omnipotent Supreme Being capable of love.”

    …is it true? It seems to me that I’m making a statement that is very easy to agree with. There’s nothing really controversial there. I’m just disqualifying a certain type of evidence as proof of the nonexistence of a God.

    I think we both know that you agree with that statement, since you don’t believe that any evidence could possibly exist which disproves the existence of God.

  44. Jim Holman says:

    Phil writes: “The existence of something chaotic or random, or the existence of something that appears to humans to be chaotic or random, does not automatically disprove the existence of an omnipotent Supreme Being capable of love.”

    To use your example of pi, the decimal portion of pi appears to be a sequence of random digits. In fact, the sequence is orderly, and not just that, but mathematically deterministic. Thus, what appears to be random is in fact totally ordered.

    Even a better example, Stephen Wolfram’s work on cellular automata shows that starting with a simple structure (even one cell) and a simple set of transformational rules, structures of great complexity and apparent randomness can be created. But in fact, there’s nothing random about them.

    Even most “random number generators” are not truly random. They only appear to be random to those who don’t know the algorithm.

    And it works the other way too. Flip a coin a million times and you’ll end up with almost exactly 50 percent heads and tails — apparent order. But the distribution is the result of a (reasonably) random process.

    Fr. Hans writes: “You want to fit an Aristotelian cosmology (orderly universe; the unmoved mover) with a Darwinian cosmology (random universe) to conclude that God is the author of both order and the absence of order (the latter being an absolute requirement of Darwinian cosmology). It can’t be done.”

    But the problem with that statement is that we know mathematically and computationally that what appears to be random can in fact be ordered. So how do you tell the difference?

  45. Jacobse says:

    Note 43. Phil writes:

    No, Jacobse. I don’t use that language. I don’t “argue cosmology,” because it’s pointless. I say something that is true, and then you disagree with me. You do this by trying to “frame” my comments within some kind of worldview that you disagree with. I have zero interest in the clashing of cosmologies, and your attempts to guess at my own cosmology are a form of ad hominem attack. A true statement is a true statement regardless of the political, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person saying it.

    Well, that’s nice I guess, but it has no bearing on the fact that the Darwinian hypothesis has cosmological assumptions (a random universe) that resists your attempt to shove it into an Aristotelian framework (an ordered universe). These views exists independent of you and me making your point about an ad-homimen attack, well, pointless.

    As for the point about a true statement being true “regardless of the political, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person saying it,” truth is never divorced from philosophy and religion. That’s why the Darwinian hypothesis (or any other creation narrative that posits a theory of origins) cannot be separated from cosmology. Attempting to do so is a flight into ignorance.

    And one more time (sigh):

    “The existence of something chaotic or random, or the existence of something that appears to humans to be chaotic or random, does not automatically disprove the existence of an omnipotent Supreme Being capable of love.”

    …is not the same thing as your original implication that God creates both order (Aristotle) and the absence of order (Darwin) — your original point that makes the discussion of cosmology relevant. You’ve shifted the philosophical (and thus rhetorical) ground here.

  46. Jacobse says:

    Note 44. Jim asks:

    But the problem with that statement is that we know mathematically and computationally that what appears to be random can in fact be ordered. So how do you tell the difference?

    A very good question and one I don’t have an answer for. I have some speculations however. Keep in mind this is merely speculation: I am not at all sure that the creation is as fixed as we think. Yes, there are immutable physical laws, but there is also a dynamic within creation that propels it toward unity and wholeness.

    I’m not a scientist so I can’t really explain it in those terms. But I see many things that cause me to examine the way that I see things. For example, I’ve seen miracles, healing of the body mostly but other things too, that have caused me to throw out the conventional definition of a miracle (generally understood as an event that takes place outside of the normal operations of human existence). Now I see miracles as an indicator of prelapsarian humanity (Adam at the beginning, the Kingdom of the God at the end — both work because both are essentially the same*) breaking through into present time and space.

    *Linear time — what an absolutely critical and astonishing insight. Thank Genesis for that. No other creation narrative grasps it.

    IOW, say a person who suffered a massive stroke and was expected to die in three hours or so made a full recovery after prayers were said. Say we had the technology to chart every process down to the cellular level of his brain and a super-computer to assemble and sort that data into something comprehensible. I think what you would discover is natural processes that were supercharged in a way — the brokenness obliterated (the bondage to biological death itself made dead), so that the natural restorative powers were unleashed to affect a healing that is indeed miraculous but also natural to biological existence.

    Right now I am working with a doctor who is at the forefront of stem cell research (no embryonic stuff — completely ethical). We have a young man in our charge, twenty years old suffering from meningitis. Texas hospitals had told him there was nothing more they could do. His hands and feet were leathery and black. Gangrene had set in. They wanted to amputate the arms from the shoulders down and the legs from the hips down to try and save his life.

    The doctor injected the patient’s own stem cells into his hands and feet, then called me for prayers and anointing (he understands — obliquely like I do — that there is a powerful relationship between the recreation of cells and the Creator) — he does the medical stuff, I do the religious stuff. Well, his fingers and toes are turning pink. The dead leathery cells covering parts of his hands are sloughing off. This is absolutely astonishing to see. He is not out of the woods yet but his prognosis improves daily. The doctors wants to start him on rehabilitative therapy on his feet in two weeks. (Right now his lays on his back with arms elevated twenty-four hours a day.)

    I’m am witnessing something that places me right at the cusp of creation — where Word and matter intersect –but I don’t understand it yet.

    Pray for him Jim (and anyone else reading this). The boy deserves to live. If you do choose to pray for him however, it has to be everyday. His condition requires continual prayer and fasting.*

    *For Phil: In a Darwinian cosmology (and yes, cosmologies have a moral component as well since they unavoidably deal with the purpose of creation — and, yes, no purpose still has moral power), death is the engine of progress, survival of the fittest and all that. There would be no point in trying to save this young man’s life.

  47. it has no bearing on the fact that the Darwinian hypothesis has cosmological assumptions (a random universe)

    Fortunately, we’ve established that the Darwinian hypothesis and the theory of evolution or not the same thing, right? Because I have zero interest in talking about the “Darwinian hypothesis.” All that the theory of evolution requires is for the existence of events that appear to be random, and it’s pretty foolish to suggest that we exist in a world where nothing that seems to be random can occur.

    …is not the same thing as your original implication that God creates both order (Aristotle) and the absence of order (Darwin)

    That’s because neither of those distiinctions has any bearing on my point. That is, (a) whether God creates randomness or merely permits it, and (b) whether there actually is randomness or simply the appearance of randomness is is irrelevant.

    I can agree that random events may be ordered and only appear random to us. I can agree that a supreme being might not directly be responsible for creating disorder–either because the random events that make up that disorder only appear random to humans or because the supreme being didn’t “create” it per se but simply allowed it to happen–and my point is still true: the existence of events that appear to be random does not disprove the existence of that being.

    In a debate, this is called “giving up ground.” I am happy to concede that “random events” might not be random, and may only appear that way to us. I am happy to concede that your belief in a Supreme Being permits it only to create order, never to “create” randomness. My point still stands: regardless of what you feel about the political, philosophical, or religious beliefs of its creator, the theory of evolution only requires that events in the universe can happen that appear to be random.

    And the existence of events that appear to be random does not, in and of itself, disprove the existence of a Supreme Being.

    I think the reason you are having so much difficulty accepting this is because you know I’m right, and it somehow bothers you to agree with someone when you attribute a “cosmology” to them that you don’t like. But it doesn’t make the statement less true, no matter how many times you try to say that my cosmology or Darwin’s cosmology or “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cosmology doesn’t gel with your own.

  48. Jacobse says:

    Note 47. Phil writes:

    I am happy to concede that “random events” might not be random, and may only appear that way to us. I am happy to concede that your belief in a Supreme Being permits it only to create order, never to “create” randomness. My point still stands: regardless of what you feel about the political, philosophical, or religious beliefs of its creator, the theory of evolution only requires that events in the universe can happen that appear to be random.

    Let’s sharpen this a bit: My “belief in a Supreme Being” is the God of Abraham, who, as the Judeo/Christian scriptures reveal, creates order. He is not the creator of disorder. He also creates outside of time, thereby establishing time as linear and making progress possible. (Darwin borrows this notion while denying its source.)

    Your notion of a Supreme Being is a distant and unapproachable monad, of whom nothing can be said because randomness might just be a figment of our imagination. But this too, like it or not, has cosmological implications. In some ways your conception of God mimics the Muslims, although the Muslims of course are not afflicted with the relativistic uncertainty that your approach presents. They see the existential implications of a monadic Supreme Being in different terms.

    Thus, again, your conclusion that evolution “only requires that events in the universe can happen that appear to be random” doesn’t avoid the cosmological conundrum. It just posits a “Supreme Being” so removed from creation that it (He?) is virtually non-existent. So why not follow Dawkin’s example and deny a “Supreme Being” altogether? At least this would be intellectually consistent although long term it doesn’t work of course because people cannot live without reference to the transcendent. Nietzsche tried and look where it got him.

    Thus your assertion:

    I think the reason you are having so much difficulty accepting this is because you know I’m right, and it somehow bothers you to agree with someone when you attribute a “cosmology” to them that you don’t like. But it doesn’t make the statement less true, no matter how many times you try to say that my cosmology or Darwin’s cosmology or “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cosmology doesn’t gel with your own.

    …misses the point entirely. It’s not that I don’t like your cosmology, it’s that I challenge your assertion that cosmology is irrelevant.