Evolution and Original Sin

I had intended to devote this post to Michael Ruse’s latest column for HuffPo. It turns out, though, that first we need to consider this earlier column from Ruse.

When I first started writing about evolution and creationism I took a highly accommodationist line. I was perfectly happy to parrot the conventional wisdom that evolution and Christianity were compatible and that only crazy extremists think differently. Of course, my current view is not nearly so ecumenical. Today I believe that while it is not flatly impossible to reconcile them, it is at least far more difficult than is typically pretended.

It was not an overnight change of view for me, but I can at least pinpoint the moment I started rethinking things. It was after reading Ruse’s book Can A Darwinian Be A Christian? His book had two effects on me. The first was to make me realize that the conflicts between evolution and Christianity went far beyond the creation account in Genesis One. The second was that Ruse’s arguments in favor of reconciliation were generally far too weak to defuse the conflicts.

As an example, consider his thoughts on the subject of original sin.

The traditional concept of original sin is tied to the story of Adam and Eve. We were created good, but the first couple disobeyed God and fell into sin. We inherit this sin nature, and that is why humanity frequently falls short of moral decency. Romans 5:18-19 reads:

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (NRSV)

In context it is perfectly clear that the man who tresspassed was Adam, while the righteous man was Jesus.

There are cryptic parts of scripture, but this is not one of them. Moreover, the close ties drawn between the early chapters of Genesis and the New Testament story of redemption show how difficult it is to allegorize Genesis without doing real theological damage.

This classical view of original sin was advocated especially by Augustine. Of course, modern science shows that it is entirely false. There was no original couple, and Adam and Eve never existed. In the decades following the publication of The Origin of Species, when people spoke of conflicts between evolution and scripture, they were more likely to be thinking of original sin than the first chapter of Genesis. Unsurprisingly, this was especially true in Catholic circles.

So what is the reconciler to do? Ruse thinks evolution provides a way out. In his earlier column he writes:

It seems to me, however, that what evolutionary biology takes away with the one hand, it returns a hundred-fold with the other.

Standard bravado, but since what has been taken away is the entire freakin’ doctrine it is hard to imagine what it could give back that is a hundred times better. Here is Ruse’s answer:

What this all means is that humans are going to be a mélange of good and bad, selfish and giving. This is our Darwinian human nature. And this, it seems to me, is a piece of candy for the Christian. He or she can keep the deep insights of Augustine but put them now in the context of modern science. There was no literal Adam and Eve. There was no literal Fall. We are both good and bad by reason of our biology, our evolutionary past. That is why we are not going to escape it soon. That is why a little bit of eighteenth-century optimism is not going to make us all perfect. And that is why in a sense we need help from outside — or from Outside, as one might say.

Do you see what I mean about Ruse’s arguments being too weak to defuse the conflict? I certainly see what evolutionary biology is bringing to this discussion. Our understanding of human nature, such as it is, comes entirely from science. But what is Christianity bringing to the table? Ruse refers to the deep insights of Augustine, but what insights does he mean? It would seem that Augustine took the entirely trivial observation that humans routinely fall short of moral goodness, a fact absolutely no one needed Christianity to tell them, and married it to a view of history that is now recognized as entirely false. Nothing insightful about that.

This attempted reconciliation, in which our sinful natures are equated with the selfishness we inherit from our evolutionary history, is very common in the literature of reconciliation. It is essentially what is argued by Karl Giberson in Saving Darwin and by Daryl Domning in Original Selfishness. If they find this view adequate they are welcome to it, but we should not be surprised that so many Christians of a traditional temperament are not amused. They will say that this is not a reconciliation of original sin with evolution at all. Defenders of this view are simply discarding original sin and hitching their fortunes to science instead.

Ruse concludes:

In all divides, the extremists at the two ends have more in common than with those in the middle. The Creationists and the New Atheists come together in agreeing that Christianity and modern biological science are incompatible. My plea is that we see how wrong they both are. No one is asking for conversions, but in modern biology there is much of real value for the thinking Christian, and in Christian thought there is much worth pondering by the biologist. Difficult questions demand grown-up answers and it is foolish to think that only one approach can yield all of the results.

I am still waiting to hear what it is in Christian thought that a biologist should ponder. If they are to have any bite, then notions like original sin and the fall of man have to contain something more than the banal fact that humans sometimes do not behave well. If Christianity has nothing to tell us about why that is the case, and from what Ruse has written that seems to be the truth, then what good is it?

Which brings me to his current column. His primary focus is a new paper about original sin published by John Schneider, a theologian at Calvin College. Early on Ruse writes:

My argument (one repeated from my book Can a Darwinian be a Christian?) is that we should think of Adam metaphorically, and that we should see humans as the product of evolution through natural selection.

But why should we think of Adam at all?

As we have seen, there is no basis in scripture for thinking that Adam was meant metaphorically. It is sometimes argued that since “Adam” was not a proper name at the time Genesis was written, but instead is just the Hebrew word for “man”, we are justified in treating Adam metaphorically. That this is specious becomes clear when you consider everything that Adam does. In Chapter Two the specifics of his creation and that of Eve are used to explain the origins of marriage. In Chapter Three, specific actions he takes result in the curse on creation. In Chapter Five we are given a meticulous list of descendants linking him to Noah. It seems a bit odd to think that a metaphorical man could leave literal descendants. And in the New Testament he is discussed in terms that make him sound as real as Jesus. Metaphorizing Adam is easier said than done.

But the interesting part of the column is that Schneider has gotten himself into trouble with his overly liberal approach to theology.

Schneider today is in deep trouble with the president of his college who wants him kicked out for transgressing the standard line. And some of the president’s supporters are even more shrill, demanding that he be fired for “heresy.” A subscription to Calvinism that is “serious but not uncritical” (to quote Schneider himself) “and which thus allows one to contradict the Reformed Confessions at will is,” in the opinion of a writer in the Christian Renewal, “no subscription at all. It is mere hypocrisy. The failure of Calvin College to enforce adherence to Reformed standards belies its claim to be Reformed.”

The writer in question might have phrased things more harshly than I would have, but I think he is essentially correct. There comes a point when we are no longer talking about reasonable disagreements within the bounds of orthodoxy, but instead are simply throwing orthodoxy overboard. If you take seriously the “Chrisitan” part of Christian education, then presumably you also think that doctrine is not infinitely malleable, to be discarded casually any time a scientist says you must.

Ruse concludes:

One can surely agree that a church-affiliated college has the right (and the duty) to see that its faculty does not presume unlimited license. I think abortion should be a woman’s choice, but I can see the point of saying that a faculty member at Notre Dame should not be preaching abortion on demand. If you want to do that, go somewhere else. Having said that, evolution is true and Adam and Eve are at best mythological. The human species never, ever got down to two people only. Nor did it start that way. So one can only welcome it when trained, serious, committed theologians try to reinterpret their beliefs in terms of (or compatible with) modern science. It is a sad day indeed when a faculty member of one of the leading Christian colleges in the nation is threatened with the sack by his president for trying to stay true to the faith of his parents and to the demands of reason and evidence, showing that he is indeed made in the image of God. John Schneider is just the sort of man who makes me, a non-believer, realize that for all its faults there is much good in religion. I hope good sense and Christian charity prevail in Michigan. (Emphasis added).

That boldface comment is really the crux of the issue. As Ruse notes, modern science has shown that the traditional understanding of original sin is entirely false. Do we respond to that by saying good riddance to bad rubbish, or do we simply shrug it off and simply change the doctrines to fit the times?

For many religion is a rock on which they can always rely. It is a body of eternal truths they can return to even as the winds of popular culture buffet them into temptation and immorality. That these doctrines do not change is precisely the point. To such people it is not at all honorable to make religious teaching subservient to the demands of science.

Comments

  1. #1 Melissa
    December 19, 2010

    Just want to point out that not all forms of Christianity have the doctrine of Original Sin. It’s all too easy to ignore the churches of the East, which don’t. I only learned about it because I had a gen ed I needed fill and ended up taking history of Byzantium. Eye-opening to say the least. Orthodoxy generally doesn’t believe Adam/Eve/Noah/etc. is literally and they have been doing OK for thousands of years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution was written by an Orthodox Christian.

  2. #2 James F. McGrath
    December 19, 2010

    The point about everything that “Human” does in the story seems problematic. He appears alongside a talking snake, after all. And these humans go through the process of coming of age, going from unabashed nakedness to knowledge of good and evil and the moral responsibility and breakdown of relationships that is inherent in human interactions.

    As stories from a pre-scientific world, they inevitably don’t distinguish clearly between things that would have seemed merely symbolic even to ancient readers, and things that would have been assumed to be literally true. And so all we can do as readers today is try to make sense of the stories in culturally and historically sensitive ways. And I don’t think that metaphorical readings or those which highlight aspects of inaccurate ancient understandings of biology or cosmology necessarily provide everything useful and true that can be said about these stories on their own. Both have important insights that can help those of us who still read them to make sense of them.

  3. #3 Justin
    December 19, 2010

    Well original sin was always on shaky ground anyway considering its confined to Earth and given the scale of the the universe. Its likely that many other life bearing planets exist. C.S. Lewis implies in his fiction, that this would require many Gardens of Eden and many falls or non falls. A better explanation is of course that the whole idea was just basically wrong. It would be astonishing if something as broad as Science created no change what so ever in Theology. Assuming that Theology too is in the best sense also the search for truth.

  4. #4 Jason Rosenhouse
    December 19, 2010

    Melissa –

    I have no quarrel with any Christian who says that original sin is not an important idea in his version of Christianity. My objection is to those who say, after science has shown the utter falsity of the traditional doctrine and has painted us a far more realistic picture of human nature, that somehow Christianity knew it all along.

    James –

    I’m afraid I still don’t see how the stories serve any purpose unless Adam is understood to be a real person. Chapter Two, for example, seems pretty clearly to be meant as an explanation for the institution of marriage. It says God created man and woman in a certain relationship to one another, and says explicitly that this is the reason marriage exists. And what purpose do the Genesis genealogies serve if Adam was not a real person? It is also clear, as I noted, that the New Testament authors understood Adam to be real. As I recall, a standard piece of Christian theology, especially in he Catholic tradition, is that the Old Testament cannot be properly understood except in the light of the New.

    I’d be interested to know what you find so insightful in the Genesis stories to justify their continued relevance. I have no problem with people finding meaning and value in whatever piece of literature moves them, but for myself the early chapters just read like bad science.

    Justin –

    I agree completely that the best explanation is that the whole idea was just basically wrong. As for theology being a search for truth, I believe it is that for its more honorable practitioners. My problem has always been that I don’t understand what methods theologians have for distinguishing truth from falsity.

  5. #5 Thales Naturalist Griggsy
    December 19, 2010

    Per Lamberth’s atelic/teleonomic argument that since the weight of evidence is for teleonomy- no planned outcomes rather than for teleology-planned outcomes, then the latter contradicts rather than complements science and violates the Ockham. So, both evolutionary creationism- Miller,Ayala- and creation evolution- Dembski, obfuscate. So, from the side of science no compatibility results, but from the side of religion, religion can adapt to science as it can to the paranormal!
    To aver otherwise makes for the new Omphalos argument that He deceives us into finding teleonomy! No pace George Gaylord Simpson [ " The Life of the Past"] and Ernst Mayr [' What Evolution Is"], no one should ever try to link the two! See Paul B. Weisz’s comments in ” The Science of Biology” concerning causalism [teleonomy] and teleology. And Amiel Rossow in his essay on the yin and yang of Miller and Jerry Coyne in ” Seeing and Believing” @ Talk Reason both eviscerate any type of theistic evolution!
    And as another naturalist argument against teleology notes, supernaturalists beg the question of His planned outcomes.
    Not only does the atelic eviscerates God as teleology, but Him with any intent as Primary Cause, Grand Miracle Monger and so forth, and thus,He cannot exist as He has no referents! And as He has contradictory,incoherent attributes He cannot exist!
    And other naturalist arguments take away His referents so that again, He cannot exist!
    A quadruple whammy!
    Theology merely finds a super mystery,surrounded by other mysteries, as the Ultimate Explanation! What an oxymoron!
    Ruse ill serves science with his theological underpinning!
    All forms of creationism blaspheme reason! Creationist evolution and evolutionary creationism make no more sense than OEC and YEC!
    Theologians, no matter how fine their language and such, rank with James van Praagh, Sylvia Brown[e] and John Edward! Woo is woo!

  6. #6 386sx
    December 20, 2010

    And I don’t think that metaphorical readings or those which highlight aspects of inaccurate ancient understandings of biology or cosmology necessarily provide everything useful and true that can be said about these stories on their own.

    Of course you don’t think so. Because you worship the damn thing. No need to be coy, Roy. No need to pretend like you’re being objective.

  7. #7 Abbie
    December 20, 2010

    The problem is that whenever anyone tries to answer the question “Was Adam meant metaphorically?” they assume that the story of Adam and Eve, as crafted, was meant to appear in “The Bible” in its current context.

    Really, nobody knows the original intent for the Adam and Eve story. It’s part of a collection of Judaic (southern part of Canaan) writings, cirta 8th or 9th century BCE. We don’t know who wrote it, why they wrote it, or for whom (besides “other Judeans”, I guess.) We don’t know if it’s been edited.

    The Torah, as it stands, is a jumble of material from different sources. You can not assume that all of the content pertains to the Adam and Eve story. (If you’re asking what the original author meant.)

    In Chapter Five we are given a meticulous list of descendants linking him to Noah. It seems a bit odd to think that a metaphorical man could leave literal descendants.

    Chapter 5 in Genesis is an outside source called “The Book of Records”, placed here by the person who compiled the Torah. It was not written by the same person who penned the Adam and Eve story. So it has no possible bearing on whether or not the original authors meant Adam to be taken metaphorically or literally.

    And in the New Testament he is discussed in terms that make him sound as real as Jesus.

    Yeah, I guess the real question is: what did the NT authors believe about Adam? Right or wrong, this belief would form the basis of their future theology.

    But, like the Hebrew Bible, the NT was not the product of a single hand. It was written by different people, and you can’t assume they all had the same opinion of Adam.

    I guess the REAL real question is: what did the person who invented the doctrine of original sin believe about Adam?

    And so on, and so on.

    In the end, I just think it’s futile to try to figure out what the Bible “really” means about any one topic. We don’t really know what it meant. We can only study the chain of theological development. And it all goes back to people who read “The Bible” as if it were penned by Moses himself. Since they were wrong, there’s no reason to pay any attention to any Christian theology.

    It doesn’t matter if Adam was meant metaphorically or literally. We don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

  8. #8 386sx
    December 20, 2010

    We can only study the chain of theological development. And it all goes back to people who read “The Bible” as if it were penned by Moses himself. Since they were wrong, there’s no reason to pay any attention to any Christian theology.

    That chain of theological development could have been divinely guided. You forget that theology can have whatever way it wants.For example St. Augustine can say this: “They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.” and still be not a YEC creationist, and be the hero poster boy for progressive thinking.

  9. #9 Abbie
    December 20, 2010

    We can only study the chain of theological development. And it all goes back to people who read “The Bible” as if it were penned by Moses himself.

    I misspoketh… to be pedantic, Mosaic authorship only applied to the Torah. My point was the earliest theologians took the Bible to be a discrete, unified entity. Now, that’s not specifying *how* they interpreted it. Whatever their opinion of Adam was, it was shaped by reading “The Bible”.

    I kind of forgot a crucial point, and that is that Original Sin seems to require a literal Adam. That answers one of my questions- there’s no doubt that the people who developed the OS doctrine believed Adam was real.

    And because of that, everyone AFTER them needs to believe Adam is real, or the whole thing falls apart.

    And then science comes along, proves Adam a fiction, and look, the whole thing fell apart. The link in the chain has been broken.

    Sure, Christians can look back to the Bible and read a metaphorical interpretation into it; this interpretation is no more or less valid than the earlier views. The problem arises when they pretend this was the “norm”, and that their modern interpretation of the Bible was actually shared by their antecedents. I think that is probably not the case.

    So yeah. I think it’s pointless to try and beat Christians in an “interpret the Bible” contest. I don’t blame them for wanting to “fix” their current theology without having to start over from scratch. But you have to pin them on re-writing the history of their theological development, NOT the proper exegesis of the Bible.

    And who the fuck wants to actually study the history of Christian theology? Ew not me.

    (Of course, my entire argument rests on modern textual criticism being accurate, but while you can quibble on the details, the evidence that the Bible is an anthology of scattered texts compiled at a later date is indisputable.)

  10. #10 TomS
    December 20, 2010

    One of the first things that I do when seeing an argument against evolution is to check whether it is an argument against evolution, rather than an argument against reproduction, development, genetics, …

    Is the problem with Original Sin particularly relevant to evolution? What is there about descent with modification, common ancestry, speciation? Is the problem that the genetic variation in humanity is incompatible with a bottleneck in the population of two individuals? If so, isn’t that a problem with genetics, rather than evolution?

  11. #11 Jud
    December 20, 2010

    What I find most remarkable is Ruse’s comment, “John Schneider is just the sort of man who makes me, a non-believer, realize that for all its faults there is much good in religion.” ISTM Schneider’s acceptance of scientific fact shows the good in Schneider. I fail to see what his religion had to do with it, save keeping Schneider’s creativity exercised in accommodating his beliefs to fact.

  12. #12 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    December 20, 2010

    Moreover, the close ties drawn between the early chapters of Genesis and the New Testament story of redemption show how difficult it is to allegorize Genesis without doing real theological damage.

    So Jesus H. Christ suffered and died for an allegory – how could that possibly do any theological damage?

  13. #13 Mike Magee
    December 20, 2010

    History and archeology are today scientific in approach and give us a right and a duty to question and correct the plain errors in ancient screeds like the compilation of them called the bible. The first thing we have to do is to stop using the bible’s own chronology. It is part of its aim of exaggerating its own antiquity, a failing common to the history most nations certainly in ancient times. Nothing in the bible is anything other than myth up until the appearance of Omri. Besides Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon are all mythical people. It means Moses could not have written even the Torah (Pentateuch), as is evident from a reading of it. After Omri some known kings are mentioned, so the chroniclers knew about them, but they will have known from the records kept by some major state because small insignificant states were mostly illiterate and had no reason for keeping elaborate records. In fact, the historical evidence for the state called Judah barely exists, at least until a few decades before it was wiped out. It seems likely that Judah was an Assyrian puppet carved out as a rump of Israel around the time the Assyrians annexed Samaria. Only the last few kings of Judah seem authentic, and Josiah, the famous reforming king seems to have been an invention to justify the change of worship in Judah from the familiar Canaanite mythos to a new one introduced by a conqueror.

    Who then could have made this change and when? Well, if the bible existed in anything like its present form in the fifth century BC, Herodotus could never have been called the father of history, because the bible presents itself as a detailed history right back into the bronze age. The sixth century is when Cyrus took over the neo Babylonian empire which included Judah. The bible itself regards Cyrus as the messiah of the Jews because he “allowed them to return”. In fact no “return” happened before the fifth century in the time of Darius II, when the Persian empire was largely based in Babylon, and it is then when people were deported into Judah with the cover of being themselves former inhabitants of the country, the “Exiles”. Not until this time, around 400 BC, did the bible start to be compiled, and it was not written in its present form until the Egyptian Ptolemies commissioned it in the third century. That is when we first begin to read in historical records that the bible existed.

  14. #14 Knightly
    December 20, 2010

    I think you’re approaching this from the wrong angle, though given your goals it may be the only angle viable to you.

    When you look at an evolutionary structure – say, a hand – you don’t think, “what is the meaning of this hand?” You think, “how did this come to be?”

    Instead of trying to find the grain of truth in “original sin,” instead consider why Christianity preaches that belief. I posit that it’s the same reason we are taught that so many things that are easy or feel good are sins: it creates a dependency. If someone could just get their religion squared away and be done with it, it would weaken the religion as a whole because a vast number of potential followers would no longer have a need for it. Instead, it lays out these “traps,” things that people are very likely to do (because they’re easy or because they feel good), and then claims that only the religion can offer salvation. Original sin is just one cover-all for the obscenely devout who never screw up in any other way.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t think this was done maliciously or intentionally. I think it “evolved” the way other unsupported social beliefs do: it outcompeted the alternatives. It is a simple fact that a religion that creates a dependency based on sin is going to have more people relying upon it (and invested in it) than one that does not. This is the same reason some forms of religion encourage big families and missionary work. Both of those things mean “more believers.”

    That said, I think we are approaching the science/religion conflict incorrectly. There are reasons to believe that have nothing to do with historical accuracy. Sure it’s obnoxious when the believers knee-cap scientific progress in the name of their beliefs, but I promise you, giving them evidence that their beliefs are wrong will not fix the situation. That’s not why they believe.

  15. #15 david
    December 20, 2010

    Helpful, to me anyway, is to go back to the original question, “Why is there evil in the world made by an all-powerful, all-good God?” This question then brings up more questions, even including definitions of terms.

    Just reminding, you all already know: There are better entertaining answers than Augustine’s (Roman Catholic) and Luther’s (Protestant) to the question of why evil. Dante and his Vergil are like a nice, labyrinthine puzzle to solve. Mark Twain on Adam and Eve in Letters from the Earth can cause belly laughs. Even Milton’s long, long Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are more entertaining than Augustine and Luther. Milton begins by telling why he writes, “To justify God’s ways to Man.” Some good quips on Milton are Samuel Butler, “I understand he got five pounds for writing it. I would have paid him five pounds not to write it.” and A. E. Housman, “Malt does more than Milton can, To justify God’s ways to man.”

    Clear thinking on ‘why evil’ requires that the subordinate questions not be confused, for example, the requirement of punishment : “You must have done something to deserve this evil (no), even though you don’t know it (no), even though you are righteous (no), your ancestors must have sinned (uh-oh).” This exact problem is taken up in the book of Job with Job’s three friends and the pushy youth. No definitive answer is given.

    So what is real, present today, about evil? We would all have different answers, from “Why me (with cancer for example)?” to calling out politicians. I read this somewhere, a holocaust survivor tells of being lined up in rows to watch the hanging of six persons including a 14 year old. ‘Where is God?’ he asks himself silently.

    So working backwards, the evil is real. So what could explain it? The story of Adam and Eve could for some. You need not accept it, any more than you would Pandora of Pandora’s Box.

    Viewed from the question, “Why is there evil?”, whether Adam and Eve are real becomes irrelevant, except to those who would falter if they had to admit that any part of their belief is not real (as somebody already said in different context). If we refute that Adam is real, we have accomplished very little. And we have not answered, “Why is there evil?”

    We can take an optimistic or pessimistic view, or perhaps there’s a third view, or more. But the idea of some progressives that we are making great strides against evil I find to be false. The world, it is the old world yet. We can hope that someday…

  16. #16 Abbie
    December 20, 2010

    David and Solomon are all mythical people.

    Isn’t this a bit strong an assertion? While obviously their stories are embellished, and the extent of their kingdom exaggerated, there still could be historical figures that formed the basis for the stories.

    Josiah, the famous reforming king seems to have been an invention to justify the change of worship in Judah from the familiar Canaanite mythos to a new one introduced by a conqueror.

    Are you saying Yahweh-worship was introduced by the Assyrians? The oldest texts in the Bible (such as 11th century BCE Judges 5, the Song of Deborah) deeply involve Yahweh. I personally think Yahweh and Baal/etc worship coexisted for all pre-exilic history, and we happened to get the POV of some sectarian Yahweh purists.

  17. #17 James Sweet
    December 20, 2010

    But what is Christianity bringing to the table? Ruse refers to the deep insights of Augustine, but what insights does he mean? It would seem that Augustine took the entirely trivial observation that humans routinely fall short of moral goodness, a fact absolutely no one needed Christianity to tell them, and married it to a view of history that is now recognized as entirely false. Nothing insightful about that.

    This is highly related to my feelings regarding the false and offensive concept of “Judeo-Christian ethics”. In both cases, there are hidden implications that are unimaginably dismissive of and condescending to other cultures.

    In referring to this as an Augustinian “insight”, it is impossible to escape the ultimate implication that, prior to Christianity, no other cultures had managed to figure out that humans are sometimes good and sometimes bad. That perhaps the ancient Greeks assumed everyone was perfect, or that the Sumerians thought humans were all pure evil. And forgot the whole Asian subcontinent… they had no idea about the mixed nature of human goodness!

    Yeah, um, how insulting is that?

    Similar problems arise with the phrase “Judeo-Christian ethics”. Are you talking about “do unto others” and “don’t kill people” and “don’t rob shit” and “don’t taze me bro”? If so, then uh, dude, people thought of that shit millennia before Moses (fictitiously, it seems) descended from the mountain with a couple of stone tablets. Or are we talking about “kill all fags” and “menstruating women are unclean” and “lop off your foreskin”? In that case, acting like these “Judeo-Christian ethics” are a good thing just makes you a misogynistic homophobic sadistic fuckwad (or a good Republican, take your pick).

    Either way you slice it, talking of “Judeo-Christian ethics” as if they were both moral and novel is a spit in the face of humanity. You have to choose between endorsing genocide and oppression vs. denying that Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Indians, Polynesians, etc., all had no idea that there might be some underlying problems with murder and theft and such.

  18. #18 Mike from Ottawa
    December 20, 2010

    Our understanding of human nature, such as it is, comes entirely from science.

    And the efforts of philosophers, writers and artists through the millennia are thus lightly tossed aside.

    Your scientism is showing.

  19. #19 Mike from Ottawa
    December 20, 2010

    Standard bravado, but since what has been taken away is the entire freakin’ doctrine …

    The entire freakin’ doctrine except for the part of it that actually matters, which is the sinful nature of humanity and the need for God’s saving of them, not the manner of its origin.

    Your entire argument is simply a fit of pique at the fact that many Christians are not the literalists you would prefer for the sake of having an easily vanquished foe.

  20. #20 Phil
    December 20, 2010

    As for understanding sin you have to define it first. Sin in my view is disobedience to what the Lord commands, the Ten Commandments. There is no such thing as evolution when it come to sin because it’s “Cut and Dry”, the absolute truth.

    Think about our existence, why we are on this earth and why our sight should be set upon Heaven. When we emerge from the womb is that first breath we take an involuntary action or is it the Lord breathing life into us? In my view a “spirit” enters our bodies, you see each of us are not originally of this world but are confined to a sort of “purgatory”, not a punishment but a chance for redemption. We are all angels who were created with free spirit and have broken the first commandment of the Father in Heaven.

    The proof is all in the word of the Lord if you just pray to have it revealed.

  21. #21 The MadPanda, FCD
    December 20, 2010

    Phil:

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    Mike from Ottowa:

    Tell it to Phil, buddy. You are, however, wrong on the merits: the assumption of original sin (also not in evidence) is predicated in the story being fundamentally true, rather than essentially metaphorical. No Original Sin means No Salvation. (The sinful nature of humanity also assumes facts not in evidence.)

    Your response is apparently a fit of pique at the fact that your personal mythology is less than convincing. So sorry.

    I won’t even get into the paradox of your god sacrificing himself to himself to alleviate a circumstance that only existed because he played silly buggers with his own handiwork.

    The MadPanda, FCD

  22. #22 Michael Fugate
    December 20, 2010

    John Steinbeck’s preacher Jim Casy from the ‘Grapes of Wrath’, “Before I knowed it, I was sayin’ out loud, ‘The hell with it! There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing.'”

  23. #23 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    December 20, 2010

    David and Solomon are all mythical people.
    Isn’t this a bit strong an assertion? While obviously their stories are embellished, and the extent of their kingdom exaggerated, there still could be historical figures that formed the basis for the stories.

    If the stories are “embellished,” then they are mythical, whether there is a historical basis or not. Does it really matter whether there was an actual lumberjack named Paul Bunyan? The stories are still myths.

  24. #24 Phil
    December 20, 2010

    Mike

    Think about the passage before the Lord decided to use one more flood to cleanse the world because He was repentant that He created such a catastrophe. Cleansing life through it’s destruction did not eliminate poor choices because of free will, threatening later generations with destruction did not quell sin, so the Lord uses the choice of salvation to provide a way back to Him. It bring a tear to His eyes that many will not except the gift He provides but it is the only way that when the world is finally cleansed and restored there will be a populous worthy of the Father’s love.

    Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

  25. #25 The MadPanda, FCD
    December 20, 2010

    Phil, scripture quotations are a demonstration of nothing more than one’s ability to learn by rote and regurgitate on demand. They are not evidence. They don’t even make for a dull argument, and only someone with nothing else would rely on them. (Here’s a hint, my lad: scripture is only authoritative to people who think it’s authoritative. Quoting the Bible at, say, a Jain won’t get you too far.)

    For the record, there was no global flood. Ever. Not even once. So you’re wrong on the merits, or so says every geologist I’ve ever heard venture an opinion on the subject. Since they deal with the actual rocks instead of an anthology of mythology, I think they might be a better source of information.

    The MadPanda, FCD

  26. #26 eric
    December 20, 2010

    Phil: In my view a “spirit” enters our bodies, you see each of us are not originally of this world but are confined to a sort of “purgatory”, not a punishment but a chance for redemption.

    Redemption for what? What has a 1-second-old baby done that they need to do penance or time in hell for?

    It bring a tear to His eyes that many will not except the gift He provides but it is the only way that when the world is finally cleansed and restored there will be a populous worthy of the Father’s love.

    Genocide is not the only way to change minds. Why, I have changed several minds in my lifetime without resorting to it even once!

    Look, you would probably look on some human trying to ‘cleanse’ the world with horror. Such a person would rightly be considered a monster. So ask yourself – why is your moral bar so much lower for your God than it is for your fellow man?

  27. #27 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    December 20, 2010

    Off-topic, with local interest:
    WaPo article on the Harrisonburg Church of Christ, which discovered that the new minister they hired had a lengthy history of infidelity and violence, including a murder conviction.

  28. #28 Robert Hagedorn
    December 20, 2010

    Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

  29. #29 MartyM
    December 20, 2010

    From 18: “‘Our understanding of human nature, such as it is, comes entirely from science.’

    And the efforts of philosophers, writers and artists through the millennia are thus lightly tossed aside.

    Your scientism is showing.”

    Some will say art imitates life, and not visa-versa. In that sense, writings and art would reflect what we learn from life by observation and participation and could be considered documentation to pass on to future generations, but that it’s not the source of knowledge. If one writes about something does that make it true by default? No it doesn’t. So then to say we learn about life through these products is a misconception I think. Or at the very least second hand knowledge. You could argue that experience directly leads to the understanding of human nature, but that wouldn’t be true either without some frame work from which to measure it. I think the general point was that science provides this framework.

  30. #30 tomh
    December 20, 2010

    Some good quips on Milton…

    Don’t forget Samuel Johnson on ‘Paradise Lost’ — “None ever wished it longer.”

  31. #31 david
    December 20, 2010

    re 29 “So then to say we learn about life through these products is a misconception I think.”

    What a great day.

    You don’t understand the working premises here. Walmart has products. Art is something else, how and what we perceive. So a man and Oscar Wilde were standing at the window looking at the sunset. The man said, “What a gorgeous, beautiful sunset.” Wilde answered, “Yes, it reminds me so much of paintings by the great artists.”

    A fine analysis, Chateaubriand’s The Genius of Christianity (1802) is hardly about Christian doctrine, but about Christian art, which historically is lavish. Pope knows this, watch him, his Vatican settings, his pageantry. Perhaps like McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message.

    That Shakespeare holds the mirror up to life is often said. Perhaps, but we don’t notice much of what’s in the life till Shakespeare points it out. Some movies and plays of today can do the same.

    It is quite possible to consider The Origin of Species as literature, art, finely honed through six editions in Darwin’s lifetime, assisted in his arguments and structures by master artists, Charles Lyell and T. H. Huxley, and others, and the art is the art of rhetoric.

    On science blogs the talk about “the sense of awe” lacks awareness of what is going on with this sense of awe, except for one guy, one blogger, no commenters. There’s another blogger who tries, has stated purpose of connecting art and science, but she keeps missing me, perhaps connects with others. [Jason has no dog here, yet. If he wrote about it, I didn't see it.] My opinion of course.

    For me, what I know of human nature owes nothing, zilch, zero, to science, unless it’s Masters and Johnson read in college. The Hindu Art of Love is better. That is the usual case. E. O. Wilson of Harvard, ant expert, sociobiology theorist, has a book with the exact title, “On Human Nature.” But the book is interpretive art, interprets evolutionary science, is not science itself. You are free to try to blur the distinction. [The book, an early work, is military and conservative. People do change.]

    We need art, we need not to pooh pooh it. One current art you probably use is comic strips, band dessiné in France where it is a recognized art form.

    Art enables us to see. Without it, our world, our field of vision, is narrow indeed.

    # 18 is correct I think, tho I don’t know what the poke about scientism, whatever that is, is supposed to mean.

    But, congratulations Marty, you hit a nerve, always a good thing to do.

  32. #32 Lenoxuss
    December 20, 2010

    From quoted Ruse in original post:

    This is our Darwinian human nature. And this, it seems to me, is a piece of candy for the Christian. He or she can keep the deep insights of Augustine but put them now in the context of modern science.

    This is circular. It’s like saying “It’s wonderful that unicorns don’t really exist, because if they did, we would go around saying that they exist, and we would be scientifically incorrect, since they don’t.”

    If there were a literal Fall and no evolution, as the YECs contend, then that would be something to put “in the context of modern science”. Science’s job is to describe whatever world we happen to occupy, not just one with atoms and chemicals and kangaroos and no talking snakes. In a YEC world, belief in Adam and Eve wouldn’t be the embarrassing acceptance of an unscientific myth; the story is not “inherently” mythical.

    From the quoted news story:

    And some of the president’s supporters are even more shrill, demanding that he be fired for “heresy.”

    People still use that word unironically?

  33. #33 Carneades Thales Strato
    December 21, 2010

    Thales and Strato, amongst others lead science in finding teleonomy- no planned outcomes that contemporary scientists are now noting against the Aristotelian-Thomistic synthesis.
    David and Solomon might have been petty chieftains.
    ” God is in a worse position than the Tin Man who had a body to which a mind could enter whilst He has neither. He is that married bachelor. Nowonder He is ineffable.” Ignostic Morgan

  34. #34 Phil
    December 21, 2010

    Panda,

    No global flooding, yet the geological layers are made of sedimentary rock laid down by flooding and the geological table is determined by those layers. Can the geologists answer that without circular reasoning?

    Eric,

    As cruel as it may seem to you the Lord has a purpose for everything, what you see as genocide the Lord sees it as protecting the rest of His creation.

    There is pain and suffering, joy and happiness. There is the division of the rich and the poor. There is good and evil. If this is purgatory we have to ask ourselves, “How bad was our sin that we were brought into this world and how can we right our wrong?”

  35. #35 Al West
    December 21, 2010

    And the efforts of philosophers, writers and artists through the millennia are thus lightly tossed aside.

    Your scientism is showing.

    I’m a social anthropology grad student at Oxford. I agree with Jason: the only actual understanding of human nature that we’ve got has come from the application of the scientific method, and not from introspection, religion, or any other source. It’s not simply sociobiology, and it’s not the trusim that people sometimes do good things and sometimes do bad things according to our society’s moral code. Understanding human nature means understanding where the very concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ come from, how categorisation and classification work, and other problems of that nature – that’s understanding human nature. This understanding doesn’t come from Augustine or Vedic texts, or anywhere but logical inference from empirical data.

    Well, that’s a controversial POV even within anthropology. But anthropology is full of fuzzy hippy relativists, so it’s not hard to be controversial.

  36. #36 eric
    December 21, 2010

    Phil @34: As cruel as it may seem to you the Lord has a purpose for everything

    That is a bald assertion with nothing backing it up. Moreover, it explains nothing since you could use that answer for anything, anything at all. Its exactly as valid as answering “Zeus has a reason” to anything. When you come to understand why you do not find “Zeus has a reason” to be a compelling argument, you will come to understand why we do not find your argument compelling.

    If this is purgatory we have to ask ourselves, “How bad was our sin that we were brought into this world and how can we right our wrong?”

    Perhaps you should start by questioning your assumptions. Instead of trying to figure out what this purgatory is for, what your punishment is for, you might question whether this is purgatory or whether you are being punished at all.

  37. #37 NJ
    December 21, 2010

    Phil @ 34:

    No global flooding, yet the geological layers are made of sedimentary rock laid down by flooding and the geological table is determined by those layers. Can the geologists answer that without circular reasoning?

    Most sedimentary layers have no connection to flooding. Sandstones with large scale crossbeds were deposited in deserts; cherts were deposited in deep ocean basins; carbonates in shallow water platforms; turbidites by undersea landslides; the list goes on, but the point is clear that we know what flood layers look like and most of the sedimentary record consists of other depositional environments.

    The ‘geologic table’ (presumably the timetable) is determined solely by the order of geologic events such as rock deposition, faulting, folding, erosion, etc. This is determined by direct observation and the sequence holds regardless of whether you accept evolution or an ancient Earth.

    You been misled by some egregiously bad YEC propaganda, sport. If you want to make a religious case, don’t try dragging your geologic misunderstandings in for support, as it makes you look really foolish.

  38. #38 TBIAGIONI
    December 21, 2010

    Perhaps what really makes humans unique is, They and happily reconcile the inconsistencies of physical and metaphysical.

  39. #39 The MadPanda, FCD
    December 21, 2010

    Phil, your question is not even wrong. Go read a good geology textbook for comprehension to learn why.

    NJ, thanks for answering him. Now if only he’d be willing to learn something…

    The MadPanda, FCD

  40. #40 Wowbagger
    December 21, 2010

    Phil, monster apologist, wrote:

    As cruel as it may seem to you the Lord has a purpose for everything, what you see as genocide the Lord sees it as protecting the rest of His creation.

    Which we’d be fine with – if Christians had the intellectual honesty and/or courage of their convictions to admit they worship a vile, unjust, hateful monster god who revels in suffering, slaughter and genocide.

    But you don’t admit that; you prefer to lie and say yours is a god of love. Which is, as so many of your inane claims are, countered by ample evidence.

  41. #41 kosmodisk
    December 22, 2010

    Sandstones with large scale crossbeds were deposited in deserts; cherts were deposited in deep ocean basins; carbonates in shallow water platforms; turbidites by undersea landslides; the list goes on.thit.

  42. #42 John A. Davison
    December 22, 2010

    There can be no conflict between religion and science. Religion has never played a positive role in scientific progress. It is atheism that continues to impede progress because the atheist denies not only a living God; he also denies that such entities ever existed. Nietzshe did not make that mistake with his “Gott is tot,” with those words establishing that which must have been. In short, he was not an atheist.

    The confirmed atheist is forced to assume that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to spontaneously self assemble into a reproducing entity able to 1. derive energy from the environment 2. to produce progeny not only different from itself, but also progressively more complex than itself. According to Darwinian dogma, this event took place only once or a very few times. I find such a proposition absurd.

    The simple truth is that no one knows anything about how many times life appeared. There is no more reason to accept a monotheistic religion than to accept a monophyletic evolution. Until the gaps are filled unifying the plant and animal taxa with documented reproductive continuity, Leo Berg’s conclusions are to be given serious consideration –

    “Organisms have developed from tens of thousands of primary forms, i.e, polyphyletically…The struggle for existence and natural selection are not progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard… Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existng rudiments…[evolution proceeded] by leaps, paroxysms, mutations.”
    Nomogenesis, page 406

    Both the fossil record and the experimental laboratory now plead for these non-Darwinian propositions. It is my opinion that soon serious students of the great mystery of phylogeny will be interpreting the animate world according to the vision of this great Russian biologist.

    Furthermore, there is now every reason to believe that evolution was not only planned, but is now complete with the contemporary biota.

    In short –

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  43. #43 John A. Davison
    December 22, 2010

    My message has been copied on my blog in case it should be deleted here.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  44. #44 Deen
    December 22, 2010

    @Mike from Ottawa in #19:

    The entire freakin’ doctrine except for the part of it that actually matters, which is the sinful nature of humanity and the need for God’s saving of them, not the manner of its origin.

    The original sin was disobedience to god, not being a mixed bag of good and evil. Even a metaphorical reading of Genesis will tell you that. Or is God himself a metaphor too? I’d be quite happy to go with that (after all, I think he’s a fictional character like all the other gods), but good luck selling that idea to the majority of Christians.

    Your entire argument is simply a fit of pique at the fact that many Christians are not the literalists you would prefer for the sake of having an easily vanquished foe.

    If literalists are so easily vanquished, then why are they still around?

    Besides, even progressive Christians still base their religion on the Bible, a book that claims to be the word of God. It’s a valid question to ask why they continue to do so, even though they say they no longer believe that this claim is true, and thus that one of the Bible’s most central claims is a lie (or a deliberately misleading metaphor, if you will).

  45. #45 Always Curious
    December 22, 2010

    It is a long standing fact that any given section of the Bible has several, long-held, differing interpretations. Ironically, religious thought is an excellent example of evolution: adopting, adapting, and dropping memes to better fit the locally current socio-political environment. Temporal and geographical divisions imposed upon already existing differences give rise to completely different sects of Christianity (after accumulating sufficiently different ideas from the nearest collections of Christian thinking). Christianity has gone through countless changes in its viewpoints and the applications of its ideas. Pretending otherwise is ignorant.

    It seems to me that different Christian denominations approach Original Sin differently (or ignore it altogether). Any new science will likely only impact these concepts as much (or as little) as science has ever had an impact on that particular denomination’s thinking.

    Assuming one doesn’t believe the Bible is 100% literally true (sic), it’s possible from a theological point of view that passages supporting OS could be reconciled with evolution through a different framework (meaning this isn’t a complete idea–others are responsible for working in the details according to their tradition):

    Paraphrased lessons:
    1. All of creation is imperfect.
    2. As much as we strive and as hard as we try, nothing can be done to change this.
    3. The “good ole days” are past & never coming back.
    4. The above points are not grounds for giving up. On the contrary, we are obligated to attempt to make things as “right” with God and others as we are able.

    Point #1 is pretty well established by everyone already I’d say. Point #2 has plenty of Biblical support and lays the path for evolution to explain the processes by which this strife for improvement takes place (and that “perfection” is nonexistent and fleeting). Point #3 is a common musing but fits with the idea that Garden of Eden was “perfect”. Literally existing or not; it’s out of reach–has been for an indefinitely long time–& impossible to get back to despite anything done here & now. The literal presence of Adam & Eve is also not necessary; but could be maintained if one was so inclined. The final point: get on with your life and fill your life with whatever things/challenges/etc. God has for you.

    Not terribly difficult to write, but like many ideas will be terribly difficult to adopt. My personal view is that many people are particularly good at creating a tempest in a teapot. The above outline is generally sound from the religious perspective and allows science to teach/work fairly uninhibited. Being a middle of the road argument, I fully expect that both sides will dislike it. I respectfully ask that you just think about it before you comment.

  46. #46 John A. Davison
    December 22, 2010

    Whether Christ was divine or not is beside the point. The Judeo-Christian ethic has provided the ideal model for the control of society. It is questionable if Western Civilization could have existed without it. When God (or Gods) are abandoned, the collapse of society is not far behind. It was true for the Greeks, the Romans, and it is happening again now. Godless Communism and Godless Darwinism are closely related philosophies each of which is on the verge of extinction as the more we learn about the nature of life, the more certain becomes the necessity to postulate one or more creative “entities” which operated in the remote past to produce and release the sequence reflected in the fossil record.

    Henry Ford invented the aoutomobile assembly line. Ford is dead but his invention lives on.

    Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that creative evolution is finished with the present biota representing the climax of a planned scenario in which Homo sapiens was the final goal. In short –

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  47. #47 Deen
    December 23, 2010

    @ John A. Davison in #44:

    Nietzshe did not make that mistake with his “Gott is tot,” with those words establishing that which must have been. In short, he was not an atheist.

    Who’s being a literalist now?

    The confirmed atheist is forced to assume that it is intrinsic in the nature of matter to spontaneously self assemble into a reproducing entity…

    No, he’s not. First of all, the atheist isn’t forced to assume anything – lack of evidence for a god is sufficient reason for non-belief in this god. Second, self-assembly is not just a baseless assumption, it is easily observed in all sorts of contexts, from christallization and polymerization, to living cells and multi-cellular life forms growing from a single fertilized cell. Even if you consider the evidence that the self-assembly of life is linked to the self-assembly of more simple chemicals to be too sparse, it is not that big of a leap away from confirmed knowledge to link the two. Nowhere near as big of a leap as assuming the existence of an invisible, unknowable creator, with ineffable motivations.

    The simple truth is that no one knows anything about how many times life appeared. There is no more reason to accept a monotheistic religion than to accept a monophyletic evolution.

    The simple truth is that the idea that the tree of life had a tangled web of roots (instead of a single root) is not controversial in biology. The idea that there may have been multiple origins of life is not strictly non-Darwinian either. There may indeed have been proto-life forms which were based on a different genetic code, or using a different set of base amino acids – but it got outcompeted by the proto-life that uses the genetic code that all extant life uses today (with a few minor variations). That sounds quite Darwinian to me.

    Furthermore, there is now every reason to believe that evolution was not only planned, but is now complete with the contemporary biota.

    Citation needed.

    @#45:

    My message has been copied on my blog in case it should be deleted here.

    Sounds a little paranoid. And silly too: even if your comment got deleted, what makes you think that this reference to your blog would stay up?

    @#46:

    It was true for the Greeks, the Romans, and it is happening again now.

    Too bad for you that there are plenty of examples that don’t fit this narrative, like the many cases where it was the presence of religion that lead to the demise of nations. Like the Byzantine empire that was torn apart by crusades and other wars with Muslim empires. The damage that the religious right is doing to the stability of the US right now is another example.

    Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that creative evolution is finished with the present biota representing the climax of a planned scenario in which Homo sapiens was the final goal.

    You already said that, and didn’t provide any of those reasons to believe it then either. In fact, even just the imperfect design of humans gives plenty of reason not to believe this.

  48. #48 formula 21
    December 23, 2010

    The simple truth is that no one knows anything about how many times life appeared. There is no more reason to accept a monotheistic religion than to accept a monophyletic evolution.

  49. #49 John A. Davison
    December 23, 2010

    Deen, whoever that is and I’m sure I will never know.

    This blog is not the place to provide evidence for my evolution thesis. You will find that evidence on my web page in the the form of my peer reviewed evolution papers, my several essays and now my book “Unpublished Evolution Papers of John A. Davison.” Lulu publishers. For under twenty dollars you will find plenty of evidence that Darwinian evolution is the most persistent and most infantile hoax in the history of scientific communication.

    Incidentally, most of the imperfect design of contemporary humans has resulted from the relaxation of natural selection due to modern medicine and society allowing the unfit to survive. Natural selection, while very real, never played any role in the evolutionary process exept to ensure eventual extinction. Natural selection has always been anti-evolutionary, serving to maintain the status quo for as long as possible exactly as Leo Berg correctly stated in 1922 –

    “The struggle for existence and natural selection are not progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard.”
    Nomogenesis, page 406

    Sexual reproduction is also anti-evolutionary and no organism reproducing by strictly sexual means has ever been shown to be competent even to produce a new true species. A new Genus has not appeared in 2 million years and all we see today is rampant extinction without a single verified replacement.

    These are my convictions which are elaborated on my webpage and elsewhere. If you find them unacceptable, I recommend you present your critique on my webpage where I assure you it will remain. My only request is that users not use pseudonyms. I do not take seriously opinions from those unwilling to identify themselves, nor should anyone else. That is a primary defect with internet communication. Pseudonymy all too often has proved to be license for verbal abuse such as you just levied against me.

    I say identify yourself and disclose your credentials (if you have any) if you expect any respect from me.

    Thanks to formula 21, whoever that is, for repeating one of my comments.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    jadavison.wordpress.com

    I request that my messages not be deleted.

  50. #50 Ophelia Benson
    December 23, 2010

    I too request that my messages too not be deleted. Too.

  51. #51 david
    December 23, 2010

    John A. Davison, whoever that is and I’m sure I will never know,

    Turnabout, you can start by proving your real name. There is no reason to believe you. You are hiding your face on your blog, no picture, not forthright, not honest. So you would say again you are this name you gave us, a nebulous John. There is no reason to believe a word you say. For proof, show that John A. Davison is your name by posting a photocopy of your driver’s license on your blog showing your picture with the address legible, and another picture, enlargeable, of you in front of your residence at that address, which we can check to a point on google earth. When you get that done, come back to this blog and tell. That would be proof, but I don’t think you can do it, whoever you are.

    You think loosely for you to request a “real” name on the internet. You requested it, you prove yours first. You had not thought that through. What else have you not thought through?

    A great deal. You had not thought through your double post about your first not being deleted. You are saying something about evolution “now” without defining the range, one day? a hundred years? a thousand years? fifty thousand? two million? Whatever suits your purpose for sure. Your talk is loose. We will never know specifically I think what proof, and when and where, you are looking for to be conclusive to confirm or refute you or anybody, whatever your real name is, or whatever you want, looks like blog traffic. Loose lips, whoever you are.

    Not showing yourself trustworthy, you will no way get me to download a pdf file from your website, as you require, nor will I give your site more traffic, unless you tighten it up, which I don’t think you can, whatever your name is.

    So your argument given here, where you say you should not have given it, is invisible by looseness, and your assertions, such as about two million years, are inexplicable by your own words. What was that old-new genus then? You don’t say. I’m thinking the Kaibab squirrels, pretty recent, and somehow you must claim to know the speciation dates on Darwin’s finches, and are able to say when a species has become a new one, no gradual for you. It’s when you say so, and without data, for sure.

    So your loose words are not only irrefutable, they are invisible for specific meaning, and then you don’t give us a verifiable clue on your real name, whatever it is. Post the pictures exactly as required for proof and then come back here and let me know when you have. We would be getting somewhere.

    No more loose indefinite talk, tiresome, wanted.

    You are free to delete this post from your computer. Try to think that through.

  52. #52 John A. Davison
    December 24, 2010

    My reputation is well known in the internet community. My face appears on every comment that appears on my forum and several others.

    My assertions and challenges are based on real evidence, not on the armchair theories of Darwinian zealots. As for small case david, he is just one more example of what’s wrong with internet communication.

    Since david brought it up, Darwinian gradualism is just one more myth. Every evolutionary event was instantaneous and without gradual transformation from speciation to the formation of the animal Phyla and plant Divisions. It is the “discontinuity” of the living world that makes it possible to identify every known living creature with a simple binary key in very few steps.

    The entire basis of neo-Darwinism is based on an initial error which is that sexual reproduction was the means by which evolution proceeded. Sexual reproduction can generate only subspecies and varieties, neither of which are incipient species. That was Goldschmidt’s claim in 1940 and it is still true today. The Darwinists continue, as they always have, pretending they never had credible critics.

    I will not attempt to respond to david because he has made it transparent that he is ignorant of a vast literature critical of the Darwinian thesis.

    I welcome all to participate in my website. If they did I would not have to carry our thesis elsewhere as I have done here. I have always been willing to offer our conclusions wherever the opportunity exists. If others choose to ridicule or ignore them they do so at their risk.

    Now that I have presented my science here, I am quite willing to retire from this “forum” provided I am allowed to do so without insult. If I am to be denigrated, I will respond wherever I am allowed to speak. I am used to being muzzled, insulted and treated with naked contempt. I have become immune to such tactics.

    My weblog establishes a standard unrivaled in internet communication. I allow anyone to speak and guarantee his words will remain provided only that he refrain from being abusive or obscene. If he is abusive he will comment only once and that will remain. I collect and display such examples for all to see. Since I have not been abusive, I expect the same treatment here.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  53. #53 david
    December 24, 2010

    At whomever, claiming not proving

    So you say if I had put a comment in I would have gotten your picture. Still I would not know it was you. You just don’t get it. I’ve challenged you to furnish proof. None made.

    I and probably all here are aware that your argument is to deny uniformitarianism, same as for Phil. In its stead you want divine intervention, only Christian intervention of course.

    You say you’ve “presented your science here”, but “this is not the place to discuss it”, that you wish not to be insulted but that you are immune to such tactics. You are one mixed up dude.

    You talk and threaten others with “disrespect” whatever you think that is. But it will not do for someone else to roll over your tone and manner against you. Contradictory eh?

    You fail to present evidence. You care more about tone than substance. Even in this small space you are confused and contradictory.

    You threaten to have the last word. I should care? I could care less what you do on last words. Considering that you are sneaking in a Christian agenda without acknowledging it as such, that you have shown yourself confused and contradictory, and have hinted at spite and a persecution complex, there is no reason to care. You could try someone else.

    You are trying to siphon off traffic to your blog, then you have engaged the wrong person. I have no sympathy for you. Try Phil.

  54. #54 John A . Davison
    December 24, 2010

    I have no idea how david came to the opinion that I am a Christian fundamentalist. Nothing could be further from the truth and if david was familiar with my writings and papers he would know that. Lower case david has made it very clear that he has no intention of considering anything we several critics of Darwinism have to offer.

    Of course I deny uniformitarianism. Charles Lyell was a geologist not a biologist. I have led david to the pertinent literature, a touch of his mouse yet david refuses to consider it. I am lucky to have 20 visits a day to my weblog and I don’t care if have none. We several critics of the Darwinian hoax will prevail. I am just giving the Darwinians an opportunity to recant their childish notions. Most of the Darwinian “bastions of bigotry” won’t even let me hold forth. Neither will the Bible-banging Fundamentalists like William Dembski. The atheist “Darwinista” and the Christian “Fundamentalista” are both dead wrong and always have been. Einstein felt the same way.

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source…They are creatures who can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    Alice Calaprice. The New Quotable Einstein, page 204

    Evolution is a phenomenon of the distant past exactly as Grasse suggested. Darwinians see “evolution in action” every where they look. Actually they are seeing reversible adaptations and nothing more. Evolution has never been reversible; it has always been ascending and as far as can be experimentally determined it is no longer in progress.

    Samuel Johnson characterized david and others like him more than two hundred years ago –

    “I have found you an argument but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”

    david, please let me leave without exposing yourself any more than you already have. If you insist on more insults, I will respond as long as that pattern continues. Of course Jason can always banish me as Paul Zachary Myers, Clinton Richard Dawkins, Mark Chiu-Carroll, Wesley Royce Elsberry, William Dembski and several others all did long ago. I have little more to offer here in any event. I trust my comments will remain. That is all that really matters.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  55. #55 John A. Davison
    December 26, 2010

    From my weblog:

    456. John A. Davison – December 25, 2010 [Edit]
    http://scienceblogs.com/evolution/2010/09/what_does_it_mean_for_a_theory.php

    I just left three very challenging and unanswered messages at the above blog. I expect others, friend or foe, to respond. I am tired, as were every one of my distinguished sources, of being ignored. That tactic won’t wash any more, at least not with this investigator. There is nothing more cowardly than refusing to respond to those who do not share your convictions. Yet that is exactly what has always been the posture of the “Darwinista,” a century and a half of continuous denial that Darwin’s flight of fancy could possibly be wrong.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  56. #56 eric
    December 29, 2010

    John Davidson @49: Incidentally, most of the imperfect design of contemporary humans has resulted from the relaxation of natural selection due to modern medicine and society allowing the unfit to survive.

    This is a complete misunderstanding of evolution. Medicine and social rules are just as much a part of our environment as temperature and light. Those organisms that adapt to its presence outcompete those organisms which don’t. The “imperfect design” of a guy wearing glasses is no more imperfect than a cave fish that doesn’t grow eyes. In both cases, the change of alleles in the population is a result of the individuals which do not waste resources on survival-irrelevant traits outcompeting the ones which do.

    IOW, evolution.

  57. #57 pough
    December 29, 2010

    My weblog establishes a standard unrivaled in internet communication.

    And your excellence in communication is nothing compared to your almost frighteningly perfect humility. Do you mind if I use that quote as a sig in my posts around the web?

  58. #58 John A. Davison
    January 1, 2011

    Thanks for proving to the world that Jason Rosenhouse swims in the same intellectual cesspool with Paul Zachary Myers, Mark Chiu-Carroll, Clinton Richard Dawkins, WEsley Royce Elsberry and every other Darwinian mystic I have encountered, born to lose losers all.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  59. #59 ildi
    January 1, 2011

    My assertions and challenges are based on real evidence, not on the armchair theories of Darwinian zealots.

    I checked out your c.v., dude; quite the dearth of evidence in your listing of publications – looks like you petered out in the 60s… talk about ‘armchair theorizing’! Nothing published since you lost your marbles in the 80s.

    I also notice you’re not on the University of Vermont’s Biology Department faculty web page; you’re not actually still collecting an unearned salary, old man? What, you’re 82 or something? Time to free up that position for an actual scientist.

  60. #60 John A. Davison
    January 1, 2011

    I don’t respond to cowards who attack a named adversary from behind the shield of pseudonymy. So far I have not heard from a real person here and doubt I ever will. This blog suffers from the same insecurity that characterizes Pharyngula, richarddawkins.net, Panda’s Thumb, After the Bar Closes, Uncommon Descent, you name them: they are all the same, all trapped by their congenital ideologies, not a real scientist anywhere to be found. My weblog does not encourage pseudonymy and will tolerate it only once per customer. If I ever find out who you creeps are, I will post your identities for the world to recognize. The only thing that matters here is that Jason Rosenhouse has wisely kept his mouth shut. The rest of you don’t even exist! Come on Jason or are you like Wes Elsberry who lets his phony cronies do his bidding too. Are these clowns your “minions” as Pee Zee describes his disciples? That is what it looks like to this investigator.

    “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think,
    Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink,
    The years go by as quickly as a wink,
    Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”

    In other words, enjoy your cowardly pseudonymous selves until you stain yourselves. Got that? Write that down!

    It doesn’t get any better than this.

    I love it so!

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  61. #61 John A. Davison
    January 1, 2011

    ildi, pough, eric, david, Peen?

    You have got to be kidding!

  62. #62 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 1, 2011

    I think the conversation in this thread has outlived its usefulness, so I am turning off the comments now.

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