Jerry Coyne liked yesterday's post about teaching ID. I do just want to clarify one point, though. Coyne writes:
Jason has a good point. And that point is that although it’s illegal (as well as dereliction of duty) to teach intelligent design creationism in public schools and universities, it is okay to criticize it, for you can criticize ID on the grounds of bad science without bashing religion. And I think Jason’s right, especially given the legal rulings so far on what constitutes an incursion of religion into public schools.
I certainly do think it's a dereliction of duty to teach intelligent design in public universities. But I think I was clear that I don't think it is illegal. Consult the second major paragraph of the post.
In the context of the Ball State kerfuffle, I think it was entirely appropriate to raise a fuss and I think the school did the right thing in shutting down the course. If they had chosen instead to do the wrong thing, then I would have supported a healthy dose of public shaming, but I would not have supported taking legal action.
But that's just a preamble. I mostly want to discuss this post by Larry Moran. He gets off to a decent start:
I think that universities are places where diversity of opinion should be encouraged and where fringe ideas should be protected. I'm very much opposed to letting outside interests (i.e. politicians and lawyers) decide what should and should not be taught on a university campus.
Clearly there are limits but those should be decided by faculty who understand the concept of academic freedom. It's not a good idea to offer astronomy courses on an Earth-centered solar system or geology courses based on the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old. Those ideas are just too far out on the fringe. You're unlikely to find any university professors who want to teach such courses.
Sounds good to me! Academic freedom protects your right to pursue outre ideas, but there have to be some limits. At some point your colleagues do get to step in to enforce a little quality control. To use my own field, academic freedom does not protect me if I want to extol the virtues of angle trisection or circle squaring.
But Larry starts to go wrong in the next paragraph:
However, there are lots of other controversies that aren't so easily dismissed. If some of the more enlightened Intelligent Design Creationists want to teach a science course at my university, I would not try to prevent them. Just as I didn't try to prevent Michael Behe and Bill Dembski from speaking on my campus.
Well, I don't agree. I think the arguments of even the most “enlightened” ID folks are garbage. They don't even provide food for thought. Again sticking with my own field, William Dembski's ideas about probability and information theory are just full-on, straight-up BS. The only difference between ID and YEC or geocentrism is that it has a vocal, well-financed lobby behind it. On the merits it's no improvement at all.
Still, I might not have bothered to reply were it not for what comes later. Let's keep going:
I firmly believe that university students are mature enough to handle diverse points of view and I prefer that they hear them in the context of an academic environment rather than in church on Sundays. Even if there were no opposing views allowed in the course, the fact that the ideas are “out there” would provoke debate and discussion among the students. Hearing different ideas encourages critical thinking. Censorship does not.
That's all very high-minded, but it's way too simplistic. Hearing different ideas very often does not encourage critical thinking. Often it just encourages confusion. That's not so terrible on issues that are genuinely murky, but it's educational malpractice to present a manufactured controversy to students as though it is serious science. Censorship may not encourage critical thinking, but keeping lies and nonsense out of our classes certainly helps us properly inform our students as to the state of play in our disciplines. That's also a legitimate educational goal.
It's fun to watch while my American colleagues wiggle and squirm over this issue. The latest “problems” are whether you can categorically label intelligent design as religion and not science and whether you can criticize it in a science class without seeming to criticize religion. ... It's okay to criticize ID as bad science but it's illegal and a dereliction of duty to allow any professors to defend ID and make the case that it's actually good science. My head is spinning.
That ellipsis represents a link to Jerry's post linking to my post, coupled with a quote from him discussing the legalities of teaching ID. I have already explained that I don't think it's illegal to offer a course defending ID.
As for the rest of this, though, Larry is just full of it. He's already established that it's perfectly fine for an academic department to put limits on what can be taught in the courses it offers. The only disagreement is over the side of the line on which ID resides. Apparently when it's a species of nonsense he sufficiently dislikes, like YEC or geocentrism, then it's just normal quality control not to include it respectfully in the syllabus. It only becomes censorship when he's decided it's interesting enough to catch his fancy. Suddenly he's the only one who respects the maturity of his students and who wants to teach them critical thinking.
There is no legitimate educational purpose served by putting crackpots in front of our students and telling them they are making valid and interesting points. Doing so is, indeed, a dereliction of our duty. Our job as teachers is partly to expand the horizons of our students and to have them engage actively with difficult issues. But it's also our job to give them accurate information, and not to give a heckler's veto to every crank with a blog.
Teaching creationism is a violation in and of itself, as is passing a law requiring that it be taught.
See in particular Webster v. New Lenox School District. The court opinion does cover the fact that the teacher's rights were not infringed by prohibiting the teaching of creationism. But it also states directly in two points that teaching creationism itself is a constitutional violation, which the school board is required to prohibit.
Thanks for the correction. You were right. I've deleted that section of the opening post.
I suspect that you and I would pretty much agree on what is "garbage" and who is a crackpot. Where we disagree is on whether our opinions are so correct that we have the right to ban from teaching everyone who disagrees with us.
I prefer to lean on the side of leniency because I want to encourage heretical ideas in a university. I'm prepared to tolerate a significant amount of "garbage" in order to avoid harmful censorship. It's the price we have to pay for a certain amount of freedom.
I'm also convinced that when there are genuine controversies in society, like creationism, we should debate and discuss them openly in the universities. Ignoring them or censoring them will not make them go away. Once we admit that they need to be debated, it follows that students should be exposed to supporters of intelligent design in order to hear for themselves the very best case.
I'm also sensitive to the charge of hypocrisy. It may be different in mathematics but there's a lot of crap being taught in evolution courses and biochemistry courses. If we can't even control the teaching of correct and accurate science then we are being hypocritical if we claim that only true science should be taught in university.
It does require some manipulation and prohibition to steer people towards sanctioned conclusions. Students need to be coerced to think in certain directions, and blocking exposure to things can stimulate unnecessary and unacceptable questions definitely works:
“Naturally, her research has been met with a whole wad of stiff resistance from the scientific community, seemingly for no other reason than “We don’t like the sound of that..”.”
when there are genuine controversies in society, like creationism, we should debate and discuss them openly in the universities
The problem is that creationism and ID are not scientific controversies, but merely cultural controversies. Thus, while it may be appropriate to teach about them in sociology or culture studies courses, it's not appropriate to teach about them in science classes.
Most of the ID arguments are about real science and most of them address genuine scientific controversies like whether our genome is full of junk, or whether natural selection alone can account for evolution. We don't know how life began and we don't really understand the Cambrian explosion. These are legitimate science questions. The creationists exploit them but that doesn't make them nonscientific.
If there is a god, then it's perfectly scientific to invoke that god in explaining some of the mysteries of biology. If there really is a god and if it turns out that that god really did create bacterial flagella then would you suggest we refuse to teach than in science class? Of course not. (I hope.)
The question isn't as simple as you think. I think that there's a conflict between science and religion and I think that there are no gods, but I also think that it's wrong to forbid my Christian colleagues from making their case for the compatibility of science and religion.
"To use my own field, academic freedom does not protect me if I want to extol the virtues of angle trisection or circle squaring."
Jason, I have no problem with you teaching angle trisection. Just don't insist on straight edge and compass construction. My personal favorite is the "tomahawk," but there are lots of different approaches.
Larry has a perverse view of academic freedom. When I pushed him hard on this last year he said, in his view, that teaching the incorrect tensile strength of a steel beam in an engineering class was acceptable because it was an issue of academic freedom. In Larry's world there is no such thing as academic incompetence and no grounds for disciplinary action for such incompetence. His argument that the faculty should arbitrate is clearly nonsense - Ball State seem to be loading their astronomy department with ID-leaning profs. How much of the right controls are they going to exert?
In Larry’s world there is no such thing as academic incompetence and no grounds for disciplinary action for such incompetence.
I must be really stupid to think that. But there's a huge benefit. I get asked to review lots of grants and papers and sit on lots of tenure and promotion committees because I'm such a pushover.
I think it is more appropriate to discuss ID in a philosophy class - perhaps a philosophy of science class.
@7 - Although ID discusses science - it is not therefore scientific just as philosophy of science is not scientific.
A valid theistic explanation would have to come after all scientific explanations based on methodological naturalism had failed and the theistic explanation would have to be very circumscribed and precise. Since we are referencing a purported being with intentionality ( if one is using Christian theololgies defintion of god), one would have to posit its nature and intentions and then make predictions based on that. Just resorting to a god of the gaps is no explanation at all - but ad hocism.
If god exists...WHAT? What's a god(s)? What are its attributes? Did god masturbate the universe into existence which millions of Egyptions used to believe. Some might find _Theism and Explanation_, by Gregory Dawes informative.
"if it turns out that that god really did create bacterial flagella "
How would one discover this? By talking about it. By logically concluding that this is the best possible explanation? Why not a team of simulators who are simulating us as Hans Moravec and Nick Bostrum have suggested? This is a much more reasonable idea that refering to a Chrstian god. Yet, even in this senario, one is not talking about intrusions into the simulation, but algorithmic processes that are discernable.
We all have a right to an opinion but not a right to be heard.
We all have a right to an opinion but not a right to be heard.
You may want to rethink that statement before someone makes you look foolish for saying it.
Most of the ID arguments are about real science and most of them address genuine scientific controversies like whether our genome is full of junk, or whether natural selection alone can account for evolution. We don’t know how life began and we don’t really understand the Cambrian explosion. These are legitimate science questions. The creationists exploit them but that doesn’t make them nonscientific.
Those questions are scientific, and indeed addressed by a variety of scientists without invoking ID. I have no objection to discussing the questions in science classes -- what I object to is suggesting that the ID "theory" offers a scientific explanation.
If there is a god, then it’s perfectly scientific to invoke that god in explaining some of the mysteries of biology. If there really is a god and if it turns out that that god really did create bacterial flagella then would you suggest we refuse to teach than in science class? Of course not.
Sure, and if the stars and planets really did influence human life in minute detail, we should teach astrology in astronomy classes. But, as they say, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and at the moment there is no evidence for supernatural influence in any domain of science, much less the specific area of flagella origin.
Put another way, there is just as much evidence for God as there is that we live in the Matrix. Should we teach that possibility as well in biology class?
Put another way, there is just as much evidence for God as there is that we live in the Matrix.
Lot's of scientists disagree ( e.g. Francis Collins, Ken Miller etc.). Are you saying that you are allowed to make your claim in a university science class but they are not allowed to make their case to students in the same class?
I would suggest that if we are going to discuss 'ID like' scenarios, something like this would qualify as scientific: http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847
One could springboard from there into investigating the conditions under which the universe would be Turing computable as the paper above discusses in relation to the GZK limit which would fundamentally discretize space-time...the implication being that it would then be Turing computable because your are then operating over the set of rational numbers.
As a simple Dutchman it totally escapes me why Earth-centered astronomy is more fringe than ID. It's rather the other way round. Earth-centered astronomy is very possible; the mathematical equations just become insanely complicated.
As for universitary curricula we have in The Netherlands this institute:
Though in the end Dutch politics decide the curriculum KNAW has a big say. Eric Hedin would not stand a chance teaching his stuff at a Dutch faculty for natural sciences.
Only place where people like Hedin might have a chance is like here:
Jochemsen appears to be a YECer, though there are no reports of him actually teaching YEC. Moreover he is not paid by Dutch government (that's why he is external).
Re Larry Moran @ #15
Blaine said that poorly. The US Constitution says that you can say anything you want, aside from considerations of defamation and libel. However, there is no obligation for anyone to provide you with a forum.
Re Larry Moran @ #14
As I stated in a comment on Prof. Moran's blog, there is no legal prohibition for Ken Miller to present his theistic views in his biology courses because Brown is a private university. However, I suspect that the administration would take a dim view of him doing so.
Are you saying that you are allowed to make your claim in a university science class but they are not allowed to make their case to students in the same class?
No, I am saying that neither is a scientific hypothesis, and thus neither should be taught in a science class. Again, let's be clear what is at issue -- it is not whether there are scientific questions to be asked of evolutionary theory. At issue is whether religious answers are scientific theories.
Are you saying that you are allowed to make your claim in a university science class but they are not allowed to make their case to students in the same class?
I believe we are saying that neither is appropriate in a science class.
deepak shetty says,
I believe we are saying that neither is appropriate in a science class.
I disagree. We talk about it in my science classes all the time. The purpose of a science class is to learn what science is all about and a key part of that learning involves being able to distinguish between science and religion.
If you're not teaching students how to tell the difference between science and non-science then you are not doing your job. Students face this issue all the time in the real world where they are bombarded with religious propaganda.
If you’re not teaching students how to tell the difference between science and non-science then you are not doing your job.
Exactly, and the course in question didn't do that -- it taught ID as science.
Two things about Larry Moran's firm belief that university students are mature enough to handle diverse points of view:
First, this is unrealistic. At first at least, you go to uni to learn stuff. Especially in the natural sciences, the first two years or so are pretty much about filling your head with facts, formulas and theories. Only then do you have the basis to really start to learning scientific thinking and methodology. At least that is how it was in my uni.
So if the lecturer tells the students that evolution is bunk, where exactly are they supposed to get the maturity to selectively distrust the lecturer that is paid to teach them the state of the art? They are, well, students. That word has a meaning.
Second, what if a faculty decides to ONLY teach ID? Where do the opposing views that the student can make their mind up about come from then?
I wouldn't sue such a faculty either. Having never lived in the USA, the amendment issue is alien to me. I would simply say such a university should, if they don't change their ways, at some point lose its accreditation.
Congratulation professor Moran!!!
Moran: ... the more enlightened Intelligent Design Creationists ...
A curious qualification. Could you name a name or two?
Alex makes a great point:
So if the lecturer tells the students that evolution is bunk, where exactly are they supposed to get the maturity to selectively distrust the lecturer that is paid to teach them the state of the art?
Just as we can't run a science class solely by giving students the basic tools and expecting them to independently re-derive centuries of discovery in a year, neither can we propose hypotheses and expect students to naturally figure out the correct one by itself. We pretty much have to guide them to "the right answer", in a sense.
And that's not indoctrination — there is no threat attached and no emotional appeal, and they are perfectly capable of reflecting in it and deciding whether the teacher, with her apparent "pro-evolution bias", is right. Larry Moran's use of in-class dicussion seems perfect for this purpose. I suppose I'd be comfortable with an "ID teacher" doing the same thing, but there'd be no guarentee that real science wiuld be fairly represented by a student willing to take the energy and risk to defend actual science.
I have an unbalanced view there because I don't think a lack of substantive ID input is any loss for a biology class (evolution stands entirely in its own, just as you can do a chemistry class without mentioning homeopathy), but a "biology" class that consisted entirely of trashing Darwin and no decent counter-argument raised… is a lot more problematic.
“Those questions are scientific, and indeed addressed by a variety of scientists without invoking ID.”
Addressing is not the same as answering. Irreducible complexity has been commented on and trivialized, but not actually confronted. The structure of flagella is a good example. There were indeed responses, but they were neither comprehensive nor sublime.
“at the moment there is no evidence for supernatural influence in any domain of science”
This is true only if accidents are authorized to be supernatural agents.
“evolution stands entirely in its own”
Fundamentally, it only stands on DNA replication errors. Mutations enjoy a special status for the theory which does not coincide with facts.
Addressing is not the same as answering. Irreducible complexity has been commented on and trivialized, but not actually confronted.
But irreducible complexity is not a theory. There is no way to test it, no way to measure complexity, or even to clearly determine what is "irreducibly" complex and what isn't. It's merely an assertion from ignorance -- "I can't see how evolution could have done this, therefore irreducible complexity."
The structure of flagella is a good example.
Traditionally the eye was thought to be the best example, because certainly something so complex and exquisite could not have arisen by chance processes, but must have sprung fully-formed from the mind of a designer. But of course evolutionary biology has shown that assertion to be wrong -- there are a whole range of intermediate forms of organs that sense light, and among those organisms with actual eyes, the human version is not that particularly well-designed (who puts the wiring in front of the sensors?) nor especially effective (can you see as well as a hawk? Or see as many colours as a mantis shrimp?). The story of the eye demonstrates how arguments from ignorance are often undermined. And ID is nothing but an argument from ignorance.
But credit to ID for persistence, for they didn't give up when the evolution of the eye proved explainable -- now the best example on offer is a single structure in some unicellular organisms. The grand panoply of life on earth, of perhaps 8 billion species or more, each with their own unique biology, and the thing that best supports ID is one mobile appendage in a few species of microscopic prokaryotes and eukaryotes. That's supposed to be the most convincing argument, that out of the grandeur in the view of life that evolution offers, all the explanatory power it provides, it should be abandoned because it can't account for some germs' tails.
Well, for my part, I'd rather hold on to the huge explanatory power of evolution, and presume that, just like the eye, in the future evolutionary theory will provide a clear, irrefutable account of the development of the flagellum (it has already made great progress in this). The alternative offered by ID is to abandon all hope of understanding the biological world, of just throwing up one's hands and effectively saying that everything arose by magic. That may be comforting to some, but it's not science.
“But of course evolutionary biology has shown that assertion to be wrong…the evolution of the eye proved explainable”
This is just a proclamation, a tactic which often works, but does not explain anything. The supposed evolution of various sight organs relies on the accidental appearance of genes and gene control mechanisms which define specific, critical features. Moreover, the only available theoretical means for development is DNA replication errors occurring repeatedly in genes directly and indirectly related to sight.
Nothing about this random, heavily coincidental, extremely fortuitous process has been explained, at all.
“…out of the grandeur in the view of life that evolution offers, all the explanatory power it provides, it should be abandoned because it can’t account for some germs’ tailsit should be abandoned because it can’t account for some germs’ tails”
I can appreciate the acknowledgement that the flagella argument was just ignored, but science is not about being enchanted with theories.
“I’d rather hold on to the huge explanatory power of evolution…”
Right; the explanatory power of evolutionary theory is monumentally huge, as long as you stay at the grandeur level and never confront the gritty details.
“The alternative offered by ID is to abandon all hope of understanding the biological world, of just throwing up one’s hands and effectively saying that everything arose by magic. That may be comforting to some, but it’s not science.”
Nonsense. The quest for knowledge about what is there and how it works does not depend on how everything arose. Real science involves difficult questions, not avoiding them when pet theories are threatened.
That last sentence is completely correct, Phil. Now only if you applied it to ID ....
ID, ie goddiddid explains everything, hence nothing. Cambrian exposion? God. Punctuated equilibrium? God. Common descent? God. No common descent? God. Beneficial mutations? God. Non-beneficial mutations? God. A cat fossil from Jurassic? God. No cat fossil from Jurassic? God. Ring species? God. No ring species? God. Adaptive radiation? God. No adaptive radiation? God. Big Bang? God. Steady State? :God.
That's why ID even fails if you succeed to tackle Evolution Theory, Phil. You don't have an alternative.
“Now only if you applied it to ID ….ID, ie goddiddid explains everything, hence nothing”
As it pertains to what should be taught, I don’t care much about ID. If evolution is presented accurately, intelligent design will teach itself without ever being mentioned. The science rag writers actually have a difficult time keeping the theory in mind, even when they refer to it. For instance:
“The discovery of both specimens suggests the insect had evolved its leaf mimicry— or, more specifically, its gingko-leaf mimicry — to evade hungry predators.”
If you were interested in honestly representing evolutionary theory concerning this phenomenon, what would you have written?
"If you ...."
Loaded question. It's a matter of principle not to answer them. You are not setting the agenda on this page - not with me.
"intelligent design will teach itself without ever being mentioned"
If I would apply this principle in my job - I'm a teacher - I would be fired tomorrow.
I think I have asked it before: do you realize how silly you look? You have nothing substantial.
But if you are interested in a honest representation of Evolution Theory I have three recommendations for you:
Larry Moran says that he is "prepared to tolerate a significant amount of “garbage” in order to avoid harmful censorship. It’s the price we have to pay for a certain amount of freedom."
Having been educated (for free) in the UK, I find the US university system very confusing. I am not sure which courses would be compulsory and which optional. However, a US education is expensive and if I were forking out a lot of money in fees, I don't think I would feel very tolerant towards garbage.
“But of course evolutionary biology has shown that assertion to be wrong…the evolution of the eye proved explainable”
This is just a proclamation, a tactic which often works, but does not explain anything. The supposed evolution of various sight organs relies on the accidental appearance of genes and gene control mechanisms which define specific, critical features.
My point, which you ignored, is that there are very clear existing or fossil examples of all the intermediate steps to develop an image-forming eye, or, in other words, the eye is not "irreducibly complex". The point is that creationists in the past had used the eye as their prime example of something that could not have evolved because of its complexity, and we now have a very good non-irreducible evolutionary path for its development. So presuming the flagella will not also have such an explanation is simply an argument from ignorance.
Nothing about this random, heavily coincidental, extremely fortuitous process has been explained, at all.
And "magic" is a better explanation? Tell me, what kind of testable mechanisms does ID propose? How are changes introduced to the genome -- by direct telekinetic manipulation of individual nucleotides? By guiding radiation toward specific sections of DNA to induce the desired mutation?
It is profoundly hypocritical for anyone promoting ID to complain about lack of explanation.
Phil: I can't decipher your problem with the article you linked. (Of course, one should keep in mind the enormous difference between scientific papers and science journalism, which often simplifies or sensationalizes. This particular article seemed fine, though.)
The quote is summarizing a key point: that the proximity of the two specimens — the insect and the plant — suggested that the one had evolved to imitate the other. In the absence of the plant fossil, the insect's precise pattern had been more of a puzzle (for example, it could have been hypothesized that it looked that way for reasons of sexual selection), but now there's very good evidence for a particular model of that instance of evolutiom.
“there are very clear existing or fossil examples of all the intermediate steps to develop an image-forming eye”
That’s an interesting claim. I have questions, but first, can you provide a source that summarizes all the intermediate steps?
“presuming the flagella will not also have such an explanation is simply an argument from ignorance.”
So objecting to there not being any evidence is arguing from ignorance. I don't think I've ever heard that particular rationale before.
“I can’t decipher your problem with the article you linked.”
It isn’t a problem for me since I think in terms of purposeful design. But theoretical evolution is a random, meandering process, completely dependant on abnormalities resulting from DNA replication errors. The mention of “to evade hungry predators” mischaracterizes the process.
It is not hard to understand why this happens. Anyone promoting the theory is going to avoid mentioning (or even thinking about) mutations. Insects imitating trees (or vice-versa), is a lot easier to digest if you just say something like “the insect had evolved its leaf mimicry”. Invoking rare, random and continuous copy errors introduces immense probability problems. But worse than that, it spoils the beauty of the narrative.
Phil, I'd suggest you read Why Evolution Is True, which has a clear discussion of eye evolution.
What you are objecting to is more language usage than anything. It would have been more accurate (but more wordy and probably less clear) to state something like "the presence of a certain species of plant has led to the differential survival of those insects possessing the ability to mimic the leaves of that plant." The quote you object to was likely just shorthand for the more accurate statement (or if it was a science JOURNALIST writing it, evidence of lack of understanding of the theory of evolution).
As for the irreducible complexity argument, you seem to lack a fundamental understanding of the content and intent of that argument. The real content of that argument is that it is impossible in principle for an evolutionary process to produce an irreducibly complex system. Note, the argument is NOT stating that it is unlikely for an IC system to be produced by evolution; it is utterly impossible. Therefore, if we can come up with some series of small evolutionary changes that do in fact lead to an IC system, this argument is debunked.
It is actually quite easy to do this. First, one must define what IC actually means. All definitions of IC state that a system is IC if it loses its function upon the removal of any of its components. I will use this definition in what follows. We must also keep in mind that evolutionary changes can also result in the loss of system components, not just in the addition of components.
With those in mind, consider a system composed of three components; A, B, and C. (which I'll abbreviate as ABC). By definition, removing any component from this system results in loss of function, so AB, AC and BC would not be functional systems. Now, suppose that there is an individual component, D which performs this function, but at a rudimentary level. It's easy to see that system AD might well perform the function better. Adding B to give ABD might yield further improvement as would adding C to give ABCD. Now (and here's the key step) it is entirely possible that this series of changes has rendered D redundant. It would be to the advantage of the organism to lose D (since there would be an energy cost to maintaining a redundant component). Therefore, it's easy enough to see that ABC could perform the same function as ABCD, but with lower energy cost. Lo and behold, we have just reached system ABC only via evolutionary processes, and ABC, by hypothesis is an IC system.
Notice, we don't need to consider any real biological systems to defeat the IC argument. The IC argument was not a biologically based argument; it was based solely in logic, but one that I have shown to be based on faulty logic, namely the faulty premise that only additions are possible, not deletions. It really doesn't matter whether eyes, flagella or anything else actually are IC systems, nor whether they evolved in a manner analogous to my argument above. The IC argument is bunk.
More succinctly, Phil:
The IC argument boils down to:
Premise 1. Evolutionary processes cannot produce systems where removal of one component destroys functionality (ie IC systems).
Premise 2. There are actual biological systems that are irreducibly complex.
Conclusion: Evolution cannot account for the formation of certain biological systems and is therefore an incomplete theory.
This argument is valid but not sound. I have shown in my previous post that premise 1 is false. Others with more knowledge of biology might well be able to show the falsehood of premise 2 as well, but that's not really necessary to show that the argument is unsound.
“What you are objecting to is more language usage than anything. It would have been more accurate…to state something like “the presence of a certain species of plant has led to the differential survival of those insects possessing the ability to mimic the leaves of that plant.” “
No, it isn’t the language, and it isn’t just this article. What I object to is the failure to reference the actual mechanism, and wording that presupposes that things just evolve. It assumes that helpful DNA replication errors are common, which they simply are not. The Gingko leaves represented in the fossils in this example well-illustrate this.
The New Scientist article about this same discovery says that the leaf fossils:
“belonged to the Ginkgophyta, a group of plants now extinct except for the Ginkgo biloba, a well-known living fossil”
To put in perspective the popular tale about eyes evolving in 400,000 years, the Gingko must have missed lots of chances to advance:
“Previous fossils revealed that Ginkgo species have remained unchanged for the past 51 million years, and that similar trees were alive and well 170 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. But what happened between the two dates was unknown. The new finds, from the 121-million-year-old Yixian rock formation in northeast China, provide a much-needed missing link between ancient and more modern plants.
Their perfectly preserved leaves and reproductive organs show that the Gingko's "morphology has changed little for over 100 million years", say Zhiyan Zhou and Shaolin Zeng of the Chinese National Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Nanjing, who analysed the relics.”
If mutations that result in novel traits happen as often as “the insect had evolved its leaf mimicry” would lead you to believe, the freakin trees should have eyes by now.
I missed your earlier post…my apologies. But I have spent a lot of time reading at TalkOrigins. Actually, one of my very favorite evolutionary stories is there, a piece about bombardier beetles. Perhaps your students would enjoy hearing it, but it will be up to you to point out that Isaak doesn’t bother to mention the necessity of DNA replication errors in his 15 easy steps.
"It isn’t a problem for me since I think in terms of purposeful design. But theoretical evolution is a random, meandering process, completely dependant on abnormalities resulting from DNA replication errors. The mention of “to evade hungry predators” mischaracterizes the process.
It is not hard to understand why this happens. Anyone promoting the theory is going to avoid mentioning (or even thinking about) mutations. Insects imitating trees (or vice-versa), is a lot easier to digest if you just say something like “the insect had evolved its leaf mimicry”. Invoking rare, random and continuous copy errors introduces immense probability problems. But worse than that, it spoils the beauty of the narrative."
I've identified your problem Phil, it's that you quite literally do not understand the theory of evolution. You've obviously spent a lot of time studying support for your agenda but haven't bothered to "know thy enemy". Take the suggestion above and do a little reading on Evolution so you can have an intelligent discourse on the subject please.
You realize that your very own argument makes the case for evolution. The reason that trees don't have eyes is precisely that the evolution of new traits is NOT a commonplace thing. However, your argument is akin to looking at someone who just won the Powerball lottery and claiming that they must have stolen all that money because it's just so improbable that they actually won the Powerball. After all, if we claim that this multimillionaire "just won the Powerball", then why don't we have whole cities full of multimillionaires?
The point is, in this case, that the only insects we CAN observe are the ones that, through a mutation, gained the external appearance that matched well with a local plant species. The other insects that lacked the mutation that gave them that appearance are now all dead. Obviously being able to mimic a plant leaf is a good thing for an insect; it allows it to avoid being eaten by predators. Not having this appearance would be harmful; predators were able to wipe those insects. In general, the species we are capable of observing are only the "powerball winners". The 'powerball losers" suffered the fate that the vast majority of organisms that have ever existed suffered, namely extinction.
What I object to is the failure to reference the actual mechanism
I don't know how someone who supports ID can write those words without their head exploding from the irony.
i retired in 1997. Before that, I taught our evolution course a number of times. Our Biology Secondary Education students were required to take the course, and it was taken by a number of other biology students. The last few times I taught the course, I spent a lecture or two on creationism. I based the lecture on one of the court cases (don't recall which one), which found that creationism was religion, not science. I did this because I realized that our students going out in the high school teaching profession, would likely encounter creationist thought. I thought it better they should have heard about it first from me. This was before ID. My teaching was known to, and accepted by, the department. Another faculty member (a geneticist) taught the course just before I retired. He asked me to give my creationism lecture. I left behind a big cardboard box of creationist material. I don't know how the course is taught today.
“you quite literally do not understand the theory of evolution”
I do understand quite well the mechanics of how it is supposed to work, but that isn’t what discussions like these are about. At this point, there is nothing that the theory won’t accommodate. Nothing is so complex or so unlikely that it cannot be the result of accidents and chance.
“the only insects we CAN observe are the ones that, through a mutation, gained the external appearance that matched well with a local plant species.”
Not just ‘a’ mutation. It could have taken hundreds, even thousands, of random, infrequent, sequential, complimentary mutations in the same lineage, occurring in the same genes and coincidentally in regulatory genes….while the plant didn’t evolve at all.
At this point, there is nothing that the theory won’t accommodate.
Organisms with radically different genetic mechanisms (e.g., ones that didn't use DNA/RNA)
The phrase "I made this. Signed, God" spelled out in every organism's chromosomes
Profound violations of obvious adaptive advantages (e.g., black bears outcompeting polar bears in the Arctic)
OK, your turn: what evidence would falsify Intelligent Design?
You've blown it again. The plant didn't evolve at all? What's your evidence of that? EVERYTHING evolves, and does so on a continuous basis. The overall gene pool of all organisms changes over time; that's evolution.
Now it may be true that the genome of the plant species in question did not change in a way such as to produce a large-scale change in the plant's anatomy. (I am not saying that's the case; just assuming so for the sake of argument). Nothing in the theory of evolution states that organisms HAVE to make large scale anatomical changes over time. What selection pressure is present to cause differential survivablity of some variant of this plant species? Certainly a change causing the insect to mimic the plant results in an advantage for the insect. What's the advantage for the plant if it makes a major morphological change? Generally, stable environments for an organism result in relatively stable morphololgies; that's to be expected from the theory of evolution.
Let me finish with an analogy. Suppose a group of 10 people who have all won the Powerball lottery become friends and meet for dinner. Your previous post was arguing that it's not possible that these people could all have won the lottery fairly. After all, the odds of one person winning it are 1 in 57 million. The odds of all 10 winning are therefore 1 in (57 million)^10 or 1 in 3.6 x 10^77, which is astronomical. Therefore, there must have been some nonrandom occurrance, such as a scheme to rig the lottery. It's just too improbable that these people could ALL have won the Powerball.
Now, your latest post is looking at these 10 lottery winners eating dinner and arguing, "If these 10 people won the Powerball, why isn't the person serving their dinner a millionaire too?"
Hopefully you can see the flaw in your arguments. You are trying to use the mathematics of probability that's applicable to a truly random sample space when you are in fact presented with a non-random, selected, sample space. In my analogy, the ten people eating dinner were not just ten random people; they were specifically selected from the set of Powerball winners. Similarly, when we observe biological systems, you are not looking at a random sample of all possible biological systems. The vast majority of members of the set of all possible biological systems are no longer available for observation; they have gone extinct. The ones we can observe are a non-randomly selected subset of the set of all possible biological systems.
I get where you're going; nothing can truly falsify ID. However, it certainly would call design into question if you observed that different organsims use completely different structures to perform the same function. I would also think design is called into question if you were to observe an obviously beneficial system in one set of organisms, while that same beneficial system is absent in another.
Now, I would think that the eyes of insects vs. those of vertebrates would certainly qualify as an example of the first type. Insects' eyes, with their compound lenses, have a completely different structure from the eyes of vertebrates, which have simple lenses. However, both perform the same function, namely sight.
The presence of a metabolic pathway for the synthesis of vitamin C in most vertebrates, but the absence of this pathway in primates would seem to be an example of the second. What possible reason would a DESIGNER have for leaving this pathway out when he/she/it designed the primates? Even if he/she/it designed primates first, and then other organisms, would he/she/it not have gone back to his/her/its blueprints for the primates and added in the vitamin C synthesis system? This is especially the case when we consider that the basic DNA sequence for vitamin C synthesis is actually in place in primates, but a point mutation renders it ineffective. How much trouble would it be for this designer to change a single DNA base?
I realize that technically these points don't actually totally falsify design. However, a reasonable person would more than likely, when faced with these examples, possibly change what the "I" in ID stands for, maybe to "irrational" or "insane". Certainly, such design does not seem too intelligent.
it certainly would call design into question if you observed that different organsims use completely different structures to perform the same function
I'm sure that an ID proponent would argue that there is no need to presume that a Designer would use the same solution in all organisms, that different structures performing the same function are merely an indication of the Designer's creativity.
By contrast, presuming direct descent puts strong limitations on what solutions we would presume evolution would do -- we would expect complex, difficult-to-evolve solutions to be conserved in lineages. To use your eye example, it would be completely inexplicable for evolution if tigers had compound eyes, but all other cats had mammalian eyes. But I don't think an ID proponent would have a problem with that, since "design" is completely unconstrained by the history of the organism.
I would also think design is called into question if you were to observe an obviously beneficial system in one set of organisms, while that same beneficial system is absent in another.
But if a feature is truly beneficial, one would also expect from an evolutionary perspective that selection pressure would ensure its presence in both sets of organisms. This would be especially the case for an example like vitamin C, where the loss is from a single nucleotide change. So this criterion is at best potentially problematic for both evolution and ID.
However, I don't even think that it is an issue for ID, since this "theory" has no metric such as fitness that need to be maximized. If vitamin C is broken in primates, well, the Designer clearly has His reasons, and He works in mysterious ways, so who are we to judge? There is no need for an explanation. (Of course, evolution can offer an explanation, namely that primates usually having enough access to vitamin C in food, and thus losing the ability to synthesize it is no big deal.)
So I still think that ID is unfalsifiable. I'm happy for Phil to show that I'm wrong, however.
I, too, eagerly await Phil's response as to what would falsify ID. I certainly agree with you that it's not possible. I was merely pointing out a couple of problems that I see with ID that would lead reasonable people (ie. those without religious motivations for believing the ID nonsense) to question the whole idea of intelligent design. Certainly, and you hit upon this, the argument that we cannot know why the designer did what he/she/it did is sufficient to render any falsification attempt ineffective. Of course, that calls into question any possibililty of serious science being done within the ID paradigm. After all, if we can never know, in principle, why the designer did something, why bother to investigate it? Why not just accept it for what it is? Obviously, that's no way to conduct serious science.
They’d formulate a workaround of some sort if something like that was discovered. Look what happened with the soft tissue in the T rex. Besides, I who asks questions about Precambrian ancestral forms?
“Organisms with radically different genetic mechanisms (e.g., ones that didn’t use DNA/RNA)”
But those were supposedly around for eons leading up to the organisms we know about…the ones that require a minimum of 250-odd genes to live and replicate. The supposed ancestral forms between the deep sea vents/space particles and the first cell had to function in a completely different biological fashion. Haven’t you heard the tale about the disappearing scaffolding?
“The phrase “I made this. Signed, God” spelled out in every organism’s chromosomes”
If you’re inclined to accept that things like metamorphosis or genes coding for multiple proteins resulted from DNA replication errors, I’m not sure an actual signature would be convincing, even if it was in Hebrew.
“what evidence would falsify Intelligent Design?”
Spontaneous formation of ribosome.
“EVERYTHING evolves, and does so on a continuous basis.”
More accurately stated, organisms can adapt, but not beyond known limits.
“Nothing in the theory of evolution states that organisms HAVE to make large scale anatomical changes over time.”
But didn’t you just say that everything evolves on a continuous basis?
What selection pressure is present to cause differential survivability…”
Well first, selection cannot cause particular random mutations to occur. But that aside, how would you account for all kinds of plants and animals remaining virtually unchanged for perhaps 100 million supposed years, while dog-sized Pakicetus is supposed to have blossomed into blue whales in a small fraction of that time?
Old pal Feelgood here! I looked into the inconsistencies that you thought existed in Genesis and found this site; http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/1-2.html that attempts to clear up issues with interpretation. I thought the explanation about what it means to "make" and to "form" was interesting along with Phil's evaluations @131 in the other thread. If God exists (HE DOES I tell you!!!!), He is invisible and if He made us in His image He made us first an invisible spirit like Him-then proceeded with the tangible parts. You stated:
"I certainly can’t rule out that there might be a spiritual aspect to human existence. My Soul-o-meter is broken, and I can’t find anyone to fix it. Obviously (I hope!) that’s tongue in cheek, but it makes the point I am trying to make. I am not going to believe things that are not in evidence. There is no evidence for a spiritual component to human existence."
I would argue-though I cannot prove it-that the invisible/intangible/unprovable aspect of existence is more real and more substantial than what can be seen. It is the biggest portion of who we are in other words. Love is invisible yet someone will be crying at your funeral because of it's existence. Joy is invisible, goodness is invisible, gravity is invisible as is evil yet no one denies the existence of these things. If I may (out of real bonafide love) say, in regards to finding out whether or not you have a spirit/soul, don't let the day you die be the day you make that discovery. You're thorough and you'll keep digging and substantiating so try to get a confirmation on that potential (spiritual) component while the gettin's good, especially if you "can't rule it out". We can know all we want about anything and everything but if we miss that DETAIL; fail.
We came to that "impasse" you mentioned due to us both being firm, but I just wanted to drop a post for closure on the conversation. Good fortune to you (and God bless?) the rest of the way. The invisible evidence is abundant.
@Phil: "More accurately stated, organisms can adapt, but not beyond known limits."
Please specify. Because I don't know those limits. I have asked creationists before, but no one has ever answered.
"They’d formulate a workaround of some sort if something like that was discovered."
You know the commandment about bearing false witness, don't you? If yes prove it.
"Look what happened with the soft tissue in the T rex."
Done so. Read this:
Saying this is "working around" totally is a false testimony.
I don't doubt that the analysis of the Genesis you presented is satisfying to you. That's because you believed it to be God's word prior to reading anything on the matter. It's easy to convince someone who already believes. I will say nothing further about Genesis or the Bible in general here.
I have no problem whatsoever if you continue to believe in the Bible, God and whatever else you choose to believe. I just refuse to believe it myself.
Obviously, I cannot contest the examples you give of "invisible" things. These things you mention exist. The reason we know that they do is that there are observations which would have different results if these things did not exist. For instance, if joy did not exist, then there would be a noticeable difference in the way people behave in certain situations. For instance, by the end of this weekend, in the US, there will be four teams of college basketball players whose members will be shouting, jumping up and down, giving high fives, etc. If joy did not exist, that observation would be incorrect. If love did not exist, I am quite sure that I would not have married my wife. If gravity did not exist, we could not possibly be having this discussion, since there would be no earth, and we would never have come into existence.
Now, I am contending that things like God and souls are a different class of 'invisible" things. What would be different if, for instance, there were no immaterial souls? Please, for the sake of argument, assume that the Bible is not factual and make reference only to observations you could make. Please try to give me at least one observation that would be different depending on whether or not souls exist. If you can, then let's make that observation and settle the issue. If not, (and I am almost certain you cannot give such an observation), then the existence or nonexistence of souls has no observable affect on the universe. Given that, there is no reason to propose the existence of souls, since the universe can be explained fully without souls.
“Please specify. Because I don’t know those limits. I have asked creationists before, but no one has ever answered.”
There is excellent evidence of organisms adapting, sometimes quickly and dramatically. But I’m not aware of anything that should lead anyone to believe that they are becoming or can become something else. If you have information that disputes this, I’d enjoy hearing about it.
“You know the commandment about bearing false witness, don’t you? If yes prove it.”
The first attempt on the T rex discovery was by Tom Kaye, who was hailed as a champion for suggesting that what Schweitzer had found was biofilms for the vessels, and framboids for the apparent blood cells. You can see a pic here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur-shocker-115306469…
That didn’t really shake out, but there is a relatively recent new sigh of relief.
“The controversial discovery of 68 million-year-old soft tissue from the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex finally has a physical explanation. According to newly published research, iron in the dinosaur's body preserved the tissue before it could decay.”
Isn’t that exciting? The reason they know this is because:
“Schweitzer and her colleagues found that dinosaur soft tissue is closely associated with iron nanoparticles in both the T. rex and another soft-tissue specimen from Brachylophosaurus canadensis, a type of duck-billed dinosaur. They then tested the iron-as-preservative idea, using modern ostrich blood vessels.
They soaked one group of blood vessels in iron-rich liquid made of red blood cells and another group in water. The blood vessels left in water turned into a disgusting mess within days. The blood vessels soaked in red blood cells remain recognizable after sitting at room temperature for two years.”
So, there you go. Since the blood vessels remain recognizable after two years, it stands to reason that the T rex tissue could last for 68 million.
After reading the links you provided, what is your take on things like this?
"Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
1."The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance"
2."When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance"
Handcuffed. I can no more go into what I know about the spirit world without the bible than we could type this conversation without the alphabet. But I have to try so apologies for the lengthy response.
Absolutely "God and souls are a different class of invisible things" and though He is tangible, it's terms like "observable" and "in evidence" that will keep Him incomprehensible to the spiritually impaired (you can argue that I'm impaired in some areas and I would agree). You can't see Him or put Him on trial so ultimately He has to reveal Himself in the willing heart, mind and spirit of each individual who desires to know. Now if you "just refuse to believe" it will be tough, but inevitably death will get you to recognize His existence. Anything He's done on earth to communicate can be dodged, but with certainty He cannot.
"What would be different if there were no immaterial souls?" Of course I'm going to echo your statement; "If (God's Spirit and subsequently human souls) did not exist, we could not possibly be having this discussion since we would never have come into existence." A lifeless body is not just lifeless because the body ceases to function but it's lifeless because it's void of it's essence, it's soul. So an observable repercussion of soulless existence would be the absence of human existence. I know I know I know it can't be proven but as I'm sure you'll acknowledge, it can't be disproved either.
Btw the universe cannot be "explained FULLY" if you can't rule out the possibility of an invisible Deity (or whoever else) residing there. At best the universe is a gigantic unsolved mystery.
You shot down my "lame attempts at theodicy" when I asked what would the world look like if there really was no God (?) by comparing it to the chaos/evil that would increase if there were no cops, court systems or jails. Your observation about the joy that may or may not be present in the teams competing for the Final Four is similar. "There are observations which would have different results if certain things (like God) didn't exist" and "there would be a noticeable (GLARING) difference in the way people behaved." I can observe how a people without God behave the same way I can observe a household without guidance, discipline or order result in unruly kids jumping all over the place making a mess of everything. I can observe the absence of Godly personality traits in humanity with more and more clarity as Phil put it; "human history grinds to an end" or as more and more schools get shot up or as more Hitlers & Bin Ladens emerge or as more people willingly disregard Him etc. I'm trying to omit my knowledge of Scripture per your request for the sake of this exchange and without using a biblical reference, I can say that I observe this expanding issue independently. You don't have to be a believer to ask with concern; "WHAT'S WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD!?!" when you observe crazy intensify and morality decrease. Something's missing in these cases even if you want to chalk it up to merely good conscience.
A world without God and subsequently humanity without His DNA blueprint (righteous souls), results in unrestrained chaos and a people with no knowledge of who they TRULY are or who they were intended to be. We'd be less than animals and an AWFUL lot would be observably different. No love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, wisdom or creativity would be our collective status-not to mention (again) ceasing to exist. This is the way it would be in my eyes and quite a few others. Are we wrong? There is always more than meets the human eye and not everything has to be "observable" or "measurable" or "in material evidence" to be in existence. I know these terms are essential to scientific process but if it somehow works out that you have an invisible spirit, then there is a God that is owed credit for such a thing-and if it suddenly left you, there would be an observable difference in you overall.
Fair enough. I see we are probably just bound to have to agree to disagree (hopefully, I can do so without being disagreeable :) ). In any case, just to take another line of discussion, why exactly is it that God feels his must make himself so unavailable to those of us who truly would believe if only we had some tangible evidence of His existence. There certainly is Biblical precedent for God revealing Himself to those of us who require evidence, namely Thomas. I am sure that you recall that Thomas did not believe that the person he was speaking to was really the resurrected Jesus until he actually put his hand in Jesus' wounds. Thomas required evidence before he was able to believe, and Jesus willingly provided such evidence.
I am sure you can't presume to have this answer, but it certainly would seem to me that I, and others like me who require evidence for belief, are in a similar mindset as Thomas was. Why did Thomas get his evidence whereas the rest of us don't?
"I see we are probably just bound to have to agree to disagree (hopefully, I can do so without being disagreeable :) ). "
I'll handle the disagreeable part for you.
Short version :
Think: What if the other party doesn't "agree to disagree" with you? What if the other party is determined to just disagree---without the inane prior agreement, presumed without consent, hmmm?
Is it your habit to parrot just any inane common-place of the language without reflection on its worthiness? Why perpetuate this trite expression--"agree to disagree"? And, especially, why do it in the way you do?
I ask because, first, it's so annoying to read this in people's comments on line and, two, because really, contrary to your comment, NO, you really don't have to "agree to disagree." You could just skip the preciousness of "agreeing" to disagree and simply disagree. I'm sure most people who clutter up the already overloaded language with such inanities don't even think about the silliness of this expression--
I suggest thinking about it for the ten seconds that most never invest: either the phrase is just a gratuitous throw-away line, empty of semantic value because there is simply nothing sincere behind it, or it presumes upon the others' compliance without even a glance back. Who has ever heard of anyone actually waiting to hear from the other about such a consentless pre-concluded "agreement " ?
"Thomas required evidence before he was able to believe, and Jesus willingly provided such evidence...Why did Thomas get his evidence whereas the rest of us don’t?"
Jesus said to [Thomas], “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Sure Phil, but that's begging the question. Obviously, (from the verse you quote) God would prefer that we believe without evidence. However, this story sets the precedent -- for those who can't believe without evidence, evidence will be provided.
If God exists (and has the properties Christians typically ascribe to Him), He is omnipotent. He knows, therefore, that I will never believe without actual evidence. He may prefer otherwise, but (from discussions about theodicy) He values free will. If he came to me and presented His business card and performed a miracle or two, I would certainly believe in Him. Presumably, He wants everyone to believe in Him. Therefore, why would he not appear to me and present conclusive evidence of His existence? (BTW: don't try to argue that I'd not believe no matter what God did; God is omnipotent so He surely is capable of convincing me of His existence.)
Faith is what He's after. Another one of those invisible things that we know exists "and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). He is certainly accessible but faith is the currency required to kick off the relationship. Once engaged, spirit eyes are gradually opened as you begin to learn and know that you indeed have one-then a different kind of evidence becomes observable.
Thomas believed in Jesus because he journeyed with Him while He did His thing, but doubted the reports of His resurrection more so than the Man Himself. Like you he'd rather see some action than hear about it from others, but as Phil posted Jesus did say; "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." So there is some benefit for believers who see without the face to face, as there's nothing wrong with being blessed.
I don't know if your absorbing this or calloused so I'll chill with the Scripture and close with this: if we do have a soul, what does it offer that we don't use because we're oblivious to the fact that we have one? Does it have senses that supersede the 5? Maybe the kind of faith and certainty that us crazy believers have is understood intellectually, but also on a deeper metaphysical level with senses alive only in the spirit. Is there a download available that causes a transformation on the inside that offers new insights and discernments? I don't mean to sound like Yoda or Morpheus but it's possible that an invisible God has set up the universe in such a way that the real story is what is invisible, spiritual and/or metaphysical-and what can be observed materially is just a fraction of what's truly going on. At any rate, it's a vast universe and telescopes and microscopes only allow us to see but so much.
As I mentioned before, I won't argue any more about your beliefs. You still miss the whole point of my question. I am not arguing that it would not be better (from the point of view of your religious beliefs) for me to believe based only on faith. That's not the point. God is omnipotent, so He should know that I will NEVER believe in God absent any physical evidence. As a second best course, then, why does He not give me any such evidence?
The Biblical precedent is there; it would have been better for Thomas if he would have just believed that Jesus was resurrected based solely on his faith. Thomas couldn't do that, however, so Jesus appeared physically to him. Thomas then believed in Jesus' resurrection. That was, according to what you've posted, a second best type of solution. Why does this not happen today?
I am not particularly holding my breath since I think I know the answer, namely that there is no God out there who is refusing to give me evidence of His existence. I was more interested in seeing if you would think critically about your own beliefs with regard to this example, instead of just prosletyzing. Even an answer of "Gee, I really don't know" would have been better from my point of view.
I am certainly not trying to convince you that your beliefs are wrong, even if it seems that I am. I am simply trying to express the rational alternative to your faith-based belief system. If I am wrong, well I suppose I'll burn in hell after I die. It would seem easy enough, though, for an omnipotent, omniscient deity to convince me that I'm wrong and set me on the right path. Since He's purportedly a merciful and benevolent deity, I would think He'd care enough about me to reveal Himself in a way that would cause me to believe.
After all, isn't that what you Christians claim He has done for each and every one of you? He reveals Himself to you in a way that causes you to believe. The only difference between us is what type of revelation would cause us to believe, is it not? I simply require more physical evidence than you do.
"I am simply trying to express the rational alternative to your faith-based belief system."
I would contend that the alternative is a concensus-based belief system that requires astounding faith.
@Phil: I would contend you don't use words like "belief system" and "faith" to clarify, but to obfuscate.
"I would contend you don’t use words like “belief system” and “faith” to clarify, but to obfuscate."
I actually just reused those words. The insinuation in Sean's juxtaposition is that his beliefs are all about fact, whereas Goodman's are just quaint faith. I shouldn't have to recount how consistently piss-poor the responses have been to my questions about the rational 'scientific' alternative.
Using words like logic and rational does not mean those things are actually being applied. They are just decorations for a world-view that depends on miracles and uncritical faith.
>There is excellent evidence of organisms adapting, sometimes quickly and dramatically. But I’m not aware of anything that should lead anyone to believe that they are becoming or can become something else. If you have information that disputes this, I’d enjoy hearing about it.<
How do you define "something else?" Depending on how one answers this, it could go from trivial to near impossible. By not telling anyone though, just means that you can claim it is not different enough to be "something else."
The one thing that makes the best case for large-scale change is genetic continuity across the organismal spectrum and especially non-functional genetic elements such as pseudogenes. Why would your "intelligent" designer put the same broken gene into two independent organisms? Fun, confusion, spite?
Heck, why would a designer use the same basic genetic mechanism for all organisms? Why are there only a few standard nucleotides used? Why does every organism use some form of ribonucleic acid for its genetic material, rather than there being a wide variety of polymeric molecules used for this purpose?
It would be like all vehicles having four wheels, even though some are motorcycles, some are boats, some are planes, and some are tanks.
"God is omnipotent, so He should know that I will NEVER believe in God absent any physical evidence. As a second best course, then, why does He not give me any such evidence?" Gee I really don't know ;) why, but I imagine it's because He chooses not to. "He is merciful and benevolent" and does "care enough about you to reveal Himself" but He's doing it His way. Previous efforts (may have) included; all of creation, His Word, His Son, His proselytizing sheep, the blessing of life and the blessings within it, the sustaining of life, etc. Also the trait of humility is crucial where any exchange with Him is concerned and if one can't approach Him with humility, I doubt He'd write their name in the night sky with stars to further get their attention. You show up for a job interview, the prospective employer gets the utmost respect. Due in court, the judge hears "yes your honor-no your honor", etc. God gets; "SHOW ME!!!" or "prove it (with arms folded)." Crazy things and/or miracles still happen but we're not calling the shots, and we certainly can't make demands without humility, faith or some inkling of reverence. "Why would he not appear to me and present conclusive evidence of His existence?" "If he came to me and presented His business card and performed a miracle or two, I would certainly believe in Him." "Appear to me and present", "come to me and present a business card, perform a miracle or two"? Is it all about you and Him pursuing you? We're talking about God here not a vacuum cleaner salesman. You go to Him as He's already extended His hand and blessings via several avenues. If He is, He's the Creator and you're the creature. Thomas was Thomas and his documented experience has it's purpose, but your situation may be different. He's more than capable of "making you believe" and wants you to, but say he doesn't do it YOUR WAY?
Assuming you wanted clarity and wanted to further research whether He existed or not, I recommended prayer and you boasted a George Carlin joke where he mentions Joe Pesci being just as good an option to pray to as God. I guess if that joke resonates with you and you "think (you) know the answer, namely that there is no God out there refusing to give you evidence of His existence", then you will have a challenging time getting anything CONCRETE given that you'll never respectfully approach Someone who you don't believe exists. Saying "if I am wrong, well I suppose I’ll burn in hell after I die" indicates that you don't believe such a place exists, but if somehow you are wrong and it does, you want no part of it. If you knew you had a spirit, you'd give a damn about it's destination. I don't even know you and I do.
I have a confession in closing. You're right; "God has revealed Himself to me in such a way that it caused me to believe" and in addition, He has given me profound tangible evidence that confirms He is still in fact in the miracle business and very much active in today's generation. My beliefs are substantiated/validated and I'm spoiled, but humbled and consequently compelled to shout HE IS OUT THERE!!! Furthermore I'm obligated to share confidence and let you know that He still ENLIGHTENS and communicates in convincing ways. I'm obviously not God so who am I to say what He will or won't do for you as far as going the extra mile and presenting "your kind of" evidence. I hope He does something in your life that makes you sing "How Great Thou Art" (ha ha!), but I think the chances of something like that happening is increased by your humility towards Him. He LOVES you man, I mean an insane Godly amount. Can't be stressed enough.
If there were a designer - I guess omni-demiurgic is not one of the its characteristics.
@Feelgood Goodman: " I imagine it’s because"
That's the key, isn't it? You imagine this or you imagine that, just as you like.
So Feelgood, what you are saying, then, is that God wants me to fake it? He wants me to say "I believe" and then go humbly looking for reasons to do so.? He wants me to ignore the physical evidence that, for instance, the earth is over 4 billion years old and that organisms evolve, and just shut up, go to church and profess my belief?
Sorry, but that sounds more like what organized religions have historically wanted from people. Conformity is more important than belief. Fine, if God can show me He actually exists, I will show much greater respect than I would a judge or job interviewer. I show those people respect because I know they exist. Why should I respect something that I don't believe exists? Should I show respect also for the tooth fairy or the easter bunny?
I assume that if God exists, He'd take a very negative view of my lack of belief, but I submit that He could change that belief if He really wanted to. You say He's not going to move the stars around, but you'd better believe that I'd be humble and believe if He did. In fact, why wouldn't He? Who the hell are you to say what God would or would not do? Perhaps some humility of your own is in order. Besides, how the hell do you know that I HAVEN"T humbly sought God, but found the evidence for His existence wanting? Again, consider the beam in your own eye before you worry about the speck in mine.
If God placed a high enough value on the worship and belief of those who currently don't believe, why would He not do something about it? When Christians talk about the problem of evil, they talk about the high value of free will. Well, here's that free will biting you in the behind. God can't value free will and then expect us not to use it. I am simply exercising my highly-valued free will and refusing to believe in God without further evidence.
Speaking of the problem of evil, I also see a "problem" that's certainly less troubling, but there nonetheless. The problem of evil basically boils down to "why do bad things happen to good people?" The reverse problem is "why do good things happen to bad people?" I use the scare quotes when calling this a problem because I realize that you'll just say God loves us all enough to bless us, whether we believe or not. However, that hardly seems fair, does it? I am sure, for instance, that I am less pleasing to God than some bushman living in sub-Saharan Africa. That bushman probably has never heard of Jesus, God, the Bible or Christianity, so he could hardly be blamed for not believing. I, on the other hand, have been exposed to all of these and have consciously rejected them. Why should I be more blessed than the bushman? Yet, I surely am. I live in the richest nation on earth. I don't have to worry about my food supply (in fact I could stand to have less food :)). I have sufficient income to provide clothing and shelter for myself and my family. I live in relative safety compared to the bushman. Why is that the case? Why should God bless me, one who has consciously rejected Him, and not bless the innocent bushman who's never had the chance to know Him?
BTW, when I say "I" and "me" in all these posts, I am not being personally arrogant. I am using these to be concrete and to avoid typing things like "all those people who would require evidence before believing in God." Obviously, I have no expectation that God would appear to me personally with His business card and perform miracles just for me. However, I do question why He would condemn all the millions of people who think as I do to an eternity of torment and hellfire when He could easily do something about it. After all, I love my son. If I knew that something horrible would happen to him if I didn't act, I would act. Why would God just let people like me be damned? It seems to me that the following are the possibilities:
1. There is no God (I am positive you'll look to another one!)
2. There is a God, but He really doesn't care whether we believe in Him. (Again, I am sure you'll reject)
3. There is a God, He cares if we believe, but He doesn't really care if we are damned to hell.
4. There is a God, He cares if we believe and if we go to hell, but He is too busy or can't be bothered to try to help us.
5. There is a God, He cares if we believe or go to hell, but those of us like me have committed such a heinous sin that there's no point trying to save us.
6. Some other possibility I haven't thought of
It seems from our discussion that you would lean toward option 5 above. You are basically saying that my lack of humility has caused God to give up trying to save me. If that's true, then fine. It does seem a bit off to me, though, that serial killers, rapists, etc. can all hope for salvation, but we who are arrogant are eternally condemned. Obviously, I believe option 1 is the real reason, and will continue to do so until I see a reason to believe otherwise. I don't require a personalized reason, just some actual evidence.
the trait of humility is crucial where any exchange with Him is concerned and if one can’t approach Him with humility, I doubt He’d write their name in the night sky with stars to further get their attention
Right, this would be the god that parted seas, stopped the sun in its transit in the sky, flooded the entire world in a genocidal rage, wiped out whole cities, rained plagued on Egypt, etc. etc. etc, but somehow now he's decided to be shy? In many of those examples, and similar ones, the Judeo-Christian god does very flashy miracles specifically to encourage belief, to provide proof of existence. It is simply special pleading to say that that god didn't try to get people's attention, or was above doing blowout miracles that would undermine the need for faith.
Feelgood promotes the old canard - believe first and god will reveal itself to you. But if you already believe there is no need for this god to reveal himself and you will automatically find evidence of this god's present if you believe. It is a positive feedback loop that in Feelgood's case has spiraled out of control.
“How do you define "something else?" Depending on how one answers this, it could go from trivial to near impossible. By not telling anyone though, just means that you can claim it is not different enough to be "something else." “
Lenski’s E coli experiments should be approaching 60,000 generations by now. Some modest adaptations have occurred, and that is all.
“The one thing that makes the best case for large-scale change is genetic continuity across the organismal spectrum and especially non-functional genetic elements such as pseudogenes. Why would your "intelligent" designer put the same broken gene into two independent organisms? Fun, confusion, spite?”
The pseudogene argument has completely collapsed.
"This means that not only have we discovered a new language for mRNA, but we have also translated the previously unknown language of up to 17,000 pseudogenes and at least 10,000 long non-coding (lnc) RNAs. Consequently, we now know the function of an estimated 30,000 new entities, offering a novel dimension by which cellular and tumor biology can be regulated, and effectively doubling the size of the functional genome."
“As a model for the protein-coding-independent role of RNAs, we describe the functional relationship between the mRNAs produced by the PTEN tumour suppressor gene and its pseudogene PTENP1 and the critical consequences of this interaction. We find that PTENP1 is biologically active as it can regulate cellular levels of PTEN and exert a growth-suppressive role. We also show that the PTENP1 locus is selectively lost in human cancer.”
“Pseudogenes have long been labeled as “junk” DNA, failed copies of genes that arise during the evolution of genomes. However, recent results are challenging this moniker; indeed, some pseudogenes appear to harbor the potential to regulate their protein-coding cousins. Far from being silent relics, many pseudogenes are transcribed into RNA, some exhibiting a tissue-specific pattern of activation.”
“It seems from our discussion that you would lean toward [5. There is a God, He cares if we believe or go to hell, but those of us like me have committed such a heinous sin that there’s no point trying to save us] above.”
#5 is very bad theology. Nobody will wind up in hell for heinous sins. The sins were all atoned for at the crucifixion.
“I don’t require a personalized reason, just some actual evidence.”
You don’t seem to have the same threshold on all issues.
Sure. If that makes you feel better. I imagined Jesus, the whole deal.
If you take the time to dial a telephone number, you have confidence that someone will answer your call. If you don't believe anyone is there, you don't dial them up. If God is and one wants to chat with Him, they have to first believe He's there before they sincerely pray or call. I'm not suggesting conversion before belief, that's not possible is it? To make the call, one must believe the other party exists and then all kinds of potential opens up if dialogue is successfully exchanged, including breakthrough and belief. Or not. Furthermore if someone else has made the call (or answered the call), established connection, engaged in conversation which led to revelation and relationship-they may be suited to encourage the next guy to dial as they have confirmation that Someone is indeed home.
You'll notice that in addition to my "name in the stars" comment, I closed the post with; "I’m obligated to share confidence and let you know that He still enlightens and communicates in convincing ways. I’m obviously not God so WHO AM I TO SAY WHAT HE WILL OR WON'T DO for you as far as going the extra mile and presenting “your kind of” evidence. I hope He does something (awe-inspiring, revelatory) in your life, but I THINK the chances of something like that happening is increased by your humility towards Him."
Also, the last earth shattering miracle He (alledgely) performed was having His immaculately conceived Son live a flawless/supernatural life as the God Man, then allowed Him to be unjustly executed in order to reconcile man to Himself. This may have been the exclamation point as far as communicating wrath and love is concerned. The life of Jesus and the events surrounding obviously had a massive impact on the world, and saying "I MEAN BUSINESS!!!" in this way is as profound a miracle as can be performed. Since then, there's been a series of aftershocks and smaller (by comparison) "acts of God" that crescendo until... you've heard the story.
Love the name because of it's meaning. 4 out of your 6 possibilties included God :) though I know you're going with the first one :( God doesn't want you to "fake it" but does want and ultimately will get your acknowledgement-I tell you it would be so much better if you did it while you were breathing. But you'll never approach Someone who you don’t believe exists and as you asked; "why should I respect something that I don’t believe exists?" What if this thing that you don't believe exists is responsible for creating you, and sustaining you and your family's life? What if your ability to love, to create, to think, to feel joy, to breath were all blessings given to you by non existing it? If you knew that were true, would you respect "it"?
Calculating the age of the earth and observing organisms change has no bearings on whether or not God created them. Don't ignore the Creator just because you have questions about the way He's done things as that would affect your spiritual health (if you have one) and potentially it's destination. I say potential destination because I sincerely hope God is even more merciful than I know Him to be, and cuts people slack for their "conscious rejection." However it doesn't seem likely and I'd be contradicting my own knowledge of the law wishfully wishing for such pardons-and He'd be compromising Himself. Considering Jesus' sacrificial death and how He was fully God/fully Man, us believers can only arrive at the conclusion that there are no pardons or atonement without Him. You mentioned that you love your son and if you (God forbid) were to for any reason offer him as sacrifice for other lives, you would be adamant about the value of the sacrifice and would take no short changing where the return on investment was concerned. You'd have a requirement for that price paid. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" and there's simply no way around His blood where salvation is concerned. Loopholes would render His suffering and death a waste.
Humility. You're right Sean, "some humility of my own is in order" and I have to keep it monitored daily. Beams? I've got some logs in my eyes man let me tell you, quite a few. You see when I mention the humility required to interact with God, I'm not talking about the kind that I struggle to maintain but simply the acknowledgement that there is a standard set by God and subsequently His Son that no human being could ever meet. There is an impeccability and a holiness that God has, that we in our (imperfect) nature are incompatible with. "How the hell do you know that I HAVEN”T humbly sought God, but found the evidence for His existence wanting?" I don't know, but based on your comments I concluded that you haven't lately. The humility I'm speaking of is the kind where one has a revelation of God's Character/expectation and is brought to their knees seeing their fallibility, finally realizing their need for His forgiveness and saving. If one is not brought to an understanding of why they need Jesus or how accepting Him is their only chance at reconciliation with God, then they have not approached God with the proper humility because they haven't yet realized their sin or seen the chasm that exists between them and God because of it.
Most of us swear we're good people. We compare ourselves to others and see many in this world that make us look like saints. If I stand next to a serial killer I feel pretty good about myself (I may be a little scared) but I'm thinking; "I'm certainly a better person than that guy." If you get promoted by your company everyone respects and applauds you, and you're understandably proud. Your kids your wife love you and think that you're a hero, your community esteems you and you're going to feel good about who you are. But life accomplishments and morality contests with serial killers aside, what does God think of you? Obviously the Christian God loves you because He sent His Son to die for you, but what does He think of you as far as your relationship with Him (apart from Jesus) is concerned. Is He a proud Father, the way I assume you are of your son? Or is He disappointed? Well the truth is He's disappointed as we all fall short of that standard of perfection aka His glory. All parents want to see the best of themselves in their children and we just don't cut it with our "conscious rejection", our sin, blatant disregard for the Law/10 commandments, etc. He is proud of Jesus however, and is beyond pleased with Him as He sees the very best of Himself in that One. He lived up to His expectations therefore giving the (willing) rest of us an in.
BTW what the REPENTANT rapist or serial killer may have over the "arrogant" is that they see their sin, they're contrite about it and therefore recognize their need for salvation. Grateful, they willingly take the deal that God offers affording them the right to "hope for salvation." Being aware of one's sin and wanting forgiveness for it is (again) that crucial act of humility.
Everyone must eventually confront Jesus and decide who exactly they believe He was/is, and either accept or reject. This is arguably (maybe indisputably) the most famous, most radically impactful and most resonant Individual to ever walk this earth. Who was He? A good portion of the world bases the lineage of time around His life. A good portion of the world has 2 holidays in His honor celebrating the supernatural events surrounding His birth and death. What kind of man's life echoes in this way? None of the respect and reverence given to Him is enough to change your mind about God's existence I'm sure, but it would make me curious about this Person. What exactly did He accomplish? He said a lot of profound things, did a lot of profound things but what's the big deal? The possibilities are that either He was precisely who He professed Himself to be, or a raving lunatic. I've talked to Hindus, Muslims, Jews, my Christian brethren and I can't find any religious people or other wise who are willing to demote Him to raving lunatic-at minimum they respect Him as a great man and/or prophet. Some of the things this guy said were out there: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Huh? And; "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also." Out there statements that ultimately led Him to His fate, but bold comments for a human being. Either there was something beyond special about Him or He was off because only a crazy man would say such things, unless somehow they were true. Consensus: a Man worthy of more respect than the "tooth fairy or the Easter bunny" or George Washington for that matter.
"If God placed a high enough value on the worship and belief of those who currently don’t believe, why would He not do something about it?" How do you know He isn't doing something about it now? I definitely know you don't share my beliefs, but say that Jesus Christ really was God in a man suit and that He really walked on water, raised the dead and resurrected from the tomb 3 days after His own death. Crazy stuff I agree, but what if there really is a God and His Son Jesus really is the ticket of admission into heaven? Say it all works out to be truth? I mean if we can wrap our minds around the idea that the universe, the stars, the planets, the earth (with all it's complexities of life, phenomenons and elements) just miraculously appeared from non intelligent nothing, then there is certainly room for other miracles in our thinking isn't there? Jesus' movement went from 1 to 12 to 2.2 billion in 2000 years and it happened by men sharing His Spirit/Word with other men. Yeah there were miracles, other "acts of God" that perpetuated growth but it was mostly exchanges like this (minus my iPad and whatever you're using) between people. Maybe God has chosen to use His proselytizing sheep as His main method of outreach. He could perform a miracle, humble your life till your praying for lack of a better option, expire you but what if His preferred tactic in recent centuries has been using people to reach people. Maybe He's reaching out via a stranger-appealing to you through this blog and "doing something about it" right now. Who knows? He works in mysterious ways as the old folks say. Of course you can "simply exercise your highly-valued free will and refuse to believe" anything I'm saying, but is it possible?
Sorry for this LENGTHY post as I anticipate another stalemate and wanted to make the most of the response. We had that impasse a month ago but broke through and found grounds for a few more exchanges so good times.
6). "Some other possibility I haven't thought of"-There is a God, He cares if we believe or go to hell. He wants us to know Him and go to heaven. Has tried, is trying and will continue to try and make that happen.
Phil - it is simple.
Why is the sharing of alleles within a species evidence of common ancestry, but sharing of alleles between species not evidence for common ancestry?
You do understand how genetics work don't you?
Feelgood - now I understand.
Your god never called because it doesn't believe I exist.
@Feelgood Goodman: "If you take the time to dial a telephone number"
The weird thing is that people also sometimes call me. Apparently they are confident I exist. As your god never has sought contact with me, according to your analogy he doesn't have confidence that I do exist. It looks like your imagination is kicks up a row once again ....
“..it is simple.”
Actually it isn’t simple at all. If it was simple, the supposed tree of life would be stable, and it is anything but that.
“Why is the sharing of alleles within a species evidence of common ancestry, but sharing of alleles between species not evidence for common ancestry?”
It could be if there were reasonable mechanisms to explain the origin of novel unshared genes, and the dramatic differences in gene expression between the species which share genes. But there isn’t.
If there is nothing purposeful or deliberate involved, there is nothing available but random DNA replication screw-ups…that’s it. The articles I noted above tell about yet another magnificent pile of functional hyper-complexity that evolutionary theory has to account for with completely implausible accidents.
The only way to keep things simple is to abandon the basics of the theory, and this happens all the time on an as-needed basis. I don’t see how you guys can stand it.
"Actually it isn’t simple at all. If it was simple, the supposed tree of life would be stable, and it is anything but that."
Huh? You do realize how little of the genomes of most organisms have been sequenced, no? What changes bother you most in current phylogenies?
So what you are advocating is descent with modification -only some of the modifications are designed? Is it all of them? How novel is novel? Are novel genes produced in a supersecret lab in the clouds and flown down for injection in organisms as needed? See my first comment above - then think about it really hard.
@Michael Fugate & MNb
"If God is and one wants to chat with Him, they have to first believe He's there before they sincerely pray or call."
I'm trying to articulate:
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because ANYONE WHO COMES TO HIM MUST BELIEVE THAT HE EXISTS and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Next time posting Scripture would be best.
Oh! If He or "it" does exist, He's not just my God but He's yours too as we are (I'm assuming) the same model. Unless you guys are alien robots.
“What changes bother you most in current phylogenies?”
It is only bad assumptions and worse conclusions that bother me.
“So what you are advocating is descent with modification -only some of the modifications are designed?”
What I think the evidence shows is that adaptation cannot be the result of random DNA replication errors. What is actually known about mutations is that they simply do not result in improvements.
But there are indeed major adaptations that are very impressive. Polar bears are a very good example. The specialties they acquired are truly amazing, almost a complete renovation. But they can still interbreed with ursus horribilis and produce hybrids. Considering population sizes, gestation times, etc., the modifications could not possibly be the result of random DNA copy errors, even using evolutionary time frames: