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April 05, 2012

Comments

I basically agree. I would like to hear TE's (of the "guided" variety) more adequately explain where the entrance for divine action is, in specific terms that leave the evolutionary constructs intact.

Meyer said it's important to first clarify which definition of evolution theistic evolutionists (TE) use....If they wish to make their case, they first need to be very clear about the terms before expecting anyone to consider their view.

Philosophers have done just this and it has made no difference to the way Koukl discusses these issues. For instance, William Lane Craig has explicitly addressed Meyer in a Reasonable Faith article, which has been provided on this blog, concerning the compatibility of random genetic mutations with full blown providence; Alvin Plantinga has written a book called "Where The Conflict Really Lies" where he explicitly addresses the compatibility of theism and evolution by natural selection; furthermore, Alvin Plantinga has explicitly responded to the criticisms of Jay Richards, responses which are directly relevant to the issues concerning the compatibility of theism with evolution (here: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/04/seeking_an_offi058161.html) (although it is important to point out that, unlike the previously mentioned items, this response came after Koukl and Meyer appeared on the radio show). The fact that these clarifications have been offered does not seem to influence the way that Koukl and Meyer discuss the issue. They discussed the issue of theistic evolution as though William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga had written nothing of it. Seriously engaging the better material on the compatibility of theism and evolution would greatly improve the quality of this discussion at Stand to Reason. As it stands, that discussion merits only a shake of the head and a disappointing sigh.

Meyer said that the fossil record is conflicting and discontinuous - it doesn't support Darwinian evolution.

The fossil record is conflicting? What does this mean?

The fossil record is discontinuous? What does this mean? How is this 'discontinuity' supposed to prevent the fossil record from supporting evolution?

RonH

Neil DeGrasse Tyson (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=a5dSyT50Cs8) explains pretty well how we attribute what we can't understand to God's doing, until we understand it and thus can explain it. I believe evolution falls into this category, much like geocentrism as a way of explaining things was destroyed in light of the scientific discovery of the truth of heliocentrism.

Not to veer OT, but in light of a young-Earth creationist view of the world, I have no issue believing in a Creator, but see no need to believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis. After all, what compels us to? An ancient civilization attempting to explain the origins of life in light of their contemporary understanding of the world is fine, but is supplanted by ongoing discoveries. What can we learn morally from the Biblical writings, if anything? That, to me, is the more important question.

"The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go" is, I think, a reasonable compromise. This quote (attributed to Galileo), though disdained by STR, gets religious faith out of the science business where its entanglement is unnecessary and embarrassing (re: the Creation Museums). I believe there are unnecessary false dichotomies created by trying to shoehorn Biblical writings into scientific discoveries, and proven scientific truths, or vice-versa.

@Ron H...I think what he means is the fossil record is conflicting with Darwinism for the sheer fact of the Cambrian Explosion.

John,

Assuming this is what Melinda (summarizing the guest's position) means, what is it about 'the sheer fact Cambrian Explosion' that conflicts with evolution?

RonH

RonH,

The conflict is that there is no consistent increase in complexity in the fossils as the strata become "younger".

Also, the fact that there are mammals at all levels of the strata is a problem that no one wants to deal with...

Daryl,

You think evolution require a 'consistent increase in complexity'? Why would you think that?

Mammals have only been around a couple of hundred million years.

RonH

RonH,

Actually mammals really are at every level of strata.

But still, they've only been around for about 6000 years...

RonH

"The fossil record is discontinuous? What does this mean? How is this 'discontinuity' supposed to prevent the fossil record from supporting evolution?"

I can only offer my own view on this and I don't pretend to speak for others, though I would not be surprised if we agreed on it. It is like the illustration of two roads going in roughly the same direction with only small segments of those two roads visible while the rest of the landscape being obscured with clouds. The distance between those two segments being 2 light years and simply on the basis of them running in the same direction assuming they are the same road and not two different ones. This kind of discontinuity removes justification for the assumption that they are the same road since the distance is so great and the visibility is so small. The two factors along with the fact that there are many more roads in existence all work together to remove sufficient justification for such an assumption.

RonH

"You think evolution require a 'consistent increase in complexity'? Why would you think that?"

Again I am not speaking for Daryl to whom you address these questions. Just the same, since this is a public forum, I feel free to chime in with my two cents. If your view of evolution is that all species ultimately arose from a single celled organism that first achieved life...somehow...then we must come to the obvious conclusion that more information than the original single celled organism possessed had to be infused to arrive at the rich collection of complex organisms that have far more than just one cell and contain organs that were not part of that single celled organism that we all sprang from. So, greater complexity, requires more information the two go hand-in-hand. If we entertain the notion that evolution as I described it is a fact, then greater and greater amounts of complexity and more information must result as simpler organisms evolve into more complex ones...eventually resulting in what we see today.

Louis,

I remember hearing Greg give this road illustration, or one like it, on the show. I'm very glad to have a chance to respond to it.

You are right to call it an illustration rather than an argument because it merely helps you express your view.

Such an illustration can never support a view.

To support your view (about fossils), you need to talk about fossils - not (just) roads and clouds.

There's nothing wrong with illustrations. They can be helpful. But they are not a substitute for argument and evidence.

If you give an illustration like this it may be possible to support your view by supporting the illustration.

For example, to support this illustration, you might give reasons to choose 2 light years, reasons to say "the visibility is so small", and reasons to say "there are many more roads in existence".

But, these reasons would need to be given in terms of the fossil record.

If you can give reasons to justify such an illustration you may find the reasons are sufficient and the illustration unneeded.

I'm not demanding you produce reasons for me. These reasons would be for you.

RonH

Louis,

Looks like Daryl had something else in mind: flood geology.

You seem to be saying something closer to what Meyer says. What I said above about illustrations applies here too.

In our everyday speech, information is something that involves messages, meanings, and minds.

Information theory is a branch of mathematics developed for electrical engineering. It can be usefully borrowed to study genetics.

But in information theory, a 'signal' is an arbitrary mathematical function. It is some electrical vibration; it is any electrical vibration. Its frequency content matters; its meaning does not.

In information theory, information has no meaning.

So the illustration, the implication, pushed by Meyer to lay people, that a mind is required to account for the 'information' in a genome just because information theory is useful in studying genomes is not justified.

His illustration relies on a equivocation between the everyday meaning of 'information' and the meaning of 'information' from 'information theory'.

In a way, the argument against evolution from information amounts to the claim that a mutation can't ever be good. That is a very strong claim.

RonH


Common descent undermines the historicity of Adam and Eve, and alternative interpretations leave serious theological problems.

Fear is not a good enough reason to reject any particular idea.

I clicked through, and that's basically what this article is predicated upon. "If we accept common decent, then theological proposition X crumbles, as does proposition Y, etc...."

To me, the issue here shouldn't be what doctrines would be undermined by a scientific claim like common decent, but rather, is the particular scientific claim true or not?

If it is, then that truth should set us free, as difficult as it might be to reject widely held theological systems.

RonH

"In information theory, information has no meaning."

Which serves to prove that we are not just information theory engines. We are something more since meaning is a part of our makeup. Thus, information theory is insufficient to the task of explaining US. Why not consider better tools?

RonH

"In a way, the argument against evolution from information amounts to the claim that a mutation can't ever be good. That is a very strong claim."

Maybe, but I don't hold this view. I simply say that the combination of mutation and natural selection are insufficient to explain the biodiversity we see around us, nor is it sufficient to explain its complexity. The mutations would have to be far better at introducing new useful information into the pool for that to be true. I simply don't see that. So, I don't make the kind of strong claim you refer to. Yes, some mutations can be beneficial, but simply not enough so to aid the journey from single cell to what we see in flora and fauna today. I don't think you can get from there to here this way.

Louis

"I simply say that the combination of mutation and natural selection are insufficient to explain the biodiversity we see around us, nor is it sufficient to explain its complexity."

The weight of scientific evidence is against you.

"The mutations would have to be far better at introducing new useful information into the pool for that to be true"

You need to define what you mean by information here. This is a classic canard and again flies in the face of the weight of scientific evidence.

Louis,

Which serves to prove that we are not just information theory engines. We are something more since meaning is a part of our makeup. Thus, information theory is insufficient to the task of explaining US.

The subject is not 'explaining US'. The subject is Meyer's mixing of two uses of the word 'information': the every day use and the use from 'information theory'.

RonH

Louis,

I simply say that the combination of mutation and natural selection are insufficient to explain the biodiversity we see around us, nor is it sufficient to explain its complexity. The mutations would have to be far better at introducing new useful information into the pool for that to be true. I simply don't see that.

With the words, 'insufficient', 'sufficient', and 'far better' you've made a number of quantitative claims.

You've claimed that you know how much biodiversity and complexity we see around us.

You've claimed that you know how much biodiversity and complexity mutation and natural selection CAN explain.

You've claimed the latter is less than the former.

So what are these quantities? Numbers, please.

You've claimed you know how good mutations are at introducing new useful information into the pool.

You've claimed you know how good mutations would have to be at introducing new useful information into the pool for the combination of mutation and natural selection to be sufficient to explain the biodiversity and its complexity we see around us.

You've claimed the latter goodness exceeds the former.

So what are these quantities? Numbers, please.

And

RonH

Look, mutation works in principle on existing material and alters it and then natural selection preserves that change if it is useful to the survival of the organism in some way(or if at least it is not harmful/deadly to it). I see no direct link, in the form of a clear chain of changes that resulted in the development of a new complex organ that demonstrates that this form of evolution is capable of innovation in design. The beneficial mutations that have been observed in microorganisms in response to environmental changes are minor at best and reversible when environmental changes revert to previous conditions. Such behavior would speak to the stability of genetics seeking to maintain that stability. There seems to be a kind of genetic inertia in place that is difficult to overcome. To further complicate the matter it is difficult to establish genetic links between species to any kind of degree of certainty. Since we have not actually followed the process through observation from one species (different kind of body plan) to another, we are not justified in assuming that similarities in genetics are evidence of common ancestry. That the theory so far discussed relies on mutations that have been shown to be mostly harmful to the survival of the organisms that suffer from them and thus works to move organism, not toward evolution to higher forms, but the extinction and reduction to decomposing flesh, bones and exoskeletons and if conditions permit ultimately fossils.
The observed mutations in the fruit fly follows the same pattern of the microorganisms. I won't even go into the disagreement in the evolutionary field as to how mutation and natural selection is actually supposed to work to produce the results we see. A suitable mechanism for forming new genes has yet to be demonstrated with certainty. All these factors taken as a whole seem to point to this type of evolution being inadequate to explain the road from single cell to complex organisms we see today based on existing evidence we have.

I seriously doubt that you can show that 60% of naturally occurring mutations are actually beneficial and I think the percentages would have to be higher for the number of different species that we have roaming the earth.

Peter Grice:

I would like to hear TE's (of the "guided" variety) more adequately explain where the entrance for divine action is, in specific terms that leave the evolutionary constructs intact.

How do you understand passages like Psalm 147.9?---"He [that is, God] gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry."

Louis,

I asked you for an argument supporting the road illustration.

You gave nothing.

Will you acknowledge forsaking the illustration?

RonH

And if you are inclined to argue for the illustration, please do it in terms of the fossil record - don't offer a parable.

Wondering: How are all these TEs going to reconcile science and the Resurrection tomorrow morning at church?

Fred,

Are you mocking?

RonH

RonH

I am sorry you missed it. I can fix your browser if you need me to. ;)

"I asked you for an argument supporting the road illustration.

You gave nothing."

"To further complicate the matter it is difficult to establish genetic links between species to any kind of degree of certainty. "

In the above statement you can just plug in my road illustration. You might want to take a look at the chronological distance between what are supposed to be transitional forms to get an idea of what a stretch of obscured roadway we are talking about.

Hi Louis,

it is difficult to establish genetic links

Difficult?

It is impossible to say, for any two particular fossils (species), that one was the descendant of the other.

Should you find anyone needing an illustration of this obvious fact, you are in great shape!

RonH

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