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January 18, 2007

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I read his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief." It's a great read. its still a bit surprising to me how he is so at ease with merging darwinianism and christianity. i see his work, however, as a very probable future of christianity - a time in the near future in which christians will come to accept evolution as some came to accept a spherical earth.

i mean for me, a subscription to an evolutionary framework would be the end of the ball game. but for franciss, it's just another interesting inning.


But Melinda when you say "Darwinianism is specifically a random, directionless process of natural selection. That is in contradiction to God's design"

i mean surely this isnt a great argument against darwinianism. Complex systems are only "directionless" to humans. God, however, could still be in total control. Such means would only appear directionless.

Tony,

You wrote: “Complex systems are only "directionless" to humans.”

This is false. What makes you think this? Many people of differing views believe complex systems have directions or ‘reasons for being’.

What other so-called directionless elements could really be with direction?

Tony
When you say that Melinda's assertion "Darwinianism is specifically a random, directionless process of natural selection. That is in contradiction to God's design" is not a great argument against darwinianism, you are correct, but I don't think she was offering it as such, but rather an argument against theistic evolution. If Darwinism is a purely random, mechanistic, chance collision of atoms resulting in all forms of life we see now, then such a process is incapable of "design."

I listened to an interview that Fuz Rana, Dave Rogstad, and Joe Aguirre did with Dr. Collins on October 17, 2006 which could be heard at http://www.reasons.org/resources/multimedia/rtbradio/archives_creation_update/200607-12archives.shtml
scroll down to the 10-17-06 broadcast.
The impression I got from listening to this interview was that Dr. Collins seems to think God designed life on earth to develop through evolutionary means. I don't agree with his conclusions in that respect, but it would be overly simplistic to say that evolution=darwinianism=random, mechanistic processes, therefore theistic evolution=God-directed random processes, therefore theistic evolution is self refuting.
I think theistic evolution is false, but we need to argue better.

Google "evolution random" and you will discover why we have a fundamental misconception here.

Alan
I'm not sure what the misconception is you are speaking of. While "natural selection" may not be random, darwinism appeals to a random process to generate something to be selected in the first place.

"i see his work, however, as a very probable future of christianity - a time in the near future in which christians will come to accept evolution as some came to accept a spherical earth."

FYI, it is a myth that Christian's (as a group) ever held to, let alone defended, a flat earth. While there are I believe 2 early church fathers that can be found teaching a flat earth, there was never any influential or widespread adoption of their teachings on this subject.

One of the primary sources of this "flat earth Christian's" myth comes from the historical-fiction of Washington Irving in 'The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus'. In this book he includes a totally-fictional account of Columbus facing off against flat-earth believing theologians at the Council of Salamanca (in fact, this council was debating the distance between Europe and Japan).

This myth has been propagated because it is considered an effective "proof" of the likewise mythical historic battle between the Christian faith and science (as you have used it here).

While I don't believe Darwinism is true (an open-minded look at the evidence clearly points to this), I don't believe God-directed evolution is eliminated as a possibility right from the start. God could have overseen and been actively involved in every beneficial mutution and its survival in the next generation. While this is not what people mean by evolution or Darwinism, it is still a gradual process of creation. I do not see why this possibility is eliminated a priori.

"Such means would only appear directionless."


Tony, this would mean that God was engaged in deception. It would mean that he intentionally lies to us. That may be A GOD, but it is not the God that we Christians believe in.

Louis - If I showed you some process that appears random and directionless to you, but explicitly told you that it wasn't directionless, would I be deceiving you?

Mr. Montano's comments re: Christian support for a flat earth vs. spherical earth are an oft-used generalization that has neglible basis in fact. Yes, some Christians did believe in flat earth, just as some non-Christians did. There is, however, no scriptural argument ever made for a flat earth.

Bill,

That’s a great question.

I think you wouldn’t be deceiving. If you showed me patterns in the sand and told me that the moon caused them because the moon has supernatural energy and sends the earth messages in the sand for a reason, I would think you were not deceiving but that you were deeply confused.

A better question is this: If the Bible leads Christians to believe one way; but God did something totally contradictory; is he being deceptive?

I believe this is the proper question to ask Bill.


Here is what I posted on the CT article:
"This leaves out profoundly important spiritual questions, such as why we are here, if there is a God, and what happens after we die. Those are questions that science is not really designed to answer." If God's general revelation (the natural world) cannot agree with and support his special revelation (the Bible), then "faith" has no meaning. Check out astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross's new book "Creation As Science" with its testable (old earth) creation model which demonstrates how the universe and its natural history provide ALL the answers to life's big questions. No need to go "schizophrenic", accepting what Francis Schaeffer called the upper/lower story split, in order to accommodate the theory of evolutionism. (Also check out Ross's organization Reasons To Believe at reasons.org.)

Great posts and good comments.

I understand why Melinda said that monotheism and darwinian evolution are incompatible, but I disagree. Darwinian Evolution claims that it's possible for the entire variety of life to have come about by chance; monotheism says that nothing comes about by chance. Those are not contradictory statements! Consider the statement that it's possible to roll a six on a standard, fair die by chance (obviously true); and yet it's also possible (assuming monotheism) for God to control the outcome and make a six come up when it serves His purposes.

I don't believe in theistic evolution because I don't think darwinian evolution is supported by the historical evidence or by the testimony of the Bible, but there is no /a priori/ contradiction between the two.

Were I God, I would think it pretty cool to whip up a universe or so based on this or that unifying principle, turn things loose and see what happens. Having to fine tune everything from blue-green algae to East African Plains Apes - not so cool.

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2005-3_archives/000570.html


Perhaps the need for a Supreme being with a plan for us is based more on our psychological needs then anything else.

http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20061222-000001.xml

"Perhaps the need for a Supreme being with a plan for us is based more on our psychological needs then anything else"
And maybe asserting, contrary to all arguments and evidence, that any effect can be greater than it's cause, is more based on denial than anything else.
Fortunately for the universe, Alan you are NOT God, and perhaps even more fortunately, neither am I.

Why am I here? How did the world around me get here? What happens when I die?

Perhaps some posting here have never heard these questions or even asked them.

One answer has it that you and the world are here by random events. And by the way, you're not anything really special, you've got better bag of tricks than those apes and algae but thats about it. So that being the case why should anyone take time out when you die, you're just dead. Oh, and if you died because you were shot for not having enough money in your pocket to give to the person holding the gun, that's just a tough break since its survival of the fittest, you know.

Now that point of view makes me want to get up in the morning!

Kevin,

>> Tony you wrote: “Complex systems are only "directionless" to humans.” This is false. What makes you think this?

because god knows the direction of ever particle's path and possible path.

daniel,

>> If Darwinism is a purely random, mechanistic, chance collision of atoms resulting in all forms of life we see now, then such a process is incapable of "design."

nah. god could have just designed the collisions.

even if you don't believe in evolution, you DO believe that god designs collisions of atoms. or else how did he part the atoms in the red sea?

Denis,

ok you got me there. that was a crappy analogy i gave.

>> Oh, and if you died because you were shot for not having enough money in your pocket to give to the person holding the gun, that's just a tough break since its survival of the fittest, you know. Now that point of view makes me want to get up in the morning!

the issue is if this view is true or not. not if it's mean.

Louis,

"Such means would only appear directionless." Tony, this would mean that God was engaged in deception. It would mean that he intentionally lies to us. That may be A GOD, but ..."

His ways are not of your ways.


Tony,

You’re missing the substance of your statement.

>> you wrote: “Complex systems are only "directionless" to humans.”

I said this is false. What makes you think this?

>> you then replied: “because god knows the direction of ever particle's path and possible path.”

But Tony, this does not mean complex systems are “directionless to humans.” It just doesn’t follow. Which systems? I mean, the Coca-Cola bottling system and the Netflix shipping and receiving systems are complex; but hardly directionless.

I think the misconception here is looking at each aspect of Darwinianism (i.e. macro-evolution) in isolation. The question is NOT does natural selection produce X, or can random events produce design. Rather the question is can "nature" (i.e. the natural world acting on purely natural law) bring about the conditions for complex life to exist? If the answer to this question is no, as I believe it is, then something or someone else must be the cause.

Furthermore, I disagree with Mr. Aronson (and Dr. Collins for that matter) that for God to use evolution makes better sense than being directly involved in the process by fine tuning everything. Theistic evolution in my opinion diminishes the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent view of God such that He had to use a wasteful process in order to create that which He purposed for His glory.

"Theistic evolution in my opinion diminishes the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent view of God such that He had to use a wasteful process in order to create that which He purposed for His glory."

Not to mention it totally conflicts with God's clear revelation in Scripture.

Alan said "Were I God, I would think it pretty cool to whip up a universe or so based on this or that unifying principle, turn things loose and see what happens."

I think you have already ;-)

Tony, I think you would enjoy and benefit spending some time on the Reasons to Believe website (reasons.org) and looking at some of their resources.
I believe it would help you, (as well as anyone esle for that matter) understand the current scientific discoveries and data and how they relate (or don't relate) to the Christian worldview.
Spend some time grappling with the evidences and assertions in Creator and the Cosmos, Origins of Life, Who was Adam, Creation as Science. This can help put us in a better place to draw some metaphysical conclusions. Anyway, give it a thought.

"the issue is if this view is true or not. not if it's mean."

?

Tony,

I never said anything about "mean". I was attempting to capture the essence of the progressive, Darwinist perspective on the world around us.

kevin,

huh. i dont see what you're getting at. try to model something simple like a shaking bucket full of sand or something assumedly complex like the purported primordial soup in which amino acids became one celled organisms.

in either example, god knows how the cookie is gonna crumble as my mom used to say.

i dont see exactly what you are taking issue with. are you perhaps attacking the def of complexity - for which there is no definition but i thought i would leave that out for this thread. or are you referring to arguments about the quantum state? better help me out a little here. but i get on a plane for Bali in 2 hours so i probably wont see it for a while

john,

ya you listed the ramifications of believing in a godless universe.

i agree that they totally suck and that they actually depress me quite a bit.

but you didnt argue or add anything to the discourse except to say that if darwin is right then the universe sucks.

i totally agree

Tony,

No, I described an environment devoid of any hope.

What gets you up and on your way in the morning?

"ya you listed the ramifications of believing in a godless universe.

i agree that they totally suck and that they actually depress me quite a bit."

Contemplating the existence of a God is far more depressing if we are the best he can do. If we aren't then He has a very strange business ethic or sense of humor in releasing Human 1.0.

Tony, God or no God, you are headed for Bali. When you are alive you go to Bali and when you are dead you won't know it, so why the angst?

john, alan,

i'm in malaysia now in transit. Woo hoo this is the first airport i've been in with free wifi. kickass

anyway, what got me up this morning is my trip to bali.

ultimately however, one morning I may not have much to live for and yes that makes me sad and, at some point, devoid of hope.

alan i have angst cuz if me and you are wrong we go to hell forever. And the thing about hell, well, it's worse than california! as woody alan said

Tony, turns out hell isn't so bad and if you make heaven, you wind up spending eternity with Saddam Hussein and a bunch of Mormons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_the_Handicapped_Go_to_Hell%3F
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probably_%28South_Park%29

Seriously, if all you wing up with are the equivalent of a few hundred thousand parking violations, do you believe you wind up spending eternity backstroking with Hitler and Stalin in the lake of fire?

well ya thats what the bible says

"Seriously, if all you wind up with are the equivalent of a few hundred thousand parking violations..."

It is very, very easy for us (ALL of us) to minimize our own sin, while maximizing that of others. What you may see as being a "parking violation" is still a willful defiance against God, which He takes very seriously.

Alan, I understand you sentiment, and if it were up to me, I'd probably let you "skate by" with your "parking violations" and make it in. The problem is that it isn't my heaven, and I don't get to decide. Whether you (or I) like the standard or not doesn't really matter -- God has made it what it is, and your choices are to pay your penalty yourself, or let Christ do it.

Hi Alan

It just seems to make sense that if God does exist (which I think is most probable)
he would bring about justice in the end.

That's what hell is. It is where justice takes place.

The apostle John describes it like this:
"And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books."

Are you ready to be judged, by the law of God, according to your works?

sincerely,
Todd

Sorry guys, I look at this - "Gadahn wrote of a yawning emptiness, and he sought ways “to fill that void.” - and really think the thing to do with such feelings - and I rank a sense of being a sinner among them - is to cultivate a Scrooge-like perspective - "“You don’t believe in me,” observed the Ghost.
“I don’t,” said Scrooge.
“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?”
”I don’t know,” said Scrooge.
“Why do you doubt your senses?”
”Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than grave about you, whatever you are.”

The intensity of such feeling is no doubt in inverse proportion to the likelihood that acting upon them will benefit the actor.

Had Mr. Gadahn and his co-religionists had the discipline to see his "void" as something not to be pursued, the world would be a better place. All in all, most of us lead lives of unremarkable evil, worth, at best (worst?), a little community service (Purgatory?).

Thanks Paul, I would certainly let you skate, but aren't you bothered a little that you see yourself as more merciful than your God? If there is a God, I would prefer to think his better angels superior to yours or mine.

How do you have a perfectly holy/righteous/just God if He doesn't punish Sin?

And as far as mercy goes, none of it is deserved. But once upon a time there was this bloke named Jesus Christ...

Hi Alan

"All in all most of us lead lives of unremarkable evil..."

What is your standard for calling something evil and where does it come from?

What if the unborn really are human beings and your support of abortion actually contributes to the killing of innocent human beings?

Don't kid yourself Alan, we have done all kinds of stuff and are capable of much worse.

Think of it this way, what would heaven look like, if we, in the state we are in, were to inhabit it?

sincerely,
Todd

Alan wrote: "Thanks Paul, I would certainly let you skate, but aren't you bothered a little that you see yourself as more merciful than your God?"

A fair response, and one that I had already considered. I'm not sure I would label myself as "more merciful" -- I think "less concerned with holiness and justice" would be more accurate. In case that sounds like a good thing, let me be clear: it's not. I have a feeling my desire for a "less holy/just" God stems from my desire to have my own sin ignored. I count it as spiritual immaturity (on my part).

I wanted to add one thing, that seems to be ignored whenever God is criticized for being "not merciful enough," and that is that God provided a way of escape from judgement, and that is through Christ. Was that not enough? Was the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf not the ultimate act of mercy?

Our problem is that we are too arrogant, and we either want to be able to work out our own salvation, and/or not be required to relenquish any control to God.

"Randomness and design don't mix." ??? Couldn't this be seen as the basis for any gambling machine or pinball game design?

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