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« Theistic Evolution? Designed by Chance | Main | From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America »

April 21, 2010


@ Francis

"Odd. What if we evolved in such a way that we cannot get used to it. That is, it is easy to imagine that our survival depends on our having doubts about evolution."

I'd say that's true. We have evolved the propensity to believe religious things and reject even scientific claims that contradict those religious things. I'm a naturalist, but it's true that I'm the product of evolution and have developed such that I will hold to some false beliefs. Maybe many false beliefs. So I'm not immune to this problem either.

"On the other hand, if you believe evolution is the truth, then why should one accept that truth?"

My answer is that things seem to work better when we embrace truth and reject falsity. People seem to be happier. Humans seem to become more capable of accomplishing helpful things by accepting truth.

But if this is unacceptable to you, for instance if it is just too depressing and you'd kill yourself or something, then I wouldn't tell you to believe truth. Believe what you need to believe to survive. Experience shows though that while you may think you are doing yourself a favor rejecting the truth and embracing the myth, social sciences seem to suggest that you'd be happier dealing with the temporary pain involved in rejecting superstition.



"From your amusing website:
"The cross is more than an ancient symbol of an ancient religion." Quite. Its a symbol of torture. Had you not realised that?
And you obviously dont know what is meant by a deist god."

Of course I know what deism is, I am surrounded by them. I live among them and work among them One was present while my father lay dying of a stroke, who said "god, whoever or whatever god is, is not interested in the affairs of mankind.". I think that sums up deism pretty well. God could have set it all in motion, and then "let her rip" so to speak. The question is whether or not the evidence supports that.

Yes, you are indeed correct. The cross is indeed emblematic of torture; all the more when used against the innocent, like Jesus and countless (millions?) today.

Thank you for visiting my website. If you have not already, you may be interested in an email exchange I had with a skeptic. Too bad you chose the adjective "amusing". If you disagree with things there, I welcome reasoning through those things. But I do not think that I in any way suggested that crucifixion is funny. Neither have I misrepresented those with whom I disagree in the many articles I have there.

"Again, feel free to state clearly how you are using the term 'Darwinism' and perhaps then we can talk about how Darwinism as defined relates to evolution and whether or not it entails naturalism."

My understanding of Darwinian thought derives from his "autobiography", and "The Descent of Man". To wit, random mutation occurs and nature selects certain of those biological products for survival, which in time results in adaptability and ultimately new species. The process is unguided. I do not like the "natural selection" language because it personifies that which is not in any way personal or deliberate, even if you argue causality from it (i.e. even random forces in nature which "select" can be said to be "causal' in some sense). "Selection" indicates deliberate, which is not possible in undirected non intelligent processes. Darwin insisted that small changes had to happen over time and that nothing could, by that reality, suddenly appear. His entire theory hinges on things that can only happen if there is an already existing biological entity to act upon. By definition, his own theory is rules out of ultimate "origins" because natural selection cannot create ex nihilo and so something else accounts for the beginning of it all. But if something else accounts for getting it all started, then his theory is inadequate to explain anything more than that from of evolution which has been proven, and that is that species adapt within species resulting in great variety of species within the species. But that cannot be extrapolated out for new species for the reasons I mentioned-you need a starter. Darwin assumed the simplicity of a bio-chemical world he was ignorant of. He would no doubt be a leading exponent of intelligent design theory today, as I think he was actually intellectually honest, albeit uninformed in areas that he could not have know about.

Patrick, I'd suggest you read this paper by a creation biologist. He attempts to deal honestly with the genomics data for humans and chimps, and goes into detail about why 'common design' is not an explanation for it, except in an ad hoc way (eg. "God just made it like that").

If you really want to grapple with it further, I'd recommend this talk by an evangelical biologist given at the American Scientific Affiliation meeting at Baylor last year. The other parts are each linked successively below.

Hi Todd.

"That sounds good, but the problem we are seeing right now, is that people find meaning in their life in ways that are truly destructive and wrong. For example, people going into a crowed market, and blowing other people up."

Yes and these are people that subscribe to your eternal meaning worldview, not my temporal meaning view.

A lot of people in America derive meaning from their wealth and power. This leads them to conquer foreign nations to control their resources. In the process they kill a lot of people. Some Muslims respond in kind, killing far fewer than Christian Americans do. I disapprove of both behaviors, but I just want to throw that out there. The meager Muslim response to the extensive US terror is all people notice for some reason.

Clinton killed tens of thousands by bombing a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan because impoverished people were deprived of medicines. Nobody remembers. OBL killed 3000 on 9/11. The world will never forget. Why is that? Because the victims on 9/11 were wealthy white people. Clinton's victims are poor black people. That explains the difference.

Hi Jon

I don't believe Stalin had an eternal or religious world view, and he killed millions.

Hi Ron

Good question, I'm short on time, I'll have to get back to you on that

"By what criteria can you decide which are history and which are not? For evolution, there is evidence. So maybe you don't think Eve was made from Adam's rib. But what about other odd events for which the Bible is the only evidence. How will you decide about those?"

Well I think to answer that question, I have to start with God's existence.

God exists.

If God exists, I see no problem with supernatural events.

I see no problem with God stepping into History.

Besides that, I take each story in the Bible one at a time. Having a sense of how History was recorded helps too. Some, I'm not sure about.

The most critical event, Jesus' resurrection, has pretty good evidence.

Finally, having experienced the supernatural makes believing in miracles more easy.

There is a proverb that states: "The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit"

So who can actually fix a broken spirit? Where do you go to fix a broken spirit?

Yet: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise." PS 51:17

and sure enough: Jesus states: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "out of his heart will flow rivers of living water"

Living water Ron.

But of course, just like Israel in the desert, I often head back to Egypt.


If an event is 'critical' does that make it more likely that the Bible is right about it?


Hi Ron

No. But there is good evidence for the resurrection.

We don't need to have a lot of back and forth about this but I can't let that go unchallenged: I don't consider that evidence good.

For instance, though apologists often refer to the Gospels as 'eyewitness evidence' their origins are not well established. Not well at all. And the origins of the Gospels is crucial to their interpretation.

I think the origins are murky enough to justify doubting all the odd claims - like the resurrection.


Hi Ron

No problem, we will just agree to disagree.


" By my life is meaningful to me and to my loved ones right now. That's meaning too."

Nope. There is only one way to add meaning to life and I will illustrate it this way. If I told you a story and you were convinced that it contained absolute truth, it would have more meaning to you than if you were convinced it was all bold-faced-lies and fabrications and deceptions. Take that example and apply it to life. The bible tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God, but it is also impossible to find any meaning in life without pleasing Him, because absolute faith in the absolute truth makes your life flowing over with "meaningful".

Louis, I think it may be that we are defining "meaning" differently. For me meaning is a subjective assessment regarding the worth of your life. For me a Muslim could spend his life helping people in poverty and worship his God and feel like what he did was worthwhile and thus he would have had a meaningful life. Someone else could derive their subjective meaning from pleasure only. They could live for pleasure and die saying it was worthwhile to them. Someone else might be despondent and feel like there was nothing worthwhile in their life and so they would have no meaning.

From the atheist perspective these are temporal but still meaningful. Koukl makes an illegitimate logical leap in claiming that since there is no eternal meaning there is no temporal meaning.

You seem to define meaning as purpose related to faith in your specific God. OK. If that's what meaning means I guess only Christians have meaning. That's not a standard definition though and I think Koukl's point assumes a different definition.

Evolution is a simple concept that simply says that children will share attributes with there parents. This concepts lets us breed hundreds of different types of dogs and cats. In the case of dogs and cats humans played the part of nature. We decided it would be only the dogs that with a particular trait would survive. So we can have things like miniature poodles or dogs with really good since of smell for hunting.

If you are looking for something that has completely changed form look into corn. Humans have been breeding corn for so long it no longer even looks like its original plant nor can corn survive in the wild; it is incapable of growing from seed without human help.

What is called Darwinism is nothing more then the idea that environment also selects traits in animals. Not consciously but in a way that if there is little water then animals that can live with little water or ones that can find or know were to look for water survive.

A scientific theory is an idea that ties a lot of evidence together and has yet to be disproved. It is not an attack on morality or religion. Its is only an idea. Be careful you don't attack people looking for truth.

After all why are you Christians?


>>"If you are looking for something that has completely changed form look into corn."

Yeah, but it's still corn Neil. (Or maze if you prefer.)

And all the changes you purport were manipulated by an intelligence...not by chance/nature.

>>"After all why are you Christians?"

We all need an defense attorney for our sin debt. Jesus is the only one who can provide the debt relief.

I take it you didn't look into corn. You want answers about evolution but refuse to look into the evidence and the idea which explains why that evidence is there. Its only looking for truth and that is all. The fact that people take an idea as a slight directed towards there belief structure shows how insecure they are about what they believe.

>>"The fact that people take an idea as a slight directed towards there belief structure shows how insecure they are about what they believe."

Wow,...I don't feel slighted at all.

I just think your corn example is inadequate,...

>>"Evolution is a simple concept that simply says that children will share attributes with there parents."

Do you find that a lot of people agree with you about that?

Your notions seem a bit naive to me. Sorry. And by the verbiage in your post, it appears to me like you are the one who feels a bit slighted. I could be wrong.
Either way, I didn't intend to slight you if that is really the case.

My notion is simply that evolution is an idea that has nothing to do with religion.

I gave very simple examples that a lot of people can relate with. I am not confused when it comes to evolution. It is a tool that helps us(humans)determine things about our world. We know that if you take a fish out of water it will die do to the vast change in its environment.( sorry for the simple examples of evolution but anyone who really wants to know in depth information about it can easy find that information)

But it would seem many people want evolution to explain the very creation of life.

In the end we cant go back in time and know for sure how any thing actually comes to pass.

If someone thinks that because of an idea that attempts to explain how life changes over time in the world somehow translates into life having no meaning(Bases of this thread) needs to reexamine there beliefs. In my eyes they are trying to say they understands the will of God. When science examines Gods world. If someone believes that evolution is absolutely wrong then the science community would welcomes them to learn the theory, find evidence that shows it does not work in the manner described in the theory, then rewrite the theory to be more accurate. The understanding of the world will be better because of you.

I believe that using God as an excuse to spreed hate of what someone doesn't understand is an insult to God and shows a lack of faith in His authority, and an insecurity in ones belief of God.

>>Your notions seem a bit naive to me. Sorry. And by the verbiage in your post, it appears to me like you are the one who feels a bit slighted. I could be wrong.
Either way, I didn't intend to slight you if that is really the case.

I welcome people defeating my argument for my own beliefs become stronger with everything new i learn.

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