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July 15, 2015

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David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto have come up with a new paradigm called Constructor Theory, which attempts to integrate information (not just Shannon information, but real semantic content) into the laws of physics.
See http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.7439, http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.5563 and http://xxx.tau.ac.il/abs/1407.0681v1 for some technical articles on the subject. The last one is of particular interest, as the title of the paper is "Constructor Theory of Life", and the short abstract reads

Neo-Darwinian evolution theory explains how organisms with their appearance of purposive design came into existence without being designed. The centrepiece of the explanation is a physical object, the gene, and the processes it undergoes: mainly, replication and natural selection. The compatibility of that theory with the laws of physics has been challenged, by claims that self-reproduction of living cells, essential to gene replication, is incompatible with quantum theory. Wigner, notably, argued that it would require design-bearing laws of physics. Here I show that self-reproduction is compatible with no-design laws of physics, in particular with quantum theory, by expressing self-reproduction, replication and the appearance of design clearly within physics, using the recently proposed constructor theory. I also show that aside from sufficient resources such as time and energy, the only requirement on the laws of physics for evolution to be possible is that they permit digital information.

I've only just started reading the papers, and so I am no expert (just a humble QFT Christian physicist :) ), but I wonder where this will go.

Dr. Craig, and you, are just plain wrong when you say evolution is believed (My use of this word should not be construed as an acknowledgement by me that evolution requires any kind of faith. I use it, as I think you did, colloquially to indicate a general understanding and acceptance of evolution.) for philosophical and not scientific reasons.

Furthermore, it's a ridiculous assertion to say that relying on methodological naturalism is a problem. If all these high-powered, evolution-rejecting scientists can prove the existence of a supernatural realm, they, and you, would be in a much better position. Until then, yes, supernatural explanations should be ignored for the purposes of science.

I'm going to assume that you have had some exposure to the evidence for evolution and you reject it. But I will challenge you to read "Why Evolution is True" by Coyne if you haven't already. In return, I offer to read a book of your choosing on the topic. Then we can discuss or not as you wish.

There are many more references I could provide, of course, but I'll keep it simple. At least for now.

As for Craig's second point, I suppose the word can have different meanings in different contexts. But I think I would say evolution includes all the things that Craig suggested. It is descent from a common ancestor. It is the process by which this happens. It is the mechanism for that process. It is all these things. And that doesn't detract from the evidence for it.

Here's my question for you. Is there a spiritual problem for you if evolution is true? Many Christians believed in geocentrism because of literal interpretations of certain Bible passages. As a serious theory, this no longer has any currency. Yet, Christianity remains. Is your position that if evolution is true, Christianity is false?

@Chip
You might want to go over to www.biologos.org to see how some Christians (many of whom are professional scientists) think about evolution and Christianity, and how to integrate the two.

The issue with methodological naturalism is not that it assumes or restricts itself to only natural causes. There could be no reliable evaluation or recreation of results otherwise. However, there is a fallacious jump from assuming that a supernatural cause is not in play to ruling out the possibility that a supernatural cause CAN EXIST. This cannot and should not be completely eliminated. Doing so would be to eliminate an entire possible route to truth.

To Adam Graham,

Science, if it is honest, never fully eliminates any possibilities. ALL knowledge is provisional. You are free to consider the idea that a supernatural cause is the reason for our existence. But a really good first step toward showing this would be to show that some supernatural cause exists for something. I'm not aware of any evidence for this. In fact, there seems to be evidence AGAINST this proposition. (See this to start with. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567)

Considering the lack of measurable, repeatable evidence for the supernatural, it is only reasonable and efficient, and NOT fallacious, to work as if the supernatural did not exist. It's like no one has tried. Many people have. With zero results. If someone can come up with a method that proves the supernatural, great. Otherwise, you are offering nothing of substance.

Chip

To Victoria,

Are you saying you accept evolution? Regardless, perhaps your comment should be directed at Mr. Barnett and not me. I am not interested in reconciling evolution and Christianity. Given that I don't believe in theism of any stripe, it is, frankly, not my problem.

Chip

Hi Chip, am I safe to consider that you are a materialist....or do you allow another metric outside of science (methodological naturalism) as legitimate field of inquiry that yeilds knowledge? Sorry I dont have time right now to check your reference..I will track that down later. This is in regards to the denial sufficient reason toward theism as necessary.

This is all pretty boring.

Not much of an OP.

The article merely describes that there is a growing consensus among evolutionary biologists (full blooded naturalists) that the thing we call the "Neo-Darwinian Paradigm" (a gene mutates + a gene gets selected) is emerging as underpowered to account for what we find today. Other mechanisms are thus sought and pontificated on, and so on. Neo-Neo-Devo will be forced to replace the underpowered Neo-Darwinian line.

So that's one thing.

That's not really news though.

Not to any objective set of eyes. Theists tend to be more objective about these things... less fearful of data, hence they saw this "adjustment" coming decades ago. For some though that concession, that adjustment, has been curiously resisted.... for generations now.... which looks almost dishonest given the facts.

So that's two things.

Empericism of the Humean variety and flavors of positivism then add to the Materialist's problem.

So that's three things.

So, basically, this is all old hat.

Did we really need this OP?

Probably not for those three observations.


1) The only game in town emerging as an underpowered mechanism. 2) Intellectual fear (at best) or intellectual dishonesty (at worst). 3) Self-negating truth claims.


The technical term for that holy trio is "philosophical naturalism".

Brad B.,

I suppose you could call me a materialist. I see no evidence for a supernatural realm or beings, life after death, etc. So, that leaves the natural. Evidence seems to be mounting for physical explanations of thought and consciousness, emotions, etc. as well.

So as that relates to our knowledge of the natural world, I would say science is our only option and that it seems to work pretty well. I'm not sure I fully understand your last sentence, but if you're asking whether I think knowledge about a supernatural realm can be gained by a means other than science...

I don't KNOW that a supernatural realm doesn't exist. I base my conclusion on what I've learned, read, experienced, including experiments specifically trying to determine the answer. If a way to demonstrate a supernatural realm is possible outside of science, the only way it would be worthwhile is if that method can also reliably transfer that knowledge to other people. I'm open to this possibility but I can't imagine what it might entail (outside of science). Do you have a method in mind?

I'm speaking off the cuff here. But does that answer your question?

I suppose I could also reverse the question and ask you (and Tim Barnett) if you think science is a reliable path to knowledge about the natural world. Do you?

But then no one (looking especially at you, Tim) has yet attempted to answer the question from my first post. You could tackle that one if you want, too.

Chip

"The technical term for that holy trio is "philosophical naturalism"."

Hi scbrownlhrm, I would be lying if I told you I didn't laugh... Also, I pretty much agree with your whole post.

Hi Chip, yes to your question...if something similar to Darwinism or a Neo Darwinian schema is true, Christianity is necessarily false.

That aside, I infer from what you've written so far that your entrenched in your religion scientism far more than most Christians are in theirs. I doubt seriously that you live by/within the boundries of your worldview and right off the starting line your worldview cannot account for its own foundational principles without contradiciton.

...."you're" entrenched

If Darwin’s assumptions are true (necessarily), is Theism false (necessarily)? Well of course. If the totality of actuality is blind cascades of particles (necessarily), is Christianity false (necessarily)? Well of course. There’s just no lesson there that we can take away which has anything to do with the many-layered (plural) definitional construct of that equivocal word “evolution”. If we go to our lab and build a man, does that mean God is dead? Not at all. Equivocal words don’t have much utility.

Chip, check out the arguments put forth by Frank Turek in his book Stealing From God concerning how the materialistic worldview is self-defeating.

@Chip,

"I see no evidence for a supernatural realm or beings, life after death, etc."

Your denial of evidence was predicted 2000 years ago by Paul. Read Romans 1:19-22.


"So, that leaves the natural. Evidence seems to be mounting for physical explanations of thought and consciousness, emotions, etc. as well."

So you believe in a deterministic universe then? In that case, you said what you said solely because of chemical and physical laws, not reason or rationale.

Chip: see the arguments from Craig for fine-tuning and the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Both of these arguments are philosophical but rely on scientific data to make their case.

If you are looking for laboratory proof that God exists, then you are crazy. Since God is a metaphysical being, we cannot prove God's existence in a lab with a hypothesis. We can only observe nature and the physical world, and think about reality, in order to find evidence for God.

There is tons of evidence for God's existence, and it's clear by your post that you are making rookie mistakes in epistemology. Most philosophers throughout history believe there is a metaphysical component to reality, even atheist philosophers.

Oh Chip and to answer your question. No, there is not a spiritual problem if evolution is true, at least for me. The crux of Christianity is whether or not Jesus resurrected from the dead. Also, I have known biology professors that are Christians and believe in macroevolution (that all life descended from a lower organisms) and some that didn't. All believed in microevolution. Each one of them had their scientific arguments for and against macroevolution. It might change the way I think about the first 11 chapter of Genesis, but overall, it really wouldn't change much for me.

The Neo-Darwinian Paradigm is now recognized as insufficient by Naturalists.

But *if* it's true, is that a problem for Theism?

Well, yes, of course, if one means the *paradigm*.

If *that* is true.

But it's not true, and, even the Neo-Darwinian mechanism *fails*.

Why even ask the question?

No need to just "grant" a conclusion. That was the mistake that was made in the case of the Neo-Darwinian "grant".

Equivocal terms are entirely useless.

If *what* is true, then is it the case that *what* is false?

(Gene + Mutation + Selection) and (Theism)?

Not at all, obviously.

The Theist saw that adjustment coming decades ago.

If *what* is true.....? If *what* is false?

And so on.

Of course, as already noted, should we build a man in our lab, such fails to grant the necessary finances to philosophical Naturalism's many troubles. Well, not without financing it with what ends up as a fully pyrrhic grant.

pyr·rhic

ˈpirik/

adjective

(of a victory) won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor.

I would quibble over terms in a way that, I think, highlights the problem. Methodilogical naturalism is the only way you can do "science" because we can only measure physical things. However, going from "science can only measure physical things" to "therefore a naturlistic explanation must exist" is a jump to philosophical naturalism that is unwarranted and self-refuting. But if you're committed to the existance of a "natural" cause, no explanation is crazier than a supernatural cause.

@Chip

You argue that scientists need to prove God's existence in order to allow creation to even be considered scientifically. But this limitation itself is defeating. If, for the sake of scientific theory, you allow for the existence of God, then creation is vastly more plausible than creation. If creation is the most likely cause of the universe, then that is a proof for God's existence. The point being, if you eliminate all the evidences for the existence of God, you will find no evidence. Creation itself IS the greatest scientific evidence for God. Your argument is backwards.

" Even if all the scientific evidence pointed away from evolution and towards intelligent design, they would still need to cling to the theory of evolution because it’s the only possible naturalistic explanation."

This is not true. The designer need not be a deity. There's always "super-advanced aliens". That of course begs the question "well how did the aliens come to be?" but it at least answers the question of human origins.

It is worthwhile to consider the heirarchy...a necessary logically necessary order for coherency. You simply cant just do methodological naturalism without prior tools that it doesnt provide for itself. This is an error repeated without end by everyone that a priori rules out supernaturalism as they construct a worldview without the Divine Logos as starting point....no other worldview answers all of the necessary presuppositions to live a comprehensively cohernt life as humans.

First, Dr. Craig points outs that the mainstream acceptance of the theory of evolution is not for scientific reasons; it’s accepted for philosophical reasons.

Why describe this as Craig pointing something out?

It seems to me Craig is just making an unsupported claim.

Anyway there are, in fact, numerous scientific evidences that support evolution over design - evidences that don't depend on methodological naturalism.

If Craig or the OP were to understand these evidences and refute them, then he would be in a position to make the claim and defend it.

Then, there's the unsupported claim implicit here

A common question that comes up after I give my talk titled Why I Am Not an Evolutionist is, “If there are so many good scientific arguments against evolution, why is it so widely believed?”

What are these 'good scientific arguments against evolution'?


Evolution (and by that term I mean the change in alleles in the genetic pool and all that that entails) is so firmly established as fact that only the blind or willfully ignorant can deny it. Evolution is demonstrated in the fossil record, in DNA, in embryology, and in geographic diversity. There are so many areas of study that confirm evolution that it's pointless to argue against it, yet theists do because they understand what is at stake. Evolution eliminates the idea of sin, a Fall, the origin of life and death, and the idea of a creator god. Theistic evolutionists are trying to walk the fence: a fence that is actually a razor.

Seriously, go read some real science books and you'll understand why evolution is so widely believed, or rather, why evolution is so widely accepted as true. Here are a few good ones:

Why Evolution is True - Jerry Coyne
Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters - Stephen Prothero
Endless Forms Most Beautiful - Sean Carroll
Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA - Daniel Faribanks

If you read these, you will have a solid understanding of all the reasons why evolution is a fact. If you don't want to educate yourself, then please stop asking questions like "Why is evolution so widely believed?" and expect people to take you seriously. If I don't know something, I educate myself about it by reading or listening to experts on the subject. What are you so afraid of?

A common question that comes up after I give my talk titled Why I Am Not an Evolutionist is, “If there are so many good scientific arguments against evolution, why is it so widely believed?”

Is this talk available online somewhere? I'd like to watch it to see what good scientific arguments against evolution there are. I don't know if any, but I know many scientific arguments in favor of it.

This is not meant as a criticism, but is an honest question. Why should I trust a non-scientist's scientific arguments over a scientist's scientific arguments? I wouldn't trust my piano tuner to diagnose the rattling in my car's engine. So why should anything WLC has to say about evolution be regarded as more trustworthy than someone like Richard Dawkins? I know you may not like Dawkins, but doesn't his educated opinion on evolution carry more weight than a philosopher's like WLC?

RonH, Aaron,

BUT FOR one thing.

That being this: Most Naturalists said the same thing about (A Gene Mutates + A Gene Gets Selected) as sufficiently powered.

And it clearly wasn't for factual reasons.

Evo-Devo and other reaches emerge, necessarily, making adjustments in what is "enough".

The Theist pointed out said need of said adjustment all along, not reading into the data.

The Naturalist's track record is one of about 50 to 100 years of reading into the evidence on that fundamental claim of "enough".


So, again, we have the holy trio.

1) No demonstrable mechanism for cell to man nor for dirt to cell.

2) An undeniable track record of intellectual dishonesty.

3) Self-negating truth claims.

Now, as JBer stated and as Feser's link noted, and as many state, granting the Naturalist his, say, fish to man, isn't problematic for the Christian.

Dirt to Man is the fact of the matter.

What then is the motive for our demand for demonstrable mechanisms?

Two simple things:

1) The Naturalist's terrible track record of his (yet still) holy trio.

2) All of us merely want to know the actual mechanisms. Period. Easy. We're curious. We don't care what fits a priori commitments because nothing there matters as far as Christianity goes, hence we've no need to tweek the data as many naturalists have clearly done.


That's it.


Because of *THAT*, and for no other reason, the Naturalist has forfeited the right to the margins which charity might otherwise have afforded him.

So, we need the demonstrable. Because we're genuinly curious.

On the bench top. Because we genuinely want to know the facts, rather than that which is "read into" the data.

We want to build a Man in the lab.

Then, once we've done that, don't be surprised at Feser's essay which was linked to earlier.

For my fellow Christians here, I'd like to add to Aaron's suggestions - go over to Biologos.org and read Dennis Venema's series on Evolution - Dennis is a Christian biologist with expertise in evolutionary biology - he accepts the evolutionary paradigm as the inference to the best explanation so far for the empirical data(of course as a Christian, he doesn't buy into Philosophical Naturalism). I learned a lot about modern evolutionary theory from his series.


This is one of those threads where I am kind of in the middle - I accept the current provisional scientific understanding of the formational history of the universe( astrophysics/cosmology, at the level of a professional physicist ) and life on Earth ( the data of evolutionary biology, as a second-hand scholar ), but like Dennis, don't accept the metaphysical interpretations of Philosophical Naturalism on the science.

In my experience, scientists are usually right about the scientific facts in their own disciplines - Dawkins knows evolutionary biology well - from what I've read of his writings that touch on physics, he is just plain wrong.

Philosophers may not have the same level of expertise in a given discipline as a trained scientist, but they have the advantage of taking a step back from the science and looking at the larger picture, and thinking about things in a different way. Scientists are not always good philosophers. In fact, in Quantum Field Theory, we use the Standard Model, which is based on the mathematics of Lagrangian Quantized Gauge Field Theory and Lorentz co-variance, but it is the philosophers of physics and mathematicians who are working on the foundational issues of QFT and its interpretations ( a good review here ).

The key thing to remember is that scientific facts and metaphysical interpretations imposed on those facts are two different things - science books written for non-scientists often don't explicitly distinguish between the two, and non-specialists don't always have the expertise to tell the difference, or even if something the writer has said is just plain wrong or misleading.

The other thing to watch out for in books written for the non-specialist - the authors usually have a metaphysical point to make, or in some cases, an axe to grind (which is worse).

What I find a little amusing about this discussion is that Craig (at least as far as I understand) is open to evolution (in terms of common descent) being true. I think he's just making some observations about the state of the science here, in response to the questions he was asked. Consider the second question-- if evolution is true, why isn't Genesis written differently? Craig gives a fair response that maybe science wasn't the intended subject to be conveyed by the author of Genesis.

Victoria and Austin make two points which seem to tie, exactly, into what Craig’s actual discontent is driving at.

It’s not about evolution (even if it is a fuzzy word).

It never has been. The Theist can take it or leave it, mechanistically speaking. As many Christians note, granting the Naturalist his, say, fish to man, isn't problematic for the Christian. Dirt to Man is the fact of the matter.

Rather, it’s about intellectual honesty where the facts are concerned. The Naturalist really ought to try believing the Christian when he tells him such things and that may help him avoid falling into the misinformed step of making all of the stereotypical mischaracterizations of Christians which we’ve seen in this thread.

The issue for the Theist is captured nicely by three quotes from this thread:

First:

“Philosophers may not have the same level of expertise in a given discipline as a trained scientist, but they have the advantage of taking a step back from the science and looking at the larger picture, and thinking about things in a different way. “ (Victoria)

Secondly:

“What I find a little amusing about this discussion is that Craig (at least as far as I understand) is open to evolution (in terms of common descent) being true. I think he's just making some observations about the state of the science here, in response to the questions he was asked.” (Austin)

Third:

Dr. Craig comments on the disappointing behavior of many leading (and bullish) Naturalists as they are forced to adjust their definitions and syntax given that we all know that [A Gene Mutates + A Gene Gets Selected], which is the Neo-Darwinian paradigm, is, “all by itself”, factually underpowered to account for all that we see today:

“Now it needs to be clearly understood that [the committed Naturalist] is not about to embrace some sort of creationism. Rather additional natural mechanisms will be sought to supplement genetic mutation and natural selection. These are already being suggested in the scientific literature. I have every expectation that during the course of this century the neo-Darwinian mechanisms, which have been long challenged by creationists of various stripes, will come to be recognized as inadequate, and new mechanisms will be recognized. The irony will then be that the community of evolutionary biologists, rather than admitting that the criticisms of the creationists were justified, will say, “Oh, well, we knew all along that the neo-Darwinian mechanisms were inadequate!” – this, despite the public posturing that goes on now in the name of neo-Darwinism.” (Craig)

As noted already, for about 50 years to 100 years we heard, emphatically, that [A Gene Mutates + A Gene Gets Selected], which is the Neo-Darwinian paradigm, had, “all by itself”, enough power to account for all that we see today.

Clearly that was based not on observation or on fact, but on the philosophical fears of the observer causing one to “read into the data” things that we all know were not there. Even more revealing of the Naturalist’s fears is that, even still today, as Evo-Devo and other reaches emerge, some still resist to make the adjustment. The motives involved become justifiably attributed not to the facts but to the philosophical fears of the Naturalist. Whereas, the Theist’s curiosity is forever free of such fears and commitments to anything other than demonstrability and coherence as he merely follows God’s command to master and subdue the physical order. That freedom from fear allowed the Theist to see the need for Evo-Devo and other layers decades before the Naturalists who happened to be looking at the very same data. The response from many leading Naturalists at the Theist’s, “There’s not enough there to explain all that we see” was a resounding chorus of intellectual brow beating. A bit like we see in this thread.

Now, all of this affirms two things. First, that the Theist’s concerns over the data are justified. That is to say, the Neo-Darwinian paradigm “all by itself” is not sufficiently powered. Second, it’s now obvious that there simply has been a degree of intellectually dishonest brow-beating going on by some very influential Naturalists towards those Theists as they (the Theists) raised what are now known to be genuine concerns as to the reach of the Neo-Darwinian paradigm “on its own”.

As many Christians note, granting the Naturalist his, say, fish to man, isn't problematic for the Christian. Dirt to Man is the fact of the matter. So we again come to what seems to be Craig’s primary observation: What is the Theist’s motive for his demand for demonstrable mechanisms?

The demand for the demonstrable clearly has nothing to do with any a priori commitment from the likes of Craig and many others given that, again, Dirt to Man isn’t a problem.

What then?

It’s easy, and Craig’s quote earlier stated it in no uncertain terms, despite the mischaracterizations of others. It’s about dishonesty. It is, very simply, that the full blooded philosophical naturalist has lost much of his right to charity where his assertion of “enough power” is concerned. The word “enough” has become an empty balloon short of the demonstrable on the bench top.

And why is that?

That’s easy:

All of us simply, genuinely, want to know the actual mechanisms, the actual state of affairs. And so we want, desire, *good* information, and it appears that the bench top is the only *safe* place to get it. We have to see it to believe it, given the obvious overreaches of the past. Of course, such skepticism allows us to be more thoughtful, careful - hungry for truth but willing to be demanding before buying in.

It’s that simple.

We're genuinely, intellectually, curious.

Now, that natural curiosity is in all of us, and the Christian is fortunate in that his intellectual curiosity is free of fears and free of commitments to anything but following God’s command to master and subdue the physical order. Again, that freedom from fear allowed the Theist to see the need for Evo-Devo and other layers decades before the Naturalist who happened to be looking at the very same data.

That kind of demonstrable objectivity isn’t cheap – one has to have a metaphysical metanarrative which frees one up to just follow the evidence wherever it goes. The Theist has that freedom given that he doesn’t care what fits this or that a priori “X” because nothing in the physical order of mutable and contingent forms and substances matters “in that way” as far as Christianity “goes”, hence we've no need to be dishonest with the data, as it appears many leading naturalists have been.

Lastly, it is fine if the Naturalist wants to “over-invest-himself” in new information as things are discovered. With every new layer of Evo-Devo and so on we, now accustomed to the committed Naturalist, merely await his overreaction, and, hand to our ears, we begin to hear the faint echo rise yet again, “This is the explanation of the Whole-Show! This is finally THE layer!” Yes. Fine. That is clearly his proven track record. Whatever. However, when it comes to the Christian, that the Naturalist thinks that Dirt To Man is a problem for the Christian only reveals how little he actually knows about two elementary categories. First, the factual and intellectual limits of his own self-negating truth predicates and tools, of his own Humean flavored empiricism and his other assorted flavors of positivism and scientism. Second, the actual, real, truth predicates constituting Scripture’s actual, real, metanarrative. On those two points, especially the second, the committed Naturalist is clearly (commonly) out of the loop and speaks of things he does not understand and hence he again over-invests himself in yet another overreach.

That is fine.

The Christian merely continues in seeking the duality of convergence and coherence amid all slices of perceived reality, seeking to satisfy logic's relentless demand for lucidity through and through.

RonH:

Anyway there are, in fact, numerous scientific evidences that support evolution over design - evidences that don't depend on methodological naturalism.
This speaks to the heart of the OP, no?

Andy,

Only if you promise to read "Why Evolution is True" by Coyne.

kpolo,

"Your denial of evidence was predicted 2000 years ago by Paul. Read Romans 1:19-22."

I am not denying evidence. As far as I know there is none to deny. I invite you to point me to what you think is the single best piece of evidence for a supernatural realm.

"So you believe in a deterministic universe then? In that case, you said what you said solely because of chemical and physical laws, not reason or rationale."

Maybe that's true. If so, I do not fear that answer. But I bet you do.

JBerr,

"see the arguments from Craig for fine-tuning and the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Both of these arguments are philosophical but rely on scientific data to make their case."

I have seen these. Craig speaks/writes well but my opinion is that these arguments don't hold up. Craig fails to grasp the science. See his debate with Sean Carroll to understand how badly Craig misuses scientific information.

"If you are looking for laboratory proof that God exists, then you are crazy. Since God is a metaphysical being, we cannot prove God's existence in a lab with a hypothesis. We can only observe nature and the physical world, and think about reality, in order to find evidence for God."

For what other field of inquiry is this a valid epistemology?

"There is tons of evidence for God's existence, and it's clear by your post that you are making rookie mistakes in epistemology. Most philosophers throughout history believe there is a metaphysical component to reality, even atheist philosophers."

Argument from popularity? Talk about a rookie mistake.

"I am not denying evidence. As far as I know there is none to deny. I invite you to point me to what you think is the single best piece of evidence for a supernatural realm."

Hi Chip...only the most hyperskeptic will deny that biblical prophecy is of supernatural origin. Many less skeptical deny the supernatural nature of the Bible as a whole which claims of itself also in whole to be from supernatural origin.

My own prophetic utterance is that: you will show your own selective hyperskepticism before this thread is over.

Although I am not a fanboy of WLC, I think it significant that you dismiss him so easily and point to his "misuse" of scientific information. I will most likely get into that debate when I have time to watch it...I see that it is over 2 hours on utube but I predict it will go as usual where the scientific information has philosophical challenges that call into question the validity of said information. Your hero Coyne has proven often his inability to reason coherently when his scientism is obstructed by inconvenient philosophical problems. Over at UD, his "Faith vs. Fact" is being responded to, exposing how his poor reasoning skills devalues much of what he has to say. His religious belief [scientism] is well established by now.

Theist: "So you believe in a deterministic universe then? In that case, you said what you said solely because of chemical and physical laws, not reason or rationale."


Atheist: "Maybe that's true. If so, I do not fear that answer. But I bet you do."


And there we have our answer.


The holy trio blithely laughs the PSR out of the room.


Such that we find:


1) No demonstrable mechanism for dirt to cell nor for cell to man.

2) Undeniable history of intellectually dishonest overreaching.

3) Self-negating truth claims.


What explains such behavior where said holy trio is concerned?


Simply:


1 is tolerated as the PSR is less important than one's a priori commitments.

2 is overlooked as the PSR is factually, knowingly, contradicted in order to soften the blow of 1.

3 is embraced as lucidity's asking price for the PSR is too high, given one's a priori commitments.


Therefore:


Dr. Craig and so many others who are happy to embrace the mechanisms of evolution, and who are happy to leave them, either way is fine, just so long as the demonstrable on the bench top leads the way, all find the current state of affairs among leading Naturalists to have lost any margin which charity would have otherwise granted. Those hungry for the truth about the material order have to see it to believe it.


Demonstrable on the bench top.

Brad B.,

Well stated. Reasoning, the PSR, and so on, are critical to say the least. Despite initial appearances the linked essay is actually zeroed in on critiquing empiricism amid experience and sense data. An interesting analysis.

The answer so many support evolution despite the strong scientific evidence against it is the terrible, haunting fear that there might be a DESIGNER (i.e. God). That accounts for other unproven ideas too such as the multiverse idea. It's mainly based on fear.

John,

Despite what 'strong scientific evidence'?

John,

Despite what 'strong scientific evidence'?

RonH, you and I keep asking this question and all we get is the sound of crickets chirping.

I would honestly like to see this scientific evidence. The person who could disprove evolution by means of natural selection would earn at least a Nobel Prize and have his name remembered until the end of recorded history.

Aaron,

Another thing that's brought silence (so far)...

Anyway there are, in fact, numerous scientific evidences that support evolution over design - evidences that don't depend on methodological naturalism.

Aaron Ginn,

By the way, sometimes it's very different.

For example.

Aaron Ginn,

BTW also, are you prepared to answer everything that's thrown at you here?

The reason so many full blooded Naturalists have convincing evidence that the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm clearly satisfied the criteria of "the necessary and sufficient" is because it factually fails to satisfy that criteria.

Forced by the facts, Naturalists now affirm this.

If we want to know what the evidence *against* a nearly 100 year old a priori conclusion (placed far, far ahead of facts) actually is then we need to ask the Naturalists, *not* the Theists. Theists aren't the ones changing definitions.

Dirt-To-Man is affirmed by Scripture, only, the Theist's patience and lack of a priori fears motivated him to await the demonstrable on the bench top, even demand it before buying in. That scientific "habit" based on the PSR clearly allowed him to avoid the Naturalist's nearly century long anti-intellectual, overreaching commitment.

BradB,

I guess you may refer me as a hyperskeptic then. I won't turn this thread into an argument about prophecy or the Bible. But I do in fact disagree. Congratulations. At least YOUR prophecy has come true.

Regarding WLC, it was not with ease that I dismiss him. I listened to hours and hours and hours of his debates and talks. I've read a lot of what he's written. When you get a chance to watch his debate with Carroll, you will see that Carroll corrects his egregious errors in physics. His philosophical conclusions fall away naturally after that. (I appreciate the fact that you're at least willing to watch it.)

As far as Coyne goes, he is just one of thousands of biologists who understands and accepts evolution. He also happens to have written a pretty good book on the topic. Feel free to read any of hundreds of books about evolution.

Since you think evolution spells the death of Christianity, perhaps I could persuade you to comment on Francis Collins or his book The Language of God. I'm sure you know he identifies as an evangelical Christian while acknowledging the truth of evolution. Does he fail to see the contradiction that is so obvious to you?

What is your evidence *against* (that oh-so-equivocal word) evolution?

The reason so many full blooded Naturalists have convincing evidence that the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm (a gene mutates, a gene gets selected) clearly satisfies the criteria of "the necessary and sufficient" is because it factually fails to satisfy that criteria.

Forced by the facts, Naturalists now affirm this.

If we want to know what the evidence *against* a nearly 100 year old a priori conclusion (placed far, far ahead of facts) actually is then we need to ask the Naturalists, *not* the Theists. Theists aren't the ones changing definitions.

Dirt-To-Man is affirmed by Scripture, only, the Theist's patience and lack of a priori fears motivated him to await the demonstrable on the bench top, even demand it before buying in. That scientific "habit" based on the PSR clearly allowed him to avoid the Naturalist's nearly century long anti-intellectual, overreaching commitment.

The question at hand is, really, a question for the Naturalist to answer, given that it is fully committed naturalists who now reject, or disavow, their own century-long intellectually embarrassing overreach. Having put a conclusion far, far ahead of the facts, the claim that the Neo-Darwinian paradigm (a gene mutates, a gene gets selected) housed the “necessary and sufficient” is pretty much dead.

Far more is needed, and, far more is going on.

Darwin himself realized the limits of explaining *some* facts but not *enough* facts:

"Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory." (Darwin)

Here is how that statement plays out:

The Theist’s hunger for truth and his intellectual curiosity here has caused him to await the demonstrable, and that demand for the demonstrable before buying in allowed him the intellectual reach to predict the failure of the Neo-Darwinian paradigm. Why? Because all of us simply, genuinely, want to know the actual mechanisms involved in Scripture’s Dirt-To-Man statement, to know the actual state of affairs. And so we want, desire, *good* information. Only, the definition of *good* information is found in Darwin’s insightful quote as his statement implicitly and auspiciously cautions us that the bench top is the only *safe* place to get *good* information. That scientific “habit” rests atop the PSR and such must see to believe, must see the demonstrable, and that is because of the core issue that Darwin alluded to in people’s a priori commitments, emotional investments, or philosophical fears landing them either on the side of the coin in which some number of facts are explained or on the side of the coin in which there are many unexplained difficulties. Clearly either side of the coin can be good - or bad - but the "tendency / disposition" of the observer, rather than the facts alone, may be too strong if we are not careful.

Clearly the Naturalists spent nearly an entire century putting a conclusion far, far ahead of the demonstrable – and look what it has caused. The lessons gleaned from observing nearly a century of many people’s cognitive bias fueling intellectual overreaches combined with the Theist’s genuine desire for the demonstrable drive him to be a bit demanding at times, to raise the bar fairly high, but, honestly, such skepticism allows him to be more thoughtful, more careful, more methodical – hungry for truth but willing to be demanding before buying in.

And it’s a good thing, because otherwise the Christian would be having to re-tool his semantics along with the full blooded Naturalists.

The Christian’s natural curiosity has, so far, served him well. He is fortunate in that his intellectual habits have been free of fears and free of commitments to anything other than following that fateful command to master and subdue the physical order. Again, that freedom from fear allowed the Theist to see the need for Evo-Devo and other layers decades before the Naturalist who happened to be looking at the very same data.

Now, as to the evidence *against* evolution as that which “explains the whole show”, well, really, if we want to know what the evidence *against* a nearly 100 year old a priori conclusion (placed far, far ahead of facts) actually is then we need to ask the Naturalists, *not* the Theists given that, again, Theists aren't the ones changing definitions.

None of this is a negative for the Naturalist nor for Dirt-To-Man, as Scripture affirms Dirt-To-Man. Rather, it is merely that we have no good reason to think that Dirt-To-Cell happened but for an a priori commitment, and, in the same way, mechanistically speaking, we don’t have a good reason to think that Cell-To-Man happened but for an a priori commitment.

Here is the ironic part: both the Theist and the Naturalist have an a priori commitment of Dirt-To-Man. Of course, the Theist’s has been around for eons, sort of like his commitment to time and physicality falling off the cliff at some ontological seam somewhere into the timeless and the immaterial, void of contingency’s pesky cause/effect, void of contingency’s pesky temporal becoming. Science has a way of catching up with Scripture.

1859 is when Darwin alluded to the problem of “explaining some facts” leading some to overreach on the evidence, and, also, the problem of “explaining too little” causing some to wait for more evidence. Now, that is phrased that way on purpose – because that is the factual way that it factually unfolded over the last 156 years.

Again, that’s not a negative for Naturalism nor for Dirt-To-Man, because, clearly, Naturalists and Theists agree that Dirt-To-Man is fact of the matter.

Evolutionary biologists now agree with the Theist’s long-held claim that the Neo-Darwinian paradigm “on its own” just cannot be granted what it has been misguidedly, even anti-intellectually, granted – not if we want to remain true to the facts. Just like they agree, finally, with the Theist’s definitions of physicality giving way to the utter absence of cause/effect, to the immaterial, of temporal becoming / time giving way to timelessness.

Peculiar.

As Dr. Craig noted, that doesn’t mean the Naturalist is giving up on his Naturalism: "Now it needs to be clearly understood that [the committed Naturalist] is not about to embrace some sort of creationism. Rather additional natural mechanisms will be sought to supplement genetic mutation and natural selection. These are already being suggested in the scientific literature. I have every expectation that during the course of this century the neo-Darwinian mechanisms, which have been long challenged by creationists of various stripes, will come to be recognized as inadequate, and new mechanisms will be recognized. The irony will then be that the community of evolutionary biologists, rather than admitting that the criticisms of the creationists were justified, will say, “Oh, well, we knew all along that the neo-Darwinian mechanisms were inadequate!” – this, despite the public posturing that goes on now in the name of neo-Darwinism.” (Craig)

The fact of the matter is that we all know Dirt-To-Man is true.

Nobody questions that.

The primary difference between the Theist and the Naturalists essentially boils down to options. The Naturalist *only* has what his scientism and a Humean flavored empiricism can *deliver*, and, so, as we’ve seen for nearly a century, he rushes in, overreaches, and puts his *must-get* ahead of his *facts*. Whereas, the Theist has all options open to him, hence he moves more slowly, more methodically, willing to follow the evidence of Dirt-To-Man to wherever it takes him, with no limits on the possibilities – sort of like his patient appeal to the PSR on matters of time and timelessness, of physicality and causality. Science and the PSR just do, eventually, converge and affirm one another.

So what is the mechanism for Dirt-To-Cell? For Cell-To-Man?

The Naturalist hasn’t a clue – but he *does* know that it is a fact.

Will the Naturalist learn to say, “I don’t know” ?

Here’s a hint that may inform us as to what to expect:

Based on his anti-intellectual placement of his “must-get” ahead of his facts, for nearly a century, we sort of know what to expect. He is going to, again, at least it is very probable that he will, again, “over-invest-himself” in new information as things are discovered. With every new layer of Evo-Devo and so on that we extricate and discover we merely await his overreaction, and, hand to our ears, we begin to hear the faint echo rise yet again, “This is the explanation of the Whole-Show! This is finally THE layer! THIS is the Necessary and Sufficient!

Yes. Fine. That is clearly his proven track record.

Whatever.

That is why there is no mystery, at all, as to the Theist’s appeal to the demonstrable on the bench top.

Ironically, the Theist agrees with his conclusion, with "Dirt-To-Man", but, of course, just as before, the Theist has no fear, no “must-get” lurking in the back of his mind, and, so, he remains patient, with just a touch of “healthy skepticism” committing him to the PSR’s satisfaction vis-à-vis the demonstrable on the bench top.

Here’s the important part: For the Theist, if abiding by that scientific “habit” means saying, “I don’t know” to avoid getting ahead of the evidence, well that is fine.

The Naturalist seems a bit challenged in this area, in this area of saying, “I don’t know”.

But if we don’t know then we don’t know. Cleary a century of intellectual dishonesty hasn’t worked out for the Naturalist. Therefore, on charity, here’s some advice for the Naturalist:

When the facts are not demonstrable, on the bench top, then try this: “We don’t know”. Dirt-To-Cell? Let’s try it: “We don’t know”. Cell-To-Man? Let’s try it: “We don’t know”.

Just try it.

It doesn’t hurt.

BTW also, are you prepared to answer everything that's thrown at you here?

No. I refuse to answer, much less read, the word salads that scbrownlhrm routinely throws together.

Since you think evolution spells the death of Christianity, perhaps I could persuade you to comment on Francis Collins or his book The Language of God. I'm sure you know he identifies as an evangelical Christian while acknowledging the truth of evolution. Does he fail to see the contradiction that is so obvious to you?

Collins has managed to compartmentalize these contradictory points of view. I think Orwell termed it doublethink.

"RonH, you and I keep asking this question and all we get is the sound of crickets chirping."

Yeah, well it gets kind of tedious and boring... trying to get people who refuse to open up their worldview to rational inspection. You criticize scbrown's posts but in this thread, they offer a pretty specific critique...it's not hard to find, you just have to look. But I guess you have a track record of not digging in whenever someone in a lab coat spews the latest proof for evolution, not caring to read further than a line or two to see if what is being offered is legitimate. At least you are consistent.

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