Shuck and Jive


Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting Dumber By the Moment

Thanks to Drew for pointing out this boner by Al Mohler, The End of Evolution? Mohler concludes his essay with this doozy:

Evolutionary theory cannot possibly explain the totality of human experience, much less the reality of human origins. Evolutionists -- if consistent -- believe that every human experience, every emotion, every physical attribute, every hope, and every fear is simply a feature developed by means of natural selection.

That's a cold theory, and it just doesn't make sense to the vast majority of Americans -- and it shouldn't. The Christian worldview offers a far more satisfying, true, and understandable account of human origins and human existence.

Well you evolutionists, you Darwinists, you. Explain to the good reverend what evolutionary theory can and cannot possibly explain. If evolutionary theory "doesn't make sense to the vast majority of Americans" it is in no small part due to wacko fantasies promoted by religious nut jobs who understand neither science nor the Bible claiming to speak with the bogus authority of the "Word of God."

Meanwhile, Inherit the Wind plays at ETSU this weekend. I wonder who Mohler will be rooting for?

In related news, you are invited to a pilgrimage to Dayton, TN to see the Darwin Shaped Wall Stain!


54 comments:

  1. "true, and understandable account of human origins and human existence?"

    Understandable? You have to be kidding. Hmmm. Christian worldview? PARTIAL Christian worldview perhaps, but consider that the people that subscribe to this view constitute a minority of the population of the earth. Why don't these people take some science courses. Oh, that's right, they might have to concede that their view might be incorrect! To be a scientist one needs to have an open mind, able to adapt ones beliefs to what one learns.

    Help us all.

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  2. Do you really believe in God? Come on now, be honest.
    If you believed in God, then why would you have a problem with a form of intelligent design? Wouldn't you want to affirm it, or at least leave some room for it as a possibility, if you believed in a God who even in the slightest resembled the God of the Bible?

    I read Mohler's article and it seems to me that at least in part he is arguing here that if you believe that evolution brought into being everything that exists, then everything that we experience on a human level...emotions, spirituality, etc. came about through the evolutionary process.

    It seems that in other entries you reject a theistic evolutionary view. I am assuming that leaves you with a theology like that of Meister Eckhart's pantheistic emanation. Ultimately within that perspective the term god might be used, but in reality there is no God, but nature. Clearly that would leave you with either full atheism or an amalgam of new age, or more traditional pantheism. You seem to like language of spirituality, but that usually looks more like emotions and psychology.

    Why hold on to forms of a faith that you clearly believe holds no truth and is pure fiction? Why not throw off the shackles of the whole Jesus thing? Do you somehow believe it is your duty to undermine, ridicule and belittle those who hold historic (what you refer to as confessional) Protestantism?

    Look at the forms of the Christian faith -- why would you bother with these things after you have so mocked and belittled the beliefs on which they have been based for millenia?
    Communion and Baptism (the substitutionary atonement that is deeply tied to this), reading of the "Word of God", "worshipping -- humbling ourselves to a supreme deity",etc. Why bother with all of this? Why not go with some new things or dig up other things from old cults, gnostics, pagans, and other religions and abandon all pretenses to Christianity if you like rituals? You clearly hate conservative Christians -- the mocking and vitrol make that quite clear.

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  3. Evolutionists -- if consistent -- believe that every human experience, every emotion, every physical attribute, every hope, and every fear is simply a feature developed by means of natural selection.

    Well....Yes. But that doesn't mean that human experiences, all of which depend underlying neurochemistry and neuroanatomy, aren't part of the sacred divine. Just because there is a natural, physical substrate for all we know and feel doesn't remove us from being God's own children.

    In a similar, but much more sophisticated vein to Mohler, Pope John Paul II, in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1996, wrote that "theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person."

    That pretty interesting; if our minds rise from the material world, there's no ground for our dignity. Then by extension, the late Pope was saying that the material world itself has no dignity. This is a dangerous contention that permits the destruction of the undignified world.

    Despite enormous volumes evidence to the contrary, particularly within the fields of neurology and neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, the Pope goes on at length with his justifications for his position. Included in his argument are that "man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake...It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body...if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter the spiritual soul is immediately created by God."

    John Paul's bottom line: We have a soul. The soul forms our special relationship with God. Souls are magically created by God and they are independent of anything that matter creates. This is true because the material world provides no basis for dignity.

    It's a poor argument.

    Is it not better to believe that the earth does have dignity, that there is some of God's soul in everything, that all of nature is the expression of God's love? That everything is the world is precious and sacred? Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas, 77 "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." By this Jesus means that the vibrant spirit of God is in all things, even pieces of wood and rocks. We become a conscious part of that spirit through the inevitable miracle of evolution.

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  4. Whew-eee Adel! Pot be calling the kettle black!

    Talk about hate and vitriol! Man, you are soaking in it. You're bathing in the snake's venom and you're loving it.

    Go outside, get some fresh air.

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  5. You clearly hate conservative Christians -- the mocking and vitrol make that quite clear.

    Nope, I don't hate anybody. When religious professionals like Mohler --who have great influence--attempt to impede science with essays that claim Christian faith and evolution are mutually exclusive, I challenge it. This is why The Clergy Letter Project exists.

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  6. Ah..I get it.

    You have referred to me as an apologist for confessional Christians...which I don't mind.

    But it looks like you are an apologist for your view of philosophical materialist science. Just what advanced degree in science do you hold that would give you this expertise? What courses have you taken in philosophy of science? Have you read extensively and widely in the field of philosophy of science?

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  7. Just what advanced degree in science do you hold that would give you this expertise? What courses have you taken in philosophy of science? Have you read extensively and widely in the field of philosophy of science?

    The answer is 42.

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  8. It also seems like that it is much more important for you to defend philosophical materialist views of science, than anything that has to do with historic confessional Christianity -- the confessions, which I believe you vowed to be instructed by because they accurately represent what scripture leads you to believe. How can this be?

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  9. Rastus,

    ...if our minds rise from the material world, there's no ground for our dignity. Then by extension, the late Pope was saying that the material world itself has no dignity. This is a dangerous contention that permits the destruction of the undignified world.

    Thank you. That was very helpful. This is why I think it is important for theology to catch up and rather than fight science seek to understand it as the way God works.

    If God is revealed in the Book of Nature as well as the Book of Scripture then we need to honor both rather than place an interpretation of the Book of Scripture on a higher plane than the Book of Nature.

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  10. This is not about the truth of evolution. It's about Mohler's lack of judgment. His claim is that evolution has to explain everything about human nature since it is naturalistic. No biologist would say that except for a few who might think that evolution explains everything. To them I would say to smell the flowers and read some poetry.

    Mohler's logic is flawed at best and he makes a lousy assumption about what evolution ought to explain. It's a shameful straw-man publicly displayed by a president of an accredited institution of higher learning and that is the problem here.

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  11. So, believing as I do, I followed Drew's advice and read some poetry.

    -------------

    Solitude

    There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society where none intrudes
    By the deep sea, and music in its roar.
    I love not man the less, but nature more,
    From these our interviews in which I steal
    From all I may be, or have been before,
    To mingle with the universe, and feel
    What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.


    Lord Byron

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  12. Rastus... Good show! Wonder if Adel took your advice to "Go outside, get some fresh air." ;-)

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  13. My quibble with Mohler (and as Rastus points out, the late Pope) is with the lack of creativity regarding the Christian faith.

    He assumes that the duty of Christianity is to battle with scientists and/or to put Christians in a protective philosophical bubble from scientific discovery.

    It is a losing battle that will do damage before it concedes as history as shown.

    In my view, the task of Christianity is to say given what we know from science, how can the mystery of faith lighten our hearts, give us courage, renew our sense of awe, and increase our compassion as we travel this strange and unexpected road of life.

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  14. adel wrote, "If you believed in God, then why would you have a problem with a form of intelligent design? Wouldn't you want to affirm it, or at least leave some room for it as a possibility, if you believed in a God who even in the slightest resembled the God of the Bible?"

    No. "Intelligent Design" is neither a scientific hypothesis, nor a scientific theory. It rests on a foundational assumption: There is an intelligent designer. For any hypothesis or theory to be scientific, it must be testable, and it must be able to be disproven. There is no test, no experiment, no observation that could be made that would scientifically provide evidence for the Intelligent Designer.

    At the same time, Intelligent Design is terrible theology, at least for Reformed Christians. The so-called "intelligent designer" does not, in your words, "even in the slightest resembled the God of the Bible " We worship God, the Father, the Almighty, who sent his only begotten Son to Earth for us and for our salvation, who together with his Son sent the Holy Spirit as a counselor. Tell me, is the Intelligent Designer also part of the Trinity (the Quadrinity, perhaps?) Does the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son and the Intelligent Designer or only from the Intelligent Designer? If Intelligent Designer is just another name for God, a name which, BTW, he never uses for himself in the Bible, why not simply call your "theory" creationism and stop pussyfooting around?

    We do not worship the Intelligent Designer.

    Tell me adel, where in the Bible does God reveal himself as "The Intelligent Designer"? Give me chapter and verse where those words are used. Where is the notion of God-as-watchmaker described in Scripture? I believe in the God of the Bible, not some sort of bloodless, soulless Prime Mover as you apparently do.

    "Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute." ~ Freeman Dyson

    Adel wrote, "But it looks like you are an apologist for your view of philosophical materialist science. Just what advanced degree in science do you hold that would give you this expertise? What courses have you taken in philosophy of science? Have you read extensively and widely in the field of philosophy of science?"

    And you're an apologist for a disingenuous attempt to repackage naive creationism as a terrible scientific theory and an obviously unChristian theology. So it seems reasonable to ask you what advanced degree in science do you hold that would give you this expertise? What courses have you taken in philosophy of science? Have you read extensively and widely in the field of philosophy of science? I could ask the same of Al Mohler (whose views on evolution I wouldn't take very seriously, adel. They're so inconsistent as to be unrecognizable, and he has a penchant for promoting eugenics, an amusing position for someone like him, who doesn't actually believe in evolution, wouldn't you say?

    For myself, I have a BS in chemistry with a minor in evolutionary biology from Calvin College, one of the most respected and conservative Christian liberal arts colleges in the country. That "Calvin" in the name, BTW, is John Calvin, if you'd like to try to question my theology creds. I have an MA in science education (in which I did, in fact, specialize in the philosophy of science and STS, science and technology studies) from the University of Michigan, School of Education, of the most highly rated education schools in the country, and the school with the most cited faculty on the planet. I have an MS in Macromolecular Science and Engineering, also from UofM, one of the top engineering schools in the country. And am currently finishing a dual PhD in Chemistry and Science Education. I have published extensively in both chemistry and science education in peer reviewed journals, and given many invited talks nationally and internationally.

    Now, shall we continue comparing the size of our enormous vitae, adel? Exactly what is YOUR preparation in these fields? Somehow I'm going to guess that you're not actually interested in preparation, but are using it as a way to attempt to dismiss others' arguments. Now that I've proven I'm far more qualified to discuss these matters than you, I assume you'll bow to my superior training and study in these matters? Or was that just a rhetorical weapon of mass distraction, as I suspect. ;)

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  15. We worship God, the Father, the Almighty, who sent his only begotten Son to Earth for us and for our salvation, who together with his Son sent the Holy Spirit as a counselor.

    A fine example of Christian affirmation that is not threatened by nor needs to be defended in light of science or evolution.

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  16. Well, ok, I"m supposed to be on "blogger vacation," but it's just no use. I can't help myself, and stay away from these discussions. (laughing) This blogging is addictive.

    Hey, I woke up this morning with 1 Cor. 13 totally on my heart. Doesn't this Scripture say it all?

    It's amazing to think that we could literally have all knowledge about everything, a faith to move mountains, even give away everything we have to help the poor, and yet without love, it would profit us nothing.

    I deeply care for the natural world, and think we should all reverence God's creation.

    But, for the life of me, I honestly can't see how we can know anything in depth of the love of God, or be naturally inclined to care for one another, love our enemies, etc., simply through a knowledge, and acceptance of evolutionary process. I have to be honest, and don't get how anyone could actually believe this, either.

    People need the Lord!

    Alan, you are definitely one complex, interesting person. But, doesn't this sound like Intelligent Design, presented in a poetic, metaphorical way of course? Check out Job 38-41.

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  17. "But, for the life of me, I honestly can't see how we can know anything in depth of the love of God, or be naturally inclined to care for one another, love our enemies, etc., simply through a knowledge, and acceptance of evolutionary process. I have to be honest, and don't get how anyone could actually believe this, either. "

    Nor do I, so when why then would you propose such an obvious straw man argument? No one here that I see is proposing such a transparent, silly false dichotomy.

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  18. What I see in Job is God, who is the creator of all things. Not the designer. Perhaps you're reading a different translation, but I don't see the words Intelligent Design anywhere in Job 38-41, nor in any other verse in the Bible. I'm just reading the clear words of Scripture, not trying to insert human-made faux-scientific ideas into it. Are you?

    Tell me grace, do you or do you not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made?

    The Intelligent Designer idea doesn't allow for things being "designed" through Jesus Christ. It purports to be a "scientific" theory. So such an idea is not allowable. It also doesn't really make any sense to have Christ eternally begotten, not made (nor designed.)

    Intelligent Design is, at best, a unitarian theology, if we can even apply the word "theology" to such a pathetic attempt at pseudoscientific rationalization.

    Or do you believe that the Intelligent Designer, designed Jesus Christ? If so, you realize that such beliefs are far, far, far from orthodox, right?

    Personally I don't understand how anyone who considers themselves authentically trinitarian could believe that Jesus Christ was designed like a watch, and is not eternally begotten.

    But hey, if your interested in twisting the Bible to align with some human-created phony "scientific" idea, be my guest. But don't pretend that you're actually the one representing traditional, orthodox Christianity.

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  19. BTW, grace and adel, I wonder if either of you have ever researched the Dover case. In that case, documented evidence was presented that clearly showed how the "theory" of Intelligent Design was concocted in some back room as a cynical attempt to repackage creationism to get it into the public schools. In fact, they were so sloppy, in one of their documents, they simply did a Microsoft Word global search-and-replace to change the word "creationists" to "intelligent design proponents", but they did such a bad job, the document ended up talking about "cdesign proponentsists".

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/missing_link_cd.html

    Now I happen to know a little bit about science, scientific hypotheses, and scientific theories. Good scientific concepts arise from the data. They are not made up by religious political extremists meeting in some back room, searching for a way to push their agenda in schools.

    I also happen to know a little bit about theology. And good theology is also not concocted in a back room, as a transparent attempt to push a political agenda.

    Want to believe in creationism? That's your choice. Just don't be disingenuous and try to give it a make-over for the sake of political expedience. And at least be honest enough to admit that it isn't a scientific theory. And if you can't be that honest, at least don't expect the rest of us to swallow that snake oil and call it science.

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  20. I woke up this morning with 1 Cor. 13 totally on my heart

    Wow. I woke up this morning with an urge to pee. You are definitely more spiritual.

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  21. Alan,

    I have no bone to pick with you. My questions are geared to an ordained pastor/teacher who clearly has an agenda of defending philosophical materialist science, while at the same time attacking historic "confessional" Christianity. Why would an ordained Christian pastor do this?

    I am sure you have some expertise in your area. And you are welcome to present and defend your views as you like. Not a problem with me. I know several people with PhD's in biology, geology and philosophy of science, some of whom I agree with others that I disagree with on such issues. They do not put themselves out as ordained Christian teachers who represent their denomination in their views.

    I am very definetly a Creationist and proudly so. The God of the Bible is a creator God and this theological understanding is tied to nearly every Christian theological position, I would hope that no Christian disagrees with this, especially one who went to a school rooted in Calvinism.

    You wrote: "We worship God, the Father, the Almighty, who sent his only begotten Son to Earth for us and for our salvation, who together with his Son sent the Holy Spirit as a counselor. Tell me, is the Intelligent Designer also part of the Trinity (the Quadrinity, perhaps?)" The Triune God is revealed regularly and constantly in Scripture as the one who created the universe, holds it together, and is involved in redeeming that creation. Why should you then not expect to see evidence of design within creation? The personal God of the Bible is nothing if not intelligent. Why then should you have any problem with the idea of an intelligent Designer? Maybe you only have a problem with this if it you somehow seen as competing with "science", which you narrowly define as only that which has a philosophic naturalist philosophy.
    Since you have such a great deal of education in philosophy of science, could you address how it is that scientists like all the rest of us, view reality through the mist of ideas and assumptions that are our world-view or paradigm. When a paradigm is established it becomes the organizing principle for further scientific research. “...normal science seems an attempt to force nature into preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies. No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all. Nor do scientists aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of the theories invented by others. Instead, normal scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies.” --Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Thomas Kuhn's book has been required reading for many years for science majors in the majority of universities.

    Why do you also regularly insist on using just the term "science" when what we are really discussing is a scient of singularities, in discussing "origins". Science is a very broad term that encompasses many forms of studies. There are two basic forms of science: a science of regularities and science which deals with singularities. Science as normally understood deals with regularities, that is, with regularly recurring patterns of events against which theories can be tested...Science of singularities can deal with one time observable events in the present or if it occurs in the past then it is more like a forensic science than an empirical science. Science that concerns itself with the origin of the universe is not recurring.

    The term Trinity is not in the Bible either, but it is very clearly extrapolated from many scriptures and scripture as a whole, as I am sure someone who was trained in a Calvinist school can attest. A Creationist can affirm as a minimum that the God who created is intelligent and creates in an orderly fashion (Gen 1 comes to mind)-- which has much to do with design.

    I believe that a very large percentage of scientists/mathematicians in the history of science have believed in a creator God and saw evidence of this design/creation regularly in the world they observed. So why should this be such a major problem today, especially for those who purport to represent a Christian denomination?

    Why should this be in the slightest a problem for someone who proclaims to believe in a God who creates, redeems and upholds the universe?

    God as watchmaker is part of the design argument/apologetic for God. It is an old one, but a good one that has been better developed over the years, I would point you to works by Douglas Groothuis on this.
    This kind of apologetic does not teach the full and complete picture about the God of the Bible, but is an initial step in the apologetic process. But I believe you know this and are simply creating a straw man argument as you often do.


    As for your statement about Intelligent Design not being science because it is untestable, I will simply leave you with some statements by William Dembski in an article titled "Is Intelligent Design Testable?"

    The testability objection to intelligent design can be interpreted in two ways. One is to claim that intelligent design is in principle untestable. This seems to have been Scott's line in the early nineties. Certainly it is a hallmark of science that any of its claims be subject to revision or refutation on the basis of new evidence or further theoretical insight. If this is what one means by testability, then design is certainly testable. Indeed, it was in this sense that Darwin tested William Paley's account of design and found it wanting. It simply won't wash to say that design isn't testable and then in the same breath say that Darwin tested design and refuted it.

    The other way to interpret the testability objection is to claim that intelligent design may in principle be testable, but that no tests have been proposed to date. This seems to be Scott's line currently. Indeed, if the testability objection is to bear any weight, its force must reside in the absence of concrete proposals for testing intelligent design. Are such proposals indeed lacking? Rather than looking solely at the testability of intelligent design, I want also to consider the testability of Darwinism. By comparing the testability of the two theories, it will become evident that even the more charitable interpretation of Scott's testability objection does not hold up.

    In relation to science testability is a very broad notion. It certainly includes Karl Popper's notion of falsifiability, but it is hardly coextensive with it and can apply even if falsifiability does not obtain. Testability as well covers confirmation, predicability, and explanatory power. At the heart of testability is the idea that our scientific theories must make contact with and be sensitive to what's happening in nature. What's happening in nature must be able to affect our scientific theories not only in form and content but also in the degree of credence we attach to or withhold from them. For a theory to be immune to evidence from nature is a sure sign that we're not dealing with a scientific theory.

    What then are we to make of the testability of both intelligent design and Darwinism taken not in a generic abstract sense but concretely? What are the specific tests for intelligent design? What are the specific tests for Darwinism? And how do the two theories compare in terms of testability? To answer these questions, let's run through several aspects of testability, beginning with falsifiability.

    FALSIFIABILITY: Is intelligent design falsifiable? Is Darwinism falsifiable? Yes to the first question, no to the second. Intelligent design is eminently falsifiable. Specified complexity in general and irreducible complexity in biology are within the theory of intelligent design the key markers of intelligent agency. If it could be shown that biological systems like the bacterial flagellum that are wonderfully complex, elegant, and integrated could have been formed by a gradual Darwinian process (which by definition is non-telic), then intelligent design would be falsified on the general grounds that one doesn't invoke intelligent causes when purely natural causes will do. In that case Occam's razor finishes off intelligent design quite nicely.

    On the other hand, falsifying Darwinism seems effectively impossible. To do so one must show that no conceivable Darwinian pathway could have led to a given biological structure. What's more, Darwinists are apt to retreat into the murk of historical contingency to shore up their theory. For instance, Allen Orr in his critique of Behe's work shortly after _Darwin's Black Box_ appeared remarked, "We have no guarantee that we can reconstruct the history of a biochemical pathway." What he conceded with one hand, however, he was quick to retract with the other. He added, "But even if we can't, its irreducible complexity cannot count against its gradual evolution."

    The fact is that for complex systems like the bacterial flagellum no biologist has or is anywhere close to reconstructing its history in Darwinian terms. Is Darwinian theory therefore falsified? Hardly. I have yet to witness one committed Darwinist concede that any feature of nature might even in principle provide countervailing evidence to Darwinism. In place of such a concession one is instead always treated to an admission of ignorance. Thus it's not that Darwinism has been falsified or disconfirmed, but that we simply don't know enough about the biological system in question and its historical context to determine how the Darwinian mechanism might have produced it.

    For instance, to neutralize the challenge that the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum raises against Darwinism, Ken Miller employs the following argument from ignorance. Like the rest of the biological community, Miller doesn't know how the bacterial flagellum originated. The biological community's ignorance about the flagellum, however, doesn't end with its origin but extends to its very functioning. For instance, according to David DeRosier, "The mechanism of the flagellar motor remains a mystery." Miller takes this admission of ignorance by DeRosier and uses it to advantage. In _Finding Darwin's God_ he writes: "Before [Darwinian] evolution is excoriated for failing to explain the evolution of the flagellum, I'd request that the scientific community at least be allowed to figure out how its various parts work." But in the article by DeRosier that Miller cites, Miller conveniently omits the following quote: "More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human."

    So apparently we know enough about the bacterial flagellum to know that it is designed or at least design-like. Indeed, we know what most of its individual parts do. Moreover, we know that the flagellum is irreducibly complex. Far from being a weakness of irreducible complexity as Miller suggests, it is a strength of the concept that one can determine whether a system is irreducibly complex without knowing the precise role that each part in the system plays (one need only knock out individual parts and see if function is preserved; knowing what exactly the individual parts do is not necessary). Miller's appeal to ignorance obscures just how much we know about the flagellum, how compelling the case is for its design, and how unfalsifiable Darwinism is when Darwinists proclaim that the Darwinian selection mechanism can account for it despite the absence of any identifiable biochemical pathway.

    CONFIRMATION: What about positive evidence for intelligent design and Darwinism? From the design theorist's perspective, the positive evidence for Darwinism is confined to small-scale evolutionary changes like insects developing insecticide resistance. This is not to deny large-scale evolutionary changes, but it is to deny that the Darwinian mechanism can account for them. Evidence like that for insecticide resistance confirms the Darwinian selection mechanism for small-scale changes, but hardly warrants the grand extrapolation that Darwinists want. It is a huge leap going from insects developing insecticide resistance via the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation to the very emergence of insects in the first place by that same mechanism.

    Darwinists invariably try too minimize the extrapolation from small-scale to large-scale evolution, arguing that it is a failure of imagination on the part of critics to appreciate the wonder-working power of the Darwinian mechanism. From the design theorist's perspective, however, this is not a case of failed imagination but of the emperor's new clothes. Yes, there is positive evidence for Darwinism, but the strength and relevance of that evidence on behalf of large-scale evolution is very much under dispute, if not within the Darwinian community then certainly outside of it.

    What about the positive evidence for intelligent design? It seems that here we may be getting to the heart of Eugenie Scott's concerns. I submit that there is indeed positive evidence for intelligent design. To see this, let's consider an example that I recycle endlessly in my writings (if only because its force seems continually lost on Darwinists). Consider the movie _Contact_ that appeared summer of 1997, based on the novel by Carl Sagan. In the movie radio astronomers determine that they have established contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence after they receive a long sequence of prime numbers, represented as a sequence of bits.

    Although in the actual SETI program (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) radio astronomers look not for something as flamboyant as prime numbers but something much more plebeian, namely, a narrow bandwidth of transmissions (as occur with human radio transmissions), the point nonetheless remains that SETI researchers would legitimately count a sequence of prime numbers (and less flamboyantly though just as assuredly a narrow bandwidth transmission) as positive evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. No such conclusive signal has yet been observed, but I can assure you that if it were to be observed, Eugenie Scott would not be complaining about SETI not having proposed any "testable models." Instead she would rejoice that the model had been tested and decisively confirmed.

    Now what's significant about a sequence of prime numbers from outer space is that they exhibit specified complexity -- there has to be a long sequence (hence complexity) and it needs to display an independently given pattern (hence specificity). But what if specified complexity is also exhibited in actual biological systems? In fact it is -- notably in the bacterial flagellum. Internet mavens have been pestering me for actual calculations of complexity involved in such systems. I address this in my forthcoming book (_No Free Lunch_), but such calculations are out there in the literature (cf. the work of Hubert Yockey, Robert Sauer, Peter RĂ¼st, Paul Erbrich, Siegfried Scherer, and most recently Douglas Axe -- I'm not enlisting these individuals as design advocates but merely pointing out that methods for determining specified complexity are already part of biology).

    Even so, it appears that Eugenie Scott would not be entirely happy admitting that intelligent design is positively confirmed once some clear-cut instances of specified complexity are discovered in biological systems. Why not? As she put it in her U.C. Berkeley lecture, design theorists "never tell you what happened." Well, neither do SETI researchers. If a SETI researcher discovers a radio transmission of prime numbers from outer space, the inference to an extraterrestrial intelligence is clear, but the researcher doesn't know "what happened" in the sense of knowing any details about the radio transmitter or for that matter the extraterrestrial that transmitted the radio transmission.

    Ah, but we have experience with radio transmitters. At least with extraterrestrial intelligences we can guess what might have happened. But we don't have any experience with unembodied designers, and that's clearly what we're dealing with when it comes to design in biology. Actually, if an unembodied designer is responsible for biological complexity, then we do have quite a bit of experience with such a designer through the designed objects (not least ourselves) that confront us all the time. On the other hand, it is true that we possess very little insight at this time into how such a designer acted to bring about the complex biological systems that have emerged over the course of natural history.

    Darwinists take this present lack of insight into the workings of an unembodied designer not as remediable ignorance on our part and not as evidence that the designer's capacities far outstrip ours, but as proof that there is no unembodied designer (at least none relevant to biology). By the same token, if an extraterrestrial intelligence communicated via radio signals with earth and solved computational problems that exceeded anything an ordinary or quantum computer could ever solve, we would have to conclude that we weren't really dealing with an intelligence because we have no experience of super-mathematicians that can solve such problems. My own view is that with respect to biological design humans are in the same position as William James's dog studying James while James was reading a book in his library. Our incomprehension over biological design is the incomprehension of a dog trying to understand its master's actions. Interestingly, the biological community regularly sings the praises of natural selection and the wonders it has wrought while admitting that it has no comprehension of how those wonders were wrought. Natural selection, we are assured, is cleverer than we are or can ever hope to be. Darwinists have merely swapped one form of awe for another. They've not eliminated it.

    It is no objection at all that we don't at this time know how an unembodied designer produced a biological system that exhibits specified complexity. We know that specified complexity is reliably correlated with the effects of intelligence. The only reason to insist on looking for non-telic explanations to explain the complex specified structures in biology is because of prior commitment to naturalism that perforce excludes unembodied designers. It is illegitimate, scientifically and rationally, to claim on a priori grounds that such entities do not exist, or if they do exist that they can have no conceivable relevance to what happens in the world. Do such entities exist? Can they have empirical consequences? Are they relevant to what happens in the world? Such questions cannot be prejudged except on metaphysical grounds. To prejudge these questions the way Eugenie Scott does is therefore to make certain metaphysical commitments about what there is and what has the capacity to influence events in the world. Such commitments are utterly gratuitous to the practice of science. Specified complexity confirms design regardless whether the designer responsible for it is embodied or unembodied.

    PREDICTABILITY: Another aspect of testability is predictability. A good scientific theory, we are told, is one that predicts things. If it predicts things that don't happen, then it is tested and found wanting. If it predicts things that do happen, then it is tested and regarded as successful. If it doesn't predict things, however, what then? Often with theories that try to account for features of natural history, prediction gets generalized to include retrodiction, in which a theory also specifies what the past should look like. Darwinism is said to apply retrodictively to the fossil record and predictively in experiments that place an organism under selection pressures and attempt to induce some adaptive change.

    But in fact Darwinism does not retrodict the fossil record. Natural selection and random variation applied to single-celled organisms offers no insight at all into whether we can expect multi-celled organisms, much less whether evolution will produce the various body-plans of which natural history has left us a record. At best one can say that there is consilience, i.e., that the broad sweep of evolutionary history as displayed in the fossil record is consistent with Darwinian evolution. Design theorists strongly dispute this as well (pointing especially to the Cambrian explosion). But detailed retrodiction and detailed prediction are not virtues of Darwin's theory. Organisms placed under selection pressures either adapt or go extinct. Except in the simplest cases where there is, say, some point mutation that reliably confers antibiotic resistance on a bacterium, Darwin's theory has no way of predicting just what sorts of adaptive changes will occur. "Adapt or go extinct" is not a prediction of Darwin's theory but an axiom that can be reasoned out independently.

    Challenging me in _American Outlook_ biologist Alex Duncan remarked: "A scientific theory makes predictions about the world around us, and enables us to ask and answer meaningful questions. For example, we might pose the question 'why do polar bears have fur, while penguins have feathers, given the similar nature of their environments

    Evolution provides an answer to this question. The only answer creationism (or intelligent design) provides is 'because God made them that way.'" Actually, evolution, whether Darwinian or otherwise, makes no predictions about there being bears or birds at all or for that matter bears having fur and birds having feathers. Once bears or birds are on the scene, they need to adapt to their environment or die. Intelligent design can accommodate plenty of evolutionary change and allows for natural selection to act as a conservative force to keep organisms adapted to their environments. Contrary to Duncan's remark, intelligent design does not push off all explanation to the inscrutable will of God. On the other hand, intelligent design utterly rejects natural selection as a creative force capable of bringing about the specified complexity we see in organisms.

    It's evident, then, that Darwin's theory has virtually no predictive power. Insofar as it offers predictions, they are either extremely general, concerning the broad sweep of natural history and in that respect quite questionable (Why else would Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge need to introduce punctuated equilibria if the fossil record were such an overwhelming vindication of Darwinism?); and when the predictions are not extremely general they are extremely specific and picayune, dealing with small-scale adaptive changes. Newton was able to predict the path that a planet traces out. Darwin's disciples can neither predict nor retrodict the pathways that organisms trace out in the course of natural history.

    But what about the predictive power of intelligent design? To require prediction fundamentally misconstrues design. To require prediction of design is to put design in the same boat as natural laws, locating their explanatory power in an extrapolation from past experience. This is to commit a category mistake. To be sure, designers, like natural laws, can behave predictably (designers often institute policies that end up being rigidly obeyed). Yet unlike natural laws, which are universal and uniform, designers are also innovators. Innovation, the emergence to true novelty, eschews predictability. Designers are inventors. We cannot predict what an inventor would do short of becoming that inventor. Intelligent design offers a radically different problematic for science than a mechanistic science wedded solely to undirected natural causes. Yes, intelligent design concedes predictability. But this represents no concession to Darwinism, for which the minimal predictive power that it has can readily be assimilated to a design-theoretic framework.

    EXPLANATORY POWER: According to Darwin the great advantage of his theory over William Paley's theory of design was that Darwin's theory managed to account for a wide diversity of biological facts that Paley's theory could not. Darwin's theory was thus thought to have greater explanatory power than Paley's , and this relative advantage could be viewed as a test of the two theories. Underlying explanatory power is a view of explanation known as inference to the best explanation in which a "best explanation" always presupposes at least two competing explanations and attempts to determine which comes out on top. Design theorists see advances in the biological and information sciences as putting design back in the saddle and enabling it to outperform Darwinism, thus making design currently the best explanation biological complexity. Darwinists of course see the matter quite differently.

    What I want to focus on here, however, is not the testing of Darwinism and design against the broad body of biological data, but the related question of which theory can accommodate the greater range of biological possibilities. Think of it this way: Are there things that might occur in biology for which a design-theoretic framework could give a better, more accurate account than a purely Darwinian and therefore non-teleological framework? The answer is yes.

    First off, let's be clear that design can accommodate all the results of Darwinism. Intelligent design does not repudiate the Darwinian mechanism. It merely assigns it a lower status than Darwinism does. The Darwinian mechanism does operate in nature and insofar as it does, design can live with its deliverances. Even if the Darwinian mechanism could be shown to do all the design work for which design theorists want to invoke design (say for the bacterial flagellum), a design-theoretic framework would not destroy any valid findings of science. To be sure, design would then become superfluous, but it would not become contradictory or self-refuting.

    The same cannot be said for Darwinism and the naturalism it embodies as a framework for science. Suppose I were a super-genius molecular biologist, and I invented some hitherto unknown molecular machine, far more complicated and marvelous than the bacterial flagellum. Suppose further I inserted this machine into a bacterium, set this genetically modified organism free, allowed it to reproduce in the wild, and destroyed all evidence of my having created the molecular machine. Suppose, for instance, the machine is a stinger that injects other bacteria and explodes them by rapidly pumping them up with some gas (I'm not familiar with any such molecular machine in the wild), thereby allowing the bacteria endowed with my invention to consume their unfortunate prey.

    Now let's ask the question, If a Darwinist came upon this bacterium with the novel molecular machine in the wild, would that machine be attributed to design or to natural selection? When I presented this example to David Sloan Wilson at a conference at MIT two years ago, he shrugged it off and remarked that natural selection created us and so by extension also created my novel molecular machine. But of course this argument won't wash since the issue is whether natural selection could indeed create us. What's more, if Darwinists came upon my invention of a novel molecular machine inserted into a bacterium that allows it to feed on other bacteria, they wouldn't look to design but would reflexively turn to natural selection. But, if we go with the story, I designed the bacterial stinger and natural selection had nothing to do with it. Moreover, intelligent design would confirm the stinger's design whereas Darwinism never could. It follows that a design-theoretic framework could account for biological facts that would forever remain invisible within a Darwinian framework. It seems to me that this possibility constitutes a joint test of Darwinism and intelligent design that strongly supports intelligent design -- if not as the truth then certainly as a live possible theoretical option that must not be precluded for a priori philosophical reasons like naturalism.

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  22. Holy crap.

    Grace woke up this morning with I Cor 13 totally on her heart.

    I woke up having to pee.

    Adel woke up with the urge to spend the whole day writing an incredibly lengthy comment on this blog.

    Wait, actually he didn't write it. It is a pasting of a paper written by someone else.

    Sorry, Adel. I had to call another commenter on this too.

    Use your own words. Or summarize and/or hyperlink. Don't fill up my comment space with text from someone else.

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  23. My questions are geared to an ordained pastor/teacher who clearly has an agenda of defending philosophical materialist science, while at the same time attacking historic "confessional" Christianity. Why would an ordained Christian pastor do this?

    'cause its fun. I just know it makes your face red and the veins pop out on your forehead.

    You can't stay away, can you, Adel? There is someone wrong on the internet and you need to save the sheep.

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  24. John,

    I'm just trying to spread the wealth around.

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  25. Adel, this seems to be your MO. You get to ask the questions, but never answer them. Why is that, do you think? Notice I'm more than happy to answer your questions, but apparently deigning to answer mine is beneath you? If you look carefully, I ended several strings of words with question marks. You might reread those and see if you can answer any of them. Just to be polite, of course.

    "A Creationist can affirm as a minimum that the God who created is intelligent and creates in an orderly fashion (Gen 1 comes to mind)-- which has much to do with design. "

    I believe that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth." But I don't try to pass that off as science. That's the difference between you and me.

    Perhaps, as a practicing scientist and teacher of science, I am simply less dazzled by the secular world's worship of science as the final arbiter of truth, (capital T) because it isn't. So maybe that's the reason I have no problem calling my faith, faith, and not trying to somehow make it seem more authentic in the secular world by tacking the word "science" onto it.

    "They do not put themselves out as ordained Christian teachers who represent their denomination in their views. "

    Actually I am an ordained elder. In our polity that makes me a ruling elder and not a teaching elder, it does however mean that I represent my denomination, as we all do. Again, I find this Romish clericism rather surprising from someone like you, who puts himself out as an ordained Christian teacher who supposedly represents the PCUSA and not the Catholic church.

    BTW, if you were actually as orthodox as you pretend, you'd realize that all of us are *called* to our work, not just ministers. Trying to make a distinction between a sacred calling and a secular calling isn't the least bit Reformed, since our world belongs to God. To paraphrase Kuyper, there is not one thumbprint on Earth upon which God does not look down and say, "That is mine." So then, my calling as a scientist is just as real and important faithful to God as is yours. Again, I hear the Catholics could use some priests. Your notions of the ministry would fit far better with them than with Reformed Protestantism.

    "Why then should you have any problem with the idea of an intelligent Designer? Maybe you only have a problem with this if it you somehow seen as competing with "science", which you narrowly define as only that which has a philosophic naturalist philosophy. "

    Nope. I have a problem with it because the ontological meaning of "designer" is not the same as "creator." An architect designs. A contractor schedules, the builder builds. Our God does all three, and then some. To limit his input to "design" has nothing to do with the God revealed in the Bible.

    "Designer" in no way describes Christ's role in creation, either, as I previously discussed, but you ignored. Also, please tell me how the Intelligent Deisgner differs from God. Is he a secondary entity? Is this more of your Romish theology coming in where the Intelligent Designer, though never mentioned in the Bible, is some sort of Archangel or something? Or perhaps the Intelligent Designer is yet another brother of Jesus, like Lucifer, as some other religious postulate. I'm simply trying to figure out the organization chart here, adel. Help me out. Or, perhaps you only ignore such objections because you cannot answer them?

    "Thomas Kuhn's book has been required reading for many years for science majors in the majority of universities. "

    ROFL. Yeah, I read him when I was a freshman at Calvin. The philosophy of science has progressed quite a ways beyond him, while continuing to reference some of his ideas. Perhaps, instead of taking a freshman survey course that once mentioned Kuhn, or reading about him on some fundie defense-of-ID website, you could actually continue your education in the topic.

    If you'd actually bothered to read and understand Kuhn, however, instead of skimming sound-bites, you'd know that he describes paradigms, and more importantly how paradigm shifts occur. If we stick with his ideas (and I will, just to keep it simple for you, since I doubt you've even heard of any of the other folks I could quote), then we realize that paradigm shifts happen when 1) the accumulated evidence reaches a point where the old paradigm simply looses it's explanatory power and 2) when the old guard dies off.

    That is, in order for the paradigm shift to occur we need evidence. So then, I ask you yet again Adel, please tell me of an experiment I can conduct that will provide evidence of the intelligent designer. (Again, I'll observe that I've asked that question before, and yet you refuse to answer)

    As for the rest of your comment, I would like to poit to this one: "Science as normally understood deals with regularities, that is, with regularly recurring patterns of events against which theories can be tested."

    I must say, adel, I'm rather surprised at you. Plagiarism? That phrase didn't sound like your writing at all, so I Googled it. Never try to pull crap like that over on a former High School teacher. It's from Geisler N.L. & Anderson J.K., "Origin Science: A Proposal for the Creation-Evolution Controversy," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1987, p.13.

    You copied and pasted it. No attribution, no quotation marks.

    You'll pardon me if I don't take claims of scholarship seriously from someone who plagiarizes other people's words and work. I know that you're way above me, being a minister and all, but down here in the real world, such behavior is seen as so objectionable, and is so serious, that it gets people fired.

    And yet you represent our denomination?

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  26. Ugh, I have to say, I appreciate these discussions, and regardless of how I may come off, they don't make me irritated, angry, or even a little flustered.

    But seeing such blatant plagiarism in a fraking blog comment is so pathetic. That does make me angry. It's bad enough to plagiarize on something that means something. But to do so in a stupid blog comment on just a damn blog in a conversation that matters absolutely nothing? I honestly can't understand why anyone would bother.

    You're lucky you've never been one of my students, adel. I would have failed you for the semester. If you'd done this on my blog I would have banned you.

    The most I can do here is expose you.

    Go ahead, make your excuses now. That's what plagiarizers always do. Oops! I simply forgot the quotation marks and the citation! Yeah. Right. Yet you remembered how to operate the cut and paste functions on your computer.

    Pathetic.

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  27. And BTW, adel, you can continue to ignore my questions. I'm done with you.

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  28. ((Alan)))

    You have me totally confused, "lost as a goose in a hail storm." I don't think we're talking about the same thing here.

    And, brother, are you as cranky in real life as you seem on the internet?

    I want an invite for dinner so we can work this all out. :)Your husband sounds like he's a good cook to me.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Grace.

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  29. "And, brother, are you as cranky in real life as you seem on the internet? "

    All those questions I asked, and that's your response?

    I honestly do not understand why people seem to believe that its reasonable or even polite to expect answers to their questions, but ignore questions asked of them. You asked me a question about Job 28-41. I answered it. Then I asked some questions.

    And in response I get "you're cranky." This is at least the 3rd or 4th time you've decided to tell me how I feel, grace, even though each time I tell you I am not angry, I am not annoyed, and I am not cranky. But I am not interested in people who have never met me and apparently either through telepathy or psychobabble, attempt to change the subject from what I say to how I say it in an obvious attempt to evade questions.

    I state my thoughts clearly, though perhaps too bluntly for some. But I think it's pretty hard to say that you don't know exactly where I stand, because I respond to any question put to me.

    I not angry, annoyed, or cranky. I am actually amused that people who hold themselves up as orthodox have completely unorthodox views on the Trinity, on the role of ministers in the church, and apparently, on the morality of plagiarism. I'm not annoyed or irritated, but I am tired of listening to the arrogant assertions of such people that they are somehow the bastions of orthodoxy, when they clearly are not.

    The people with unorthodox views coming here and complaining about John's heterodoxy. That would be hypocrisy.

    And in discussions like this one I am not angry nor annoyed, but neither am I impressed by people who get duped by the ID crowd (you never did answer the questions I put to you WRT the Dover case) and whom, through their intentional ignorance continue to ask the same questions over and over, without every doing any real work to learn that the answers to those questions have been given over and over for years.

    Our understandings of the relationships between science and religion really have progressed since the Scopes Trial, but you'd be hard pressed to see any evidence of that from listening to the fundamentalists. Simply trying to paint over the word "creationism" with the words "intelligent design" is not progress.

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  30. Alan,

    I was teasin around. But, I'll be more serious now, and totally honest.

    As far as I know, people who are inclined toward ID do see God as the creator. I think they're just using the concept of design, and creation in an interchangable way.

    If they're Christians, of course they affirm the trinity, and that Jesus Christ is eternally begotten. But, it's true, not all proponents of ID are Christian believers.

    I have never researched the Dover case, although I actually lived very close to there at the time of the huge controversy.

    Personally, I'm not entirely sure where I come down in all this. I know for some folks this is a real litmus test, either way, and they feel quite strongly. I don't think in those terms.

    I've known many Christian believers, folks with science backgrounds, who come down on either side of the issue, and can work and fellowship together, just fine.

    I don't feel that we should mandate the teaching of ID in the public schools, but I would see no harm in teaching to this controversy, and allowing free debate, if the discussion arises among the kids or their parents.

    Alan, I maybe mistaken about this, but I really do think that for some people macro- evolution is kind of like a religion, a substitute for the gospel, actually.

    I get this impression from Michael Dowd, in hearing him speak, and looking through his recent book. I think he feels that somehow a universal acceptance of evolutionary theory, and expressing this in a mytho-poetic kind of way is critical to the survival of humans on the planet, and pretty much the answer to all of our problems as a species.

    I'm not kiddin!

    John, am I mistaken? Do I misunderstand?

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  31. " I think they're just using the concept of design, and creation in an interchangable way."

    Then why go through the disingenuous exercise of trying to paint creationism and ID as two different ideas, with ID being a "scientific" theory. Why even bother with this "Intelligent Designer" nonsense, and not just worship God the Creator? Again, where, in the Bible, does God reveal Himself as the "Intelligent Designer"? He uses a lot of names for himself, each of which express aspects of who He is. None of them are "Intelligent Designer."

    If we can just make up names for God, what other names shall we use? I find it rather hilarious that many of the same folks who object to feminine language for God (because, they argue, God reveals himself in scripture as He) and the same people have spent months whining about a Trinity paper in the PCUSA because they dislike the words that are used to describe the trinity are yet the very same people who have created their own name for God, Do these people pray, to "The Intelligent Designer, who art in heaven, Intelligent Designer be thy name"?

    Teach the controversy? Fine. That's what history, civics and/or current events classes are for. But we don't teach art in math class, we don't teach layups in history class, and we shouldn't teach religion in science class. For one thing, science teachers are trained to teach science, not religion. For another thing, what other controversies should we teach in science classes? Shall we teach both astronomy and astrology, just so kids can see both sides of the "issue"? Enormous numbers of people in this country read their horoscopes in the daily newspaper. Surely their beliefs should be represented in science classes, right?

    "If they're Christians, of course they affirm the trinity, and that Jesus Christ is eternally begotten. "

    Do they? That isn't at all clear to me. One cannot just say the words; they actually mean something. One cannot affirm X and not X at the same time. Christ cannot be eternally begotten and "designed" at the same time, if one is actually a trinitarian. One cannot suddenly create a new God called "the Intelligent Designer" and not spend the time examining how this "scientific theory" corresponds to the last 4 or 500 years of reformed theology. These are issues that for some reason never seem to get addressed.

    "Alan, I maybe mistaken about this, but I really do think that for some people macro- evolution is kind of like a religion,"

    Sure there are scientists for whom evolution has become dogma, rather than a theory. That nonsense is just as wrong as people who try to turn their religion into a science.

    But none of those people are commenting here.

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  32. Hey, I'll think more about your post, Alan.

    But, goodnight for now. Gotta go down, and run my three miles on the treadmill.

    John, now don't have any caffeine between now and bedtime. You'll just be up all night peein, and then how can God send dreams, and visions?? (laughin)

    God bless!!

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  33. Ooops...

    Cutting and pasting in haste from an old paper doesn't pick up footnotes when added to a blog entry. My bad, I guess I was in too big a hurry. Oh well, I guess I'll flunk out of the Alan school of lower learning.

    Alan your a teacher. Wow! Are the kindergarteners as receptive to your angry illogical rhetoric as are Shuck's bloggers?

    Sorry...I sometimes get a little irritated by people who think they have "scored" by ignoring the substance of the argument by making a personal attack.
    Unfortunately I exposed your so-called version of science as nothing more than philosophical naturalism. You can put lipstick on that pig, but it is still swine. And I am done throwing pearls before swine.

    Your an elder as well, how wonderful. How is that G.60106b thing working for you? You know...fideility chastity...but that's just for those backwards fundies that actually adhere to their vows...my bad.

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  34. Adel,

    Have you considered that the vehemence of your arguments are porportional to your doubt in their truth?

    No one shouts that the sun will rise in the morning.

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  35. Adel said to Alan:
    Your an elder as well, how wonderful. How is that G.60106b thing working for you? You know...fideility chastity...but that's just for those backwards fundies that actually adhere to their vows...my bad.

    That was truly ugly.

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  36. Wow, Adel,

    This sounds pretty harsh. Are you feeling hurt, angry?

    Alan, and I don't always agree either, but he's our precious brother in Christ, not a swine.

    And, what's up with this G.60106b?

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  37. Hope you're all enjoying your Sabbath.

    Wow... some fun here after I left, eh? LOL

    grace, G-6.0106-b is the particular section of our denomination's constitution that prohibits LGBT ordination.

    In this context, adel brought it up because, after having his arguments soundly refuted, after being shown as a dilettante in this discussion with no actual ideas of his own, and after being exposed as a plagerist, this is adel's thinly veiled, playground response of, "Oh yeah, well you're a fag and a whore." (That is, he mentions the article, to point out I'm gay, and "fidelity" because he's accusing me of being unfaithful to my husband.)

    So yeah, "pretty harsh" is a bit of an understatement. However I've heard much worse from his ilk, and I've developed a thick skin. In these situations I just do what I always do: pray.

    "May God bless the hearts of those who love us. Those that don't, may God turn their hearts. And if He can't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we'll know them by their limping." (From an old Irish prayer.)

    :)

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  38. That was a pretty intense exchange all right. Thanks Alan for speaking honestly and for exposing this ID movement.

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  39. I get this impression from Michael Dowd, in hearing him speak, and looking through his recent book. I think he feels that somehow a universal acceptance of evolutionary theory, and expressing this in a mytho-poetic kind of way is critical to the survival of humans on the planet, and pretty much the answer to all of our problems as a species.

    I'm not kiddin!

    John, am I mistaken? Do I misunderstand?


    Grace, I have answered this caricature you have made of Dowd's project before.

    I could offer a caricature of your beliefs: If everyone on the planet believed that Jesus corpse was resuscitated and then worshiped said resuscitated corpse we would have all the answers to our problems.

    That is ugly. That is not your faith. Nor is your caricature of Dowd's faith his.

    Michael Dowd, among other things, believes that learning our cosmological and evolutionary history is a good thing. If we learned it, yes, we might better be prepared to embrace some of the problems we face.

    I agree with him that it would be a more intelligent and productive option than promoting creationism.

    Because some Christians (in fact a large number) have difficulties with their inherited language of faith and what we are learning from science (and thus embrace creationism), he provides an avenue that has been helpful for some.

    Not all Christians need to go Michael Dowd's way to embrace science.

    But, if your theological language is so small that it cannot handle science and therefore needs to create psuedo-science, it might be time to rethink your theological language.

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  40. It's because of people like Adel that my family became concerned when I told them I had started going to church!

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  41. Snad, it's because of people like adel that we need people like you to start going to church.

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  42. Well, thanks, Alan! And it's because of people like Adel that we need people like you and my old buddy Shuck opening the doors for us.

    I wonder how Adel likes being referred to as though he were no longer in the room.

    Adel? A-deh-el? Oh, never mind. He's probably off looking for that Gayliath fella.

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  43. Well, John, I don't conceive of the resurrection of Jesus as just being about a resuscitated corpse.

    But, I really do think that if everyone truly knew, and worshipped the risen Lord, that we certainly would be well on our way to peace on the planet.

    I have to admit that I am puzzled by Michael Dowd. Depending on the audience at hand, he seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth. ( Hey, don't think I'm being hard, just honest, and trying to understand.)

    On the one hand, he seems to personify the universe. "The universe can be trusted. It is conspiring on our behalf." This makes little sense to me. Is the universe sentinent?

    I think a loving, personal God who created the universe can definitely be trusted.

    It seems to me that Dowd's issue runs deeper than just a difference of opinion relating to origins, though.

    I personally don't have a huge problem with theistic evolution. I'm not wholly convinced, but I really don't feel that Christian faith is hugely impacted one way or the other.

    Do you see? It doesn't personally matter to me. Our faith as Christians is centered in Christ, around His gospel. It's not based in a certain interpretation of Genesis.

    I'm not sure that Dowd is actually proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like I said, he seems very changeable in his response, depending on who is interviewing him, and the audience in question.

    So, I'm just plainly confused. And, I think I'm not the only one. Given some reviews that I've read, even the skeptics, and atheists are perplexed. :)

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  44. Grace,

    If you don't like his views, fine. You made a caricature of his views and I addressed it.

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  45. John,

    You've met Michael Dowd personally, and maybe have had some conversation with him. I don't have this advantage.

    But, I listened to his interview on "Point of Inquiry," and can honestly say that would you would consider just a caricature is pretty much the impression that I received from his sharing, and responding to questions.

    I will accept what you're saying though, and keep an open mind. Enough said, I guess.

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  46. On the one hand, he seems to personify the universe. "The universe can be trusted. It is conspiring on our behalf." This makes little sense to me. Is the universe sentinent?

    I think a loving, personal God who created the universe can definitely be trusted.


    Grace, if the choice is between trusting the universe and trusting your imaginary friend, the choice is not difficult for me.

    In my opinion, the stories, myths, legends, and various theologies are attempts by human beings to make sense of our existence. Poetry, art, song, metaphor, and so forth is our night language to help us connect with day language which is the language of observation and fact.

    We use night language to find the sacred and to find meaning and to be at peace, at home, so to speak. We use it to help us cope with the transient and the tragic.

    I personally have little use for theologies that separate the sacred from the material. My sense of the sacred is not out there in some other realm beyond this universe.

    Is the universe sentient? I don't know exactly how to answer that. Sentience arises from the universe as I see it. I don't think it was injected from a being outside of the universe. So in the sense that we are sentient and part of the universe, then I guess you could say the universe is sentient.

    How do we express that? Through story, song, art, poetry, and through personifying it. As humans we communicate to one another with language and with a face. We create a face for the universe so that we can communicate. The face is and is not the universe.

    If I pray to Mary, Jesus, or Krishna, I am praying to on one hand a human creation, but on another level, to a manifestation of the universe itself through a symbol which I can relate.

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  47. Very little I can add at this point, and Alan made my point (the "Intelligent Designer" is NOT the God described in Scripture) better than I could.

    I would also add that the "Intelligent Designer" is a legal construct. Let's call him/her/it the Intelligent Universe Designer, or IUD for short.

    In 1971, the US Supreme Court decided in Lemon v. Kurtzman that any legislation concerning religion must meet three tests ("prongs") in order to be Constitutional. A government action:

    1. Must have a secular legislative purpose,
    2. Must not have a primary purpose of either advancing or inhibiting religion, and
    3. Must not result in "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

    In the 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard decision, the court decided that a Louisiana law requiring public schools to "teach the controversy" between creationism and evolution was unconstitutional. This gets complicated, but in the decision the court ruled that the law failed the first prong because it was obviously written in order to promote a religious legislative purpose, failed the second because it was promoting a narrow religious perspective (and actually undermined the stated purpose of "academic freedom"), and failed the third because it was forcing the government to decide which was and which was not a valid religious view to introduce as counterpoint to evolution.

    Enter stage left the "Intelligent Design" concept. It carefully stayed away from any particular religion and tried to paint itself as non-sectarian (to the point where a division of the Discovery Institute quickly replaced its logo based on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco "The Creation of Adam"). IUD is not an image of God based upon a reading of Scripture, but a reading of Lemon v. Kurtzman, which helps to explain why outside the United States, the Intelligent Design movement has little or no traction. The reason is because Intelligent Design is a concept built not around science and not around religion, but around American case law.

    And a word on plagiarism. I've done a little writing, but most of my creativity on paper is the composition of music. Nothing elaborate, but I still appreciate the time and effort it takes to put into the creative process. As a result, I take copyright law seriously. It's so important that the Framers wrote it into the US Constitution even before the Bill of Rights was drafted.

    For example, copying a single purchased copy of sheet music and handing the copies out to members of the choir is illegal and wrong, particularly in a church setting. As church musician par excellence Martha Lynn Thompson put it, if you were to run out of grape juice halfway through the Lord's Supper, would you walk into the local convenience store and steal a jug? Absolutely not. It's the same thing in principle.

    In a lot of cases, the copyright holder will be lenient as long as YOU ASK FIRST. They just want to be acknowledged for their hard work. Westminster/John Knox Press owns the copyright to The Presbyterian Hymnal and will allow churches and choirs to make copies as long as no profit is made and proper credit is given.

    Likewise, if someone puts time and effort into writing something, particularly a scholarly work, it's wrong to copy it without any attribution.

    To use it and claim it's one's own writing isn't just stealing, it's lying. It's wrong, and the leadership in the church (Ministers, Elders and Deacons in particular) should NOT engage in unethical behavior. THAT's the point of the ENTIRE section (BOTH paragraphs) of G-6.0106.

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  48. John, I don't know what to say exactly. I mean I think there is a sense that God is immanent in the creation, and everything is sacred.

    But, I also feel that God is greater, and seperate from the totality of creation. The Christian church lives into this paradox.

    I mean I could bring up all sorts of intellectual arguments right now, and cite tons of Scripture supporting the existence of a personal God, showing that the universe is not eternal... But, I suppose as a Presbyterian minister you must have studied them all.

    I can tell you personally that a relationship with God in Christ has changed my life. He's not just some "imaginary friend," or metaphor to me.

    Sincerely,
    Grace.

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  49. I can tell you personally that a relationship with God in Christ has changed my life. He's not just some "imaginary friend," or metaphor to me.

    I don't doubt for a second that your faith has changed your life. That is a good thing. My faith has changed my life as well and continues to do so.

    The way we express our faith may have similar elements. Some of the ways are different. All good to me.

    The problem comes when we try to insist that others express it in the same way as we do. It loses its impact. It becomes caricature.

    Of course, I know that your faith is not in an imaginary friend. But when forced on someone else that is how it comes across.

    Obviously, Dowd's faith (or mine for that matter) doesn't speak to you. Neither does yours to me. Although, I accept that your faith speaks to you.

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  50. John,

    For me the whole issue is not what might speak to me subjectively, or even seem to work in the short term , but what it actually true.

    I want to know the God who is really there, no matter what. Clearly, all contradictory views cannot be mutually true, and good at the sametime.

    I can honestly say that if I thought Jesus never actually existed, the resurrection was merely a hoax, or wishful thinking, or that the incarnation was based in a fairy tale, I would not waste two seconds of my time with the Christian church, regardless of some helpful nuggets of insight here, and there.

    There would be no real point in it at all. I can't imagine how any thinking, rational person would consider otherwise.

    This doesn't mean that I just want to force faith on people though. That's plainly wrong. Only God's spirit can bring anyone to faith. Surely no one can affirm Jesus as Lord except by the Spirit of God.

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  51. For me the whole issue is not what might speak to me subjectively, or even seem to work in the short term , but what it actually true.

    What does "true" mean? I am all for truth as well. But what is true can mean different things depending on what we are talking about.

    Here are some statements that I think are true:

    2 plus 2 equals 4.

    George Washington was the first president of the United States.

    My love is a red, red rose.

    The Lord is my shepherd.

    The Universe is 13.7 billion years old.

    The kingdom of God is within you.

    The bonobo is the closest living species to the human.

    Human beings were created in the image of God.

    Human beings are related to all other forms of life and evolved from other life forms.

    God created the heavens and the earth.

    Jesus lives in my heart.

    Jesus is the light of the world.

    Light has the properties of both wave and particle.

    Surely no one can affirm Jesus as Lord except by the Spirit of God.


    Some things are true because they are facts. Some things are true because they are theories about facts (yet this truth is temporary as theories change to fit new data). Some things are true in a metaphorical or poetic sense. Some things that seem contradictory or opposite are both true (ie. Jesus is fully human and fully God).

    In what sense is religious or spiritual truth true? How do we decide which category of truth we are working with in regards to evaluating the truth of something?

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  52. Well, John -

    If truth be told, I think the "Darwin wall stain" looks more like Ron Perelman (think "Hellboy") than Darwin.

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