- List All


  • Web   The Point

Blogroll

+ Theology/Religion + Culture + Marriage & Family + Politics + Academia + Human Rights
Christianity Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites
Link With Us - Web Directory



« The Gospel at Gunpoint | Main | Re: This is 90 percent of what’s wrong with TV »

March 19, 2008

The First Rule of Evolution...

Anthraxbacteria ...is that "life is destined to become more complex," according to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That's odd; by my estimation it is the most simple organisms--bacteria, viruses, ants, roaches, and the like--that are most evolutionarily fit judging by their number, fecundity and robustness.

Indeed, as one researcher acknowledged: “We must not forget that bacteria – very simple organisms – are among the most successful living things. Therefore, the trend towards complexity is compelling but does not describe the history of all life.”

So that would mean that complexity is not the first rule of evolution? Obviously, I'm confused.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c635553ef00e5514824a28834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The First Rule of Evolution...:

Comments

vikingmom

It means that the belief (in random evolution) is shaped by the observed data...
but the belief is NOT given up...

Samuel X

Let me know when you figure out how unguided chance can "destine" life to anything.

Samuel X

Also... isn't this kind of what the idea of evolution as "the origin of species" is all about to begin with? I can't see that there's anything especially revolutionary here.

Sort of like the theory is evolving in circles.

Steve

Interesting article above, Regis, & impressed with your article "Witness of Creation." You are a gifted writer.

I found the above article ironic in a sort of "life imitates art" sort of way. Life gets more complex over time; likewise evolutionary theory becomes more and more complex as it has to adapt to each new discovery that contradicts the prevailing version.

It is reminiscent of the Ptolemaic theory of planetary movement that became increasingly complex and unwieldy as it repeatedly had to adapt to new observations and measurements. Finally, the whole system crumbled when a better model was generated. Not that I expect evolutionary theory to be abandoned in my lifetime. Its proponents are too emotionally invested in it.

Regis Nicoll

Steve--You make a great point about complexity. I think it's interesting that the most highly venerated and successful theories are those that are expressed with the simplest formulations: e=mc2, f=ma, Shrodinger's wave equation, and Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism.

Hmm. I wonder if that's why the most "successful" life forms are those that are the most simple?

(BTW--thanks for your very gracious comment about the "Creation" article.)

Matt

My biology teacher said something similar about how bacteria are the most efficient form of life. So I asked him why would it ever bother to evolve. I don't quite remember his answer but I do recall it being unsatisfactory...

labrialumn

The first rule of evolution, according to the peers who review papers, is that there is no God.

The second rule is that good is evil, and evil is good.

The third rule is have as many surviving offspring as possible, by any means necessary.

The necessary conclusion is that the cross is worse than meaningless, and that it, along with Jesus' example, and the Law of God, are evil, for they work against having as many surviving offspring as possible.

When a theist claims to be an evolutionist, this is also what they are saying, though they are in denial.

Walter

Regis,

The scientific press just reports the news. The scientists studied the complexity of Crustaceans over time and found that they become more complex. This doesn't prove or disprove the existence of God. If Christianists find the results threatening, it's a sign of theological weakness.

Here's how the scientist thinks:

Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology will increase in complexity over time.

Null Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology will not change over time.

Negative Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology will decrease in complexity over time.

The scientists then study the fossil record, taking care to gather statistically significant samples and to define their criteria for measuring complexity. Peers review the work, and if it passes muster, it's published.

Regis Nicoll

Walter--You wrote, "The scientists then study the fossil record, taking care to gather statistically significant samples and to define their criteria for measuring complexity."

Except, that is, when the fossil record is "uncooperative", as in the case of the Cambrian explosion.

For those who believe that scientists are free of blinkered biases and preconceptions,Ian Tattersall, Curator of the American Museum of Natural History, confesses, “The patterns we perceive are as likely to result from our unconscious mindsets as from the evidence itself.” Richard Leakey admitted as much when he disclosed the tendency of his father (paleontologist Louis Leakey) to arrange fossils and alter their criteria to fit into a line of human descent.

So, yes, the scientific press "reports the news," but often the news it reports has been filtered through materialistic lens that blocks out all evidences of design.

Walter

Regis,

Tattersall is correct. Humans create the scientific work product. We tend to insert our own biases into that work product. Entire systems can become corrupted when those biases are repeated and believed and repeated, eclipsing the truth. We saw this, for example when Colin Powell told the U.N. and the world that there was "overwhelming evidence" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was threatening our way of life. The government weapons scientists said it - "overwhelming evidence" - and every major news outlet repeated it "overwhelming evidence", "overwhelming evidence", "overwhelming evidence". It became a delusional mind warp.

When scientists say that there is "overwhelming evidence" that the theory of natural selection is a valid scientific theory, they are saying that - over time, better suited animals will thrive and the others will die out. This is just common sense.

The complexity exhibited by the crustaceans studied above provided them advantages to survive in particular niche environments. While evolutionary theory may have served as a foundational presupposition in the minds of the scientists, the presupposition didn't appear to have biased this well designed study.

On the other hand, it would be very difficult to formulate the hypothesis from an ID perspective. I'll give it a try:

Hypothesis - An Intelligent Designer proclaimed that crustacean morphology shall increase in complexity over time.

Null Hypothesis - An Intelligent Designer proclaimed that crustacean morphology shall not change over time.

Negative Hypothesis - An Intelligent Designer proclaimed that crustacean morphology shall decrease in complexity over time.

The addition of "An Intelligent Designer" doesn't add anything to the experimental design, other than to insert an explicit unmeasurable causal mechanism. If the purpose of the experiment were to prove something about the existence of the Designer, it would be worded:

Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology shall increase in complexity over time because an Intelligent Designer designed it that way.

Null Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology shall not change over in spite of the Designer's intent.

Negative Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology shall decrease in complexity over in direct opposition to the Designer's intent.

Neither of the ID experimental designs is satisfactory science, which is why ID is not taught in science class. Can you formulate a better hypothesis?

Steve

Walter,

You wrote: "Hypothesis - Crustacean morphology will increase in complexity over time."

How and why would that hypothesis be predicted by evolutionary theory? Shouldn't evolution be indifferent to complexity? As Matt correctly pointed out, bacteria are the most adaptable of all life forms.

Regis Nicoll

Walter—How about this hypothesis: Life exhibits complexity that is best explained as a product of intelligence. Bill Gates acknowledged as much when, after studying the structure of DNA, he remarked “It’s like a piece of software, only much more sophisticated than anything we’ve developed.”

Your insistence that ID is not “satisfactory science” would be news to those involved in cryptography, archaeology, forensics and even Carl Sagan’s SETI project.

Consider Stonehenge, the Great Sphinx, or Mount Rushmore: Are they best understood as products of 150 million years of tectonic shifts, wind erosion and quantum jitters, or intelligent agents? And yet the structure of DNA is much more specified and irreducibly complex.

Or imagine coming across a body with three bullet wounds in the back: Is that best explained as an accident or homicide? Funny, isn’t it, that the science of design is invoked everywhere except in origin-of-life studies.

As to the study under question, if “life is destined to become more complex” through the engine of random change, adaptation and natural selection, why have so many species remained essentially unchanged over 100’s of millions of years? Considering the fact that macroevolution has never been observed or demonstrated, what makes better sense out of similar morphology among speicies: common ancestry or common design?

Walter

Steve,

Don't have time for a long answer here. I will take some time to study macro-evolution to answer Regis. I do believe that the trend towards increasing complexity fits quite well with the theory of evolution, but belief is not good enough, so I owe you one.

More importantly, would "scientists" who use ID as their theoretical framework conduct the experiment described in this post, and if so, how would they phrase their hypothesis. Neither you nor Regis answered that critical question.

Steve

Walter,
I'll defer to Regis on your question; frankly I don't see why an ID model would yield any specific prediction related to a trend of increasing crustacean complexity. ID theory might predict that the complexity would be sudden in appearance, possibly increase in a more stairstep than linear fashion, but I'll leave the hard work to others. ID would differ from evolution in that ID is inherently teleological (in the sense of being purposeful and goal-directed), in our case leading to the eventual appearance of man on a planet the designer spent billions of years preparing.

The matter in dispute here is the article above suggesting evolution must have some inherent push toward increasing complexity (making it look more like ID, oddly enough). Looks to some of us like they'll adjust the predictions to fit the data, which is working backwards. That makes it unfalsifiable, which has been a complaint of creationists for decades, and I don't think it's ever been satisfactorily addressed.

Evolutionists will claim it can be falsified by, for instance, direct observation of a new species coming out of nowhere, but that's being disingenuous. Falsifiabily should require forming a hypothesis and testing in a way that will lead to a actual results. Besides, they've never directly observed a new species arise via their model either.

Regis Nicoll

Walter--An ID scientist would have no problem with the premise that species change and adapt to their environment. But because those changes are brought about through the inheritance of normal or damaged genes, they involve no new information and, hence, no increase in complexity. Consequently, an ID hypothesis would be:

"The morphology of life forms does not increase in complexity due to environmental pressures."

This has been readily demonstrated with bacteria, such as Plasmodium Falciparum, the single-celled parasite responsible for malaria.

For several decades, researchers have studied Plasmodium Falciparum, applying various environmental pressures to see how it responds. Yet after trillions upon trillions of replications—many more than occurred in the evolution of fish to mammals—the bacterium never evolved into a multi-celled organism. It remained what it had always been: a single-celled parasite which, in some cases, adapted a resistance to anti-biotic drugs.

Walter

Regis,

Maybe it just wasn't the right time for Plasmodium Falciparum to evolve into a multi-celled organism, or maybe it didn't have the right stuff to do so. It's a bit specious for christianists to argue that scientists, over the course of a few decades have more resources than the entire ecosystem over billions of years.

Steve and Regis,

Here are my thoughts on increasing complexity.

I performed a little thought experiment while performing the most un-Godly unnatural act that I'm guilty of performing, driving. This is what I came up with.

Imagine that a single crustacean species lived on the sandy floor of the open ocean. As it proliferated, it would spread out and encounter different environments, currents, rocky bottoms, rock outcroppings, temperature variations, etc. In each of these niche environments, "feature enhancements" would yield evolutionary advantage: on the sandy bottom, digging features; in the current, adaptations for gliding with the current or swimming efficiently against it; in rock outcrops, pigmentation, and lunging adaptations; on the rocky bottom, spikes or spines to repel predators.

These adaptations would yield increasing complexity in two dimensions:

1. Bifurcation of form. The original single form of the crustacean will split into many forms, each adapted to a particular niche. From one to many is an increase in complexity.

2. More complex forms. The parent form did not manifest any of the adaptive features: the digging appendages; the gliding fins; the pigment; the lunging musculature; the spikes. Each feature is an addition to the parent form. The original form plus the feature is more complex than the original parent form all by itself.

Increasing complexity comports perfectly with evolutionary theory.

Regis Nicoll

Walter—I agree that P. Falciparum, as you say, “didn’t have the right stuff” to evolve into a multi-celled organism. That’s because the “right stuff” is the information content of its DNA.

While genetic information can be either passed on, inhibited or damaged, it cannot be created or increased, without intervention of an intelligent agent. It’s like a message spelled out on a Scrabble broad. Non-intelligent processes, like a cat walking across and reposing on the board, can obscure or degrade the message but cannot enhance or add to the information contained.

The same is true for a burst of cosmic radiation on the genome. Because the energy imparted on the genome is not directed, or constructive, it can result in damaging or suppressing genes, but not create new ones

This became clear to me in my post-grad work in radiobiology. I discovered that after nearly one century of study on a gazillion generations of drosophila subjected the mutational effects of radiation, researches observed only three things: unchanged flies, deformed flies or dead flies.

Thus, if trillions of generations of P. Falciparum under the direction of researchers (intelligent agents) was able to produce only one morphological change (drug resistance), it is nothing less than stupefying to imagine that reptiles (with life cycles orders of magnitude longer) experienced the over 50,000 changes needed to evolve into mammals.

Walter

Regis,

Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to level-set? Your response wasn't very convincing. It left me wondering where to begin. Answers to the questions below may help.

1. Can you describe the mechanism a white blood cell uses to create antibodies to fight viruses?

2. Where would you find the "intelligence" of a cell?

3. As you watch the NCAA playoffs, where do you find more intelligence, in the coach, or the players?

Thanks in advance for your patience.

Regis Nicoll

Walter—Sure. 1) Very basically, the production of antibodies begins when a white blood cell detects a pathogen, then manufactures a pathogen-neutralizing protein (i.e, antibody) according to the instructions encoded on its DNA. 2) There is no intelligence “in the cell”; only features that exhibit an intelligent design: namely, a million-letter long code (for the simplest bacterium), data storage media, information processors, molecular machines, transcription devices, and error correction systems, all inside a bubble of microscopic dimensions that directs the operation, assembly and repair of cellular components. 3) I don't watch the NCAA playoffs. You’re most welcomed.

Walter

Regis,

Here's a more in-depth answer to the first question that alludes to the answer to the second. Credit to Dr. Bruce Lipton and his book "The Biology of Belief" with the provocative byline "unleashing the power of consciousness, matter, & miracles"

"I also made it clear to my students that each cell is an intelligent being that can survive on its own, as scientists demonstrate when they remove individual cells from the body and grow them in a culture. As I knew intuitively when I was a child, these smart cells are imbued with intent and purpose; they actively seek environments that support their survival while simultaneously avoiding toxic or hostile ones. Like humans, single cells analyze thousands of stimuli from the microenvironment they inhabit. Through the analysis of this data, cells select appropriate behavioral responses to ensure their survival.

Single cells are also capable of learning through these environmental experiences and are able to create cellular memories, which they pass on to their offspring. For example, when a measles virus infects a child, an immature immune cell is called in to create a protective protein antibody against that virus. In the process the cell must create a new gene to serve as a blueprint in manufacturing the measles antibody protein.

The first step in generating a specific measles antibody gene occurs in the nuclei of immature immune cells. Among their genes are a very large number of DNA segments that encode uniquely shaped snippets of proteins. By randomly assembling and recombining these DNA segments, immune cells create a vast array of different genes, each one providing for a uniquely shaped antibody protein. When an immature immune cell produces an antibody protein that is a "close" physical complement to the invading measles virus, that cell will be activated.

Activated cells employ an amazing mechanism called affinity maturation that enables the cell to perfectly "adjust" the final shape of its antibody protein, so that it will become a perfect complement to the invading measles virus. [Li, et al, 2003; Adams, et al, 2003] Using a process called somatic hypermutation, activated immune cells makes hundreds of copies of their original antibody gene. However, each new version of the gene is slightly mutated so that it will encode a slightly different shaped antibody protein. The cell selects the variant gene that makes the best fitting antibody. This selected version of the gene also goes through repeated rounds of somatic hypermutation to further sculpt the shape of the antibody to become a "perfect" physical complement of the measles virus. [Wu, et al, 2003; Blanden and Steele 1998; Diaz and Casali 2002, Gearhart 2002]

When the sculptured antibody locks on to the virus, it inactivates the invader and marks it for destruction, thus protecting the child from the ravages of measles. The cells retain the genetic "memory" of this antibody, so that in the future if the individual is again exposed to measles, the cells can immediately launch a protective immune response. The new antibody gene can also be passed on to all the cell's progeny when it divides. In this process, not only did the cell "learn" about the measles virus, it also created a "memory" that will be inherited and propagated by its daughter cells. This amazing feat of genetic engineering is profoundly important because it represents an inherent "intelligence" mechanism by which cells evolve. [Steele, et al, 1998]"

Regis Nicoll

Walter--It is important to note that the production of antibodies does not involve or affect the germ cells. Consequently, this is not a mechanism by which creatures allegedly evolve into increasingly complex organisms. Specifically, white blood cells, despite their adaptive capabilities, cannot differentiate into sperm or eggs. But even if they could, they would not be in the proper location in the body to lead to creation of a new, fertile offspring--they would be floating around in the blood or lymphatic fluid, or elsewhere. Thus, the adaptive immune response of a parent organism does not confer new genes, information or complexity to an offspring organism.

Walter

Regis,

In an earlier comment, you made the statement that "While genetic information can be either passed on, inhibited or damaged, it cannot be created or increased, without intervention of an intelligent agent."

The production of a viral antibody demonstrates that an organism can produce genes required for survival. Those genes persist in the body until death and their production demonstrates that the process of evolution occurs within a normal functioning organism. The process involves:

a. generation of trial genes
b. selection of the gene that "fits" the virus
c. reproduction of the selected gene

I'll grant you that this doesn't prove that the new gene will be found in a sperm or egg cell, but that's not the point which is to gain a deeper understanding of the functioning of the cell and the constructive process of gene creation.

Now, withing that process, what is the intervening "intelligent agent"?

Regis Nicoll

Walter—Think of antibody production, like the solution to a complex problem by an artificially intelligent computer program. Highly advanced computer codes employ numerous subroutines (cp. DNA snippets) each containing alternate algorithms (cp. genes) and parameters (cp. codons) pertaining to a specific task to be accomplished (cp. antibody shape). By using a random Monte-Carlo simulation, the code “works through” all the permutations of possible algorithms and parameter values until it hits on a solution. Once found, the solution is “learned” so that the next time the problem is encountered the program will solve it straight away.

What’s more, these programs don't arise from a chance configurations of electrons undergoing 15 billion years of atomic collisions and quantum jitters; they are the creations of real intelligence. Consequently, they can only do what they’ve been programmed to do. So, while B cells have been intelligently-designed to cut-and-paste DNA snippets to create new genes, germ cells haven’t. And with that, the scaffolding of evolutionary theory collapses in a rubble.

Walter

Regis,

How does the cell "know" that the problem is solved?

If many cells are activated and one cell solves the problem, the other cells should be deactivated. How do they know to deactivate themselves?

Regis Nicoll

How does an advanced computer code "know" when it's "solved" a problem and learns to bypass unsuccessful permutations in future encounters with same problem? It has been PROGRAMMED to do so.

Walter

Regis,

Code doesn't "know". Code can perform tests:

if (x = 10) {
print "success";
}

This is a determinate test.

The B cell on the other hand "senses" an affinity with the attacking virus and makes a life or death decision. This process is more like free will. The cell has knowledge of good affinity versus bad affinity. This knowledge acquisition mechanism is not part of the DNA. It's outside of the DNA and it controls the DNA. So isn't the cell smarts outside of the DNA - at the cell wall where it communicates with the outside world?

Walter

Regis said:

"So, while B cells have been intelligently-designed to cut-and-paste DNA snippets to create new genes, germ cells haven’t. And with that, the scaffolding of evolutionary theory collapses in a rubble."

That's what we call an unsubstantiated opinion.

Regis Nicoll

The B cell likewise performs determinate tests, something like this:

If Antigen, GO TO 10
ELSE, GO TO 30
10 GO 20 I=1, 10000000000
Mutate (I)
20 IF mutate (I) does not "fit"
Destroy antigen
Replicate mutate (I)
30 END

(Pardon my FORTRAN, it's been a few...er, quite a few years ;-))

Steve (SBK)

Walter,
I don't know how much you know about software or DNA, but your ability to equivocate is impressive.

Software is exponentially more complex than determinate 'if' tests. (Though of course it does that, as do cells... or do cells sense with ESP?)
What are you talking about with cell 'sense' and 'affinity' and 'knowledge'? You understand, I hope that these vague terms you use are actually physical processes, controlled by the proteins created by their DNA. I challenge you to take a course in Operating Systems while keeping in mind your 'ideas' about 'sensing' and 'affinity'. Software is designed to interact with something outside of itself: user or environmental input with designed hardware as the medium. The input it encounters will be seen as either 'good' or 'bad' (affinity). Let me be perfectly clear: Interaction with software is impossible - impossible - unless the software has been designed to acknowledge this interaction. Do you think the 'N' on your keyboard is just magically sensed by the OS? The input reception is in place with many layers of software on many types of hardware... just in your personal computer. No 'knowledge' is possible unless 'knowledge' is expected.
The tight integration between hardware and software in a cell, that enables duplication of both, increases the elegance, the sophistication and the genius required.
What is your explanation for the similarities between software and DNA, or between an iPod and a cell, (with the cell having orders of magnitude greater complexity - controlled by the DNA), and do you understand that a cell's input devices/receptors/knowledge "aquisitors" are coded for by the DNA?

I suggest you are being intentionally obtuse or willfully ignorant if you conclude that DNA (and life) arose by chance, because you are not unintelligent.

I don't know what else to say at this point.

Walter

Nobody is disputing that Regis. There is a pretty significant difference. The microprocessor loads register A and register B and then compares the two. The B cell communicates the state of the antigen's effectiveness (all other interactions with the environment considering) from the outside in and it makes decisions about that interaction. The communication and decision making process takes place at the cell membrane, not in the DNA. That process can't be controlled by the DNA because that process controls the DNA.

It reminds me of one of C.S. Lewis' arguments for the existence of God which goes something like this. Because all humans have a natural understanding of morality - of right versus wrong - that many times tells them that it is right to do what is uncomfortable or painful or dangerous or against their personal interest...there must be some external author of that natural law.

The B cells behave in a similar manner. Some do the uncomfortable thing. The act in concert like collaborating bits of conscious matter. It isn't "survival of the fittest", each cell for itself, it's more like an army with a mission to create a new gene to protect the host body from future invasions.

This is an interesting pattern of creative and adaptive gene construction. Is it more likely that this is a ubiquitous natural pattern, or as you imply that it belongs to B cells, but not anywhere else in nature?

Regis Nicoll

Walter--If you have evidence of adaptive response and gene construction in sperm and egg cells, do share.

Walter

Regis,

Einstein had to wait years for a solar eclipse before he could measure gravitational curvature of space-time and gain one data point towards confirmation of his theory of general relativity. Now we have a huge perfectly milled aluminum cylinder instrumented with strain gauges listening for a gravitational singularity.

Scientists are patient. All the answers are not handed down in a God authored book. We see from the B cells that conscious "sensual" adaptation occurs in organisms. It's highly unlikely that the phenomenon is anomalous to B cells and *is not* a generalized biological pattern.

Scientists will continue to study and learn how this marvelous universe works. Discoveries will occur at their own pace, even while people try to defund the science to protect their narrow, juvenile , unscientific world views.

This has been an interesting conversation. I don't know if it's worth continuing. We never delved into the "intelligent" cell membrane or the philosophical question of who is more intelligent, the player or the coach. You don't seem to be more interested in winning rhetorical fights than listening, learning conversing and building community. Pride will do that. Regardless, God is still speaking.

Regis Nicoll

Walter—You said, “We see from the B cells that conscious "sensual" adaptation occurs in organisms. It's highly unlikely that the phenomenon is anomalous to B cells and *is not* a generalized biological pattern.”

I think I have to concur with your earlier remark: “That's what we call an unsubstantiated opinion.”

Note that you’re drawing a universal conclusion from a very specific and isolated observation. It’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and concluding that since they serve sushi, every other eating establishment must be serving sushi as well, despite the fact that you have never see sushi in any occidental restaurant and that there is no reason they should, other than the fact that you like sushi.

Walter

I do like sushi but don't generally order it from Chinese restaurants. I order the traditional dishes that best represent (in my unsubstantiated opinion ;-)) the owner's culinary roots. The point, again, is that with regard to single celled organisms, the germ cell *is* the cell itself, and the genetic makeup of surviving ancestors is governed by a constructive utilitarian evolutionary process.

Is it conjecture to think that utilitarian processes could govern gene selection in higher order germ cells? Yes. Some would call it faith, the faith that God doesn't need to perform "unnatural" miracles because the natural world He created is magnificent and miraculous on its own. Miracles happen.

Back to your question about germ cells. When you study the literature and see that the skeleton of the egg cell is responsible for chromosome reduction,

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/79345.php

you may ask if external signals may have an effect on the process. Seems like reasonable conjecture. You may then look at the National Academy of Science's recent reiteration of over 150 years of substantial evidence for evolution,

http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11876

and wonder why, if it's true that:

"Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of each to contribute to a better future"

What would motivate a $50M prison fellowship to spend so much time and energy constructing a delusional dichotomy (I believe that centurions call it a "worldview") that in reality, doesn't exist. Perhaps the motivation is a desire to "contribute to a worse future"? Again, that's conjecture, but well founded. There's plenty of evidence and I thank you your fellow writers for putting it down in bits and pixels.

Regis Nicoll

Walter--You wrote: “God doesn't need to perform "unnatural" miracles because the natural world He created is magnificent and miraculous on its own. Miracles happen.”

Question: Would you consider the Incarnation and Resurrection “natural” miracles? How about the act of creation itself?

Walter

Regis,

My personal faith and theology is a work in progress which aligns with the work of the Jesus Seminar.

http://www.westarinstitute.org/Jesus_Seminar/jesus_seminar.html

Regis Nicoll

Walter--Thanks, that explains a lot. So here's the thing:

As I understand it, the JS rejects all of the miracles ascribed to Jesus in the NT. Yet there is one miracle recorded in both the OT and NT that, at least, you (as I suppose the JS) acknowledge: Creation.

Since that was accomplished by an Agent, outside of the "system", it would be, by definition, a supernatural event. Given that the Agent has supernatural powers and has applied them at least once, why should we presume that that's the end of the matter?

Walter

Regis,

Physicists refer to the big bang as a "singularity" and they study the origins of the big bang with the tools at their disposal; general relativity, string theory, and quantum mechanics.

There are other singularities in the universe. A black hole is a singularity. A supernova explosion is a singularity. The busting of a bubble is a singularity. Natural law continues to apply to all of them.

You could say that birth and death are singularities too. Where was your soul before your were born and were does it go after you die? Scientists don't have an answer to that question. It's best suited to philosophers and theologians. Such questions should not be studied in science class.

I understand that your worldview ministry has a theological/political agenda. That's ok. It's a free country, and if your work is good, and people are "willing to buy it", all the better. I still don't understand why you feel compelled to try and wreck science? Applications of science I can understand. That's why Einstein fretted over the possibility that a nuclear bomb would be dropped on innocent people. But your trying to wreck the meaning of science, discredit the scientific method, and conflate science with religion. That's very strange behavior. There must be an explanation. What would a moral Agent operating outside of the "system" have to say?

Regis Nicoll

Walter--I see that you've gone to great lengths to avoid answering the question. First, you say God created the universe; next you infer that it was due to a "singularity" (i.e, the Big Bang). Well, which is it? If the latter, what caused the Bang? If the former, my previous question stands: Seeing as how you have no problem drawing general conclusions from isolated observations (with regard to biological cells), why should we not expect, likewise, to encounter supernatural activity after the Bang?

BTW--A "singularity" is merely a lofty label for phenomenon that science cannot explain. The Big Bang and black holes qualify because they represent an inexplicable rip in the fabric of spacetime due to the incompatibility General Relativity and Quantum Theory.

Finally, contrary to your claim, ID proponents don't what less evolution taught in school, we want more; including an honest critique of its strengths and weaknesses and that of alternative theories. Thus we are not opposed to science or the scientific method; we're opposed to the underpinning philosophy that 1) everything--including mind, thought, imagination, oughtness, creativity, aspirations, and the diversity and complexity of life--are reducible to materialistic explanations and that 2) the only authority for valid knowledge is science.

The comments to this entry are closed.