Sunday, May 28, 2006

Re: Progressive Creation & common descent #3

Craig (copy to my blog, CreationEvolutionDesign, as agreed).

Thanks for the opportunity to comment on your draft paper, Similarities and Differences between Old-Earth Views: Progressive Creation & Evolutionary Creation . I will comment [bold and in square brackets] only on those sections that mention me ... .

[Continued from part #2]

Scientific Questions about Evolution
The previous three sections, beginning with Peter Ruest in Evolutionary Creation with Intelligent Design, ask questions about unguided naturalistic evolution. For example,
According to Peter Ruest a process of unguided evolution would be, "for lack of time, unsuccessful in mere random-walk trials; ... random mutations, followed by natural selection, cannot produce all biological functions and an entire biosphere [due to] the huge size of the possibility space; ... specific direction is required. (2001)" and "in two respects, it is still unknown whether the known mechanisms of evolution are adequate: First, the origin of life... Second, the evolutionary emergence of novel functions... (2005)" Stephen Jones claims "a fully naturalistic mechanism [is] the weakest part of their position," and I think we should ask "important questions about rates of change, irreducible complexity,..." [Agreed. As the quotes of Behe and Dawkins citing Darwin (in part #1) showed, common ancestry is not essential for evolution. What "evolution" requires is a fully naturalistic mechanism.

In fact, single common ancestry is the worst-case scenario for evolution, as per this new section of my "Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry" page:

Single common ancestry is the worst-case scenario for evolution!

By that I mean that all life descending from one origin of life is evolutionists least preferred option. Evolutions would not have been falsified if life had turned out to be polyphyletic, i.e. deriving from multiple, separate, original ancestors. In fact evolutionists would be delighted if they found an entirely different form of life on Earth that could not possibly have arisen from a common ancestor of all other forms of life (e.g. based on D-amino acids, an entirely different genetic code, etc). That is in fact what they are trying to find extraterrestrially, in order to "transform the origin of life from a miracle to a statistic":

"Nevertheless, the application of this method to areas where we have little knowledge is essentially an act of faith. For example, one exercise which we shall later carry through is to estimate the likelihoods of the origin of life in a suitable planetary system, the origin of intelligence, the origin of technical civilization, etc. Such estimates are, either implicitly or explicitly, based upon terrestrial experience. But it is dangerous to extrapolate from one example. This is why, for example, the discovery of life on one other planet-e.g., Mars-can, in the words of the American physicist Philip Morrison, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, `transform the origin of life from a miracle to a statistic.'" (Shklovskii, I.S. & Sagan, C.E., "Intelligent Life in the Universe," [1966], Picador: London, 1977, p.358)

Darwin himself in his Origin of Species was ambivalent whether life originated in "a few forms or ... one":

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," [1859], First Edition, Penguin: London, 1985, reprint, p.459. My emphasis)

The creationist theologian Floyd E. Hamilton observed that "a world order in which every species was different from every other species [would] be far harder to attribute to one God":

"It is the habit of some evolutionists to sneer at such a line of argument and to inquire why an omnipotent God should be obliged to create so many animals on the same general plan. Such statements seem to assume that God could not or would not create individuals with common points of similarity and with their bodies built on the same general scheme, but that if He created at all He must have created every separate individual species of plant and animal with no points of similarity with other species! We might with justice reply to such an objection with the question as to why He should not create them similar? As a matter of fact, however, would not a world order in which every species was different from every other species be far harder to attribute to one God than the world order with its similarities such as we see around us?" (Hamilton, F.E., "The Basis of Evolutionary Faith: A Critique of the Theory of Evolution," James Clarke & Co: London, 1931, pp.149-150)

Similarly, the creationist "biotic message" theorist Walter ReMine points out that life exhibits "The Unifying Message," that "This system of living objects was constructed by a single source (e.g., a common designer)" (my emphasis):

"Why would a designer create life to look like evolution? What possible motive could a designer have to be misleading? Is the designer trying to trick us? This is now the evolutionists' standard argument. This book responds by showing they do not truly know their own theory. Life was designed to look unlike evolution, and to see this, one must understand evolutionary theory deeply. ... message theory ... claims that life was intentionally designed to communicate a message. .... Life was made by no ordinary designer, but by one with unusual intentions. Identifying these intentions resolves the difficulties. Features of life that seemed inexplicable become understandable once the designer's goal is recognized. That goal was consistently pursued by the designer. Throughout nature it guided design choices and shaped the pattern of life. The data admit to no other solution. The pattern is intricate, yet so consistent it could not result from thoughtlessness. The pattern was premeditated. It was designed intentionally to meet a single-minded goal. The designer's goal was a reasonable one, carried out in a reasonable way and with meticulous care. Ironically, evolution is central to that goal. Life was designed to thwart evolutionary explanation. ... Life could have looked like an art gallery with many artists - yet it does not. This is not happenstance. It is premeditated design. It is a major factor in message theory. All life is linked together by a complex web of similarities. Life looks like the product of a single designer. ... Message theory says nature was intentionally constructed to look this way. ... The biotic message is the sum of the unifying and non-naturalistic messages. The Unifying Message: `This system of living objects was constructed by a single source (e.g., a common designer).' ... The Non-naturalistic Message: `This system of living objects did not result from a naturalistic (evolutionary) process.'" (ReMine, W.J., "The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory," St. Paul Science: Saint Paul MN, 1993, pp.17-19, 22. Emphasis original)

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'

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