Thanks for your message.
As is my normal practice when I receive a private message on a Creation, Evolution or Design topic, I am posting my reply to my blog, minus your personal identifying information.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 1:20 AM
Subject: Some quick questions please
>You have a really good website going and it has much good information. If you don't mind, can I ask you some quick questions?
>1. If evolution is wrong, then we have to accept the possibility that God directly, without a process created humans beings on earth without any common ancestors.
By "evolution" I take it you mean, "the standard scientific theory that `human beings [and all other living things] have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process'" (my emphasis):
"Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)
If so, then if that is "wrong" then it is indeed a "possibility that God directly, without a process created humans beings on earth without any common ancestors" (my emphasis), which corresponds to Gallup's "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so."
But it is then not the only possibility. As the other Gallup poll option makes clear, "human beings" may also "have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process" (my emphasis). This would also be creation, not evolution". And since, like ID theorist Michael Behe, I accept "common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor)":
"Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. ... . Although Darwin's mechanism-natural selection working on variation-might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small" (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 1996, pp.5-6)
I accept that "God" with "a process created humans beings on earth" with "common ancestors".
For example the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC):
"Perhaps the most difficult genetic data for an integrative approach are the histocompatibility loci (HLA) found in all vertebrates. These genes encode peptide presentation proteins, proteins that have the task of presenting possible foreign proteins (called antigens) to the immune system for inspection. They are among the most diverse loci (genes) in the genome, loci with more than 150 very diverse alleles (different versions of the gene). It is thought that heterozygous individuals (with two different versions of the gene) are better protected against disease (fitter) than homozygotes (with two identical versions of the gene). This higher fitness for heterozygotes is termed `over dominance' and is considered to be the cause that maintains the very high levels of diversity in these loci. The evolutionary question raised by this diversity is (a) whether this diversity has been maintained over millions of years and thus passed on from parent species to daughter species; or (b) whether this diversity was generated rapidly - by point mutation, recombination, and gene conversion - after a species' origin. As usual, there are two schools of thought. One thinks the data show that scores of human alleles are most close to matching chimpanzee alleles. The other school thinks there are only ten to fifteen such truly ancient lineages. The former postulate an effective Pleistocene population size of ancestral humans of over 100,000; the latter, under 10,000. The logic is this: only a few ancient lineages are likely to exist in a population with a recent bottleneck. In fact, if the population was much larger prior to the bottleneck, a few very divergent alleles could come through. However, if the issue is a single couple as source for the human species, both positions pose serious difficulties for Adam's identity. For example, consider the specific histocompatability gene `HLA-DRB1:' Even the `few alleles' school of thought holds that there are fifteen or so very old alternative allelic lineages, lineages with a coalescence point of 5-10 million years. Whether Adam and Eve were created by providence through descent from a hominid lineage or are an original pair created without ancestors, they can have only 4 DRB1 alleles between them. If one human pair is the sole ancestor of all living people, all the human HLA alleles must be descended from those four `adamic' alleles. All the diversity must have been produced by modifying those four versions of the HLA-DRB1 gene since Adam and Eve were created. Yet a 5-10 million year coalescence would apparently make Adam a `monkey's uncle' (ancestral to at least chimps, gorillas, and humans)." (Wilcox, D.L., "Finding Adam: The Genetics of Human Origins," in Miller, K.B., ed., "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, pp.250-252. Emphasis original)
and Human Endogenous Retroviral Sequences (HERVs):
"Further evidence of genetic linkage between man and other higher primates can be derived from an endogenous retroviral sequence imbedded in our DNA that is also found at the same point in the DNA of chimpanzees [Bonner T.I., O'Connell C. & Cohen M., "Cloned Endogenous Retroviral Sequences from Human DNA,"' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Vol. 79, 1982, pp.4709-4713]. Retroviruses are a particular class of virus, which includes the HIV virus that causes AIDS, for example. These viral agents have the ability to annex themselves directly into a DNA sequence, and an ancient virus apparently did. The entire genetic code was then passed to future generations, including the retroviral sequence. This retroviral sequence has no activator mechanism, and thus is harmless, but here is the point. Not only do man and chimpanzee have the same number of muscles, bones and teeth, our DNA has a correlation of nearly 99%. But in addition, an identical alien viral sequence can be found at the same locus point on both human and chimp DNA. A rational explanation is that the viral sequence became attached to the DNA of a common precursor. It has remained in the DNA, and has been copied in both man and chimp for millions of years. This additional confirming data for relatedness to an animal that already looks to be a close relative anyway, makes a strong case for a brachiating forbear on our family tree. The theory that the highest primates, including man, are all divergent twigs off a common branch has strong supporting evidence. Whether we like it or not, gorillas, chimps, and man do not appear to be separately created entities." (Fischer, D., "The Origins Solution: An Answer in the Creation-Evolution Debate," Fairway Press: Lima OH, 1996, p.65)
evidence indicates that humans share a common ancestor with apes "5-10 million years" ago.
>Therefore the appearance of humans on earth is a miracle with direct intervention from God.
Equally, if "human beings ... developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process," it would be (or at least could be-since it may be possible for God to guide without direct intervention) "a miracle with direct intervention from God."
>Hence, this would nullify any scientific explanation as to HOW life came about.
Disagree, unless by "scientific" you mean fully naturalistic, i.e. without intervention or guidance from God. But if by "scientific" you mean "a miracle with direct intervention from God" then that could be "scientific," in Geisler's sense of "a second class miracle", i.e. a "supernaturally guided event ... one whose natural process can be described scientifically (and perhaps even reduplicated by humanly controlled natural means) but whose end product in the total picture is best explained by invoking the supernatural":
"It may be that some things are so highly unusual and coincidental that, when viewed in connection with the moral or theological context in which they occurred, the label `miracle' is the most appropriate one for the happening. Let us call this kind of supernaturally guided event a second class miracle, that is, one whose natural process can be described scientifically (and perhaps even reduplicated by humanly controlled natural means) but whose end product in the total picture is best explained by invoking the supernatural. Providing that the theist can offer some good reasons (by virtue of the moral or theological context of the event) for not accepting a purely natural explanation, then there is no reason to rule out the evidential value of such unusual natural events." (Geisler, N.L., "Christian Apologetics," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, Ninth Printing, 1995, p.277).
In fact even a first-class creation ex nihilo miracle can be "scientific". For example, some scientific theories of the Big Bang postulate the origin of the Universe "in which space, time, and matter are all created out of literally nothing at all":
"Vilenkin, indeed, takes things a step further than Tryon did in 1973. Tryon talked about a `vacuum fluctuation,' implying that some form of space-time metric existed before the Universe came into being; but Vilenkin is trying to develop a model in which space, time, and matter are all created out of literally nothing at all, as a quantum fluctuation of nothing. `The concept of the universe being created from nothing is a crazy one,' Vilenkin says in one of his papers (in Physics Letters, Volume 117B, November 4, 1982, page 26), but he goes on to show how it is mathematically equivalent to the creation of an electron-positron pair that then annihilate each other, and this is in turn equivalent to one electron being created out of nothing, traveling forward in time for a while, then turning around and traveling backward in time to meet up with its own creation. In this and other recent papers, Vilenkin puts a lot of respectable mathematical icing onto the basic cake baked up by Tryon, in more speculative form, in the early 1970s." (Gribbin, J., "In Search of the Big Bang: Quantum Physics and Cosmology," Heinemann: London, 1986, pp.375-376).
Just as it is "scientific" to study the consequences of the Big Bang, right up to the point of its having been "created out of nothing," so it would be "scientific" to study the origin of life or the origin of man, even if those events or processes included "intervention from God."
>Therefore am I right that it would be invalid, according to some, for a scientifical explanation as to the origin of human beings?
Disagree "that it would be invalid ... for a scientifical explanation as to the origin of human beings" if "the appearance of humans on earth is a miracle with direct intervention from God," unless you define "scientific" as fully naturalistic without intervention or guidance from God. See above.
>2. As Muslims we accept evolution, and the story of Adam and Eve, as the before God put Adam and Eve upon earth, there could of been these common ancestors. Adam and eve's coming to earth was a historical event and cannot be refuted by science, as again, it was a historical event, not a scientifical one.
Thanks for the information that "Muslims" can "accept evolution" in the sense of "before God put Adam and Eve upon earth, there could of been these common ancestors" of them, I presume?
However, I also disagree that "a historical event ... cannot be refuted by science." The "science" of archaeology deals with "historical events" including their refutation. The science of geology has refuted Archbishop Ussher's "historical event" of the Earth having been created in 4,004 BC. And if the "science" of archeology found an undisturbed coffin near Jerusalem with bones in it radiocarbon-dated to ~30 AD, that had an authenticated inscription on it: "Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, brother of James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, then that would refute the "historical event" of Jesus' resurrection, and therefore Christianity (1 Cor 15:12-20).
>Pls see this link
Thanks for the link, but I will take your word for it. However I will leave the link there for readers of my blog to follow up if they want.
>How do Christians, who accept evolution, understand Adam and Eve according to the bible?
All Christians "accept evolution" in some sense (e.g. change over time, change in gene frequencies in a population, etc), but few (if any) Christians could "accept evolution" in "the standard scientific theory" of evolution sense "that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process'" (my emphasis).
There is a range of views among Christians, as to whether "Adam and Eve" in the Bible are literal or symbolic. Even conservative evangelical theologians like the late Bernard Ramm and James Orr can accept (as I do) that "the third chapter of Genesis" is "most probably ... old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress":
"It is argued that the picture of God working like a potter with wet earth, anthropomorphically breathing life into man, constructing woman from a rib, with an idyllic garden, trees with theological significance, and a talking serpent, is the language of theological symbolism and not of literal prose. The theological truth is there, and this symbolism is the instrument of inspiration. We are not to think in terms of scientific and anti-scientific, but in terms of scientific and pre-scientific. The account is then pre-scientific and in theological symbolism which is the garment divine inspiration chose to reveal these truths for their more ready comprehension by the masses of untutored Christians. This is the view of James Orr who wrote: `I do not enter into the question of how we are to interpret the third chapter of Genesis-whether as history or allegory or myth, or most probably of all, as old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress-but the truth embodied in that narrative, viz. the fall of man from an original state of purity, I take to be vital to the Christian view.' [Orr, J., "The Christian View of God and the World," 1897, p.185]" (Ramm, B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," , Paternoster: Exeter UK, 1967, reprint, pp.223-224)
>3. Many claim that the universe display fine tuning. But some argue against this, they say that it is not the case that if the constants were to change by ANY value that life would be rendered null and void, but only by 1 or 2 percent, which doesn;t show fine tuning.
According to Oxford University Professor of Mathematical Physics, Roger Penrose, just one of the fine-tuning parameters of the Universe, "the original phase-space volume W that the Creator had to aim for in order to provide a universe compatible with the second law of thermodynamics and with what we now observe" was "an accuracy of one part in 1010^123" (that is 1 in 10 billion to the 123rd power), a number so large we "could not possibly even write the number down in full, in the ordinary denary notation .... Even if we were to write a '0' on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe":
"Try to imagine the phase space ... of the entire universe! Each point in this phase space represents a different possible way that the universe might have started off. We are to picture the Creator, armed with a 'pin' - which is to be placed at some point in the phase space ... Each different positioning of the pin provides a different universe. Now the accuracy that is needed for the Creator's aim depends upon the entropy of the universe that is thereby created. It would be relatively 'easy' to produce a high entropy universe, since then there would be a large volume of the phase space available for the pin to hit. (Recall that the entropy is proportional to the logarithm of the volume of the phase space concerned.) But in order to start off the universe in a state of low entropy - so that there will indeed be a second law of thermodynamics - the Creator must aim for a much tinier volume of the phase space. How tiny would this region be, in order that a universe closely resembling the one in which we actually live would be the result? ... The background radiation entropy is something like 108 for every baryon ... Thus, with 1080 baryons in all, we should have a total entropy of 1088 for the entropy in the background radiation in the universe. ... Rather than populating our galaxies entirely with black holes, let us take them to consist mainly of ordinary stars - some 1 of 1 of them - and each to have a million (i.e. 106) solar-mass black hole at its core (as might be reasonable for our own Milky Way galaxy). Calculation shows that the entropy per baryon would now be actually somewhat larger even than the previous huge figure, namely now 1021, giving a total entropy, in natural units, of 10101 We may anticipate that, after a very long time, a major fraction of the galaxies' masses will be incorporated into the black holes at their centres. When this happens, the entropy per baryon will be 1031, giving a monstrous total of 10111 However, we are considering a closed universe so eventually it should recollapse; and it is not unreasonable to estimate the entropy of the final crunch by using the Bekenstein-Hawking formula as though the whole universe had formed a black hole. This gives an entropy per baryon of 1043, and the absolutely stupendous total, for the entire big crunch would be 10123 This figure will give us an estimate of the total phase-space volume V available to the Creator, since this entropy should represent the logarithm of the volume of the (easily) largest compartment. Since 10123 is the logarithm of the volume, the volume must be the exponential of 10123, i.e. V = 1010^123 in natural units! ... How big was the original phase-space volume W that the Creator had to aim for in order to provide a universe compatible with the second law of thermodynamics and with what we now observe? It does not much matter whether we take the value W=1010^101 or W=1010^88 given by the galactic black holes or by the background radiation, respectively, or a much smaller (and, in fact, more appropriate) figure which would have been the actual figure at the big bang. Either way, the ratio of V to W will be, closely V/W = 1010^123 ... This now tells us how precise the Creator's aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 1010^123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in the ordinary denary notation: it would be '1' followed by 10123 successive '0's! Even if we were to write a '0' on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe - and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure - we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed." (Penrose, R., "The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics," , Vintage: London, 1990, reprint, pp. 441,443-446. Emphasis original)
And that's just one of the fine-tuning parameters of the Universe!
>Whats the reply?
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 8:13-19. 13By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. 15Then God said to Noah, 16"Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you-the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground-so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it." 18So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives. 19All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds-everything that moves on the earth-came out of the ark, one kind after another.