Saturday, November 11, 2006

What I believe about Creation, Evolution, Design and Christianity

I have decided to start an online list of the main things that I believe about Creation (including Christianity), Evolution and Design, in alphabetic order of topics. I will add to this list over time and (where applicable) add Bible references.

Adam & Eve. I regard the best fit of the Biblical and scientific data on Adam and Eve to be E.K.V. Pearce's "two `Adams'" model.

[Graphic: Albrecht Durer's Adam and Eve, Olga's Gallery.]

That is, there was both Genesis 1 "man" (Heb. 'adam in Gen. 1:26-28 is without the article and therefore is translated "man") and a Genesis 2 "Adam" (Heb. 'adam in Gen. 2:20 is with the article ("the man") and therefore is translated "Adam", i.e. an individual, a name). Genesis 1 "man" (male and female-Gen. 1:26-28) were the actual and/or symbolic common ancestors of all Homo sapiens. But Genesis 2 "Adam" (Gen. 2:4,20;3:17,20-21; 4:1, 25; 5:1,3-5; Hos 6:7; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; Jude 1:14) was a literal individual and/or symbol ("the pattern of the one [Christ] to come"-Rom. 5:14) and was/symbolised the common ancestor only of the line which led to Christ (Lk. 3:23,38) and therefore through Him, "the last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45) was united back through Genesis 2 "Adam" and Genesis 1 "man," to all humans as their Representative (Rom. 5:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:22,45).

Bible. Is God's unique God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:15-17) revelation in human words, of Himself, His ways and His will, to man.

Big Bang. Was the origin event of the entire Universe. Time and space themselves came into existence with. Therefore there is no such thing as time (and therefore a "before") the Big Bang.

Christianity. Is the one true religion, in the sense of God's only way of salvation (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). Is proven true beyond reasonable doubt by Jesus Christ fulfilling multiple prophecies of Messiah's time of coming (Dan 9:24-27), place of birth (Mic 5:2) His Virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Mat. 1:23), sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 Jn. 3:5), miracles (Mat. 8:23-27), suffering (Ps. 22:1,7-8,16,18; Mt 27:35-46; Isa. 53:3-12; Acts 8:32-35), death, resurrection and ascension.

Common ancestry. I accept universal common ancestry (but not evolution). That is, I accept that all life on Earth, both living and dead, shared a single common ancestor at the origin of life. And that thereafter all life has descended with modification from that single common ancestor. But that modification was by both supernatural and natural means. Common ancestry is therefore not necessarily evolution, since as Dawkins (quoting Darwin) pointed out, God could have intervened supernaturally "at any one stage of descent" in which case it "was not evolution at all" but was in fact "divine creation" (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," 1986, pp.248-249,317)! See my posts of 23-Sep-05, 04-Jan-06, 16-Nov-05, 27-May-06, 30-May-06, 20-Jun-06, 11-Aug-06, 02-Aug-06, 27-Aug-06, 04-Nov-06, 31-Dec-06, 17-Feb-07, 26-Mar-07 & 30-March-07.

Creation. According to my Progressive Mediate Creation position, this was the creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) by God of the raw materials of Universe (Gen. 1:1), and thereafter (Gen. 1:2-31) was creatio ex materia (creation out of matter) by God making and forming those raw materials, both supernaturally and naturally. Therefore creation includes both 1. primary or immediate creation - God working supernaturally not through secondary causes; and 2. secondary or mediate creation - God working supernaturally and naturally through secondary causes.

Creationism. That the Universe and life was brought into being by a Creator. Includes Old-Earth/Progressive Creation (OEC/PC) and Young-Earth Creation (YEC), which hold that God supernaturally intervened to bring about the origin of the Universe, life, life's major groups and man. Also I regard as creationism those versions of Theistic or God-Guided Evolution (TE/GGE) in which God supernaturally intervened in or guided creation. Also versions of Deistic Evolution (DE) or Evolutionary Creationism (EC) which hold that God front-loaded the Universe so that life and man would inevitable appear, I also regard as a form of creationism. However those versions of TE/GGE, DE and EC which are just Naturalistic Evolution believed by those who are, or claim to be, Christians (NEC) I do not regard as creationism. See my position Progressive Mediate Creation.

Darwin, Charles. Founder of the modern theory of fully naturalistic evolution. A flawed genius, like Sigmund Freud. Committed plagiarism and other forms of dishonesty in seeking for himself "the bauble fame" (Darwin. F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," 1898, p.i:452).

Darwinism. Is false, except as a limited theory of adaptation. In its general form is self-refuting, because of Darwin's "horrid doubt" that "the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals" i.e. by a purposeless process like the natural selection of random mutations "are of any value or at all trustworthy" (Darwin, 1898, p.i:285), which "convictions of man's mind" would include Darwinism itself (not to mention any theory of evolution that was fully materialistic and naturalistic and denied design, and indeed Materialism and Naturalism themselves).

Design. God's purpose, plan, and their execution. Argument from design to a Designer. Argument to design from a Designer. See Intelligent Design (ID).

Evolution. Cosmological and biological change over time in which God had no part. Does not actually exist, except in the sense of a counterfeit of the genuine article, creation.

Flood, Noah's. On the basis of Jesus' affirming that there was a Noah, an ark and a flood (Mat. 24:38; Lk. 17:27), and other evidence such as the credible design and dimensions of the Ark and the widespread ancient stories of a Great Flood, I accept that there really was a Noah's flood, but that it was probably a local symbolic act by God to represent His judgment on the entire world.

Genesis 1. Of the various main interpretative approaches to Genesis 1, including: Literalist, Gap theory, Day-age, Proclaimed days, Revealed days and Literary Framework; I consider the latter Literary Framework interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation). See my post of 31-Aug-06 for more details.

Genesis 1-11. I regard this as real history expressed partly (e.g. the talking snake of Genesis 3-Gen. 3:1-4; 13-14; Jn. 8:44; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9,14-15; 20:2) in symbolic form.

Global warming. I believe that global warming is part of the Great Tribulation. Having once been a global warming sceptic, I now believe it is real and indeed going to be nearer the worst case than best case scenarios. I interpret some of the signs Jesus warned would precede His return, e.g.:

"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." (Mt. 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:11)

and:

25"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Lk 21:25-26)

as being fulfilled in the environmental and social upheaveals that will occur as consequences of global warming. See further some of my posts on this: 31 Mar 06; 28 Mar 06; 04 Mar 06; 04 Dec 05; 29 Nov 05 & 12 Aug 05.

Gnosticism. I believe that much of what passes for Christianity these days is a form of Gnosticism, in which God is regarded as radically separate from His creation such that He should not, would not, or could not intervene in it supernaturally, but should only, would only, or could only work through secondary causes (e.g. Demiurge, Evolution). Is marked by those who claim to be Christians but who are strongly opposed to God having intervened supernaturally in His creation and who seek to minimise or even deny Biblical miracles. Extreme hostility to the idea Intelligent Design, that there is empirically detectable evidence of design in nature, I regard as Gnostic.

God. Exists as Person who is infinite in power, knowledge, goodness and love. Revealed in Bible as Triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mat. 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2).

God, evidence. All humans intuitively know there is a God (Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:18-20). Even atheists show by their attacks on God and His followers that they really know deep down that there is a God to whom they are accountable.

God existence. Arguments for existence of God include: Ontological, Cosmological, Teleological and Moral. These are cumulative.

God, hiddenness. God could have made it impossible to not believe but He has not done so.

Great Tribulation. I believe we are in or entering the period described by Jesus as the Great Tribulation (Mat. 24:21; Rev. 7:14 KJV), which is also "Satan's little season" in which he will be free once more to "go out to deceive the nations" (Rev. 20:1-3,7). That time will be marked by the Great Apostasy (2 Thess 2:3 KJV. "falling away" = Gk. apostasia); when there will be an "increase of wickedness" and "the love of most will grow cold" (Mat. 24:12) such that when Jesus returns, true Christian faith will be comparatively rare (Lk. 18:8). Christians will be increasingly persecuted (Mat. 24:9-14), Antichrist will appear (1 Jn. 2:18; 4:3; 2 Thess 2:3-11). and the Church would be destroyed (Rev. 11:3-10) were it not for Jesus' return (2 Thess 2:8). See also Global warming.

Hell. I am persuaded by the weight of Biblical evidence that Hell is not everlasting conscious punishment, but rather it is the final divine judgment whose results cannot be reversed, and which, after each person receives no more and no less than the just punishment due for their sins, terminates in their annihilation. See my "Re: Baxter, Darwin, predestination, damnation, etc." Also see Pinnock, C.H., 2005, "The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent," 11 May; Fudge, E., 1984, "The Final End of the Wicked," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 27.3, September, pp.325-334; and "Annihilationism," Wikipedia, 19 October 2010.

Information. Not reducible to matter or energy.

Intelligent Design (ID). Scientific theory that there is empirically detectable evidence of intelligent causation in nature prior to the origin of humans. ID depends solely on the evidence of nature. Therefore ID cannot specify who the designer is. See Intelligent Designer & Irreducible complexity.

Intelligent Designer. As a Christian, I personally assume (but cannot prove) that the Designer is the God of the Bible. However, it is not necessary to identify the designer to correctly infer design.

Irreducible complexity. Darwin in his Origin of Species dishonestly proposed a test of his theory that he knew presented his critics with the impossible task of proving a universal negative:

"In Darwin's words, `if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.' ... Darwin had to show only that the intermediates could possibly have existed. His critics had the more difficult task: they had to show that the intermediates could not have existed. It is very difficult to prove negative statements." (Ridley, M., "Evolution," Blackwell: Cambridge MA, Second Edition, 1996, p.342).

Therefore my definition of "irreducible complexity" is, to paraphrase Darwin:

"Any complex biological system which could not plausibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications."

Jesus Christ. Was and is God in human form (Mt 1:23; 28:19; Jn 1:1,14; 8:58-59; 10:32-33; 20:27-28; Acts 20:28; Rom 9:5; 2 Cor 13:14; Php 2:5-6, Col 2:9; Tit 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2; etc). That is, the pre-existent Christ, the Second Person of Trinity, took upon human nature of man Jesus. Died on the Cross for the sins of the word, resurrected from death and ascended to heaven, from where He will return to raise all humans who have ever lived and judge them according to their every thought, word and deed.

Jesus Christ's return (second coming). Jesus will return (Mat. 16:27; 24:30; 26:64; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 11:26; 1 Thess. 4:16; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 1:7)! My interpretation is that we are in the period predicted by Jesus in Lk 21:24-28, between

[Right: Jerusalem, after 1967: BBC]

Jerusalem being no longer under Gentile rule ("Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" v.24b) which happened in 1967, and Jesus' return"with power and great glory" (v.27). That period will be characterised by "nations ... in anguish and perplexity" (v.25) and "Men ... faint[ing] from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (v.26). "When these things begin to take place" Jesus encouragement to His followers is to "stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (v.28). I assume (along with leading Christian theologians such as the late Anthony A. Hoekema and William Hendriksen) that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70, predicted by Jesus in the Olivet discourse (Mt 23:37-24:51, Mk 13:1-37; Lk 21:5-36), was a `type' of the second coming of Jesus. And therefore Jesus' prediction that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Mt 24:34; Mk 13:30; Lk 21:32) applies also to the generation that will live to see Jesus' return. And since Jerusalem no longer being under Gentile rule in 1967 is one of the "all these things" that that generation living at the time of Jesus' return will experience, I therefore assume that Jesus will return before the bulk of that generation that lived in 1967 passes away, i.e. before 2037. See also my posts "Re: about your prediction of Jesus' return by 2037" and "Re: what would happen if I lived to 2037 and Jesus has not come?"

Life, origin of. I assume that a fully naturalistic origin of life from non-living chemicals is so improbable that it was effectively impossible. That is, I agree with the late Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA that:

"An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." (Crick, F.H.C., "Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1981, p.88. My emphasis)

except that on the basis of "all the knowledge available to us now," I accept that the origin of life was "a miracle"! That is, the origin of life required the intervention/guidance of an Intelligent Designer (who I assume is the Christian God)

Life, extraterrestrial. To paraphrase Richard Dawkins ("The Blind Watchmaker," 1986, p.288):

"`I predict that, if a form of life is ever discovered in another part of the universe ... it will be found to resemble life on Earth in one key respect: it will have' been created by an Intelligent Designer"! ("Smallest genome clocks in at 182 genes").

However, I assume that life has only ever existed on Earth in the entire Universe, with the possible exception of Mars (in the latter case it would then have been transported to Earth in bacterial form via meteorite ejecta). See also SETI.

Materialism. That is, "matter/energy is all there is." Materialism is equivalent to naturalism. Is false because there is a non-material God, spirits (e.g. angels and demons) mind, information, laws and numbers. Also materialism is self-refuting because:

"... if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true ... " (Haldane, J.B.S., "Possible Worlds," Chatto &
Windus: London, 1932, p.209).

Multiple Universes/Multiverse. Do not/does not exist. There is, and has been, only one Universe and this is it.

Mutation. The true cause of biological change. Included genetic (e.g. DNA point mutations) and chromosomal (e.g. duplications, inversions, translocations and deletions). Mutations can be directed or undirected (random). Major biological change.

Natural selection. Is nothing more than differential reproduction. Can of itself only negative eliminate the unfit and make minor adaptive changes (e.g. peppered moths and Galapagos finch beaks). Cannot of itself positively create. Requires the right mutations, at the right place at the right time to make major biological change. The latter therefore requires directed mutations.

Nature. God's general revelation to man. Book of nature that, with book of Scripture (Bible) has the same ultimate Author. Therefore the two books must ultimately agree and be complementary to each other.

Naturalism. That is "nature is all there is"-"there is no supernatural" and "all that exists can in principle be studied by the scientific method." Is false because supernatural God exists and so does supernatural beings angels and demons, as well as laws and numbers. In its dominant scientific form, naturalism is equivalent to materialism. Naturalism is self-refuting because:

"Naturalism, even if it is not purely materialistic ... discredits our processes of reasoning ... to such a humble level that it can no longer support Naturalism itself." (Lewis, C.S., "Miracles," Fontana: London, 1963, p.19).

Pascal's Wager My simplified form of Pascal's Wager that I employed in debates with atheists is:

Neither the atheist, nor the Christian, can absolutely prove that his position is true. Nevertheless the consequences for either the atheist or the Christian being right (or wrong) is clear. If atheism is true, then both the atheist and Christian will die and neither will know that the atheist was right. On the other hand, if Christianity is true, then the atheist and Christian will die (or Jesus will return) and both will know that the Christian was right. Morever, if the atheist was right, he would have gained nothing and the Christian would have lost nothing (I personally have had a great life since becoming a Christian in 1967). But if the Christian was right, the atheist would have lost everything and the Christian would have gained everything!

Progressive Mediate Creation (PMC). My position on the creation-evolution spectrum as what seems to me to be the best fit of the Biblical and scientfic evidence. It holds that, as per Genesis 1, God created ex nihilo (out of nothing) the raw materials of the Universe (Gen. 1:1). Thereafter (Gen. 1:2-31) God created by the making and forming of those raw materials, both supernaturally and naturally, through secondary causes. I took the name "Progressive Mediate Creation" to denote the position of the great evangelical Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, who wrote of a "a mediate, progressive creation":

"Mediate and Immediate Creation But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i. e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge, C., "Systematic Theology," [1892], James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, Reprinted, 1960, pp.556-557)

It follows, therefore, that after the original ex nihilo creation of the Universe God created only by modification, both supernaturally and naturally. Therefore Universal Common Ancestry is a corollary of PMC. See also my FAQ, Progressive (Mediate) Creation.

SETI. Since I believe that life only ever has existed on Earth or also possibly Mars (in the latter case only in bacterial form) I believe the search for extraterrestrial life beyond Mars and extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), are doomed to failure.

Shroud of Turin. I am persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud of Turin is the actual linen cloth which covered the body of Jesus. And that the

[Left (click to enlarge): Face of the Man on the Shroud of Turin: Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara: London, p.28]

double-sided, photo- graphic negative, 3-D, x-ray, image of a naked, flogged, crowned with thorns, speared in the side, crucified, man, was the result of a flash of radiation as Jesus' body changed state at His resurrection (Jn. 20:19,26; 1 Cor. 15:42-44,50; Php. 3:21). See my series of posts from: Bogus: Shroud of Turin? #1 and my "A proposal to radiocarbon- date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin." See also my second blog, The Shroud of Turin.

Speciation. Reproductive isolation. Chromosomal mutations primary cause. With or without geographic isolation. Little, if anything, to do with natural selection.

Universe. Ultimately created by God from nothing (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 11:3). Sustained and governed by God.

Created: 11 November, 2006. Last updated: 26 February, 2011.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: The Shroud of Turin & Jesus is Jehovah!

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

It must be tough to devote you entire life to something that has no future - only a past.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused: you accept common ancestry, but not natural selection as the mechanism that shaped it?

To put it simply, what is the point of that? Nearly every major branching and element of common ancestry really only makes sense in light of descent with evolutionary, not designed, modification. All of the features of life on earth conform to the sorts of patterns we expect from processes like NS, and all of the tell-tale patterns of design (like new innovations rolled out of their ancestral lines, or entirely new features innovated without precusors) are missing.

Secondly, the idea that natural selection + increasing variation can only remove information or structure is simply false: not just matter of opinion false, but mathematically demonstrably deductively false. Heck, I have a screensaver on my computer that uses a genetic algorthmn which selects random variations on blocks and joints for their success in moving from their tarting point. A couple of thousand generations later, I have little walking machines running up to 67 units in the time they are given. None of the mechanisms or design of their walking abilities were pre-programmed in: they were built up over time via a selection gradient.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>It must be tough to devote you entire life to something that has no future - only a past.

On the contrary, as I wrote in my online testimony [http://tinyurl.com/uo4ou], it was after reading Bertrand Russell's admission that, if his atheism is true, then inevitably "the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins":

"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of: the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins-all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built." (Russell, B., "A Free Man's Worship", in "Mysticism and Logic: And Other Essays," [1910], George Allen & Unwin: London, 1949, reprint, pp.47-48)

that I realised that "it would one day be as though mankind had never existed" and I became dissatisfied with the meaningless of atheism, and eventually became a Christian, because Christianity offered an alternative, as in the hymn Amazing Grace [http://tinyurl.com/lddg4]:

"When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun."

which in the last nearly 40 years a Christian I now know is the *only* alternative.

Nothing has changed since, except the time frame is a lot shorter. We now know that the Earth is inevitably going to be hit by life-extinguishing asteroid, or even worse there will be a supervolcano eruption [http://tinyurl.com/6j4mo] that will extinquish human life a lot sooner than Russell's "death of the solar system."

>Good Luck

It is not *me* who is going to need "Good Luck" (athough since Christianity is true [http://tinyurl.com/fsugr], it won't help you much anyway)!

As for me, for these past nearly 40 years a Christian, it has been a *joy* to devote my entire life to the *only* "something" that *has* a future!

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Vic

>I'm a little confused: you accept common ancestry, but not natural selection as the mechanism that shaped it?

There is good evidence for common ancestry, but little or no evidence for, and much against, that the natural selection of *random* (i.e. undirected) mutations did, or *could have*, produced life's complex designs.

>To put it simply, what is the point of that? Nearly every major branching and element of common ancestry really only makes sense in light of descent with evolutionary, not designed, modification.

Over a decade debating with committed evolutionists has taught me that there is no point debating this, so we will just have agree to differ.

>All of the features of life on earth conform to the sorts of patterns we expect from processes like NS, and all of the tell-tale patterns of design (like new innovations rolled out of their ancestral lines, or entirely new features innovated without precusors) are missing.

That is simply false! As paleontologists like Raup have pointed out since Darwin's day, "we still have a [fossil] record which ... can hardly be looked upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection":

"Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much. The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. ... So Darwin's problem has not been alleviated in the last 120 years and we still have a record which does show change but one that can hardly be looked upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection." (Raup, D.M., "Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology," Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, Field Museum of Natural History: Chicago IL, January 1979, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp.22-29, pp.24-25)

>Secondly, the idea that natural selection + increasing variation can only remove information or structure is simply false: not just matter of opinion false, but mathematically demonstrably deductively false. Heck, I have a screensaver on my computer that uses a genetic algorthmn which selects random variations on blocks and joints for their success in moving from their tarting point. A couple of thousand generations later, I have little walking machines running up to 67 units in the time they are given. None of the mechanisms or design of their walking abilities were pre-programmed in: they were built up over time via a selection gradient.

No offence intended, but I regard this as self-delusion, albeit no doubt sincere. It wouldn't work *at all* if "their walking abilities were" not "pre-programmed in." And if it didn't work first time (and no program ever does) you would have kept tweaking the program until it demonstrated what you want it to.

Darwin himself admitted of natural selection that it is possible (and in his case "probable") to have "exaggerated its power":

"Some of those who admit the principle of evolution, but reject natural selection, seem to forget, when criticizing my book [_The Origin of Species_], that I had the above two objects in view; hence if I have erred in giving to natural selection great power, which I am very far from admitting, or in having exaggerated its power, which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations." (Darwin, C.R., "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex," [1871], John Murray: London, 1874, Second Edition, 1922, Reprinted, p.92).

Moreover your "A couple of thousand generations later" gives the game away. As Gould pointed out, in his "The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant," such "shortest-term studies ... cannot represent the general mode for building patterns in the history of life" because they "are vastly too rapid to represent the general modes of change that build life's history through geological ages":

"These shortest-term studies are elegant and important, but they cannot represent the general mode for building patterns in the history of life. The reason strikes most people as deeply paradoxical, even funny-but the argument truly cannot be gainsaid. Evolutionary rates of a moment, as measured for guppies and lizards, are vastly too rapid to represent the general modes of change that build life's history through geological ages. ... These measured changes over years and decades are too fast by several orders of magnitude to build the history of life by simple cumulation. Reznick's guppy rates range from 3,700 to 45,000 darwins (a standard metric for evolution, expressed as change in units of standard deviation-a measure of variation around the mean value of a trait in a population-per million years). By contrast, rates for major trends in the fossil record generally range from 0.1 to 1.0 darwins. Reznick himself states that "the estimated rates [for guppies] are...four to seven orders of magnitude greater than those observed in the fossil record" (that is, ten thousand to ten million times faster!)." (Gould, S.J., "The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant," _Natural History_, December 1997/January 1998, Vol. 106, No. 11, pp.61-62,64)

To the extent such computer simulations work, as with what success origin of life experiments have had, they "actually owe their success to the crucial but *illegitimate* role of the investigator":

"When it is acknowledged that most so-called prebiotic simulation experiments actually owe their success to the crucial but *illegitimate* role of the investigator, a new and fresh phase of the experimental approach to life's origin can then be entered. Until then however, the literature of chemical evolution will probably continue to be dominated by reports of experiments in which the investigator, like a metabolizing Maxwell Demon, will have performed work on the system through intelligent, exogenous intervention. Such work establishes experimental boundary conditions, and imposes intelligent influence/control over a supposedly `prebiotic' earth. As long as this informative interference of the investigator is ignored, the illusion of prebiotic simulation will be fostered. We would predict that this practice will prove to be a barrier to solving the mystery of life's origin." (Thaxton, C.B., Bradley, W.L. & Olsen, R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," [1984], Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, Second Printing, p.185. Emphasis original)

and so are in fact demonstrating that *intelligent design* (e.g. the natural selection of *directed* mutations) are what in fact built life's complex designs.

Stephen E. Jones

Geocreationist said...

Your explanation of common ancestry is exactly what I've been looking for! As you may recall, I noted that your application of Jesus' warning (regarding false teaching) to Evolution gave me pause. You were right on the money I now see, and it's definitely influencing my own writings and views.

Well, as I've been studying Day 3, I came to the conclusion recently that that God started plant "evolution" as part of Day 3 when God started Plate Tectonics and enabled the sea plants to transition to the shore (the seeded plants mentioned in Genesis appear almost 2 billion years later, nearly 1.5 billion years after Day 4 when the sky cleared up, in my opinion). If I have this right, then God's actions on Day 3 did not directly create seeded plants, but sufficed for God to call that day "done". Relating it back to your case for common descent versus evolution, my reading of scripture shows its applicability to the plant kingdom as well.

I am very glad to have found your site. I don't yet know for sure how aligned our views are, but the fact that your own knowledge is helping fill the gaps in my own has been a blessing.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Geocreationist

>Your explanation of common ancestry is exactly what I've been looking for!

Glad to have been of assistance.

>As you may recall, I noted that your application of Jesus' warning (regarding false teaching) to Evolution gave me pause.

Good.

>You were right on the money I now see, and it's definitely influencing my own writings and views.

Great.

>Well, as I've been studying Day 3, I came to the conclusion recently that that God started plant "evolution" as part of Day 3 when God started Plate Tectonics and enabled the sea plants to transition to the shore (the seeded plants mentioned in Genesis appear almost 2 billion years later, nearly 1.5 billion years after Day 4 when the sky cleared up, in my opinion). If I have this right, then God's actions on Day 3 did not directly create seeded plants, but sufficed for God to call that day "done". Relating it back to your case for common descent versus evolution, my reading of scripture shows its applicability to the plant kingdom as well.

Plate tectonics can be traced back at least to Rodinia ~800 mya [http://tinyurl.com/2mc9m5] well before the first evidence of land plants ~425 mya [http://tinyurl.com/2vod5t].

I no longer accept Day-Age Concordism as the best fit to the Biblical and scientific data. As I say in my post above: "Genesis 1. I regard the Literary Framework hypothesis [http://tinyurl.com/39pm49] as the best fit between the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation)."

>I am very glad to have found your site. I don't yet know for sure how aligned our views are, but the fact that your own knowledge is helping fill the gaps in my own has been a blessing.

Again, glad to have been a help.

Stephen E. Jones

Christopher said...

I happened to see this link about global warming over on Uncommon Descent.

http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm

You might want to check it out.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Christopher

>I happened to see this link about global warming over on Uncommon Descent.
>
>http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p36.htm
>
>You might want to check it out.

Thanks. I did. The proof of that pudding will be in the eating!

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your research and especially quote database today. Keep up the good work. Romans12

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>Enjoyed your research and especially quote database today. Keep up the good work. Romans12

Thanks.

Stephen E. Jones

Kevin said...

Well, you seem to have given it a lot of thought. Though I have to protest the idea that we lash out at the idea of God because we intuitively know there is one. In the same way that some of the most enthusiastic Christians are converts, some of the most enthusiastic Atheists grew up in Christian households, including myself.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Kevin

Thanks for your comment.

>... Though I have to protest the idea that we lash out at the idea of God because we intuitively know there is one.

I take it that you are commenting on the following:

"God, evidence. All humans intuitively know there is a God (Ps. 19:1-3; Rom. 1:18-20). Even atheists show by their attacks on God and His followers that they really know deep down that there is a God to whom they are accountable."

The very fact that everyone, atheists (like you) and Christian theists (like me), and everyone in between, understands what "God" means, is evidence that each and every human intuitively knows there is a God.

Further evidence of this is that Japanese children (whose predominant Shinto religion "does not include creation as an aspect of God's activity") answer the questions: "Who placed the sun in the sky?" and "How did the first dog ever come into being?" with "God," as did British children:

"Can science corroborate the Apostle Paul? This might sound a little far-fetched. However, at the latest encounter between some of the world's most powerful minds of science and religion, reports of a remarkable discovery seemed to support this idea. Saint Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans, `Ever since the creation of the world his (Gold's) invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made' (Romans1:20). During the second one-week conference on Science and the Spiritual Quest (SSQ II) that ended Tuesday in New York, Oxford University psychologist Olivera Petrovich revealed preliminary research data suggesting that the knowledge of a creator might be intrinsic to human existence. Prof. Petrovich tested the ability of British and Japanese children to distinguish between physical and metaphysical explanations for certain images. For example, she would show the four- to 14-year old children a picture of a book on a table and ask, `Who put this book there?' The kids replied, `Mom.' Then she put a picture of the sun in front of them and asked, `Who placed the sun in the sky?' The young Britons answered, `God,' and to Petrovich's surprise their Japanese contemporaries said `Kamisama (God)! He did it!' As Petrovich pointed out, `Japanese culture discourages speculation into the metaphysical because that's something we never know. But the Japanese children did speculate, quite willingly, and in the same way as British children.' In an interview with the journal, Science & Spirit, the British scientist gave another example. The European and the Asian children were to look at the photograph of a dog and then asked, `How did the first dog ever come into being.' Again, both groups replied, `God did it.' `This was probably the most significant finding,' Petrovich reported. `But where did these Japanese kids get the idea that creation is in God's hands? This is absolutely extraordinary when you think that Shintoism (Japan's predominant religion) does not include creation as an aspect of God's activity at all. `My Japanese research assistants kept telling me that thinking about God as creator is just not part of Japanese philosophy." (Siemon-Netto, U., "Interface between science and faith," Science and the Spiritual Quest, 2 December 2000)

>In the same way that some of the most enthusiastic Christians are converts, some of the most enthusiastic Atheists grew up in Christian households, including myself.

Sorry, but this is *irrelevant* to the question of whether all, "All humans intuitively know there is a God." It is cancelled out by the fact that "some of the most enthusiastic" Christians "grew up in" Atheists "households, including myself"!

Even though I denied there was a God (i.e. I was a genuine Atheist, not an Agnostic), deep down I knew that there was a God.

The problem was that I, like all humans, was (and am) a sinner, and I did not want there to be a God to whom I knew I would be held accountable for my actions (and inactions).

Some rare Atheists come close to admitting it, like philosopher Thomas Nagel, when he wrote that he, like "many people in this day and age," was "strongly subject to" a "fear of religion itself" (i.e. a fear of God), and that he did not "want there to be a God":

"The thought that the relation between mind and the world is something fundamental makes many people in this day and age nervous. I believe this is one manifestation of a fear of religion which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life. In speaking of the fear of religion, I don't mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper-namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that." (Nagel, T., "The Last Word," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 1997, p.130).

Stephen E. Jones

jake pearl said...

Greetings ! So tiresomely sad: that you avoid altogether the deepest and most troubling...were the Dinosaurs in the Noah's Ark..? What did "Adam" do for 50 thousand years ..? (his descendents did almost nothing except develop(Bushmen) a better arrow point... we know beyond argument the Australians had been there for at least 40 thousand years... you seem to have no awareness of the implications of genetics which puts ancestry of us way, way outside any Jewish story of our past...(a drop in the bucket historically)... the affects of the facts will cause major tumult when thinkers finally realize the rhetoric won't hold much longer ! You have to think thousands and thousands and thousands of years and realize that ugly guy in the museum diorama for parents to explain is our ancestor..and the folks in New Guinea are closer to what Adam looked like than the fictional nonsense we have had to believ in order to be "faithful".. time to grow up and think bigger.. but how ?

Stephen E. Jones said...

Jake

>Greetings !

Thanks for your comment. My apologies for the delay. My wife and I have only today returned from a week's holiday in Melbourne to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary.

>So tiresomely sad: that you avoid altogether the deepest and most troubling...were the Dinosaurs in the Noah's Ark..?

If you had bothered to read what I wrote above, you would realise that I am an *Old-Earth* creationist and therefore I have no need to postulate that there were dinosaurs in Noah's Ark.

>What did "Adam" do for 50 thousand years ..?

Again, if you read what I wrote above, you would realise that my position is that Genesis 2 "Adam" was not the common ancestor of all Homo sapiens, but only of the line that lead to Christ. Which is what the Bible *actually* says.

>(his descendents did almost nothing except develop(Bushmen) a better arrow point... we know beyond argument the Australians had been there for at least 40 thousand years...

See above. I have been posting for many years that because Homo sapiens have been in Australia for at least 40,000 years, those creationist positions which assume that Adam was the common ancestor of all Homo sapiens (which the Bible does not actually say), and try to stretch the Biblical genealogies accordingly, are wrong.

>you seem to have no awareness of the implications of genetics which puts ancestry of us way, way outside any Jewish story of our past...(a drop in the bucket historically)...

I completed a Biology degree in 2004, which included distinctions in Genetics and Human Evolution, so I am well aware of these issues.

But as I said, the "Jewish story of our past" (as you put it) does not actually say that Adam is the common ancestor of all Homo sapiens.

>the affects of the facts will cause major tumult when thinkers finally realize the rhetoric won't hold much longer !

Actually those "facts" are well known to those Christians who take both the Bible and science seriously, i.e. who believe that the Bible and nature are two books with the one Author, God, and therefore cannot contradict, but complement, each other, when all the facts are known and faulty interpretations are cleared away.

E.K.V. Pearce, a Christian anthropologist, wrote his book, "Who was Adam," in which he proposed his two-`Adam' theory, in 1969, nearly 40 years ago. And I have been defending the two-`Adam' theory on the Internet since 1994.

>You have to think thousands and thousands and thousands of years and realize that ugly guy in the museum diorama for parents to explain is our ancestor..

Again, if you had taken the trouble to actually read what I wrote above, you would have discovered that I am an Old-Earth creationist who accepts both universal common ancestry and that Homo sapiens (i.e. modern humans) is "thousands and thousands and thousands of years" old, i.e. ~75-100 kyrs old.

>and the folks in New Guinea are closer to what Adam looked like than the fictional nonsense we have had to believe in order to be "faithful"..

See above that the Bible does not say that "Adam" is the ancestor of all Homo sapiens, but just of the line that led to Christ. So he was probably closer to modern Semitic peoples.

Your problem seems to be that you are not faithful" enough have accepted some "fictional nonsense" on the other side.

Including the "`official caricature' of the creation-evolution debate" that the only opponents of fully naturalistic evolution, and proponents of creation, are *Young-Earth* creationists:

"The Weiner article and book [_The Beak of the Finch_] review illustrate what I would call the `official caricature' of the creation-evolution debate, a distortion that is either explicit or implicit in nearly all media and textbook treatments of the subject. According to the caricature, `evolution' is a simple, unitary process that one can see in operation today and that is also supported unequivocally by all the fossil evidence. Everyone accepts the truth of evolution except a disturbingly large group of biblical fundamentalists, who insist that the earth is no more than ten thousand years old and the fossil beds were laid down in Noah's flood. These baffling persons either are uninformed about the evidence or perhaps choose to disregard it as a temptation placed before us by God to test our faith in Genesis. There is no conceivable intellectual basis for their dissent, because the evidence for evolution is absolutely conclusive." (Johnson, P.E., "Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1995, p.73).

>time to grow up and think bigger.. but how ?

Those who use this "grow up and think bigger" rhetoric should take their own advice.

Which would include taking the time and trouble to read what those they criticise *actually* believe (and I don't just mean on the Internet), and not just what they *want* them to believe.

Stephen E. Jones

Anonymous said...

So how would you explain the 7 days of creation? Is it symbolism or something related to time and relativity? or possibly something else?

Stephen E. Jones said...

Anonymous

>So how would you explain the 7 days of creation? Is it symbolism or something related to time and relativity? or possibly something else?

See above on "Genesis 1. Of the various main interpretative approaches to Genesis 1, including: Literalist, Gap theory, Day-age, Proclaimed days, Revealed days and Literary Framework; I consider the latter Literary Framework interpretation to be the best fit of the data of the text itself and the evidence from nature (general revelation). See my post of 31-Aug-06 for more details."

Stephen E. Jones

ASteve said...

Is there life in the universe outside of Earth? If so, does it look like Earth's life? Did/will Jesus visit there too?

Stephen E. Jones said...

ASteve

Thanks for your questions. I will answer them here briefly, but I may also expand on my answers with quotes, in a separate blog post later when I have the time (see my last post that I have gone back to university to become a biology teacher).

>Is there life in the universe outside of Earth?

There really are THREE questions, Is there, or has there been, in the Universe outside of Earth: 1. Life of any form outside our solar system)? 2. Life elsewhere in our solar system? or 3. Intelligent life (i.e. human level or above)?

Answering the above in reverse order: 3. I believe there is no intelligent life (i.e. apart from God, angels and demons) elsewhere than Earth (except possibly Mars-see below) in the Universe.

Briefly my reasons for 3. include:

a) the Bible gives us no indication there is life anywhere else but Earth, and in the case of intelligent life, it would be a major problem for Christianity to explain if there was;

b) the "where are they?" problem for SETI, i.e. if there was intelligent life in the Universe, then we would have detected it, or they would have visited Earth, by now; and

c) the huge improbability (i.e. effective impossibility), of even the simplest form of life arising fully naturalistically, let alone the added improbability of that simplest life evolving fully naturalistically into intelligent life.

2. There could be (or had been) life on another planet in our solar system (e.g. Mars), but in that case it either originated on that planet and migrated to Earth (e.g. via meteorite), or vice-versa.

Since I accept universal common ancestry (but not evolution) I accept, on the basis of the evidence, that life originated on Earth (or Mars) only once as a single-celled organism and that all life on Earth, including us, descended from that once only origin of life. But I do not accept, on the basis of the evidence, that that origin of life, or the subsequent development of life, was fully naturalistic, i.e. I maintain the whole process was progressive creation.

1. Such is the effective impossibility of even the simplest form of life, and the lack of indication in the Bible that God created life elsewhere, I don't believe that there is life of any sort, i.e. not even the simplest forms of life, anywhere else but Earth in the Universe, with the possible exception of Mars (as per 2. above).

>If so, does it look like Earth's life?

Not applicable. See above.

>Did/will Jesus visit there too?

Not applicable. See above.

Stephen E. Jones

Patrick Stone said...

Have you considered the ideas of Calvinist Theologian Isaac de La Peyrère (1596-1676)(http://www.gotquestions.org/pre-Adamic-race.html ). I agree with you about the two adams ("one" ancient, one young), but I thing the "young" one shadows the ancient one...

patrick

Stephen E. Jones said...

Patrick

Thanks for your comment. Believe it or not but this morning I am up to Rom 5:11 in my quiet time study of Jesus is Jehovah in the New Testament and as I was waiting for my computer to boot up before I saw your comment, I was thinking about Paul's parallel between Adam and Jesus in Rom 5:12-21.

>Have you considered the ideas of Calvinist Theologian Isaac de La Peyrère (1596-1676)(http://www.gotquestions.org/pre-Adamic-race.html ).

Thanks for the link to Peyrère. I think I had heard of him previously but cannot be sure.

>I agree with you about the two adams ("one" ancient, one young), but I thing the "young" one shadows the ancient one...

Thanks. But I think the argument:

"First, Adam is called the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is inconsistent with the idea that God created men before Adam."

is wrong because in the same context Jesus is called "the second man" (1Cor 15:47) but clearly he is not literally.

My view is that Paul in Rom 5:12-21 and 1Cor 15:45-49 is not making any infallible statements about anthropology or history, but is only making a rabbinic literary (i.e. Biblical-theological) parallel between Adam in Genesis 1-3 and Jesus.

Adam is theologically "the first man" and Jesus is theologically "the second man" but they are not literally (i.e. anthropologically or historically) the first and second man respectively.

Paul earlier in Romans had just called Abraham "the father of us all" (Rom 4:16) when he literally isn't and significantly nowhere does the Bible call Adam the father of us all.

Stephen E. Jones

james roy said...

Pascal's Wager is a completely pointless argument, and is easily rebutted by any thinking atheist.

Basically what it says is that if you believe in God, the worst you can expect is the same as the unbeliever, but the best you can expect is eternal life. However, if you don't believe in God, the best you can expect is nothing, but the worst you can expect is eternal damnation. So therefore it's safest to believe in God.

But how is it possible to believe in something based on its potential benefits? Belief comes out of an interpretation of evidence, and if it employs pro/con lists, those lists can only be used to establish the relative evidential merits of each possibility. If anyone thinks that God will reward a belief in him that is based on the 'best possible outcome', then they're playing God for a fool. And if God sees and hears all, there's a good chance he's smarter than that.

Stephen E. Jones said...

James

>Pascal's Wager is a completely pointless argument, and is easily rebutted by any thinking atheist.

Thanks for this comment also.

As with your comment under my post, Re: If Behe believes in common descent, how does he explain the transition from a more "primitive" blood-clotting system?, I will respond to this comment in a separate post to my CED blog, i.e. not as a comment down here under a 2006 post that few may read.

However, as I explained in my response to your other comment, I have other things to do, including posts to my other two blogs, Jesus is Jehovah! and The Shroud of Turin, so it may be in a week or two before I respond this this comment about Pascal's Wager.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

James

>I will respond to this comment in a separate post to my CED blog ...

I have posted my response to your comment about Pascal's Wager at: Re: `Pascal's Wager is a completely pointless argument, and is easily rebutted by any thinking atheist' .

Stephen E. Jones