Thursday, July 25, 2013

Evolution’s Brand New Idea of Random Variation Isn’t Quite So New

What Goes Around Comes Around

Think evolution’s idea of random changes occurring spontaneously and experimenting with all manner of combinations to construct the biological world is a revolutionary, unprecedented finding of modern science? Then you might want to read up on Lucretius who wrote two thousand years ago that, among other things:

But because throughout the universe from time everlasting countless numbers of [atoms], buffeted and impelled by blows, have shifted in countless ways, experimentation with every kind of movement and combination has at last resulted in arrangements such as those that created and compose our world.

Of course the fact is that from antiquity to today, we have been saying pretty much the same thing, and building the same tower, over and over. For not only did Lucretius get the random movements and combinations part right, he also got the motivation right:

That in no wise the nature of all things
For us was fashioned by a power divine-
So great the faults it stands encumbered with.

Fast forward two thousand years to the brand new idea of evolution:

Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense. [Stephen J. Gould, 1980]

It has been the same story all along. This world is faulty, therefore no designer ever would have designed it, and therefore it must have evolved spontaneously. These ground rules come from the metaphysics and the details are left for the science.

Religion drives science and it matters.

23 comments:

  1. "That in no wise the nature of all things
    For us was fashioned by a power divine-"

    I guess Lucretius wasn't the original source of this idea then.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"

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  2. Except in the case of Theistic Evolution, which says, "This world is faulty, therefore it must have been part of God's marvelous, unspeakable and glorious plan to use the laws of nature, unguided variation and natural selection to create"

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    1. Do you have the source for that quote?

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  3. Cornelius Hunter

    This world is faulty, therefore no designer ever would have designed it, and therefore it must have evolved spontaneously.


    Poor CH, still terminally confused.

    Gould merely offered as his opinion that no sensible God would have created the world we see. Many people throughout the history, both scientists and layman, have had the same opinion. This is not offered as evidence for evolution as you keep mistakenly asserting, it's just an observation.

    Evolution is a completely separate scientific theory that is incredibly well supported by its own huge amounts of positive evidence.

    What will you do when Abramson decides the DI isn't worth his investment anymore and your nice little paycheck for being a propagandist dries up?

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    1. Thorton,
      What will you do when Abramson decides the DI isn't worth his investment anymore and your nice little paycheck for being a propagandist dries up?


      Nothing is better than getting paid for something that you would do for free. I think DrHunter isn't faking it.

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    2. DrHunter,
      This world is faulty, therefore no designer ever would have designed it, and therefore it must have evolved spontaneously


      So likewise any speculation about teleology is also illogical. All analogies to human design likewise avoided,for how could we know how that a designer designs in a similar way as humans?

      These ground rules come from the metaphysics and the details are left for the science.

      Of course science is always about the details, what exactly are the details to the " evolution is not observed " position?

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    3. Thorton: Gould merely offered as his opinion that no sensible God would have created the world we see.

      More specific, it's a response to claims of creationism and intelligent design.

      Again, Cornelius is implying there can be no differentiation between taking someone else's theory seriously, as if it was true in reality, for the purpose of criticism, and actually holding that belief personally as a matter of faith.

      However, if the idea that God is "sensible" has no implications, in reality, then it's unclear what it means to say that God is sensible. The same can be said about God being "good", "loving", etc.

      If there can be no distinction, wouldn't that mean claims about God are merely moment by moment assertions that have no implications about reality of which we can criticize?

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    4. Let me ask directly.

      Cornelius, are you saying there can be no distinction between taking someone else's theory seriously, as if it was true in reality, for the purpose of criticism, and actually holding that belief personally as a matter of faith?

      If there can be a distinction, what is your criteria and how did you apply it to Gould? Please be specific.

      If not, what is it about God that prevents such a distinction from being made?

      For example, can no distinction be made because claims about God are merely moment by moment assertions that have no implications about reality of which we can criticize?

      Also, if no distinction can be made, rather than just saying "no" to the above option, please explain where your view differs. Again, please be specific.

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  4. When you have a really difficult question, over and over again, I find that Jesus gives the best answer. Why is there imperfections in this world? Jesus said 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.' IOW, this world makes no sense except in the light of a divine creator who wants to spend eternity in heaven with you.

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    1. Peter: Why is there imperfections in this world? Jesus said 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.'

      Can you explain how this represents an answer and by what criteria you consider this the best?

      For example, if we have a problem due imperfections in this world, how does this "answer" provide guidance in solving it that you wouldn't have otherwise?

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    2. Peter Wadeck July 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      [...]

      IOW, this world makes no sense except in the light of a divine creator who wants to spend eternity in heaven with you.


      And that makes no sense at all.

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    3. To clarify, let's say a child is born with metachromatic leukodystrophy, which leads to cognitive and movement problems and, ultimately, death at an early age.

      Our explanation for why this disorder occurs is a specific faulty gene that cause fatty buildup in the brain, which can be successfully treated by using gene therapy to replace the mutated gene with a heathy one.

      Does Jesus saying 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.' somehow result in taking additional steps or provide alternative guidance beyond gene therapy?

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    4. welikovskys,

      Some 'tastes' are more informed, and more logically consistent than others.

      Scott,

      Ashes to ashes means that people were created from dust, and will return to dust, ie. die. From the beginning the plants were created with their seeds in them (Gen 1.1). IOW Jesus is confirming that death, and therefore suffering is a part of the design of the world. This acceptance of death by the creator is the best interpretation because it is the most realistic. Some people have the mistaken notion that life on earth should be a bed or roses. They are wrong. Grow up, and get over it. Life on this earth was not meant to be our central focus. Our central focus has always meant to be achieving eternity with God in heaven.

      Ian,

      Hopefully the previous elaboration will shed some light on the question.

      Scott 2,

      Jesus guidance is not physical guidance, but spiritual. Of course there is pain and despair in the world. And would should do everything we can to minimize it. However, Jesus is saying not to loose track of the ultimate goal of life.

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    5. Peter: IOW Jesus is confirming that death, and therefore suffering is a part of the design of the world.

      Saying "That's what God must have wanted" doesn't add to the explanation. Furthermore, does the idea that imperfection was part of the design mean we shouldn't treat the child with metachromatic leukodystrophy?

      Again, adding God to the mix doesn't result in taking additional steps or provide alternative guidance beyond the degree that we already explain things.

      Peter: This acceptance of death by the creator is the best interpretation because it is the most realistic.

      Not following you. Accepting that the creator will kill us? Accepting that we die because the creator wants us to die?

      Peter: Some people have the mistaken notion that life on earth should be a bed or roses. They are wrong.

      You're assuming there will come a time where there will be no problems.

      However, problems are inevitable. Problems are solvable as well. We will alway be just scratching the surface of our ability to make progress.

      Peter: Our central focus has always meant to be achieving eternity with God in heaven.

      And you know this, how?

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    6. This video might help you understand Christian faith. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjJAWuzno9Y#at=2379

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    7. Peter.
      Some 'tastes' are more informed, and more logically consistent than others.


      "When you have a really difficult question, over and over again, I find that Jesus gives the best answer. Why is there imperfections in this world? Jesus said 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust"

      Perhaps you could walk me thru why it is logically consistent that Jesus is the Son of God and that there is a heaven. And why it represents a 'better informed' taste?

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    8. Peter: IOW, this world makes no sense except in the light of a divine creator who wants to spend eternity in heaven with you.

      I just though of another explanation of the top of my head: there could be two designers that are equally powerful but have diametrically opposed goals. As such, neither got what they wanted.

      So, everything represents an imperfect compromise, or they are locked in some eternal battle and our world is the result.

      From your perspective, why doesn't this explain our imperfect world?

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    9. Scott,

      There is a difference between creating something for a finite time and killing it. Everything in the universe dies. That is quite different than God actively ending a life. We are given less than 120 years. Our choices can lengthen or shorten our time on earth. But it will always be only temporary. That unavoidably causes pain. It is intrinsic to our temporary lives.

      That does not however mean we ignore the suffering of others. The reason life is temporary is so that we can spend eternity with God in a loving relation. The greatest commandment is to love God. An eternal relationship of love is our goal. To achieve this goal we must learn to love one another here on earth. So taking care of others, loving your neighbour is completely consistent with achieving an eternal loving relation with God. We are given reason to discover ways of reducing suffering and should do so to help one another. The Bible is a book of divine truths, with minimal scientific facts. It does not give us cures for illnesses. It does however say we should act that way. Evolution, or Neitzche's philosophy of the superman could be interpreted to say we shouldn't look after the weak. So Christian altruism is not at all an inevitable point of view.

      Scientifically, the universe will die. Everything in it will die. There will eventually be a time when nothing is fixable. Then, without a life beyond the universe life is meaningless. That to me makes sense of our temporary lives. I know of no better explanation. The bible confirms that there is eternal life. The bible is generally reliable if interpreted reasonably, more so than the universe out of nothing, or evolutionary impossible chance.

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    10. Peter Wadeck: There is a difference between creating something for a finite time and killing it.

      That's the latter: Accepting that we die because the creator wants us to die.

      But, again, "That's just what God must have wanted" doesn't add to the explanation.

      Nor is it clear that death is by design. Unless living to 500 is prohibited by the laws of physics, there is nothing that prohibits us from doing so, other than knowing how.

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    11. Perhaps it would be easier if you thought of the minor leagues metaphor. The minor leagues were created in baseball so that promising young ball players could grow and achieve the major leagues. Not all would make it. Most important, the minor league stay for any player is temporary. It will not last forever. The player has to grow in value and be accepted at the next level. So it is with our world. God created earth as a sort of minor league to allow us the opportunity for those who are worthy to reach the majors, heaven. And just as the major league needs an endless supply, similarly heaven does also. Obviously, if God needed only two persons for heaven then Adam and Eve would suffice and procreation was not necessary. However, in this case they still would have to die to Eden to achieve heaven. Likewise, God must have billions of places in heaven because of the billions and counting of people who have been created since the beginning of mankind.

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  5. It has been the same story all along. This world is faulty, therefore no designer ever would have designed it, and therefore it must have evolved spontaneously.

    Not exactly. The serious philosophical and theological question is whether a necessary, perfect and eternal being such as the Christian God would - or could - have designed a contingent, imperfect and temporary world such as we see around us.

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    1. It's shameful that not a single one of the self-styled Christians posting here have a clue to an answer.

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