Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism
First Things ^ | Phillip E. Johnson

Posted on 12/22/2001 7:04:34 PM PST by Exnihilo

The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism


Phillip E. Johnson


Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 77 (November 1997): 22-25.

In a retrospective essay on Carl Sagan in the January 9, 1997 New York Review of Books, Harvard Genetics Professor Richard Lewontin tells how he first met Sagan at a public debate in Arkansas in 1964. The two young scientists had been coaxed by senior colleagues to go to Little Rock to debate the affirmative side of the question: "RESOLVED, that the theory of evolution is as proved as is the fact that the earth goes around the sun." Their main opponent was a biology professor from a fundamentalist college, with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas in Zoology. Lewontin reports no details from the debate, except to say that "despite our absolutely compelling arguments, the audience unaccountably voted for the opposition."

Of course, Lewontin and Sagan attributed the vote to the audience’s prejudice in favor of creationism. The resolution was framed in such a way, however, that the affirmative side should have lost even if the jury had been composed of Ivy League philosophy professors. How could the theory of evolution even conceivably be "proved" to the same degree as "the fact that the earth goes around the sun"? The latter is an observable feature of present-day reality, whereas the former deals primarily with non-repeatable events of the very distant past. The appropriate comparison would be between the theory of evolution and the accepted theory of the origin of the solar system.

If "evolution" referred only to currently observable phenomena like domestic animal breeding or finch-beak variation, then winning the debate should have been no problem for Lewontin and Sagan even with a fundamentalist jury. The statement "We breed a great variety of dogs," which rests on direct observation, is much easier to prove than the statement that the earth goes around the sun, which requires sophisticated reasoning. Not even the strictest biblical literalists deny the bred varieties of dogs, the variation of finch beaks, and similar instances within types. The more controversial claims of large-scale evolution are what arouse skepticism. Scientists may think they have good reasons for believing that living organisms evolved naturally from nonliving chemicals, or that complex organs evolved by the accumulation of micromutations through natural selection, but having reasons is not the same as having proof. I have seen people, previously inclined to believe whatever "science says," become skeptical when they realize that the scientists actually do seem to think that variations in finch beaks or peppered moths, or the mere existence of fossils, proves all the vast claims of "evolution." It is as though the scientists, so confident in their answers, simply do not understand the question.

Carl Sagan described the theory of evolution in his final book as the doctrine that "human beings (and all the other species) have slowly evolved by natural processes from a succession of more ancient beings with no divine intervention needed along the way." It is the alleged absence of divine intervention throughout the history of life—the strict materialism of the orthodox theory—that explains why a great many people, only some of whom are biblical fundamentalists, think that Darwinian evolution (beyond the micro level) is basically materialistic philosophy disguised as scientific fact. Sagan himself worried about opinion polls showing that only about 10 percent of Americans believe in a strictly materialistic evolutionary process, and, as Lewontin’s anecdote concedes, some of the doubters have advanced degrees in the relevant sciences. Dissent as widespread as that must rest on something less easily remedied than mere ignorance of facts.

Lewontin eventually parted company with Sagan over how to explain why the theory of evolution seems so obviously true to mainstream scientists and so doubtful to much of the public. Sagan attributed the persistence of unbelief to ignorance and hucksterism and set out to cure the problem with popular books, magazine articles, and television programs promoting the virtues of mainstream science over its fringe rivals. Lewontin, a Marxist whose philosophical sophistication exceeds that of Sagan by several orders of magnitude, came to see the issue as essentially one of basic intellectual commitment rather than factual knowledge.

The reason for opposition to scientific accounts of our origins, according to Lewontin, is not that people are ignorant of facts, but that they have not learned to think from the right starting point. In his words, "The primary problem is not to provide the public with the knowledge of how far it is to the nearest star and what genes are made of. . . . Rather, the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth." What the public needs to learn is that, like it or not, "We exist as material beings in a material world, all of whose phenomena are the consequences of material relations among material entities." In a word, the public needs to accept materialism, which means that they must put God (whom Lewontin calls the "Supreme Extraterrestrial") in the trash can of history where such myths belong.

Although Lewontin wants the public to accept science as the only source of truth, he freely admits that mainstream science itself is not free of the hokum that Sagan so often found in fringe science. As examples he cites three influential scientists who are particularly successful at writing for the public: E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, and Lewis Thomas,

each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market. Wilson’s Sociobiology and On Human Nature rest on the surface of a quaking marsh of unsupported claims about the genetic determination of everything from altruism to xenophobia. Dawkins’ vulgarizations of Darwinism speak of nothing in evolution but an inexorable ascendancy of genes that are selectively superior, while the entire body of technical advance in experimental and theoretical evolutionary genetics of the last fifty years has moved in the direction of emphasizing nonselective forces in evolution. Thomas, in various essays, propagandized for the success of modern scientific medicine in eliminating death from disease, while the unchallenged statistical compilations on mortality show that in Europe and North America infectious diseases . . . had ceased to be major causes of mortality by the early decades of the twentieth century.

Lewontin laments that even scientists frequently cannot judge the reliability of scientific claims outside their fields of speciality, and have to take the word of recognized authorities on faith. "Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution."

One major living scientific popularizer whom Lewontin does not trash is his Harvard colleague and political ally Stephen Jay Gould. Just to fill out the picture, however, it seems that admirers of Dawkins have as low an opinion of Gould as Lewontin has of Dawkins or Wilson. According to a 1994 essay in the New York Review of Books by John Maynard Smith, the dean of British neo-Darwinists, "the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his [Gould’s] work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists. All this would not matter, were it not that he is giving non biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory." Lewontin fears that non-biologists will fail to recognize that Dawkins is peddling pseudoscience; Maynard Smith fears exactly the same of Gould.

If eminent experts say that evolution according to Gould is too confused to be worth bothering about, and others equally eminent say that evolution according to Dawkins rests on unsubstantiated assertions and counterfactual claims, the public can hardly be blamed for suspecting that grand-scale evolution may rest on something less impressive than rock-solid, unimpeachable fact. Lewontin confirms this suspicion by explaining why "we" (i.e., the kind of people who read the New York Review) reject out of hand the view of those who think they see the hand of the Creator in the material world:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

That paragraph is the most insightful statement of what is at issue in the creation/evolution controversy that I have ever read from a senior figure in the scientific establishment. It explains neatly how the theory of evolution can seem so certain to scientific insiders, and so shaky to the outsiders. For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."

The prior commitment explains why evolutionary scientists are not disturbed when they learn that the fossil record does not provide examples of gradual macroevolutionary transformation, despite decades of determined effort by paleontologists to confirm neo-Darwinian presuppositions. That is also why biological chemists like Stanley Miller continue in confidence even when geochemists tell them that the early earth did not have the oxygen-free atmosphere essential for producing the chemicals required by the theory of the origin of life in a prebiotic soup. They reason that there had to be some source (comets?) capable of providing the needed molecules, because otherwise life would not have evolved. When evidence showed that the period available on the early earth for the evolution of life was extremely brief in comparison to the time previously posited for chemical evolution scenarios, Carl Sagan calmly concluded that the chemical evolution of life must be easier than we had supposed, because it happened so rapidly on the early earth.

That is also why neo-Darwinists like Richard Dawkins are not troubled by the Cambrian Explosion, where all the invertebrate animal groups appear suddenly and without identifiable ancestors. Whatever the fossil record may suggest, those Cambrian animals had to evolve by accepted neo-Darwinian means, which is to say by material processes requiring no intelligent guidance or supernatural input. Materialist philosophy demands no less. That is also why Niles Eldredge, surveying the absence of evidence for macroevolutionary transformations in the rich marine invertebrate fossil record, can observe that "evolution always seems to happen somewhere else," and then describe himself on the very next page as a "knee-jerk neo-Darwinist." Finally, that is why Darwinists do not take critics of materialist evolution seriously, but speculate instead about "hidden agendas" and resort immediately to ridicule. In their minds, to question materialism is to question reality. All these specific points are illustrations of what it means to say that "we" have an a priori commitment to materialism.

The scientific leadership cannot afford to disclose that commitment frankly to the public. Imagine what chance the affirmative side would have if the question for public debate were rephrased candidly as "RESOLVED, that everyone should adopt an a priori commitment to materialism." Everyone would see what many now sense dimly: that a methodological premise useful for limited purposes has been expanded to form a metaphysical absolute. Of course people who define science as the search for materialistic explanations will find it useful to assume that such explanations always exist. To suppose that a philosophical preference can validate a cherished scientific theory is to define "science" as a way of supporting prejudice. Yet that is exactly what the Darwinists seem to be doing, when their evidence is evaluated by critics who are willing to question materialism.

One of those critics, bearing impeccable scientific credentials, is Michael Behe, who argues that complex molecular systems (such as bacterial and protozoan flagella, immune systems, blood clotting, and cellular transport) are "irreducibly complex." This means that the systems incorporate elements that interact with each other in such complex ways that it is impossible to describe detailed, testable Darwinian mechanisms for their evolution. (My review of Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box appeared in FT, October 1996.) Never mind for now whether you think that Behe’s argument can prevail over sustained opposition from the materialists. The primary dispute is not over who is going to win, but about whether the argument can even get started. If we know a priori that materialism is true, then contrary evidence properly belongs under the rug, where it has always duly been swept.

For Lewontin, the public’s determined resistance to scientific materialism constitutes "a deep problem in democratic self-governance." Quoting Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John, he thinks that "the truth that makes us free" is not an accumulation of knowledge, but a metaphysical understanding (i.e., materialism) that sets us free from belief in supernatural entities like God. How is the scientific elite to persuade or bamboozle the public to accept the crucial starting point? Lewontin turns for guidance to the most prestigious of all opponents of democracy, Plato. In his dialogue the Gorgias, Plato reports a debate between the rationalist Socrates and three sophists or teachers of rhetoric. The debaters all agree that the public is incompetent to make reasoned decisions on justice and public policy. The question in dispute is whether the effective decision should be made by experts (Socrates) or by the manipulators of words (the sophists).

In familiar contemporary terms, the question might be stated as whether a court should appoint a panel of impartial authorities to decide whether the defendant’s product caused the plaintiff’s cancer, or whether the jury should be swayed by rival trial lawyers each touting their own experts. Much turns on whether we believe that the authorities are truly impartial, or whether they have interests of their own. When the National Academy of Sciences appoints a committee to advise the public on evolution, it consists of persons picked in part for their scientific outlook, which is to say their a priori acceptance of materialism. Members of such a panel know a lot of facts in their specific areas of research and have a lot to lose if the "fact of evolution" is exposed as a philosophical assumption. Should skeptics accept such persons as impartial fact-finders? Lewontin himself knows too much about cognitive elites to say anything so naive, and so in the end he gives up and concludes that "we" do not know how to get the public to the right starting point.

Lewontin is brilliantly insightful, but too crankily honest to be as good a manipulator as his Harvard colleague Stephen Jay Gould. Gould displays both his talent and his unscrupulousness in an essay in the March 1997 issue of Natural History, entitled "Nonoverlapping Magisteria" and subtitled "Science and religion are not in conflict, for their teachings occupy distinctly different domains." With a subtitle like that, you can be sure that Gould is out to reassure the public that evolution leads to no alarming conclusions. True to form, Gould insists that the only dissenters from evolution are "Protestant fundamentalists who believe that every word of the Bible must be literally true." Gould also insists that evolution (he never defines the word) is "both true and entirely compatible with Christian belief." Gould is familiar with nonliteralist opposition to evolutionary naturalism, but he blandly denies that any such phenomenon exists. He even quotes a letter written to the New York Times in answer to an op-ed essay by Michael Behe, without revealing the context. You can do things like that when you know that the media won’t call you to account.

The centerpiece of Gould’s essay is an analysis of the complete text of Pope John Paul’s statement of October 22, 1996 to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences endorsing evolution as "more than a hypothesis." He fails to quote the Pope’s crucial qualification that "theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man." Of course, a theory based on materialism assumes by definition that there is no "spirit" active in this world that is independent of matter. Gould knows this perfectly well, and he also knows, just as Richard Lewontin does, that the evidence doesn’t support the claims for the creative power of natural selection made by writers such as Richard Dawkins. That is why the philosophy that really supports the theory has to be protected from critical scrutiny.

Gould’s essay is a tissue of half-truths aimed at putting the religious people to sleep, or luring them into a "dialogue" on terms set by the materialists. Thus Gould graciously allows religion to participate in discussions of morality or the meaning of life, because science does not claim authority over such questions of value, and because "Religion is too important to too many people for any dismissal or denigration of the comfort still sought by many folks from theology." Gould insists, however, that all such discussion must cede to science the power to determine the facts, and one of the facts is an evolutionary process that is every bit as materialistic and purposeless for Gould as it is for Lewontin or Dawkins. If religion wants to accept a dialogue on those terms, that’s fine with Gould—but don’t let those religious people think they get to make an independent judgment about the evidence that supposedly supports the "facts." And if the religious people are gullible enough to accept materialism as one of the facts, they won’t be capable of causing much trouble.

The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked. Propagandists like Gould try to give the impression that nothing has changed, but essays like Lewontin’s and books like Behe’s demonstrate that honest thinkers on both sides are near agreement on a redefinition of the conflict. Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. When the public understands this clearly, Lewontin’s Darwinism will start to move out of the science curriculum and into the department of intellectual history, where it can gather dust on the shelf next to Lewontin’s Marxism.


Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and author, most recently, of Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (InterVarsity Press).


TOPICS: Editorial; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: crevolist
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-194 next last

1 posted on 12/22/2001 7:04:34 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo; *Crevo_list
bump
2 posted on 12/22/2001 7:13:31 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law

Professor of Law? Geez, you creationists are really scraping the bottom of the barrel!!!!!!!

3 posted on 12/22/2001 7:21:06 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
Berkeley no less. Surely these are the end times when creationists quote Berkeley professors of law!!!
4 posted on 12/22/2001 7:23:48 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
you creationists. . .

Interesting.

5 posted on 12/22/2001 7:26:29 PM PST by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Yeah. Kinda a shame when a law professor knows more about science than the so-called experts. Their only answer? He's a "creationist" and therefore unworthy to have his tough questions addressed. Darwin at least had an excuse, the evidence was still out. However, the rest of you cling to your religion for no apparent reason.
6 posted on 12/22/2001 7:27:50 PM PST by Timmy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
For feedback from First Things readers, and a response by Dr. Johnson, click here
7 posted on 12/22/2001 7:31:28 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Timmy
Kinda a shame when a law professor knows more about science than the so-called experts.

He indicated no knowledge of science -- but he is a good spinner for the religious cause -- just what we expect of a slippery lawyer.

8 posted on 12/22/2001 7:32:25 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Out of curiosity, what makes me a "Creationist"?
Futhermore, what makes Dr. Johnson a "Creationst"?

Regards, Exnihilo
9 posted on 12/22/2001 7:33:07 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
He indicated no knowledge of science

Can you support this assertion with substance?

Regards, Exnihilo
10 posted on 12/22/2001 7:34:29 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Berkeley no less. Surely these are the end times when creationists quote Berkeley professors of law!!!

Darwin's only earned degree was in Theology

11 posted on 12/22/2001 7:36:21 PM PST by netman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
Can you support this assertion with substance?

You mean apart from the lack of ANY scientific evidence presented? This is a philosophical diatribe. He's on about personalities and celebrities. These are all transparent ad hominem assaults -- something lawyers leap to -- but something rational beings find irrelevant.

Evolution is a process that occurs in nature -- the evidence for it is massive. This lawyer is asking us to disregard our lying eyes and believe his philosophical rants instead.

To ID'ers and other Creationists, present your SCIENTIFIC evidence or go away.

12 posted on 12/22/2001 7:39:30 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
As the article states, nobody denies that natural selection occurs, or that minor variations in species occur. Our skepticism involves that of the claims that natural evolution is responsible for and/or capable of macroevolutionary change, such as the development of the brain, or other major morphological forms. There is *no* evidence for this kind of evolution. There is data, and there is the materialist lense with which this data is examined, and then the conclusions are reached based on the a priori commitment to materialism. Please, address Dr. Johnson's assertions, or go away.
13 posted on 12/22/2001 7:42:43 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
"He indicated no knowledge of science -- but he is a good spinner for the religious cause -- just what we expect of a slippery lawyer."

Actually I believe that his legal training makes him MORE qualified to evaluate the quality of the evidence offered in arguments supporting Evolution Theory. He is also adept by training to point out inconsistencies and contradictions that Evolutionary Scientists are prone to ignore.

14 posted on 12/22/2001 7:47:20 PM PST by NilesJo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Professor of Law? Geez, you creationists are really scraping the bottom of the barrel!!!!!!!

Perhaps we can't expect a more penetrating rebuttal from a...never mind. Anyway, why not a professor of Law, when leading "scientists" say things like this?

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
Contrary to what many materialists have claimed, this is not the attitude of an impartial seeker after truth, who allows the evidence to take him wherever it will. This is the creed of a religious man. Perhaps a Professor of Law is more easily able to recognize this fact than the evolutionary biologists, most of whom are blinded by their own a priori assumption of materialism.
15 posted on 12/22/2001 7:47:21 PM PST by Kyrie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
claims that natural evolution is responsible for and/or capable of macroevolutionary change, such as the development of the brain, or other major morphological forms. There is *no* evidence for this kind of evolution.

This is why you creationists have to rely on slippery lawyers rather than scientists in the actual field who know these sorts of statements are beyond ridiculous. There is ample evidence of transistional forms. But this never satisfies the fundamentalists because they want to see the guy inbetween the two individuals. And if you find that guy, they want to see the two guys inbetween those two, and then the four guys between them, and so on.

You creationists really aren't a serious challenge to evolution. We've seen way too much evidence of all forms of evolution, micro and macro, to have to rely on your old time religion for answers. Sorry.

16 posted on 12/22/2001 7:49:11 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: NilesJo
Actually I believe that his legal training makes him MORE qualified

ha ha ha ha. You realize, of course, that in any case at law at least 50% of the lawyers are found to be WRONG in their arguments or theories, and often both are found to be wrong!!!

ha ha ha ha -- lawyers as scientists -- what a joke.

17 posted on 12/22/2001 7:51:47 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
There is ample evidence of transistional forms.

Unfortunately, they're only true transitional forms if and only if Macro Evolution is true in the first place. This kind of thing makes it difficult to 'prove' Macro Evolution as fact without running into circular reasoning. You believe they're transition. We believe they look alike.

We've seen way too much evidence of all forms of evolution, micro and macro, to have to rely on your old time religion for answers.

No one here that I know of claims that micro evolution doesn't exist. However, aside from the fossils, what observable, testable evidence of Macro Evolution do you have? All mutational evidence I've seen can neatly be fit inside Micro Evolution.

-The Hajman-
18 posted on 12/22/2001 7:53:03 PM PST by Hajman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Medved
FYI
19 posted on 12/22/2001 7:54:29 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kyrie
Contrary to what many materialists have claimed

See, you get off on these philosophical benders because you can't handle the massive amount of evidence. "Geez, the evidence points to evolution, maybe we can attack the philosophy and make the evidence go away."

Sorry, but evidence of evolution is just massive, massive, massive. The only arguments are about where certain splits occurred, when they occurred, etc. No one in the field seriously questions the general flow of evolutionary forces.

Funny, isn't it, that the only people sqeaking about the "flaws" of evolutionary science always have a religious agenda in their back pocket. What are the chances, ha ha ha

20 posted on 12/22/2001 7:55:47 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
> "RESOLVED, that the theory of evolution is as proved as is the fact that the earth goes around the sun."

Nobody has ever proved that the earth goes around the sun.

21 posted on 12/22/2001 7:56:58 PM PST by T'wit
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
There is ample evidence of transistional forms.

First, I am not a Creationist. I am however, quite intrigued by your desire to cast me as one. What are you hoping to accomplish by this repetative behavior?

Second, there is no evidence of a transitional form of any kind. I know, I know. You'll give us your link to talk.origins. Or better yet, you'll point to archaeopteryx. This is your transitional form? Please, give us the "evidence". It isn't as though we haven't all seen it in other threads of this kind. Your transitional forms, amazingly, are fully formed species. Assuming that they are evolutionary ancestors, one can invision the possible steps between known species A and known species B. It isn't a matter of wanting the forms between A and B, and so on ad infinitum. It is a simple desire for even a partially obvious pattern of morphological development. You need to understand something, in case you don't. The story of evolution in accounting for all of earth's biodiversity should have left millions of billions of fossils. Far more than enough to account for destructive geological activity. Even the tangential forms that didn't succeed should be found somewhere! The transitional forms are fully formed species and they are few and very far between. Sure, we can imagine how they might have gone from one stage to another. Does this mean they did? No! Jlogajan, why in the name of australopithecenes do you think Gould developed his punctuated equilibria model of evoultion? The LACK OF FOSSILS! The LACK of TRANSITIONAL FORMS! I am honestly stunned at how blindly committed you are to believing something so obviously false, but feel free to continue slinging your names at me all day long. And again, please address THIS ARTICLE, and stop trying to drag the thread off the original course. Thank you and have a great day!
22 posted on 12/22/2001 7:59:14 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Hajman
All mutational evidence I've seen can neatly be fit inside Micro Evolution.

A very Clintonian definition. Give a couple million years and all these little mutations start to add up and the critters start looking very different.

People who buy micro evolution (and they have to in order not to be seen as obvious fools) actually buy into macro evolution because it is just a matter of time scale.

23 posted on 12/22/2001 8:00:50 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Sorry, but evidence of evolution is just massive, massive, massive.

No, the evidence isn't massive massive massive. The data is not massive. The materialist INTERPRETATION of the data is what is massive, massive, massive. Do you not see that? Do you honestly not see that there is science data, and then there is the framework within which that data is interpreted?? Please, tell me you're not that dense!
24 posted on 12/22/2001 8:01:58 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.

There was a newspaper article I read a few years ago (and I wish I had clipped it or could find it on-line). A neurologist at a major convention of a professional organization, reported that, in a group of people he studied, a certain part of the brain had become active, whenever they thought about religion. He referred to it as the "god node."

Now, several reasonable, possible material causes for this "god node" were put forth -- ranging for the idea that religious belief held off despair, so that people who had such beliefs would last longer in desperate situations to the fact that the people being studied had a neurological disorder and this may have been an effect of the disorder.

All well and good. But one possible cause went unmentioned: That God (or some deity or deities) exists and that the development of such a node would be beneficial to survival as it brought people closer to deity. Such could even be a natural, materialist development in response to the existence of something divine.

Maybe it was discussed and just not mentioned in the newspaper report. But its absence was glaring.

25 posted on 12/22/2001 8:02:19 PM PST by Celtjew Libertarian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
People who buy micro evolution (and they have to in order not to be seen as obvious fools) actually buy into macro evolution because it is just a matter of time scale.

Wow.. You honestly believe that? Variations in finch beaks, resistance to pesticides, over millions of years, are able to create the brain, eyes, arms, legs, thinking, living beings? WHO has faith? My GOD MAN!
26 posted on 12/22/2001 8:04:22 PM PST by Exnihilo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
A very Clintonian definition. Give a couple million years and all these little mutations start to add up and the critters start looking very different.

In other words, no observed evidence. It's infered.

People who buy micro evolution (and they have to in order not to be seen as obvious fools) actually buy into macro evolution because it is just a matter of time scale.

Actually, it's more of the difference between output <= input and output > input. An infinite n of o*n <-> i*n (where o is the output, i is the input, and n is the number of iterations) will still give o < i.

-The Hajman-
27 posted on 12/22/2001 8:05:25 PM PST by Hajman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Timmy
Yeah. Kinda a shame when a law professor knows more about science than the so-called experts. Their only answer? He's a "creationist" and therefore unworthy to have his tough questions addressed. Darwin at least had an excuse, the evidence was still out. However, the rest of you cling to your religion for no apparent reason.

A lawyer was able to get O.J. acquitted. I'd expect one to do no less in defense of creationism.

28 posted on 12/22/2001 8:07:33 PM PST by mechadogzilla
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
First, I am not a Creationist.

sniker. yeah sure. ha ha ha.

Why do you creationists think it is so cool to be stealthy about being creationists? I've termed this "Liars for Christ." Apparently the goal of asserting the biblical accounting is so important that lying is justified in its pursuit.

Look, we all know that ID'ers and creationists what to turn science to their view -- and they've given up on just Biblical fire and brimestone because no one was buying it anymore, except the faithful.

So the only route into science is the so-called "objective neutrality." So creationists and ID'ers who are actually Biblical absolutists sneak around and pretend they are just students of "objective neutrality."

Hogwash. And besides, reality has certain characteristics. It is not open ended to any interpretation. One can reasonably deduce certain interpretations and STICK to that in the face of rather ridiculous claims to the contrary.

This whole notion that each Creationist/ID'er brain fart ought be entitled to a complete rehearing is laughable.

Produce the evidence FOR your view. Assaults agains evolution are just attempts to prove a negative and therefore a complete waste of time, since that is almost impossible to do.

So stop sneaking around pretending to be someone you aren't. If you believe in creation or ID (intelligent design) produce the fricking evidence for it!!!!!!!!

29 posted on 12/22/2001 8:09:27 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
Variations in finch beaks, resistance to pesticides, over millions of years, are able to create the brain, eyes, arms, legs, thinking, living beings? WHO has faith?

Don't need faith. The increasing sophistication is clearly on display in the fossil record. You guys have to say it was planted there to fool us. You have to be silly to save your Biblical account.

30 posted on 12/22/2001 8:12:46 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
All mutational evidence I've seen can neatly be fit inside Micro Evolution.

A very Clintonian definition. Give a couple million years and all these little mutations start to add up and the critters start looking very different.

Indeed they do. But you need to take two further steps before you can push the theory of evolution to the extent some people do. You first need to prove that the changes involved in micro-evolution can occur in such a sequence as to yield certain types of changes. While there's enough randomness in mutations that just about anything 'can' happen, some things don't seem very plausible. For example, how could an egg-laying species which relied upon external fertilization evolve into one that relied upon internal fertilization? It would be necessary to have a genetic mutation affect enough males and females to yield a sustainable population with such a trait, since all internally-fertilized egg-layers would have to be decendants of that population. While such transitions could conceivably happen, it seems doubtful that they would.

Even if mechanisms are shown by which the right kind of mutations could occur by some freak event, that still does not cross the second step: did things in fact happen that way. Again, conceivable but doubtful.

IMHO, the science of what some would call 'microevolution' should be tought in science courses since it can be experimentally demonstrated. It would also be proper to teach that while such mechanisms are responsible for at least some of the diversity of life on this planet, it's unclear exactly how much.

31 posted on 12/22/2001 8:28:45 PM PST by supercat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
People who buy micro evolution (and they have to in order not to be seen as obvious fools) actually buy into macro evolution because it is just a matter of time scale.

What??? Such an assumption is known as an "unsound extrapolation of data". It assumes that because a little bit of change can occur over a short time then that trend can continue indefinitely, producing massive change.

Example: The stock market drops 110 points in a day. Based on that change, in three months time the value of all companies on the DOW will be zero.

Example: The temperature at 7 AM was 35 degrees F. At 2PM it was 60 degrees. In another three days it should be hot enough to boil water.

Example: I decide to get myself in shape and start jogging, timing myself once a week. THe first time it takes me 7 minutes to jog a mile. Next week its down to 6, the next down to 5 min, 20 seconds. How long will it be before I can run a four minute mile?

All of these examples demonstrate an unsound extrapolation of data, as does your mircoevolution + time = macroevolution assumption.

MANY things in nature are a WAVE FORM, they change, but it is change around a mean. THey can only go so far from the mean of the wave form. Your micro + time = macro assertion is unwarranted, as there are too many other reasonable possibilities.

32 posted on 12/22/2001 8:30:33 PM PST by Ahban
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Ahban
there are too many other reasonable possibilities.

Name two.

33 posted on 12/22/2001 8:31:48 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
See, you get off on these philosophical benders because you can't handle the massive amount of evidence.

Nice try. The truth is, most evolutionists are preternaturally adept at interpreting their observations as "massive amounts of evidence" because they want to obscure their own "philosophical benders."

Perhaps I wouldn't mind so much that the materialists force all of their conclusions to be aligned with their a priori atheistic assumptions, except for one thing. They have the gall to pontificate on how superior science is to religion because a religionist will not allow evidence to contradict his philosophical assumptions, while a scientist will impartially go wherever the evidence leads him.

When Lewontin says,

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
he is simply a scientist admitting two things that many religionists have known for a long time. FIRST, that evolution vs. creationism is NOT science vs. religion: it is one religion against another. SECOND, that scientists are consummate hypocrites about the first. Most cannot be as honest as Lewontin, even with themselves. Are you?
34 posted on 12/22/2001 8:32:17 PM PST by Kyrie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: supercat
Some people are born with extra fingers or toes. Their parents had normal numbers of fingers or toes.

Where are the transitional forms. Where are the long chain of human anscestors who had first a little bump, then the next one had a slightly larger bump, then the next one had the beginning of a knuckle, etc etc etc.

Where are all the transitional forms?

35 posted on 12/22/2001 8:35:42 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Some people are born with extra fingers or toes. Their parents had normal numbers of fingers or toes.

Where are the transitional forms. Where are the long chain of human anscestors who had first a little bump, then the next one had a slightly larger bump, then the next one had the beginning of a knuckle, etc etc etc.

Where are all the transitional forms?


Information for fingers was already there to begin with. No fundamental change in structure. Only quantity of a specific part of said structure. Micro Evolution. Your point is..?

-The Hajman-
36 posted on 12/22/2001 8:39:19 PM PST by Hajman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Don't need faith. The increasing sophistication is clearly on display in the fossil record. You guys have to say it was planted there to fool us. You have to be silly to save your Biblical account.

OK. who are you and what have you done with the real jlogajan? YOu know, the one who was able to put up a respectable arguement in our little online mental exercises. Seriously, have you been drinking tonight? You seem rather off your game.

How can you not see in your above statement EXACTLY what Prof. Johnson was talking about. For you all the evidence is viewed through a materialst lens. OF COURSE we see the increasing sophistication in the fossil record. The issue is HOW did it get there? Who or what was the information source which produced that massive increase in sophistication? You are talking like the increase in sophistication itself is proof that evolution did it all.

THat could only be because you assume in advance that evolution alone will be responsible for all changes, thus when changes are found, you conclude that evolution occured. HELLO!!!!

37 posted on 12/22/2001 8:39:24 PM PST by Ahban
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Kyrie
he is simply a scientist admitting two things that many religionists have known for a long time.

Well at least you are honest about putting forth your religion because it is your religion rather than sneaking around pretending to be "objectively neutral" like these other fakes.

You'll always demand absolute proof from science, and accept without any proof anything in the Bible. Fine.

Absolute proof is an interesting concept -- but not attainable by human minds. I'm quite happy to go by best available evidence. Religion just doesn't happen to measure up in that criteria. Sorry.

38 posted on 12/22/2001 8:43:06 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Ahban
For you all the evidence is viewed through a materialst lens.

And his eyes perceive the metaphysical? Nice work if you can get it.

39 posted on 12/22/2001 8:46:53 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
RE: post 22...Bravo!...well done!....IMHO...game- set- and match!
40 posted on 12/22/2001 8:47:39 PM PST by mtman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
You guys have to say it was planted there to fool us. You have to be silly to save your Biblical account.

Who's to say there can't be a combination of factors? God used evolution as a means of experimenting to find out what things worked and what things didn't, but decided to spin a few wrinkles of his own into the mix as well?

Personally I think some sort of hybrid theory is probably closer to reality than either theory taken alone.

41 posted on 12/22/2001 8:48:36 PM PST by supercat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Why do you creationists think it is so cool to be stealthy about being creationists? I've termed this "Liars for Christ." Apparently the goal of asserting the biblical accounting is so important that lying is justified in its pursuit.

Anyone who voices even the meekest criticism of Darwinism gets the usual ad-hominem hysterical pregnancies from you.

Why does it bother you so much that people disagree with you?

42 posted on 12/22/2001 8:50:24 PM PST by denydenydeny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Hajman
Information for fingers was already there to begin with.

Where? In the parent DNA? One parent or both? Or all humans have coding for six fingers and toes? What? What's the basis for your claim? The Bible?

43 posted on 12/22/2001 8:50:30 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: supercat
God used evolution as a means of experimenting

You are inventing a novel idea of God -- one that isn't all knowing and therefore one who has to experiment -- therefore there is some fabric of the universe that he does not control, but that he is constrained to test and obey.

44 posted on 12/22/2001 8:52:35 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
For the last two posts I have presented what I think are detailed, reasoned points for conversation and you respond with one-line flippancies.

Good night.

45 posted on 12/22/2001 8:54:20 PM PST by Ahban
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
Information for fingers was already there to begin with.

Where? In the parent DNA? One parent or both? Or all humans have coding for six fingers and toes? What? What's the basis for your claim? The Bible?

Are you too tired for this debate? I didn't claim humans had information for 6 fingers, I said they had information for fingers, period. For a good AL (Artifical Life) example, you may want to play around with Framsticks (all mutations are within the range of Micro Evolution in these kind of programs, BTW, but they give some interesting creatures).

-The Hajman-
46 posted on 12/22/2001 8:55:46 PM PST by Hajman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: denydenydeny
Anyone who voices even the meekest criticism of Darwinism

Who cares about Darwinism? If you have proof for your theories of creationism or ID -- bring it forth. You are just wasting time shooting arrows at other theories when you could be blowing us away with these great proofs for your ideas -- you'd be on your way to a Nobel Prize -- instead you just plink away, fritter away your lives worrying about these "silly theories."

Look, when an astronomer has a new theory, he doesn't spend his life attacking astrologers -- he just publishes his theory and his evidence.

Do that. Prove ID, prove Creationism. Prove the Bible. I don't care if you can deductively prove that Astrology is bunk. Get to the good stuff.

47 posted on 12/22/2001 8:56:06 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: jlogajan
"produce the fricking evidence for it!!!!!!!!"....Patience my friend ..patience....*VBG* In due time it will be apparent to you!..Have a nice day!
48 posted on 12/22/2001 9:00:18 PM PST by mtman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Hajman
I didn't claim humans had information for 6 fingers, I said they had information for fingers, period.

So now you've opened the "toolkit" approach to macro-evolution. Can have another finger, 'cuz the codings already there. Can have another eye. Can have another knuckle. Can have a longer leg, a shorter leg, a bigger ear, a smaller ear. Can have a moved nose. Can have two legs or four legs. Can have enlongated toes that look like fingers, etc etc.

You've just admitted to the last 200 million years of macro evolution -- because many of modern physical structures existed in various forms back then.

49 posted on 12/22/2001 9:02:42 PM PST by jlogajan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: Exnihilo
First, I am not a Creationist. I am however, quite intrigued by your desire to cast me as one. What are you hoping to accomplish by this repetative behavior?

Second, there is no evidence of a transitional form of any kind.

Interesting... You're emphatically NOT a creationist, yet you, against all evidence, emphatically claim there are NO transitional forms.

OK, so tell us: What DO you believe, exactly?

50 posted on 12/22/2001 9:08:21 PM PST by jennyp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-194 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson