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Untangling Evolution (A *MUST* Read)
First Things ^ | Stephen M. Barr

Posted on 12/30/2001 2:08:09 PM PST by Exnihilo

Untangling Evolution


Stephen M. Barr


Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 78 (December 1997): 14-17.

There’s no denying that historically evolution has been harmful to religious faith. It has contributed to undermining confidence in Scripture and to promoting a naturalistic view of man. In our own age, such atheists as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan have claimed that natural selection destroys the Argument from Design and with it any reason to believe in God. But if we can set aside the historical effect of the theory of evolution—and set aside the theological meanderings of those who want to use the theory as a stick with which to beat religion—we can find that nothing in the theory itself creates intellectual difficulties for Christian or Jewish belief. Evolution raises important questions for faith, but not difficulties.

In The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins argues that natural selection can give "design without design." The "watch" of the title refers to the famous argument of William Paley, and in this context stands for the intricate structures to be found in the biological world, which many think give proof of a divine Maker. There is no maker, says Dawkins, except the universe itself—his "blind watchmaker."

To eliminate design, as Dawkins would do, one must have some mechanism that produces form from formlessness, order from chaos. But no scientific explanation does this. Science explains order by deriving it from order. Consider the formation of crystals, an oft-cited example of the spontaneous emergence of order. The patterns exhibited by crystals are a reflection of underlying symmetries and principles of order that apply to the atoms themselves, to the space in which they move, and to the laws that govern their behavior. These, in turn, can be traced to deeper levels of physical law. No matter how profoundly one penetrates into the hidden workings of the world, it is not some formless flux that is encountered, but ever more remarkable and beautiful structure.

And this is just the point. To have evolution one must have a universe. And not just any universe will do. Rather, it is beginning to appear that the laws of nature must be carefully arranged. The facts of evolution, like the facts of reproduction, are no less astonishing for being natural. If they are natural we should be astonished at the laws of nature. What immortal hand or eye framed their fearful symmetry? Perhaps none, if the laws themselves also evolved by some process analogous to natural selection. But that would put us back where we started, since any such process must itself have been governed by laws of some kind.

The Argument from Design remains perfectly healthy, then, even if we concede to natural selection all that is claimed for it by the most naturalistic theory of evolution. But, as it happens, there is no reason to concede so much to it. It is far from clear that natural selection is really up to the job, not only of crafting complex organisms, but even of explaining what goes on in the simplest living cell, as the molecular biologist Michael J. Behe has amply demonstrated in his recent book, Darwin’s Black Box. Moreover, the times available for natural selection to have worked these wonders were far shorter than was commonly supposed. The Cambrian Explosion, that wild proliferation of new forms of life that occurred about 540 million years ago, took only a few million years. And it is now generally admitted that most species make their appearance in the fossil record quite suddenly, geologically speaking.

Unfortunately, many religious believers—and not only biblical literalists—have taken this argument one step further than it has to be or ought to be taken, to deny that life on earth has a common ancestry. I find this quite puzzling. If it can be shown that a reptile cannot evolve into a mammal or a fish into an amphibian by natural selection alone, then there must have been divine intervention. Nothing is added to the force of this argument by denying that the reptile or the fish did so evolve. The atheist is out on a limb, so why try to saw down the whole tree, especially against the grain of so much evidence?

The evidence for the common ancestry of life is very strong. To give some idea of what it is, I will simply list a few of the kinds of questions that common ancestry gives an answer to. Why is it that bats and whales have so much in common anatomically with mice and men? Why do virtually all vertebrate forelimbs have the same basic "pentadactyl" (five-fingered) design? (This is one of numerous examples of "homologous" structures exhibited by related species.) Why do some species of whales have vestigial and quite useless pelvic and leg bones, when they have no pelvises or legs? Why are all mammals native to Australia marsupials? Why is there a sequence of reptiles in the fossil record (the "therapsids") with a clear progression from reptilian to mammalian characteristics? Why does the record of life on earth show a clear trend towards greater complexity? Why is it found that the most ancient bird fossils are reptilian, and the most ancient whales have feet? Why do salamander embryos have gills and fins that they will never use?

The point in asking these and many similar questions is not only that common ancestry can answer them, but more significantly that no real answer on any other basis has been found to any of them. (There is certainly no theological explanation of why bats, humans, frogs, and lizards all have five fingers.)

Unanticipated discoveries in various fields have strengthened the case for common ancestry. The theory of plate tectonics and continental drift resolved a number of evolutionary puzzles (though some remain, such as the existence of the platyrrhine monkeys of South America). And dramatic confirmation has come from gene and protein sequencing. Particularly striking is the phenomenon of "molecular clocks." (This refers to data obtained by comparing certain proteins and nucleic acids in different species. It is found that the variation of these molecules from species to species over a vast taxonomic range exhibits patterns that are hard to explain unless one assumes that the molecular degree of difference between two species is in some cases a measure of the period of time that they have been evolving separately—that is, since they had a common ancestor.)

Let us suppose not only that evolution (that is, the common ancestry of all life on earth) is true, as I think the evidence shows, but that natural selection is a sufficient mechanism for it, which the evidence does not show. What difficulties would that create for religious belief? Unfortunately, the issues are sometimes clouded by a failure to make distinctions.

The critical distinction is between divine intervention and the other ways God acts. By "intervention" I mean something that goes beyond the order of nature, an effect produced by God in the world that contravenes either the laws of nature or the laws of probability. Intervention is not to be confused with providence. While faith tells us that all events are governed by providence, divine intervention is rare. Even events in which we think we can discern the hand of providence do not usually involve anything beyond what is naturally possible. A child’s voice in a garden is nothing extraordinary, and yet St. Augustine heard such a voice and it changed the course of history.

Creation means that God brings into existence all that is, and providence and design mean that He orders all that is. These concepts do not necessarily imply intervention. It is true that the account of the creation of plants and animals in Genesis is suggestive of intervention: there is no mention there of natural processes (unless they are hinted at when Genesis says that the earth and waters "brought forth" the various living creatures). But Genesis describes the creation of the sun and stars in a way that is even more suggestive of divine intervention. (The firmament does not "bring forth" the sun; God "sets" it there.) Yet modern astrophysics has an adequate naturalistic explanation of the formation of the sun and stars, which is not challenged even by most of those who question evolution.

The sun is an ordinary star, and there are many billions like it. But if the laws of nature were in certain respects even slightly different, no such stars would exist, and hence life as we know it would not exist either. Even apart from faith, therefore, we can recognize the role of providence and design in the existence of the sun and stars, although it is now clear that no intervention was required to produce them.

There are those who argue, nevertheless, that a consistent—or at least a full-blooded—theism requires intervention for the production of living things, since the alternative to intervention is a "naturalism" based on "blind forces" and "chance." "Naturalism" can be the denial that anything whatever goes beyond the nature of material things. Such naturalism denies a priori even the possibility of divine intervention, because it denies the existence of God. But not all naturalism is of this kind. There is also a naturalism whose opposite is the prescientific view of nature that one finds among primitive peoples. This naturalism is based on true progress in knowledge of the physical world. Science finds no signs of divine intervention in the realm of inanimate matter. In astrophysics, geology, chemistry, or plasma physics, for example, one does not encounter the miraculous.

In the human sphere things are different. Both faith and reason tell us that man has a spiritual soul, and therefore that purely naturalistic accounts of human realities are false. We believe, as well, that divine intervention has happened in human affairs, in particular in the miraculous events of salvation history.

Since the world of plants and animals is intermediate between the human and the inanimate, it is not obvious whether we should expect to find signs of intervention there. Ironically, there are stronger grounds for expecting it if human beings did evolve. If there had to be reptiles for there later to be men, then it would seem quite in character (if one may speak so) for God to have intervened to produce reptiles, by arranging, say, the necessary mutations or selective pressures.

On the other hand, one might expect no intervention in those parts of the biological world that do not involve man in any significant way. There is an excellent book called Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, which has deservedly become a classic of the anti-Darwinian literature. (It presents the arguments for evolution with exemplary fairness and honesty, and it should be noted that its author, Michael Denton, has since come to believe in evolution.) Among many other fascinating things, one can find in this book a discussion of the copulatory apparatus of the male dragonfly, which is apparently a prodigy of complexity and quite unique in the insect world. How, Denton asked, could such a thing have been produced by natural selection? That question is difficult to answer, but maybe no more so than the following one: Why would God, Who so rarely intervenes in nature, do so to produce a unique way for dragonflies to copulate?

A clergyman at a conference on the subject of creation, overhearing me pose this question, inquired with some slight sarcasm whether I had received any telegrams from the Almighty answering it. But I do not think it necessarily absurd to ask what God would be likely to do, for though God’s ways may often seem inexplicable to us, God is not arbitrary. I believe that Isaiah foretold future events. But I do not believe that Jeanne Dixon was able to do so. God’s interventions have followed a pattern, and Jeanne Dixon does not fit it. A presumption in favor of a natural explanation in a particular case, then, can be a result of theological considerations, rather than of atheistic or materialistic presuppositions.

There is much talk on both sides about "blind forces" in connection with evolution. But there is nothing in such an idea that should shock a Christian or Jew. It is not the forces of nature that see, but God. Indeed, it is precisely the blindness of nature that allows us to recognize that events must be guided by something beyond nature, by providence rather than by fate, or destiny, or occult forces. The blindness of nature argues against pantheism and all of nature-worship ancient and modern, not against theism. The idea that God works His will through blind agents is as biblical as the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. The notion of blind natural forces came not from a rejection of God, but of Aristotle, and in particular of his teleological physics. It was this that made modern science possible, and it did not result from a conflict between naturalism and supernaturalism, but from a conflict between two kinds of naturalism.

Similar ambiguities surround the notion of "chance." Evolutionists ascribe things to "random" mutations, and many feel that this in itself involves a denial of a rational cause or design. But the notions of chance, randomness, and probability are notoriously subtle. A simple example will illustrate this. It is well-known that the most common letter in English is "e," followed by "t," and then "a." These are statements about probabilities. As it happens, they hold true for the Gettysburg Address, as they do for most sufficiently long passages in English. But no one should doubt that Lincoln crafted this speech with great care, with every word—and consequently every letter—chosen to serve a purpose. By analogy, the fact that God’s providence extends to every event in the universe does not imply that notions of chance and probability will not apply to them. The mutations that led from the first single-celled creature to the genus Homo may have been chance events from a certain point of view, but as Pope John Paul II has said, every one of them was foreseen and willed by God. (I hasten to add that none of this is to suggest that it has been shown that random mutations and natural selection are sufficient as a mechanism of evolution. As of this moment, I would say, the arguments favor those who deny this.)

What troubles most people about evolution is its application to human beings. One reason is that some think it degrading to have apes as ancestors. But it is not obviously more dignified to have come directly from slime. A deeper reason is the discontinuity that we know to exist between human beings and the rest of creation—between spirit and matter. Yet it is hard to see that this is more of an issue for evolution than it is for human reproduction. We are in no position to observe the immediate antecedents of Adam, but we know that those of each human child today were a sperm and an egg, which are without doubt purely material in themselves.

The real question is whether man is more than a mere arrangement of atoms. If he is, then it would seem to matter little how those atoms came to be arranged as they are, whether by natural processes of evolution or reproduction, or by supernatural intervention. Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII have indicated the essential point: As long as we maintain the scriptural and philosophical truth that man has a spiritual nature, there can be nothing to fear in merely biological facts.

It is otherwise for the atheist. It is his faith that is at stake in this controversy, not ours. His faith requires that chance and natural law must be adequate to explain the facts of evolution. If they do not appear to be adequate, he must nevertheless insist that they are. It is for him, then, to dogmatize about strictly scientific matters, not for us. We can be content, and should be content, to be guided only by the evidence.


Stephen M. Barr is Associate Professor of Physics at the Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware.


TOPICS: Editorial; Miscellaneous
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Yet another nail in the coffin of atheism. In a few days I'll post another work on the facade that is materialism, demonstrating yet again how one must embrace the most absurd theories and ad hoc conclusions in order to be an atheist.
1 posted on 12/30/2001 2:08:09 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: *crevo_list
bump!
2 posted on 12/30/2001 2:08:33 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
The real question is whether man is more than a mere arrangement of atoms. If he is, then it would seem to matter little how those atoms came to be arranged as they are, whether by natural processes of evolution or reproduction, or by supernatural intervention. Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII have indicated the essential point: As long as we maintain the scriptural and philosophical truth that man has a spiritual nature, there can be nothing to fear in merely biological facts.

It is otherwise for the atheist. It is his faith that is at stake in this controversy, not ours. His faith requires that chance and natural law must be adequate to explain the facts of evolution. If they do not appear to be adequate, he must nevertheless insist that they are. It is for him, then, to dogmatize about strictly scientific matters, not for us. We can be content, and should be content, to be guided only by the evidence.


I hope we all remember this. It is the atheists who are on the defensive. Those of us who are theistic have nothing to concern ourselves with, other than destroying materialism, which is of course, all but done at this point.
3 posted on 12/30/2001 2:14:12 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
will this thread be pulled like the Creatism v. Evolution thread?
4 posted on 12/30/2001 2:14:37 PM PST by Bogey78O
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To: Exnihilo
"Evolution has been harmful to religious faith"?

...and nails have been harmful to carpentry

5 posted on 12/30/2001 2:17:27 PM PST by KirklandJunction
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To: Exnihilo
The irreligious left is being split by The Wedge Of Truth
6 posted on 12/30/2001 2:23:56 PM PST by spycatcher
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To: KirklandJunction
You know, I have to wonder if you read the entire article when your response involves something so tangential to the central theme of the work.
7 posted on 12/30/2001 2:26:29 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
Try this.

Give the above applet a try. Watch spontaneous, life-like order emerge from some very, very simple rules.

It doesn't mean there is no God to say that we don't know everything about how life came about or what it means.

8 posted on 12/30/2001 2:31:48 PM PST by gulliver
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To: gulliver
Watch spontaneous, life-like order emerge from some very, very simple rules.

Rules created by whom? ;)
9 posted on 12/30/2001 2:32:35 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
Yes, although quickly.

The very first sentence "There's no denying..." is a very strong assumption (and a grammatical style) that I find argumentative.

His opinion, his use of free press, so be it.

He's trying to persuade, and apparently between the two of us, he hit .500.

Life is full of choices.

10 posted on 12/30/2001 2:37:39 PM PST by KirklandJunction
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To: Exnihilo
It is otherwise for the atheist. It is his faith that is at stake in this controversy, not ours. His faith requires that chance and natural law must be adequate to explain the facts of evolution.

While this entire article is so biased as to be practically unreadable to anyone with half a brain, it is this blind statement that annoys me most. To assume that non-believers in your particular faith are necessarily atheists is ludicrous at best. To assume that atheists must somehow justify their "faith" while you blindly seize upon your own is even more stupid. Need I go on?
11 posted on 12/30/2001 2:51:46 PM PST by balrog666
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To: Exnihilo
The existance of evolution and the existance of God are not mutually exclusive concepts. All we have to do is to look at germs that develop immunity to varius antibiotics to see evolution at work, no matter how evil immunity of germs to antibiotics is.

We are called upon to have faith. To have faith, we must belive and understand that the world is more complex than we may be able to understand.

We must be careful to remember that God created man in the image of God; man did not create God in the image of man.

12 posted on 12/30/2001 2:52:37 PM PST by Tom D.
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To: Exnihilo
Interesting
13 posted on 12/30/2001 3:05:38 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: balrog666
While this entire article is so biased as to be practically unreadable to anyone with half a brain, it is this blind statement that annoys me most.

It may annoy you, but it's true. Materialism *must* be true for the atheist. There is no other alternative. And, the article isn't biased. The author readily agrees that evolution is most likely a fact! If you can explain why this statement that annoys you is false, please do so. By the way, what "faith" of mine do you refer to? I'm a theist, nothing more and nothing less.
14 posted on 12/30/2001 3:07:37 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: balrog666
To assume that non-believers in your particular faith are necessarily atheists is ludicrous at best.

This is not ludicrous. The faith he refers to is theism- a belief in God. What is a non-theist? An atheist! Duh! If you take the time to read anything at First Things, the first thing you'll notice is that they do not take sides between religions. They merely espouse a theistic philosophy.
15 posted on 12/30/2001 3:09:39 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
The real question is whether man is more than a mere arrangement of atoms. If he is, then it would seem to matter little how those atoms came to be arranged as they are, whether by natural processes of evolution or reproduction, or by supernatural intervention. Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII have indicated the essential point: As long as we maintain the scriptural and philosophical truth that man has a spiritual nature, there can be nothing to fear in merely biological facts.

This is a remarkable concession! Oh, but if only he had stopped at this paragraph. If you take it seriously, then you should be the one on the defensive. Why spend your time trying to fight the consensus view of modern biological science? Why fear that accepting the truth of evolution will throw society into a nihilistic abyss, as, say, Phillip Johnson does?

Once you accept this paragraph's argument (as I, an Objectivist, have argued here for some time now), then the real debate is: Can what you call "spirituality" be created by a natural process, or is some kind of "supernatural" designer required? I think there's no reason to believe a supernatural person is required, and apparently you do. But we both agree that humans have a "spiritual" capacity! (I'd say humans have rational minds with the ability for abstract thought. Same thing, IMO.)

Vast areas of practical agreement flow from our shared starting point: The necessity for a morality based on individualism instead of collectivism, the necessity for the non-initiation of force or fraud, yet the acceptibility (or even necessity) for retaliatory force & fraud against violators. So again: Why fear evolution?

16 posted on 12/30/2001 3:16:30 PM PST by jennyp
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To: Exnihilo

Yet another nail in the coffin of atheism.

You can post all the antiscientific vanities
you wish.  None, however, will give the
impetus needed for me to begin worshipping
an invisible man in the sky dreamed up by
a band of  desert dwellers thousands of
years ago.

17 posted on 12/30/2001 3:16:40 PM PST by gcruse
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To: Exnihilo
Bookmarked and BUMPED!
18 posted on 12/30/2001 3:23:10 PM PST by ppaul
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To: Exnihilo
Yet another nail in the coffin of atheism.

Reports of the death of atheism are greatly exaggerated. :-)

19 posted on 12/30/2001 3:36:30 PM PST by jlogajan
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To: Exnihilo
I highly recommend a book I'm reading right now and wish I had read earlier. A Case for Faith by Lee Strobel is s-o-o-o excellent. In it Strobel interviews great scholars and cites numerous others on each subject covered in the book. His chapter on evolution is fascinating.

Evolution is biting the dust. More and more scientists and scholars are opting for intelligent design.

I am very impressed with this book. It is being used by the Lord to bring thousands of teenagers to Christ. My son-in-law, who is a sleuth in his own right, is finishing up his doctoral work in criminology. He is reading it and agrees it is fantastic. He is not yet a Christian.

Strobel has also written another great book entitled The Case for Christ. This book covers the historical evidence for the existence of Christ and His ministry. Also a winner.

20 posted on 12/30/2001 3:38:08 PM PST by Sophie
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To: Exnihilo
bookmark
21 posted on 12/30/2001 3:39:19 PM PST by medved
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To: gcruse
You can post all the antiscientific vanities you wish

Name one thing anti-scientific about this post.
22 posted on 12/30/2001 3:40:10 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: jennyp
I don't fear evolution. I think materialism is a dinosaur. Phil Johnson has his views, and I have mine. In time, everyone will come to recognize how absurd it is to have faith in the idea that natural forces can create specified complexity from chaos. In fact, this is all but a done deal. It's really only a matter of time before Dembski perfects his ideas, and proves once and for all that specified complexity can only come from intelligence. However, even if he doesn't, the materialists still must prove that natural processes are capable of information creation, which they have not even attempted to do.
23 posted on 12/30/2001 3:43:29 PM PST by Exnihilo
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To: Exnihilo
Evolution and design can co-exist. Read anything by Arthur Peacocke or John Polkinghorne. Ian Barbour gives a good overview of science and religion. This is a non-debate except for the likes of Dawkins, Dennett and Wilson. These atheist scientists tend to make broad metaphysical statements, based on their methodological approach. Reductionism as a methodology to understand something does not support a metaphysics of reductionism.
24 posted on 12/30/2001 3:47:01 PM PST by valhallasone
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To: medved
yup
25 posted on 12/30/2001 4:16:55 PM PST by knarf
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To: valhallasone
Why would any of these authors you mentioned, be any more authoritative than the Bible is on Creation, which is design without any evolution?
26 posted on 12/30/2001 4:48:50 PM PST by soundsolutions
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To: Exnihilo
There’s no denying that historically evolution has been harmful to religious faith.

Really? Just evolution? Okay, for the sake of the discussion, I'll give you this one.

It has contributed to undermining confidence in Scripture and to promoting a naturalistic view of man.

So has every pursuit of explanantions of our natural universe. Scientific explanations of seemingly miraculous events have always rocked they faithful as those events were used to convince the stupid of the "unknowable" in the first place. So what?

In our own age, such atheists as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan

Are, or were, they all avowed athiests? Did they deny any possibility of a creator, even one unassociated with any earthly religion? Or is this just your biased view of their beliefs?

All this tripe in the first paragraph - why read further?
27 posted on 12/30/2001 4:51:56 PM PST by balrog666
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To: gcruse
None, however, will give the impetus needed for me to begin worshipping an invisible man in the sky dreamed up by a band of desert dwellers thousands of years ago.

Whoa.....i would suggest that you rethink that at somoe point......like before you die.....

28 posted on 12/30/2001 5:09:55 PM PST by is_is
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To: soundsolutions
I believe God purposely left out the fine details of how he created us...we are to accept him thru faith...Faith is the center piece of a relationship with him......

If it was evolution....big deal....in my mind it is just as great a show of his power, to set into motion the processes (evolution) that arrive at what exists today. I believe thru faith that God created us.....what was the exact process?....did he do it in the blink of an eye....one day he'll tell me....until then, it doesn't matter much.....come to think of it.....it won't really matter then either....lol

29 posted on 12/30/2001 5:20:32 PM PST by is_is
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To: Exnihilo
(Rom 1:20-22 NKJV) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

{21} because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

{22} Professing to be wise, they became fools,

30 posted on 12/30/2001 5:26:24 PM PST by Delta-Boudreaux
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To: is_is
Whoa.....i would suggest that you rethink that at somoe point......like before you die.....

I'm not going to overthrow my own rationality
and dive into superstition out of
fear that an imaginary being will get me if I don't.
How you can do that amazes me.

31 posted on 12/30/2001 5:28:15 PM PST by gcruse
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To: Exnihilo
In fact, this is all but a done deal. It's really only a matter of time before Dembski perfects his ideas, and proves once and for all that specified complexity can only come from intelligence.

LOL! OK, let me know when that happens. I'm no statistician or mathematician, so I can't mount a comprehensive critique of Dembski's Explanatory Filter, but I'll paraphrase a review of one of his books (which I can't find now): Velikovsky started out with an intriguing theory, but after being beaten down by critiques based on the laws of physics, he ended up arguing against gravity itself. Similarly, Dembski's theory started out with possibilities, but after being beaten down by critiques based on generally accepted mathematics & probability theories, Dembski is reduced to arguing against probability himself.

On a less combative note (perhaps), you should find this review of Dembski & Johnson interesting reading.

However, even if he doesn't, the materialists still must prove that natural processes are capable of information creation, which they have not even attempted to do.

Amino acids & nucleic acids spontaneously link & form longer & longer chains on the surfaces of minerals, even up to lengths where functional proteins & RNA start to be found. Genes duplicate & then diverge, one of which sometimes finds a new "job" in the organism. (See Miller, Finding Darwin's God, where he explains comprehensive detail Doolittle's feat of tracing the evolution of the blood clotting cascade.) Plants experience polyploidy (wholesale duplications of their chromosomes) all the time. (IIRC, not so much in animals.) What more does a person need?

32 posted on 12/30/2001 5:35:02 PM PST by jennyp
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To: gcruse
How you can do that amazes me.

And your way of thinking amazes me.....your unwillingness to even explore the idea amazes me because it costs you an eternity in hell if your wrong.....Me....if i'm wrong, I end up where you do, where ever that is....no downside for me....but, sense i am right i get the upside, an eternity in heaven.

33 posted on 12/30/2001 5:37:30 PM PST by is_is
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To: Exnihilo
In time, everyone will come to recognize how absurd it is to have faith in the idea that natural forces can create specified complexity from chaos.

So you doubt thermodynamics? Every minor increase in complex structure has happened at the expense of vastly increasing the entropy of the universe. The energy the earth gets from the sun isn't free you know (in the thermodynamics sense).

34 posted on 12/30/2001 5:48:48 PM PST by tortoise
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To: Exnihilo
However, even if he doesn't, the materialists still must prove that natural processes are capable of information creation, which they have not even attempted to do.

Perhaps because they assumed that it was sufficiently basic as to be "obvious". The earth is an open system; you can tap any entropy gradient to do "information creation". The local decrease in entropy will ALWAYS be less than the total increase in entropy of the system. Thermodynamics 101.

35 posted on 12/30/2001 5:53:48 PM PST by tortoise
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To: is_is
..your unwillingness to even explore the idea amazes me because it costs you an eternity
in hell if your wrong....

It's wishful thinking, friend.  How much
of superstition has to be proved false
before you see the picture?  Or has
fear totally shut down your facilities?

36 posted on 12/30/2001 5:56:42 PM PST by gcruse
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To: gcruse
It's wishful thinking, friend. How much of superstition has to be proved false before you see the picture? Or has fear totally shut down your facilities?

For those of us that have faith and believe in Christ as our Savior.....the proof that he is real is shown to us everyday......

You've bet the farm that he does not exist......i wouldn't even dare wish you were right. Me....I didn't bet on anything, just choose to believe what for me is crystal clear.

37 posted on 12/30/2001 6:07:59 PM PST by is_is
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To: Tom D.
All we have to do is to look at germs that develop immunity to varius antibiotics to see evolution at work, no matter how evil immunity of germs to antibiotics is.

But they remain their own kind. They do not become another kind. They are still "germs".

38 posted on 12/30/2001 6:20:45 PM PST by William Terrell
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To: is_is
And your way of thinking amazes me.....your unwillingness to even explore the idea amazes me because it costs you an eternity in hell if your wrong.....Me....if i'm wrong, I end up where you do, where ever that is....no downside for me....but, sense i am right i get the upside, an eternity in heaven.

But you assume there are only 2 possibilities! You ignore the fact that Zeus is looking down at us all & is mighty pissed that neither you christians nor us atheists believe in Him anymore!

OTOH, this mullah is betting differently...

Will Christians and Jews go to heaven?

I have read that non-Muslims will all enter hell. Is this true or false. I know some really nice non-Muslims but seeing that they will enter hell doesn't seem right. Or am I wrong?


The fundamental requirement to enter into Jannat is accepting the Oneness of Allah and finality of the Prophethood of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi
Wasallam). Non-Muslims will be rewarded in this world for their good deeds or alternatively the punishment in the hereafter will be decreased for them as will be the case with the Uncle of Rasulullah, Abu Talib, who protected him as safeguarded Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) from the harms of the disbelievers.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

And of course there are myriad other possibilities. I actually believe that if there is a God and He's all-knowing & all-good & all-perfect, then He'll understand my lack of belief, and it'll be OK with Him, since only a person who's insecure in his Godhood would have a problem with that.
39 posted on 12/30/2001 8:53:58 PM PST by jennyp
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To: soundsolutions
Why would any of these authors you mentioned, be any more authoritative than the Bible is on Creation, which is design without any evolution?

The Bible does not specifically say that God created the world, exactly as it is. There is nothing in the Bible to contradict evolution.

The only thing that could be construed to contradict a gradual creation is the reference to six days. However, the Bible also says that a day is as a thousand years to God.

40 posted on 12/31/2001 4:33:54 AM PST by valhallasone
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To: tortoise
Perhaps because they assumed that it was sufficiently basic as to be "obvious".

Obvious? Then why isn't there even a theoretical model for informational generation in biological systems?

Your summary of thermodynamics was very laughable. Why not give me an instance of this information creation. I'll be waiting, but I won't hold my breath.
41 posted on 12/31/2001 5:19:41 AM PST by Exnihilo
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To: balrog666
Scientific explanations of seemingly miraculous events have always rocked they faithful as those events were used to convince the stupid of the "unknowable" in the first place. So what?

This is so vague as to be meaningless. What, specifically, has been discovered that "rocked the faithful"? Why were the founders of science Christians? Please, be specific and cite historical discoveries and their applied usage by people to convince "the stupid" of the unknowable. In closing, declaring something "tripe" is as vacuous as your statements are. It's a meaningless assertion of your own dislike for the author's comments, however if you insist on stopping there and not reading any further, you will remain an ignorant troll on this thread. Good day.
42 posted on 12/31/2001 5:23:36 AM PST by Exnihilo
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To: jennyp
Amino acids & nucleic acids spontaneously link & form longer & longer chains on the surfaces of minerals, even up to lengths where functional proteins & RNA start to be found.

Dear god.. you actually believe that? LOL! And dear, if you had half the intellectual honesty that you pretend to, you might have spent five minutes looking for Dembski's responses to his critics. I would also put down a large sum of cash betting that you've never even read one of his books.
43 posted on 12/31/2001 5:25:53 AM PST by Exnihilo
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To: jennyp
And pointing to Ken Miller? Puuhhlease.. I'd bet, again, that you haven't looked for critics of Miller's work have you? For shame Jenny. I thought you were better than that.
44 posted on 12/31/2001 5:27:13 AM PST by Exnihilo
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To: jennyp
Why spend your time trying to fight the consensus view of modern biological science?

Why spend your time trying to fight the consensus view of modern astronomical science prior to say 1400?
45 posted on 12/31/2001 5:28:40 AM PST by Frumious Bandersnatch
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To: Exnihilo
Today:

I hope we all remember this. It is the atheists who are on the defensive. Those of us who are theistic have nothing to concern ourselves with, other than destroying materialism, which is of course, all but done at this point.

To jlogajan:

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?

So, really, what's your story?

46 posted on 12/31/2001 5:30:42 AM PST by VadeRetro
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To: Exnihilo
The author questions why there are so many similarities among the species. Whether one believes in evolution or not, he poses the question as if there were only one answer. Could not the answer also be that all species were created by the same designer?

Why do the paintings of Salvador Dali look like they were painted by..... Salvador Dali? Did all evolve from one painting, or were all just created by the same artist?

Arguments may be made for evolution, but this is surely not one of its stronger arguments.

47 posted on 12/31/2001 5:51:22 AM PST by joathome
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To: Exnihilo
It's a meaningless assertion of your own dislike for the author's comments

BWAHAHAHAHA!

I read your various comments in exactly the same way. You seemingly have nothing to say and respond to the discussion with condescending assertions unrelated to the argument or reality.
48 posted on 12/31/2001 5:58:17 AM PST by balrog666
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To: Exnihilo
So that everyone will have access to the accumulated "Creationism vs. Evolution" threads which have previously appeared on FreeRepublic, plus links to hundreds of sites with a vast amount of information on this topic, here's Junior's massive work, available for all to review: The Ultimate Creation vs. Evolution Resource [ver 12.
49 posted on 12/31/2001 6:33:09 AM PST by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro
What difference does "my story" make? I'm not a Creationist, that's all I know. Let's stick to the post at hand, okay? Thanks.
50 posted on 12/31/2001 7:08:22 AM PST by Exnihilo
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