Skip to comments.Even Richard Dawkins is Right Sometimes (Is the Biblical story of Adam and Eve a myth?)
Posted on 11/29/2011 12:32:30 PM PST by SeekAndFind
For the last several months there has been a flurry of discussionmostly online, of courseabout the impossibility of a literal Adam & Eve (see, e.g., here and here and here). This ruling-out has been accomplished recently by the Human Genome Project, which indicates that anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors about 100,000 years ago, from a population of something like 10,000. In short, science has confirmed what many of us already knew: there was not a literal first couple. So what else can we learn from this story?
Plenty, it turns out. Peter Enns, a biblical scholar who blogs at Patheos, has been following the discussion with some care. Lately he has done us all a great favor: written a series of posts pointing out recurring mistakes made by many of those doing the discussing. Many of these mistakes are rhetorically effective but collapse upon even modest inspection.
But not all of them.
On Friday, he listed one held mostly by the pro-science crowd: Evidence for and against evolution is open to all and can be assessed by anyone.
Enns declares that this is not so. The years of training and experience required of those who work in fields that touch on evolution rules out of bounds the views of those who lack such training, he writes.
This is true but it misses the point. The open-access-to-science cliché, usually trundled out by those who wish to contrast the transparency of science with the supposed obfuscation of religion, carries some truth.
Science actually is transparent in a way that religion is not. Thats because, in science land, there is nothing but to follow the evidence. Its out on the table, after all, able and willing to be poked and prodded and analyzed and figured out and held up and turned around and looked at from new angles. Also, what counts as evidence in science is pretty well-defined. And if you do become an evolution expert, you actually will see that 99% of all scientists back evolution for a reason: the evidence demands it.
This is the great generosity of science, and its great strength: It is actually all right there, ready to be seen and understood. It is relievedly explicit. It takes effort, sure, just as Enns suggests; its not easy to become a professional research biologist. But the reason biologists agree on evolution is because its a relatively simple matter to be objective about fossils and genes. Unlike the objects of religionthe divine and humanitys relation to itthe objects of science give themselves up for abstraction and analysis without a fight.
Therefore Richard Dawkins (for example) is right when he says, as he has on many occasions, that the evidence for evolution is there to be inspected by anyone. It is sitting out there on the table, waiting patiently for most of humanity to catch up to it, waiting to tell us its time to bid the historical Adam & Eve a final, if fond, farewell.
If science didn't believe that, it wouldn't have a single thing to do.
Thank you for sharing your insights, dearest sister in Christ!
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. - Romans 1:21-25
Very simply, rolling the dice or casting lots does not increase [nor decrease for that matter] information. Even to decrease information in computer code takes intelligence, time, trial and error in order to still have working code.
You don’t have to spend much time programming a computer to begin to understand that introducing random changes will very quickly break the code [rather than increase it’s usefulness]. Breaking the code would compare favorably with death, and population extinctions.
On the other hand it takes a lot of thought and trial and error to add wholly new features and abilities to any system of code.
For someone so pompous you surely do miss the obvious time after time.
Furthermore God is not random and the quote you referred to from the Bible says ‘Man casts lots and God controls the outcome.’ From that context one should deduce God controls things - there’s no room for ‘random’ with God being all powerful, all-seeing, and all-knowing.
Theistic evolution = about as high up as one can get on the fence for belief vs non-belief.
Mutations change information. Any breakdown in the code that results in non viability is immediately removed. Any breakdown in the code that results in reduced reproductive success is eventually removed. What is left behind is an increase in useful variations.
I asked previously “where did these variations come from?”. If immediately after the Flood there was a maximum of four alleles at any genetic loci - and now there are many species supposedly derived from each “kind” of animal - and much more genetic diversity in each species than just four different types of alleles - WHERE DID THESE VARIATIONS COME FROM?
Why do you suppose bacteria would have an error prone DNA polymerase that would be expressed during stress that would introduce mutations into the genome; if such modifications of its code would lead to detrimental outcomes?
Did you, in your pomposity, miss this critical fact and its obvious ramifications?
Very simply the ‘junk’ DNA as you prefer to call it.
All changes that allow for adaptation and survival had to be pre-programmed into the code by a higher intelligence.
Mutations simply do not increase the amount of information.
Since it was Einstein who said the solar system movements could be thought of either way and the math still works, I am fine waiting as long as it takes for this to be resolved - even if that means God himself revealing all knowledge in Heaven.
You, once again, are the pompous one, acting as if any science is at 100% resolution on this point while stating otherwise whenever it fits your current argument(s).
I'm very sorry to say, dear allmendream, that here we do part company.
It seems to me the best knowledge of the world we have from the scientific side has come from world-class thinkers engaged in the explication of natural phenomena Aristotle, Bacon, Newton, Einstein, Bohr, oh so many others to be grateful for!
What all these men had in common, each in his own distinctive way, was the understanding that the "universe" was One single ordered (that is to say, hierarchical) manifestation of divine Being however to be sliced and diced in doctrinal dispute.
I do not know how to "explain natural phenomena" without reference to a relatively "supernatural" criterion of explanation. "Relatively" here meaning that the phenomenal world, proceeding ("evolving") along the "horizontal extension," finds its intelligibility (meaning at any given point) only along the "vertical extension."
IOW, fact is what it is naked event having no meaning or value. If all of life, of all the world of experience is, is a succession of heaven forfend!!! purposeless events, then how can we even speak about a world of Reality?
According to materialist theory, consequent existence occurs only along the "physical," horizontal extension, or plane. Another postulate of this theory holds that all immaterial, non-physically-realized (i.e., non-directly-observable entities) do not really exist. The theory concedes, however, that randomness, in principle, is inexplicable thereby further conceding that it cannot promote itself as any kind of model of logically effective causation in Nature. IOW, the inexplicable cannot explain anything.
At the same time, it seems clear from what you have written that you, dear brother AMD, have religious notions and aspirations. And I wonder how you hold the two "spheres" together in your mind and spirit, when they seem so mutually opposed in mind.
It seems the only way to get out of this paradoxical dead-end is to imagine the world has a vertical extension imaginable as a different dimension of Time, supervening on the events of the world which we call facts. We need that dimension to think: The meaning of things is not just another fact, evolving along a horizontal timeline in a locally-caused event-line, ad infinitum and don't even ask what it means.
Which is why I believe down to the bottom of my soul that the current popular idea of religion and science "faith vs. reason" as antithetical, mutually-exclusive entities is totally bogus.
To me, they are the fundamental complementarities of our world, of our being, of our understanding of the Cosmos.
But try to locate the "cause" of that idea along the "horizontal extension!"
Thank you so very much for writing, dear allmendream!
So why would they express error prone DNA polymerase? How would introducing mutations help to unlock what was supposedly “pre-programmed” in?
Mutations CHANGE the information - instead of coding for glutamine - a mutation could cause the codon to specify alanine - for example. How would this be a “loss of information” rather than just a change in the information?
Why would mutations during stress be a good idea for a bacteria if all mutations were going to do was make the bacteria “lose” information?
How about gene duplication? Is that a loss of information as well? If a gene is duplicated and one version changes and the other remains the same - wouldn't that be a “gain” of information?
Einstein was not a Geocentrist. Do you suppose you have a superior understanding of the ramifications of relativity than Einstein?
There is not a 100% resolution on any scientific issue and never will be - how pompous and presumptuous of you to assume I was saying there was such resolution.
But Geocentrism is just not possible given what we know about gravity - there is no model consistent with gravity that would make it work.
Creationists take note - once you start denying evidence in preference to what you would rather believe theologically - the logical end result is Geocentrism!
AND THAT IS SO FUNNY!!!!!!!
And so does this mean that you believe that God completely determines everything that happens in the Universe?
If so, how do you make this insight compatible with what orthodox Darwinian evolution theory predicts that all "progress" in the biological universe is attributable to random accident, somehow attuned to "results" (survival of the species) without there being any purpose-intending result in mind?
A biology of "successful reproduction" on the basis of natural selection doesn't explain anything about the nature of the Reality the "successful replicants" have to "select" for, or against, in order to leave progeny.
God is Power. He could utterly determine everything, were that His design, or purpose.
Yet evidently He chose to do otherwise: He chose to leave man, His own created son, "free."
Which certainly makes for an interesting world.... For man, and I daresay, for God....
But I digress. What I would most like to ask you for, dear AMD, is your list of citations; i.e., re: That God's "dice roll" equals "random mutation," among other things....
My religious beliefs are not at all in contradiction with evolution through natural selection of genetic variation - only your strawman of it - the typical Creationist bugaboo that “random” somehow means ‘beyond the power of God to control’.
If I say I am offering to play you a game of chance - and that there is a random chance that you will win or lose - and that there was no “result” that is more likely than the other - that doesn't imply that I have escaped the power of God to determine that I am going to win and you are going to lose.
You want the Bible passage that speaks of the result of casting lots being from the Lord?
This is why Creationism is useless.
The supernatural causation Creationism ascribes to natural phenomena are inexplicable and therefore cannot explain anything. They therefore lead to no further knowledge, no useful application, and has no predictive value.
Creationism is useless because the causative forces it invokes are inexplicable.
At the root, in the absence of time, events cannot occur and in the absence of space, things cannot exist - and yet space/time does not pre-exist but is created as the universe expands which means there was a beginning of real space and real time. This is an 800 lb gorilla in the living room whenever we mention things or events - whether phenomena, matter, energy/momentum etc.
Except that anatomically correct humans have been around for 1 million years. They’re called homo erectus.
Does it make you feel better, or justified in your beliefs, or vindicated, because you think you can appeal to some sort of spiritual authority to validate your belief in evolution over the words of God in Scripture?
It makes me instantly recognize how ludicrous your most frequent argument against evolution is - namely that one cannot be a Christian and accept the Bible and also accept the theory of evolution; because by that simple minded formulation you are saying the Pope is not a Christian and doesn’t accept the Bible.
I don’t care who you are - that right there is FUNNY!
It reduces that line of ‘reasoning’ to the absurd.
It also frequently allows rather nutty anti-Catholic creationists to “out” themselves as small minded historically ignorant bigots.
A “Win win”. :)