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Evolution

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Whoa, not so fast, hombre. Without prejudice of any sort toward -- well, really anything whatsoever -- whether or not it turns out that these computer simulations successfully knock the bottom out of the ID argument, that's hardly the same as establishing the historical facticity of any particular theory of evolution (we really need to speak of a family of theories, not a single theory). And it hardly seems appropriate, to say the least, to compare, on the one hand, any reconstructed account of a staggeringly complex non-repeatable series of events preceding human history, to, on the other hand, the phenomenon of gravitation, which is literally universal and continuously demonstrable, or the Pythagorean theorum, which can be demonstrably derived from self-evident axioms by any reasonably bright geometry student.

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I just read a brief article on intelligent design, which stated that Pope John Paul II has in the past declared that evolution has been 'proven true.' Does anyone know if that's an accurate statement of the Pope's POV?

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I just read a brief article on intelligent design, which stated that Pope John Paul II has in the past declared that evolution has been 'proven true.'

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Yes, that would be the one, Opus. Another Sunday New York Times reader, eh?

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Yes, that would be the one, Opus.  Another Sunday New York Times reader, eh?

Actually, I just saw a link to it on Kottke. smile.gif

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I just read a brief article on intelligent design, which stated that Pope John Paul II has in the past declared that evolution has been 'proven true.'

There are fields more scientific than others under this rubric of evolutionism. But the broad statements of theory, particularly from those who think they know, are a horrible and self-contradictory mash, often confusing fact with theory, theory with fact, and science with a sort of anti-religious cult. Now there is science in genetics. Fr. Mendel was onto something. And it borrows the formulas of sampling, and can explain and predict to a limited degree - as is true of actual science. There is science in biology, as not just an observational science, but also as one of experiment based on practice and theory. Paleontology has been rife with fraud. But in places, it too, is at least an observational science. But it's this broader sense of any simple sense or definition of - evolution - itself, which is what is problematic, so much so that one might fairly characterize it as a superstition of the 19th-20th centuries. I think that would be fair. That is, those who claim evolution is true, can't themselves really say what evolution is, at least where they also agree with most anyone else. Those who say evolution has been scientifically proven, presume too much and do not give science its due.

To speak of evolution is to speak of a desire to explain a fossil record that suggests, mostly, a complexity growing from simplicity. It caused some to falsely adopt the notion that ontology recapitulates phylogeny, as they offered the false comparison with embryonic development. But one speaks of evolution and means chance mutation, and the chance of situation, based on an inherent genetic variability, on the level of a vaguely categorized 'population'. He points to an inherent adaptability in something so quickly regenerative as bacteria or viruses. The next 'outbreak' is caused not by the original, but by a new mutation - that is. But another speaks of evolution and means the etiology of life itself, which others would claim is entirely outside this vague notion of - evolution. Another speaks of life from 'space seed', then delivering the form of man from that of an ape-like creature, imbued at some mysterious point with a soul, as he cannot explain what happened to others of the same species. Another speaks of evolution and means only a mechanism for selecting mutation, which Darwin called 'natural selection'. And 'natural selection' might be all he'll say. While another might speak of evolution and insist upon other important mechanisms, as did Gould and others in their effort to explain the still mysterious fossil record, by way of a 'burst' of evolution, to accompany the slow 'geological' change, by chance, imagined by Darwin.

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this

And in, this, Holt also writes the following:

One beauty of Darwinism is the intellectual freedom it allows. As the arch-evolutionist Richard Dawkins has observed, ''Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.'' But Darwinism permits you to be an intellectually fulfilled theist, too. That is why Pope John Paul II was comfortable declaring that evolution has been ''proven true''

To the contrary, one might agree that one of the 'beauties' of Darwinism is that, today, so few call themselves Darwinists. In the same intellectual pride, they imagine themselves better and more 'advanced' that the father of the field, themselves lacking any better theory, fact, definition or whatever else. There is certainly an anti-religious bent in Darwin himself. For he argues, even at his best, the theory of the disinterested Creator - God set in motion certain things in a quasi-deterministic fashion, a quantum yet somehow stilll mechanical universe, 'design' implied in the 'levers' and 'envelope' and guided by who? and washed his hands, essentially, of what would result.

His Holiness has said and done many crazy things, for which he was roundly and publicly criticized over the years by Catholics, even by Evangelicals and others. There is this notion that the Pope is taken for the ends he serves, not as a moral guide in our desire to serve God. So one will claim that the Pope should be obeyed. But when such a one discovers that the Pope pleaded for the life of Terri Schiavo, you will be lucky if you get a response, and that finally coming might be heard as a mumble having to do with doings at the racetrack, rather than address any contradiction. One can help clarify when to listen by saying that in his exercise of the ordinary Magisterium, in proclaiming even ordinances based on established doctrinal teaching, such as his proclamation against any female priesthood, that His Holiness is to be obeyed. But if he expresses an opinion on the weather, short of any penned message he might have read let's say, any opinion on the character of an Italian politician, for example, or regarding any 'proof' of evolution, then one might say that's his opinion.

Edited by sevry

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"The Pope has done and said many crazy things." Lovely, just lovely. And respectful. For the record, Evolution is respected as truth by the every single Catholic I know (OK this is anectdotal but I don't have the time to carry out a worldwide survey. Creationism (which I'm not going to knock, believe it if you want) is almost solely a preoccupation of Evangelicals. It's one of the big sticks used by secular people to beat Evangelicals with from Inherit The Wind onwards. And, speaking as someone with a great admiration for Evangelicals, it's a sticking point for some people who would find themselves drawn towards them.

Also, A bit less dissing of the leaders of other faiths, and a small bit of humility, might be in order, Sevry old chap. For my own part, I'd be less worried about the Pope's perceived craziness than about Rush Limbaugh who seems to be your own spiritual leader. Sometimes your posts seem more like monologues designed to be delivered at some kind of a rally rather than aids to discussion.

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Evolution is respected as truth by the every single Catholic I know (OK this is anectdotal but

But. This is one Catholic who would only be repeating himself to say that - evolution - is a concept, and does not appear to be a science. It appears to be even a superstition, as it must be believed, some believe, but cannot be consistently described or defined in any way that would satisfy scientific clarity. Ones attempt to scientifically state, as it were, evolution runs head on into someone else's statement. It's more than mere disagreement. It's more than just a few major competing theories. Few seem to agree even on the basics. One could perform the same scientific test in this very forum, with that hypothesis that previous 'studies' would be confirmed. Few could seriously and clearly state either the fact or theory, without disagreeing as to which is which, and what ought to be included, and in what fashion.

I would also only be repeating myself, as well, to say that aspects of the sciences where evolutionists have borrowed for their purpose, such as genetics, such as aspects of biology and medicine, even perhaps cognitive psychology, or whatever has some establish science, some predictive metrics and momentarily accepted theory, do state their theories and do present their formulas, as well. The evolutionist might borrow the same and call them his own. But if the very statement of the 'fact' of evolution, and also the 'theory' of evolution, proves so elusive, then all the evolutionist can claim is that he curiously borrows in the hope of defining both fact and theory, perhaps; hoping, that is, that he can definitively say just what it is that he does.

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hello

just curious here

are those expressing skepticism regarding Darwinism speaking of the alledged mechanism for or the very idea of common descent?

Common descent seems an awfully good bet from here.....

from whales with hips to matching retrovirus inserts in higher primates to the very weight of the fossil records progression.....

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Looks like this thread has trickled off, so you may not get an answer to your question. Surprisingly little appetite for that debate here?

But I hear you, amandell--the existence of parts of the anatomy that seem unnecessary does seem to fit better with common descent + evolutionary change rather than special creation. Although death before the fall does seem to create theological complexities for many, but if Adam & Eve hadn't eaten of the tree of life & hadn't sinned, I'm not sure that they would have been immortal (thinking from a theological perspective here). In other words, I'm not 100% sure that sin necessarily introduced death--it may have been part of the deal for God's creatures. Pardon my meandering.

Anyway, the original article appears to be gone from the Seed Magazine web site. They don't appear to keep old issues online.

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But I hear you, amandell--the existence of parts of the anatomy that seem unnecessary does seem to fit better with common descent + evolutionary change rather than special creation.  Although death before the fall does seem to create theological complexities for many, but if Adam & Eve hadn't eaten of the  tree of life & hadn't sinned, I'm not sure that they would have been immortal (thinking from a theological perspective here).  In other words, I'm not 100% sure that sin necessarily introduced death--it may have been part of the deal for God's creatures.  Pardon my meandering.

Nitpicking: In the story of Man and Woman, they eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. they are booted from the garden to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life, else they will live forever.

Note also that the threat "don't eat of this tree, or on that day you will die" doesn't mean there was no death previously, only a threat that it will come upon you when you eat this fruit. (And then it doesn't, God is such a softy.)

But then trying to talk about the J creation story and evolution are mixing fruit any way

Edited by Darrel Manson

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That New Yorker article is a very cogent piece. I treat myself to the New Yorker whenever I go to London because it doesn't come to my part of the world & I ain't gonna subscribe, and was lucky enough to encounter that article which kept me absorbed on my train journey home. I was gonna post a link but see that others have beaten me to it.

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...if Adam & Eve hadn't eaten of the  tree of life & hadn't sinned, I'm not sure that they would have been immortal (thinking from a theological perspective here).  In other words, I'm not 100% sure that sin necessarily introduced death--it may have been part of the deal for God's creatures.  Pardon my meandering.

Nitpicking: In the story of Man and Woman, they eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. they are booted from the garden to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life, else they will live forever.

Yes, I understand that. I suppose I should have said "hadn't eaten from either tree". I was constructing a hypothetical.

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Perhaps, but is something not worthwhile or untrue because it is "bad science"? That would rule out intuition, art, revelation etc. It sounds like the kind of Enlightenment idealism that in its embers these days. In any event, I think IDers make different types of claims, some scientific, some not. For example:

1. "Evolutionary theories are currently unable to describe phenomenon X (e.g., the formation of life, mechanisms of macroevolution, emergence of human consciousness)."

2. "There's a good chance evolutionary theories may never be able to explain phenomenon X."

3. "Phenomenon X appears to be designed."

4. "Because phenomena X appears intelligently designed, there must exist an intelligent designer."

I think claim type #1 is reasonably scientific. It deals with the success or failure of scientific theories to explain evidence.

#2 is arguable. On the flip side, many evolutionists make the inverse claim that they believe that evolution will one day be able to explain phonemenon X. Either way, you can say that evidence leads you to a certain expectation, but you can't be certain.

I have heard #3 compared to "forensic science". I don't know how much of a semantic game that is. If you're looking at a crime scene, you're accumulating facts, and you're making a hypothesis about what happened. To some extent, you can test the validity of your hypothesis, although not necessarily empirically.

I don't know what you call #4, but it seems like a more reasonable conclusion than "We can explain many things through natural processes, therefore there is no God." Many hard-core skeptics and formerly-atheistic scientists have come to similar conclusions as #4. Please, let's not forget that when we criticize ID. Many of its arguments cannot be blithely dismissed.

In any event, perhaps the right question is not "Is ID a science?" but "Is ID thinking a legitimate way to arrive at truth?" I just read in Lee Strobel's latest book about an IDer (Stephen Meyer, I think) arguing for a new age of science using "inference to the best explanation". The method is to accumulate all relevant facts & all possible hypotheses (not just naturalistic ones) and test to see which hypothesis has the best explanatory power. Sounds a bit pragmatic--a reasonable attempt. Presumably it would be cheating to have one of the hypotheses be a catch-all "deus ex machina" hypothesis, in which anything COULD conceivably be explained as a direct act of God, although I'm not 100% how that would be handled. And it might be better to leave science as it is & call this new method something else just to keep the integrity of the different tools / models. But if we as Christians believe that science is not the only way to arrive at truth, then I would guess that we would at least sympathize with attempts to develop other legitimate methods.

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I guess I feel more strongly about science classes being free to point out limitations in current evolutionary theory than necessarily presenting ID as an alternative. And I definitely don't think science classes have any business teaching naturalism as a worldview. That belongs in the humanities. :)

One other scientific concern I have with ID is that saying "phenomenon X was caused by an act of a higher being" suggests that we shouldn't try to keep coming up with natural explanations. But if natural explanations exist, this hampers the ability of science to expand. However, to be fair, being overly dogmatic about Darwinism also hampers the ability of science to expand by bring improvements or corrections to evolutionary theory. And ID is useful is bringing some humility to evolutionists.

Similarly, the main concern I have about ID from a religious perspective, is that you're on the shifting sand of God-in-the-gaps. If you say "Phenomenon X can't be explained by science--only a designer. So God exists" and then someone says, "Oh, I just explained phenomenon X via natural processes" it makes it look like God no longer exists, even though that does not follow logically.

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Alan, I guess I'm not seeing why this is laudable.

''The major problem with the film is the wrap-up,'' said Randall Kremer, a museum spokesman.

''It takes a philosophical bent rather than a clear statement of the science, and that's where we part ways with them.''

I certainly hope none of their other films are guilty of expressing any secular humanistic or naturalistic philosophy! We would ALL hate to mix that with science, wouldn't we? ;)

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George Gilder, a technology investment guru who has teamed up with Forbes magazine over the years (although he apparently got pretty deflated by the late 90s tech bubble), reveals that he's a strong supporter of intelligent design. Huh--who knew?? Article here. Note: I could read the first two pages, but then got hit with a request to register.

Then he warns that if biologists don't take information theory seriously enough -- information theory and not Christianity being the basis for Gilder's embrace of intelligent design -- then they'll be the ones branded fools in the long run. Not him.

''To parallel 'Inherit the Wind,' " Gilder says, in response to the inevitable Scopes trial question, ''it's the materialists who are the religious fanatics this time. They want to stomp on their critics."

Information Theory? That's a new one on me. But more recent creationist critiques of evolution that I have read have dealt with the difficulty in evolution increasing information content (which is a more abstract way of defining macro-evolution). Dunno.

Anyway, my main thing is distinguishing between (1) maintaining the integrity of science as a tool and (2) saying that science is the only way to arrive at truth or things that can be measured scientifically are the only things that exist. I do think the tides are moving against #2 these days (which seems incompatible with Christianity).

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Here's a little tempest in a teapot to stir things up.

I occasionally visit the website, and now blog, of a fellow named Phil Plait, mostly because of his movie reviews (on the Bad Astronomy site). He recently started taking jabs at creationists and intelligent design proponents...unfortunately in a most childish and un-professional way. It's started a real poop-storm and his true colors are REALLY beginning to show, since it appears that he's removed the serious comments supporting ID from his blog .

What's really sad is the plethora of comments by people who are obviously unclear on their terms and buying into outdated theories. Sweeping statements like "every scientist knows" are always a red flag for me, especially when they are wrong.

Neb

Edited by Neb

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I am still reading about intelligent design (ID) and some of it is still a little above my head.

However, I have been thinking about this so-called controversy and I don't really see what people are arguing about. Since God created everything, then God also created every discipline of science. Therefore, if one accepts evolution as a scientific basis, then evolution does not negate the existence of God, but verifies it..

A Wikipedia article states that ID proponents look for the patterns and designs in natural processes to support their argument that everything created comes from a higher intelligence.

I think it is a little simplistic to reduce all cycles and processes in nature to easily identifiable patterns. I believe that randomness occurs in nature as often as patterns do. In fact, chaos theory claims that the universe tends toward entropy, but there are so many intricate patterns within nature (snowflakes, life cycle, food cycle, ecology, etc.) Order and chaos apparently have a symbiotic and yin/yang relationship with each other.

However, the scientists point to randomness as proof that there is no intelligent design.

Why can't both sides be right? Is it such a radical idea to consider that chaos is also one of God's patterns?

In the beginning, God said, "Let there be light." I wasn't there, of course, but that might have been what scientists call The Big Bang. That whole process was (and is) ultimate chaos. Nevertheless, planets, stars and suns developed out of it. Planets rotate on their axes and stars revolve around each other without crashing.

While watching Nova, I am sometimes struck by the beauty of the balance in the universe. Plants and animals are born, grow old and die. Planets are born and die. There are violent confrontations between hunter and prey, but there is also a harmony of "The Circle of Life."

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I agree with Alan and the previous poster. More people have been lost to the churches because of the notion that science and the bible are incompatible than almost anything else. It's a fight that Creationists are always going to lose and it seems to me that they aren't particularly bothered about setting out a case which might persuade anyone else as to shore up their own certainties. Why not treat evolution as just one more magnificent manifestation of God? To argue that as a believer you're going to have to buy into a frankly unconvincing pseudo-science is to diminish religious belief rather than strengthen it IMHO. And I'm not an unquestioning worshipper at the altar of science, I'm fully aware that a hundred years ago, for example, most people believed in Eugenics as a theory. Five hundred years ago it was alchemy. But evolution is so widely accepted, even among Christians, the whole Creation Science thing seems impossibly quixotic and driven by ideology rather than scientific doubt. It's also the biggest stick used by outsiders to beat up on Evangelicals. When I watch Life On Earth or any of the great Attenborough series, driven by the theory of Evolution, the wonder of God's creation is made even more clear to me. Isn't that enough to be going on with? By the way that fish translating thing is excellent, I couldn't believe how good my Spanish is.

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Well first of all I'd say that the argument that something is "Quixotic" is hardly a convincing argument to abandon anything. Much in the Christian life is Quixotic -- the very idea of mortal, fallible humans being given a standard that we cannot reach on our own is Quixotic -- so that's not an argument that is going to go very far to convince anyone to abandon the struggle.

That said, even people who don't believe in evolution should understand the scientific theories and thought and research that goes into it, because people need to understand how science works. If evolution is wrong, it is at least wrong in a manner consistent with how science is advanced, and even if ultimately it is disproven there's still a lot of interesting and useful stuff we've learned in the process of trying to make it all work.

For my part, my only sticking point with the theory of evolution is where man comes into the picture. The Bible seems to show that man was a creation apart from the rest of creation, and so while I can see how much of the theory of evolution really does work, I don't see how it is therefore necessary that I accept that it happened with humans until *after* we were created "from dust."

But so what? What relevance does my personal belief have to do with anything? How is the creation story, with the lone exception of the Fall, even relevant to what is important to being Christian? I don't care if a biologist -- or anyone else, really -- thinks I'm a backward fool for believing man was created apart from the natural evolutionary forces in the world, and I don't see why it would be worth the effort to spend the time and energy to convince anyone else of my particular views on the matter, either. The people who are spending that time and energy are WASTING it.

Evolution was taught in my high school. Those of us who were Christian remained so with remarkably little difficulty. None of the teachers, after teaching the course, turned to the students with a smug look and said "and that, class, is why God doesn't exist and you've been living a lie." That was FAR more common in one of my english classes, when one particular teacher started teaching Herman Hesse as though he were God Incarnate.

But if we are to believe the proponents of ID -- the political proponents, at least -- there is a war raging in America where the Godless Athiest Scientists are trying to recruit new members by destroying belief in God by putting forward the idea that man was not uniquely and specially created. And this is, quite simply, not true. I'm sure there may be individual agents of G.A.S. who are, in fact, doing this, but on the whole the organization seems rather toothless.

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As I said, what does it matter? I included that only to illustrate that it's possible to not completely endorse an idea and still support it being taught. Evolution is the end result of scientific advancement in one field so far... and it's irresponsible to ignore it simply because you don't agree with it.

And yes, you can look at the passage you mention as metaphorical and it works out just nicely. I didn't say that evolution was incompatible with Genesis. I just don't believe that man descended from another species.

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

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Because there seems to be a distinction made as to how man was created. Genesis gives a very vague mention of birds, fish, land animals all being created, with no real specifics, other than that they were created. And then something specific -- man is created out of dust, or clay, and the stated purpose is that it be in God's own image. There's no explanation of what the image is, though certainly it makes more sense that the "image" is spiritual rather than physical. But what I find interesting is that in order to do this, the story lists the "building block materials" as something that is essentially inert matter, and not just inert matter but something that is more or less the *remnants* of inert matter.

Whether that communicates any kind of significance to anyone else, I can't say, but it seems quite profound to me in terms of where we came from, what God made us into, and where we wound up today.

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And for my part, I don't doubt the validity of the evolutionary approach. I do reject one specific application of that approach. But I also don't really consider it a particularly important issue.

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

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Every time I see this thread, I think it is going to be about that Ivan Reitman movie starring David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones and Seann William Scott.

The Baptist Death Ray wrote:

: I just don't believe that man descended from another species.

So we have all that "junk DNA" in common with other species because ... why? Because God wanted to TRICK us into thinking that we evolved from common ancestors?

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