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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Theistic evolution - why can't God and Darwin kiss and make up?

Recently, a friend asked me about this perennial topic:

I replied, In today's Christian culture, the materialist atheist model of the universe is assumed to be true, but Christianity can be fitted in as an add-on, a sort of optional part that most people wouldn't need, but some insist on, because it helps them feel good.

No one says Christians can't bark for Jesus somewhere, preferably in a tabernacle far from civilization.

What the ID guys did was provide concrete evidence why the materialist atheist view of the universe - that is accepted as the norm - is incorrect. That it does not remotely account for the evidence. That is why they were so bitterly attacked.

When Mike Behe's Edge of Evolution came out, the posts at one allegedly Christian science list were revealing, disgusting, and pretty lame. I wrote a review here, to help people understand Behe's actual point: Very little Darwinian evolution had been observed in precisely the places we might expect it.

Why were the "Christians" in science so hostile to him? Because he provided evidence that did not support a theory fronted by materialist atheists. The skinny: They own the idea of evidence. Evidence is what supports them. By definition. If it doesn't support them, it isn't evidence.

Francis Collins isn't seriously attacked because he offers no serious challenge. Who cares if he feels good believing in God?

Now, Mike Behe and I have in common that we are real theistic evolutionists, That is, we say that if God wanted to create entirely through evolution, he could do so. But the question of whether God in fact did so must be addressed separately, and it depends strictly on evidence, not on prior assumptions.

What the "theistic evolutionists" (= fellow travellers and useful idiots) that one meets so often in Christian circles (I am using stare quotes here intentionally) mean is something quite different: They want to fit God into a system whose fundamental basis is atheist materialism. They want to form a bubble for theists in a world where atheism is assumed to follow from the evidence.

Apart from the fact that it won't work, it is completely contrary to the Christian tradition - and to all ethical monotheism whatever. If the "theistic evolutionists" were serious about ethical monotheism, they would support ID, the way serious Muslims and Jews do. Because it's obvious.


Darwinism and popular culture: Catholics who get the picture

In "Co-Discoverer of Natural Selection Believed in "Overruling Intelligence" Guiding Evolution"(True Catholic, July 1, 2009), Hilary White comments, referring to Michael Flannery’s new book on Wallace,
Flannery said that his book is an effort to "recast" the current dispute between materialist Darwinians and Intelligent Design proponents by examining the history of evolutionary theory. He holds that the "science" versus "creationism" conflict are "popular caricatures" that are "unhistorical and inaccurate."

He points to Wallace, a naturalist, anthropologist and biologist, who had independently developed a theory of natural selection when Darwin published his book. The two parted company in a dispute over the role of natural selection in the development of human intelligence. After years of research into this question, Wallace came to the conclusion that the processes of natural selection were guided by a higher intelligence, whereas Darwin held to the concept of "randomness" in evolution. The difference, Flannery says, is one of metaphysics, which, for Darwin, was already a settled question.

Writing in Forbes magazine, Flannery explained, "Darwin's own theory could hardly be called objectively scientific. Early influences on Darwin's youth established his predisposition to materialism and a dogmatic methodological naturalism long before his voyage on the Beagle."
It is nice to see Catholics address this head on. Too often, Catholic profs and high school teachers have been among the worst offenders in misrepresenting the purpose of Darwin's theory. (You know, the "no conflict between faith and science" crowd. ) Darwin's theory is not compatible with traditional metaphysics and was never intended to be. As Flannery points out, Darwin said as much in his notebooks, long before he published The Origin of Species or had any theory about it. Much recommended book.

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More podcasts from the evil Discovery Institute, with some comments

Now that their Steve Meyer has published Signature in the Cell with Harper One, they are getting more evil all the time.

1. The Making of an ID Theorist: Stephen C. Meyer and the Origin of Life

Click here to listen.

This episode of ID the Future tells the story of how philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer first began his quest for the origin of life. How did one of the architects of the intelligent design movement move from the oilfields of Texas to the study halls of Cambridge to pursue the mystery of where biological information originated? Listen in and find out.

The new book, Signature in the Cell, tells the rest of the story, the culmination of over 20 years of study and research on the origins of life.

[I will be giving out five copies as part of the Uncommon Descent Contest. Details later. (They haven't arrived yet.)]

2. Misunderstanding God and Evolution: John West Responds to First Things’ Stephen Barr
Theistic evolutionists often try to say that ID proponents present a “false dilemma,” that it’s somehow wrong to think that random processes cannot be directed by God. This is the take that Stephen Barr at First Things has on John West’s recent Washington Post essay.

In response, Dr. West posted a three-part series at ENV dealing with serious questions for those dealing with the implications of Darwin’s theory and intelligent design:

"Barr first claims that Joe Carter and I “are trapped in a false dilemma” because we wrongly think that random processes cannot be directed by God. Barr points out that even random events, properly defined, are part of God’s sovereign plan. Just because something is random from our point of view, doesn’t mean that it is outside of God’s providence. Barr may be surprised to learn that I agree with him. Indeed, most, if not all, of the scholars who believe that nature provides evidence of intelligent design would agree with him. The problem with Barr’s argument is not with his understanding of the proper meaning of random, but with his seeming blindness to the fact that the vast majority of evolutionary biologists do not share his view. Barr’s ultimate disagreement here is not with me or Joe Carter, but with the discipline of evolutionary biology itself."

Finish reading Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here

[Yes, exactly. Of course God can direct processes that appear to be random to us. But life forms do not in fact look random, and we are under no obligation to believe they are, unless we are fronting a materialist theory. And while we are here, the enormous hostility of the Darwinists should tell Dr. Barr something. It is a message he is not picking up.]

3. The Design Argument Is Unrefuted: Stephen Meyer Responds to Critics With Signature in the Cell, Part 4

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer responds to critics of intelligent design, such as Richard Dawkins and his book, The God Delusion.

How do critics of ID miss the point, and what are the questions they should be asking about intelligent design? Listen in to find out, and check out Dr. Meyer's new book, Signature in the Cell, where Dr. Meyer goes into more detail.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.Click here for Part 2 of this series.Click here for Part 3 of this series.

[It's unrefuted partly because critics have concentrated on attacking the characters and careers of design theorists, hoping that'll be enough. It's not. Some time they will need to address the evidence.]

4. Matter and the Mind: Part Three With UK Darwin-Doubter James LeFanu

Click here to listen.

This episode of ID the Future features the third and final part of Casey Luskin's interview with James LeFanu, author of Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, which discusses the problems for the materialist account of the human mind. How do we get from the electrochemical activity of the brain to the richness of the human mind? Listen in as Dr. LeFanu summarizes the five things that material science can’t tell us about the non-material mind.
Listen to part one of the interview here. Listen to part two of the interview here.

To learn more about Dr. LeFanu, visit his website here or read a recent review of his book at Evolution News & Views.

[I must get and read his book, after I work my way through Signature of the Cell. Fundamentally, there is no "material" mind. Our minds are precisely what is not material about our thught processes; our brains are what is. If you mentally add up a sum, the resulting number is not a material object. It is an idea in your mind. ]

5. DNA Evidence for Design: Stephen C. Meyer and Signature in the Cell, Part 3

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future CSC Director Stephen C. Meyer explains the problem that information presents to origin of life researchers within a naturalistic paradigm. Information within the cell presents a daunting challenge to Darwin’s theory -- and provides significant evidence for a signature of a designing intelligence, as Meyer explains in his new book.
Listen in and check out Dr. Meyer's new book, Signature in the Cell, which shares the depth of Dr. Meyer's research into the origin of information and the digital code in DNA.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.Click here for Part 2 of this series.

[Darwin had no idea of any of this, and would probably have tried out a different theory, had he known. That's what makes so many of his defenders sound so ridiculous. Thomas Huxley warned that this would happen. Darwinism would degenerate into a superstition - a tax-funded one at present.]

6. Delving Into Science at Cambridge: Stephen C. Meyer and Signature in the Cell, Part 2

Click here to listen.

On this episode of ID the Future philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer continues the story of how he became involved in intelligent design, sharing some of what he studied while at Cambridge University. What methods do scientists use to study biological origins? Is there a distinctive method of historical scientific inquiry? Meyer set off to investigate not only the history of scientific ideas about the origin of life, but also questions about the definition of science and about how scientists study and reason about ancient events in the past. Listen in to learn, and check out Dr. Meyer's new book, Signature in the Cell, which tells more of the story, the culmination of over 20 years of study and research on the origins of life.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.

[I get the feeling that Cambridge is more friendly to design than Oxford, and will research the question.]

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