Ben Stein's Expelled -- Science Ain't Expained Nothin'

Ben Stein exposes the forces that dominate American academia in his new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Ben Stein is obviously well-informed. He has even earned the respect of the intellectual community (up until this movie came out).

Stein also demonstrates childlike wisdom, which is equally good if not better than typical "grown-up" wisdom. It's his childlike wisdom that's going to get him in trouble.

Children can't help asking "Why?" because they are genuinely interested.

Picture a child interrupting a scientist to ask, "Why is the sky blue?"
The scientist might answer, "That's the way the light reflects off of the atmosphere."
"Why?"
"That's the nature of light."
"Why?"
"Because that's the way light evolved... oh wait, wrong explanation! Just get away from me kid, I'm working here."

Science left to itself does not explain anything. Science can only observe and then report on those observations.

Scientific observation is supposed to be totally impartial, but this is impossible. As was pointed out in Expelled, secular scientists can't help imposing their secular worldviews on their observations. But let's not be too hard on those poor scientists... they're only human after all. We all filter our daily experiences and observations through our uniquely developed worldviews. It just so happens that many atheistic Darwinists are in denial of this fact.

Expelled depicts scientists saying, "The ingredients of life are carbon, protein and water." Okay... nice observation.

Here's a personal favorite: "Gravity is the power of attraction that occurs between two masses." Again, this is only an observation. Suppose I asked a secular scientist, "why does gravity have this power of attraction?" The secular scientist might answer, "I just told you, it occurs between two masses," but that does not answer my question. The question is: Why does this invisible energy called "gravity" exist? For what purpose? Who or what jump started this universal attribute shared by everything that has mass?

If evolutionary theorists want to keep their jobs, they have to be selective about when and where they are truly scientific. Atheistic Darwinists know that they'll get into trouble if they think too much about the ultimate origin of all things.

If no human can ever learn one millionth of a percent about anything, then rest assured that the First Cause of all things must be even more incomprehensible to our limited intellects. We cannot measure this First Cause; we cannot confine Him to our mortal brainpower. We cannot reduce Him to any theory or math equation.

Faith in God is not intellectually limiting... it is liberating in every way. Acknowledging God's greatness is the smartest thing that anyone could ever do while, for an atheistic Darwinist, this would be the scariest thing in the world.

Ironically, secular science becomes religious whenever it can't explain "why things are the way they are." Indeed, we might call any institution "religious" that tries to squeeze reality into that box called "human intellectuality." We might call any explanation "religious" that interprets reality as it would be convenient for a certain group of people.

One of the most legitimizing aspects of faith is that it lifts up God, not man. A man of faith believes in and trusts God, but this can be inconvenient in many ways. Faith makes sense on an eternal level, but that doesn't necessarily make this life any easier. Secular science, on the other hand, is driven by an admiration for human intellectuality. Mainstream science lifts up the individuals who make discoveries, however these discoveries should inspire us to praise God for His amazing creativity.

Faith in God is superior both practically and intellectually. Practically, having faith in God is the best way to deal with circumstances that we cannot control. Intellectually, faith is the healthiest way to embrace life's mysteries.

***

If you disagree with what I have written here and you would like to respond, then great.

I would love to hear from you as long as you:

First: Take a deep breath.
Second: Try to express some kind of original and/or enlightening insight (something more than "you're wrong and i'm right").

Any takers? Please speak up.

79 comments:

shawnbarr said...

Hi Patrick, I may have not been clear with my review, but I agree wiht you completely. I think these comments from my article support our agreement

"The main focus of the movie is the question of academic freedom. By interviewing scholars who have been discriminated against because of their ID or faith views, Stein shows a form of bigotry in academia."

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Keep up the Good Work.

Anonymous said...

Yes Ben Stein raises the bar on the level of stupidity and conspiracy theory that weak minded religious agenda driven people just love to suck in.

Tim said...

You make a good point. There is a difference between observable science and historical science. The establishment makes no distinction between the two, blurring facts with fairy tales.

Even if a person doesn't agree with Expelled, the movie should at least be given credit for advancing discussion on a taboo subject.

sweetswede said...

Very good points! Atheists masquerading under the name of science have done a rather good job of distorting things.

God bless!
Sweetswede

Ams said...

the problem most scientists have/had with expelled was how it was presented/done.if you had read Dawkins and PZ myers blog on how the producers contacted them and told them about the project, you would have a different perspective (i hope) on how Stein and company acted on the matter.

Tim said...

Anonymous,
Ouch. Did you see the film, or are you just taking pot-shots while on the surf? I bear you no ill-will, so don't read too much into my dry, not-so-witty response. :)

But, to be serious:
What leads you to believe that religous people are weak-minded? Why are you threatened by a little expose on some scientists getting canned for believing that design in inherant in nature?

I've done some work with cells and have been pretty impressed with the complexity. Imagine - langauage written in an organic alphabet that contains all of the information to recreate itself, sustain itself, expell its own waste, generate energy... This language is incredible, so incredible that every organism operates according to its own unique book, written in this language - DNA. Try writing a manual for replicating a self-sustaining, living organism and do it with proteins. Or, do it with lightning over a vast ocean of liquified rock that exploded out of a super-dense piece of originless matter floating in nowhere the size of a period on this page. Where did the period-size matter come from? Where was it sitting or floating when it exploded? Where did the water come from that eroded the rocks? Where did the energy come from? How do you know that storms raced over the face of a dead planet that exploded out of something really small and then eventually electrified some mineral-rich water, speaking DNA into a creation of a living organism?

The creation testifies that God created it. Don't silence it by throwing insults at some film that is trying to open up some discussion.

Why are you threatened by Expelled? Have you studied evolution? I have and I've studied Biblical creation and I've studied ID. What do you know about God and the Bible? Have you ever read the John in the Bible? Is Jesus the most intelligent being in the Universe? Did he speak all of this into existence like the Bible says? What if you are wrong and you are missing out on the truth?

ciao my anonymous friend! Hope you surf by my site sometime.

Havok said...

I'm not anonymous, but I'll bite.
"Why are you threatened by a little expose on some scientists getting canned for believing that design in inherant in nature?"
If you check the www.expelledexposed.com site, you'll see that the stories about scientists getting canned for ID belifs are trumped up.

"Where did the period-size matter come from?"
You might want to look up some cosmology. Current theories suggest that nothing is unstable, and so if you start with nothing, something is bound to "appear".
"Where was it sitting or floating when it exploded?"
Before it "exploded" (which is a terrible analogy) there was no space, so it wasn't sitting "anywhere"

"Where did the water come from that eroded the rocks? Where did the energy come from? How do you know that storms raced over the face of a dead planet that exploded out of something really small and then eventually electrified some mineral-rich water, speaking DNA into a creation of a living organism?"
Once you've got the universe, the rest falls into place, given the constants of the universe, including the water, the lightning. Abiogenesis is still a little immature to say with great confidence how life began, but once you've got some replicators, regardless of how simple, evolution takes over.

"The creation testifies that God created it. Don't silence it by throwing insults at some film that is trying to open up some discussion."
Which God? Certainly not Yahweh, as creation shows his word to be wrong. Perhaps you mean Krishna? Zeus?

"Why are you threatened by Expelled?"
Can't speak for the original anonymous, but I don't like falshood being passed of as truth.

"Have you studied evolution?"
Not in depth, but enough to understand it.

"I have and I've studied Biblical creation and I've studied ID."
So you know that the evidence supports the scientific theory of evolution, and does not support Biblical creation and ID.

"What do you know about God and the Bible?"
I'm pretty sure that both Yahweh and the bible are the work of men. Sure enough to bet my non-existent soul on it :-)

"Have you ever read the John in the Bible?"
Gospel or revelation? Written by different men you know.

"Is Jesus the most intelligent being in the Universe?"
Assuming there was a real person behind the "myth", he was likely an illiterate son of a carpenter living in 1st century palestine. If that makes him the most intelligent being in the universe, then I guess guys like Einstein and Newton never existed?

"Did he speak all of this into existence like the Bible says?"
Don't you mean Yahweh (or El, or the Elohim)? There was no concept of Jesus/the trinity in ancient Israel/Canaan, so the bible would not be asserting he spoke it into existence.

"What if you are wrong and you are missing out on the truth?"
What if you're wrong and the Muslims (or Zorastrians) are right? Pascal's wager is a terrible reason to believe. If you're really as ignorant as you make out in your comment, then you're missing out on reality, regardless of the existence of your deity of choice.

Tonya said...

Hi, Patrick!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for leaving a comment. It's so nice to "meet" you. =-)

I actually LOVED the movie! I thought it was HILARIOUS that Ben would ask those "intellectual guys" just "WHY?" things were the way they were. Their lack of ability to explain was humorous to say the least! They have so much knowledge crammed up in their sweet little heads, yet they refuse to consider that their way might be the WRONG way. You could almost see the HATRED towards Christianity when it was brought up. It would take more faith for me to believe we evolved from nothing than to accept what's told in the Bible.

Take the great flood, for instance. I hear that now the Smithsonian Institute is no longer acknowledging there was a "great flood." (I think the Noah's Ark story in the Bible being confirmed by the FACT that there WAS a great flood sort of shoots a hole in their idea that the Bible is just a fairy tale) How then do they explain that there have been many shark's teeth found way up here in North Mississippi? (As well as MANY other places I'm sure) How do they explain away all the layers of sediment? Okay... I'm sorry, I'm just as passionate about the creation side as they are about their Darwin theory.

I'm proud of Mr. Stein for at least shedding light on the fact that our "freedom of speech" is no longer FREE. It's a sad day in our country when people are free to talk about anything other than religion. It doesn't hold one back... it sets them FREE! (At least that's how Christianity works)

Thanks for your thought provoking post. As for myself... I'd see the movie again and again! I thought it was FABULOUS! =-)

Have a GREAT week, my friend!

Mike said...

Religious people are not weak minded. But, when trying to make inroads in the scientific community, it's important to have a hypothesis and devise ways to test that hypothesis, and have others be able to reproduce your results. Everything else is opinion.

Yes, Stein gets credit for opening conversation around this topic from a different dimension, but the cheap Michael Moore-esque approach tarnishes what could be a good discussion.

Meanwhile, it's important I think for all sides to agree, science doesn't and can't explain everything. But that shouldn't automatically lead to the conclusion that there is some mystical force in the universe guiding things along. There are other explanations. We'll likely never really know the answer to these questions though.

Havok said...

"You could almost see the HATRED towards Christianity when it was brought up."
I haven't seen the movie as yet, but couldn't the "hatred" you could almost see, be due to exasperation at having to explain, yet again, that evolution happens, and the theory of evolution is a well attested model explaining the observations?

"It would take more faith for me to believe we evolved from nothing than to accept what's told in the Bible."
Why do you accept what's is presented in the bible over scientific explanations, given that scientific explanations are backed by evidence? Do you also rejects the theory of gravity or heliocentrism?

"I think the Noah's Ark story in the Bible being confirmed by the FACT that there WAS a great flood sort of shoots a hole in their idea that the Bible is just a fairy tale"
There is absolutely no evidence for a world wide flood as depicted in the Bible - it is just a fairy tale. It was also likely taken from the epic of Gilgamesh.

"How then do they explain that there have been many shark's teeth found way up here in North Mississippi?"
Plate tectonics prehaps?

"How do they explain away all the layers of sediment?"
Gradual sedimentation? You know that the layers of sedimentation do not support a global flood - the geological column is not sorted the way one would expect from a global flood.

"Okay... I'm sorry, I'm just as passionate about the creation side as they are about their Darwin theory. "
That's great that you're passionate. Unfortunately, those who are passionate in science test their theories against observation and evidence, and discard hypothesis which don't fit. Do you do the same for your theories of "special creation" "flood geology" etc?

"I'm proud of Mr. Stein for at least shedding light on the fact that our "freedom of speech" is no longer FREE."
If you check www.expelledexposed.com, you can find references to the scientists who were supposedly silenced by the evil scientific conspiracy. You'll find that the movie does not honestly represent the events.

"It's a sad day in our country when people are free to talk about anything other than religion."
I thought the movie was about science?

"It doesn't hold one back... it sets them FREE! (At least that's how Christianity works)"
That's nice. When it comes to reality, I think I'll stick with science - it works.

heidianne jackson said...

havok, i went to your site and i don't see anything on there to compell me to believe that set of "evidence" over that presented in the movie, which i HAVE seen.

you said: "but couldn't the "hatred" you could almost see, be due to exasperation at having to explain, yet again, that evolution happens, and the theory of evolution is a well attested model explaining the observations?"

could be. but not how the darwinists came across. i know several micro-biologists, two of which are christian, one of which is jewish (all practicing) and the rest of which are atheists or "humanists".

all of them believe that the FACTS point to intelligent design. the definition of intelligent design varies depending on their personal life beliefs. none of them believe darwinism is a valid scientific observation.

you have exampled all of the reasons for this movie - and none of them are valid. micro-evolution happens, of course it happens, macro-evolution? well there is no compelling evidence for it.

it seems that your slight studies in evolution to the point that you could understand it were simply an excercise in confirming what you already believed. how sad that is.

ChriS & Yvette Ferguson said...

Walt Brown at www.creationscience.com has an incredible book and lots of great documentation. Because of politics in the Creation movment he isn't as well known as others but check out his stuff.

This movie is awesome...because it raises so many questions. I historically stayed out of the whole issue until a friend of mine introduced me to Walt Brown...it is amazing how much resistance there is.

To the Evolutionist I say this...we look at the same things and see something entirely different. Our Worldview does impact us but the Evolutionist refuses to admit that!

Great Post!

Steve said...

Good post. The reaction to "Expelled" does sort of make the point of the movie. For example, Yahoo and MSN refused to list it in their "Opening in Theaters" list, even though more obscure independent films were listed. Amazon and Netflix don't even acknowledge its existence, even though you can find other movies currently in the theaters listed as future DVD releases. The mentality seems to be, "If we hide it, no one will have any big questions." But as one commentator in the film noted, "Questions that go unanswered never go away."

Trav said...

So when you start out this post by saying that kids have an inquisitive nature, by the end of the article, you're telling them, "Shut up kid, you'll never know.Just read your Bible for all the answers." You must be a proponent of No Child Left Behind.

It also sounds like you have no respect for science, which means that all the inventiveness and technology that has eased and enhanced everyone's life over hundreds of generations, you're not thankful for.

But I will admit that this statement is completely true: "Ironically, secular science becomes religious whenever it can't explain "why things are the way they are."

What else can we do but to fall back on what we've done for the past however many millenia? When you can't explain something you try. That is the advent of religion. Science itself is a belief system, people should realize that. However, this belief system is based on observation, experimentation, and the ability for these experiments to be repeatable.

In my field of archaeology we always resort to religion when we don't have answers. "What's this weird artifact do? Dunno. It's probably Ritualistic."

And as you pointed out, "observation is supposed to be totally impartial, but this is impossible." So everything from science on back to the writing of the Bible has some obvious skew to it. It's someone trying to make a point. So at least science tries to do something about understanding the world, whereas any other belief system is a proponent of "armchair philosophy" where they just sit back, consolidate all of the knowledge they've accrued over a lifetime and extrapolate what might be the answers. But then again why bother if all these things are "incomprehensible to our limited intellects."

Tim said...

Havok,
Thanks for taking the bait. I can tell that you enjoy science. Nothing I can say will sway you because for everything I say someone else says the opposite. How will you ever know what the truth is?

Go see Expelled and give it a shot. Maybe, you'll see some cracks in your current beliefs - maybe you'll solidify your current beliefs.

My response to your patient answers to my previous questions, if you are interested:

For observable science, we can all use the scientific process. For historical science, we use world-view to interpret the facts which exist in the present.

Can you agree with me that there are no cases of observable macro-evolution existing today?

I'll leave you with a seemingly random anectdote: Do you know why an ape cannot procreate with a human? The human egg will not allow entry without a positive DNA check that the sperm is of its same kind. How does that fit into macro-evolution?

Also, something that people seem to forget - Expelled is about ID, with some natural selection taken too far examples. Why do secular humanists have to take evolution without intelligent design? If Dawkins can concede evolved aliens, why not the Trinity? My question is: Why the vehemence against ID- where's the threat? As the minority, I see the threat as different than the majority does.

BTW, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am a favorite. :) As to ignorance, I take it one book at a time, one experiment at a time, on DVD at a time.

Trav said...

OK.
I'll take back the No Child Left Behind statement, but with respect to the no respect for science:

"Science left to itself does not explain anything. Science can only observe and then report on those observations."

That is where I drew my conclusions from. "Does not explain anything"...?! I think it's done a lot for the world. It goes beyond simply setting moral laws like the Bible, it has defined the world we live in with exponentially growing amounts of knowledge. It's not static, nor does it yet (or maybe every) have all the answers. Sure, to an extent this may be slightly subjective work, but what other methods can you offer? And yes, you can say: "We're made of carbon, protein, and water... nice observation", but you can also run with this and figure out things like how genetic mutations can change who we are and possibly how scientists can work with those that are deleterious. I'd sure say that is an explanation that came from science.

So, if you'd care to elaborate on why you said that science explains nothing, then maybe I'll consider taking that statement back too.

Patrick Roberts said...

trav,

You mentioned "No Child Left Behind." Very interesting. After extensive deliberation over the relationship between my article and the Bush Administration, my answer is: "What the...?"

You also conclude that I have "no respect for science?" but what you really mean is, "I have no respect for your brand of science" ... right? The answer to your real question should be obvious from my original post and from my positive reaction to Ben Stein's movie.

Trav said...

So if we seemingly each have our own "brand" of science, what exactly is yours?

Remember that science is: "systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation."

It's not just observing, it's also testing to see if you can understand and duplicate what you're experiencing.

Oh, from another comment I gathered that religion is now being referred to as "historical science" where "we use world-view to interpret the facts which exist in the present."

Well, maybe this is your point, but there are other world views out there that don't exactly concur. How do you account for those? I suppose you can say that they are just "wrong" because they don't match up to your world view. The faulty logic in this, however, is that the definition of science is that you gain systematic knowledge through experimentation. You can't experiment on history, it was a one-time event. Therefore this cannot be a "historical science". If you want me to give in slightly, I might concede that you could put it under a social science category, where you have things like humanities and classical literature, which I suppose seeing as how you're running with the Bible as your world-view guide, you might fit right in.

nightwingwilson said...

Patrick, I notice in many of your articles you admonish people not to confuse God with "man-made religion," yet in nearly everything I've read here you have quoted from the Bible or emphasized the importance of following God through Jesus Christ. Please explain how Christianity is not a man-made religion in the same way that Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., are, and why you are something other than an affable religious bigot.

The makers of Expelled and their supporters claim they merely want to have a discussion. If that's truly what you want, too, Patrick, then you should find a less contradictory position for yourself than "don't confuse God with religion/salvation lies through Jesus", otherwise this discussion, like the rest of Christian apologetics, will be utterly useless except as a source of smug reassurance to those who already agree with you.

--Steve

Patrick Roberts said...

sorry trav, i had to fix my reply so now they're all out of order...

My science, or my experience, always leads me back to the reality of God... Him in all things, through all things, etc.

But i am thankful for modern science. I am really glad that we have advanced surgical capabilities, for example. But i want to make a deliberate effort to keep worshipping God rather than the stuff men have invented... after all we all will eventually die and everything we have made will eventually turn back into the elements whence they came.

So practically speaking, if i fell and broke my leg, i would be a fool to pray to God asking Him to heal me right there when He has provided me with all the ambulances and hospitals i could ever need. but i will not worship the ambulance because it takes me to the hospital, nor will i worship any doctor's advanced medical knowledge. that's where the danger is... science is good, but it's not the best. Jesus is the best.

Plus, God also transcends science. Jesus demonstrated this Himself and continues to this through his church. whether or not these things happen these days for you to see and document is a related discussion.

As a scientist you might demand a miracle so you can measure it, think about it, write a book about it, weigh your options and then maybe start believing that Christ is who He says He is. but that's the real trick, isn't it? why should He do a little dance for you when you already know all the right answers. What else do you want?

Consider the word "conscience"... i believe it means "with knowledge" translated literally. God communicates a lot through our consciences. I know, it's not as empirical or controlled as you (the scientist) would prefer... but, if you want to know God, then you will have to get used to thinking outside manmade standards of measurement. This sounds ridiculous to most people, as most people would rather control everything all the time... but too bad, we already can't control everything. Nor can we understand everything. Beyond liters, meters and grams there is faith.

So there's the long answer, hopefully not too long. I really appreciate science, i will take it at face value and be thankful, but ultimately my goal is to learn and practice the things that will reap benefits both now and for eternity for God's kingdom. I am convinced that the best thing i or anyone else could do for the world is encourage people to take care of business with God. Know Jesus, learn from Jesus, and He will make everything else will fall into place.

Patrick Roberts said...

trav,
i remembered something else about science... the word "science" means simply "knowledge," right? So is there knowledge outside of a laboratory? Can we comprehend different aspects of the universe by other means than beakers and Bunsen burners? you would have to admit that yes, there are other ways of obtaining knowledge (science).

Patrick Roberts said...

dear nightwingwilson,

thank you for calling me "affable," that actually made me blush a little bit. and i do appreciate you reading enough of my articles to find out that i don't like religion (of any kind).

so your question (if i may put it into my own words) is "how is my religion not religious even though i refer to the Bible and you are pretty sure that I am religious and probably also ignorant?" well that is a compelling question...

i'll get to that religion question in a minute, but i just remembered that i prefer to avoid the topic of evolution vs. creationism because it tends to be spiritually counterproductive. The outcome of this "discussion" (if i could even call it that) is almost always the same: Christians try unsuccessfully to use the Bible as a scientific text book (which is silly) and, in response, evolutionists get annoyed and call the Christians yucky names.

The sad thing here is that, even if a Christian out-argued an atheistic evolutionist, this would only anger the atheistic evolutionist all the more and, in effect, distance him or her even more from having faith in God rather than science.

I admit that this discussion would be productive if both parties deliberately made it so, but the chances of this happening are slim.

As for your question about the religiosity of my religion, nightwingwilson, I can't think of any conclusive way to prove this right now, so i'll have to get back to you later with that info.

Trav said...

I'm still unsure how your science leads you back to God. Is it just a feeling? Do you just believe? I don't think you really covered that.

And no, science doesn't just mean "knowledge". Science is a means of gaining knowledge by experimenting, testing, and retesting hypotheses. So where you can say that you can figure out things beyond Bunsen burners and beakers, this is true. However, if you have no way of showing what you say is true, then it's not really science. Just saying that your science leads you back to God carries no proof in the statement.

nightwingwilson said...

While you formulate your response to the question of why your religion is not a religion, I just want to point out that I am, in fact, positive that you are religious (assuming, as I do, that what you write here is sincere), because I have read a great number of religious statements written by you on this very blog.

And, also, I never said, and I don't assume, that you're ignorant. I just pointed out how incredibly silly it is to claim that you don't like religion, while you are writing and maintaining a blog devoted to reviewing music and films from a decidedly religious point of view. You may not be as dogmatic of a Christian as other members of your faith, you may be more open to a non-literal interpretation of the Bible, you don't strike me as an unreasonable guy, but you (correct me if I'm wrong) consider the Bible to be the Word of God, and believe that acceptance and submission to Jesus Christ is the path to salvation. Even if those are your only beliefs, they are still based on a particular religious dogma.

You are a Christian. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but Christianity is a religion. To claim somehow that you, as a Christian, are not religious, that you are opposed to religion, even, is just nonsensical, and it tells me that you either haven't thought about this very much (which I doubt, since you seem like a pretty prolific writer on Christian subjects), or you have concluded that your particular faith is superior to every faith that contradicts it, that your religion is not really a religion because it is the one that happens to be true, while everyone who disagrees with you is wrong. That's religious bigotry.

--Steve

Patrick Roberts said...

webster's definition of science

... root meaning: "having knowledge"

why this matters: There are other ways of acquiring knowledge, indeed there are other ways of knowing than through systems controlled and invented by men.

refer to my example above, of our God given barometer for morality: the conscience.

You (as well as many others) demand a definition of God that fits your expectations. This is never going to happen. you also want a system of proving or knowing God that you can control. This is also not going to happen.

If you ever want to know God, then you have to give up whatever right you think you have to be in control or to understand Him in exactly the manner you dictate.

Steve said...

Calling the conscience a God-given trait is a presumption, and a problematic one, at that. The conscience, and morality itself, could have evolved naturally just like other instincts. For social animals like humans, having a sense of morality to encourage us to help each other and govern our own behavior makes a lot of evolutionary sense.

I'll take it even further and say that explaining the conscience as a result of natural evolution makes more sense than the God-given hypothesis, because if the conscience were part of an intelligent design, we would expect it to function much more consistently than it does. The fact that so many people are able to ignore their conscience in order to do horrific things, or apparently have no coherent sense of right and wrong to start with, doesn't speak very well for God's design.

And again, Patrick, you're being dishonest when you say that there are ways of knowing things other than through man-made systems. Religion, including Christianity, is a man-made system, and since it generally has no obligation to tailor itself to logic or objective reality, a far less reliable one for understanding the natural world than science.

--Steve
(nightwingwilson.livejournal.com)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Patrick - go to GodTube and search on Louie Giglio's presentation on Laminin. It's an amazing piece of "science meets God" (for lack of a better description). I plan to post it on my blog fairly soon.... just haven't had a chance to yet.

Check it out.

Havok said...

Hedianne,
"you have exampled all of the reasons for this movie - and none of them are valid. micro-evolution happens, of course it happens, macro-evolution? well there is no compelling evidence for it."
The distinction between macro and micro evolution is artificial. It is the same process, so accepting micro evolution is the same as accepting macro evolution.

"all of them believe that the FACTS point to intelligent design. the definition of intelligent design varies depending on their personal life beliefs. none of them believe darwinism is a valid scientific observation."
So, seeing as how your scientist friends (and yourself) think ID is the better theory for the origin and diversity of species (ie evolution) than evolution through natural selection, can you point me towards some predictions made by ID theory? Perhaps some peer reviewed papers explaining some experimental results or research?

"it seems that your slight studies in evolution to the point that you could understand it were simply an excercise in confirming what you already believed. how sad that is."
So, why is evolution through natural selection the dominant scientific theory? Why aren't intelligent design proponents publishing papers? Where is the list of papers which have been denied because of bias? Papers are more important in science than people, so where are all the papers?

Havok said...

Chris & Yvette,
"To the Evolutionist I say this...we look at the same things and see something entirely different. Our Worldview does impact us but the Evolutionist refuses to admit that!"
If a theory is proposed which explains the available evidence, makes better predictions, is more parsimonious than the current theory of evolution, then it would be accepted. As this has not happened what reason is there to not accept the theory of evolution? Do you reject QM because the standard model has known flaws? Do you reject the theory of Gravity because the mechanisms are not well understood (though the effects are)?

Havok said...

Tim,
"Thanks for taking the bait. I can tell that you enjoy science. Nothing I can say will sway you because for everything I say someone else says the opposite. How will you ever know what the truth is?"
How do you know nothing you an say will sway me. Direct me towards some evidence against my viewpoint. If the evidence stands up to scrutiny, then I'll have to change my view. That's the great thing about science - it changes under the influence of new evidence. See the stories of the big bang and plate tectonics for examples.

"For observable science, we can all use the scientific process. For historical science, we use world-view to interpret the facts which exist in the present."
Nope, same process, just the results tend to be "less certain" in historical science. Observations are still made, hypothesis formed, and predictions tested. Those hypothesis which stand up to testing and further observation and evidenence can be said to be more likely than those whose predictions are falsified and which do not stand up to further evidence.

"Can you agree with me that there are no cases of observable macro-evolution existing today?"
Nope. I assume you mean something like "speciation" when you say macro evolution.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
There's a lot of information there, but it should answer most of your questions.

"Do you know why an ape cannot procreate with a human? The human egg will not allow entry without a positive DNA check that the sperm is of its same kind. How does that fit into macro-evolution?"
Well, for one thing, apes procreate with humans all the time - homo sapiens is a sub-branch of the apes. I'll assume you mean chimps or gorillas?
Does it, perhaps, have something to do with the fusing of chromasome 2 in humans?
And no, the fusing of chromosomes is not a problem for the theory of evolution.

"Also, something that people seem to forget - Expelled is about ID, with some natural selection taken too far examples."
I thought it was about unfounded bias in science, using ID as a case study. Does it actually discuss any evidence for ID? BY that I mean evidence which hasn't been discredited (such as the irriducible complexity of the basterial flagelum).

"Why do secular humanists have to take evolution without intelligent design?"
They don't. The problem is, there is no evidence for ID, and the ID movement consists of trying to pick holes in the theory of evolution.

"If Dawkins can concede evolved aliens, why not the Trinity?"
From my understanding, Dawkins posits aliens as a possible (and very improbable) casse of ID. There is no evidence for it, so it isn't given any credence. There is also no evidence for the Trinity (or any gods for that matter), so they to can be ignored.

"My question is: Why the vehemence against ID- where's the threat?"
The threat is from people parading ID as if it is somehow proven and mature. Why have ID proponents chosen to take their fight to the media instead of doing what scientists actually do - research and publish?
"As the minority, I see the threat as different than the majority does."
Which minority? Given some 75% of Americans believe special creation, you'd appear to be in the majority.

Havok said...

Steve,
"But as one commentator in the film noted, "Questions that go unanswered never go away." "
Which questions does expelled raise which have gone unanswered?

Havok said...

Patrick,
"There are other ways of acquiring knowledge, indeed there are other ways of knowing than through systems controlled and invented by men"

Please explain these other ways of "knowing" things, especially regarding reality?

Havok said...

Since there seem to be some ID proponents here, any chance I could get a couple of questions answered:

What makes ID science?
What predictions does it make?
How can these predictions be tested and falsified?
What tests have been made and what were the results?

Thanks

Tim said...

Havok,
Language can inherantly show bias, but here's a definition of macro and micro.

Micro - change within kinds, utilizing existing DNA, resulting in a loss of genetic capabilities.

Macro - addition of non-existent information into existing DNA, resulting in an increase in genetic capabilities and change between kinds.

Susannity said...

I think it's silly to say scientists get stumped when you continually put the "why" question to them but that religion or god or faith or whatever frees you intellectually. Any theist given the why question over and over would not get stumped per se, but they would go to the religious equivalent of it which is "because of god" or "because god made it so".
Science is faith in process and observations. Science can also throw out a hypothesis and then let it go as a more viable thought is put forth. Religion is unable to do that and it's not because it is "right".

sweetswede said...

I think we must remember that ID does not necessarily oppose the idea of evolution. Certain types of ID, like Young Earth Creationism, obviously go against evolution, but we must keep in mind what the filmmakers mean by intelligent design. According to the "Expelled Leaders Guide" intelligent design "holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random mutations".

Thus as long as God exists evolution is not an "undirected process acting on random mutations"; but a purposeful process. This is what ID proposes.

Now what features are best explained by an intelligent designer? To start the existence of the universe. Dr. William Lane Craig is quite famous for reviving the "Kalam Argument":
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause.

See, the first two points are verified scientifically and the conclusion is more philosophical in nature, but still not "unscientific".

Another example would be a point brought up in the movie about the cell needing 215 different elements/components to exist in it's most basic form. Whereas it is highly improbable that such a complex thing "just happened" as the atheist must believe, ID proposes God guided the process.

This whole idea that faith and science need be in competition is absurd. They are two distinct circles that have intersecting/overlapping portions. ID doesn't need to propose any new data. The evidence gleaned from the accepted scientific process is great stuff, but there are questions it leads to that can't be answered by natural selection. The primary one being "how did everything start?". Natural selection only takes place once we have matter, but if you watch Expelled Dawkins and a few others stumble over the question of where matter came from (Dawkins proposes aliens planted life here, but that begs the questions where did they come from?). The answer can not be in matter, time, or space; and since God is the only theory that is not restricted by matter, time, or space I believe He is the most logical conclusion.

nightwingwilson said...

Just look at all those ID defenders jumping all over your questions, Havok! Almost a full day since your comment was posted, and it's been a stampede . . .

You've touched on the biggest reason why intelligent design is not science and why it doesn't deserve to be taught as an equivalent to evolution. It's not even a coherent theory. There is no model of intelligent design. I'd even add a few more questions to the ones you posed:

Since ID defenders are constantly harping on evolution for not addressing the question of abiogenesis, how does intelligent design explain what caused life to appear on Earth for the first time? Specifically.

When did this designing take place?

Why have so many intelligently designed species gone extinct? How were these species replaced? Is the designer still active, introducing new species to fill niches vacated by extinct ones?

And most importantly, where is the empirical, irrefutable evidence for any of this? The theory of evolution is verified not only by biology, but by geology, paleontology, and physics (radiometric dating), to name a few. Where is the verification for intelligent design?

--Steve

Bradley C. Roberson said...

Patrick,

Please explain why this intelligent designer must be the god of the bible and not the flying spaghetti monster?

There IS design in nature but it can also be accomplished in a step-wise, bottom up fashion.

Why is an additional layer of complication (a creator/intelligent designer) so critical to you?

In fact it seems to be you who starts with a preconceived notion and finds only those things which confirm that belief. To wit:

"My science, or my experience, always leads me back to the reality of God... Him in all things, through all things, etc."

Trav said...

Where did those definitions of micro- and macroevolution come from?

Here's what wikipedia says on the matter: "Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution,[2] which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population."

One is not a deletion and the other is not a mutation. They both can harbor each kind of change in the genetic material. I believe the difference is that macro mostly involves speciation over time, whereas micro is a change in the allele frequency which expresses itself phenotypically (in appearance) but doesn't alter the ability of the animal to reproduce with others of its own kind. Macroevolution is generally something more profound that has taken several generations to manifest itself.

Patrick Roberts said...

Here is another explanation for faith in God, or "proof," if you will, using The Matrix

Havok said...

Tim,
Language can inherantly show bias, but here's a definition of macro and micro.
There is no actual distinction in the theory, but I'll let that be. If I could give you an example of the DNA increasing in size (not sure quite what you mean by "capability"), would you accept the theory of evolution?

If so, please take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartina_anglica
It documents a species of grass which, through a mutation and hybridisation increased it's DNA length.

Havok said...

sweetseede,
Now what features are best explained by an intelligent designer? To start the existence of the universe. Dr. William Lane Craig is quite famous for reviving the "Kalam Argument":
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause.


I see you've gone with the kalam cosmological argument. The simply rebuttal is:
1) it is not certain that everything which begins to exist has a cause. Check quantum vacuum fluctiations. Particles springing into existence with no cause.
2) It is not certain that the universe has a beginning, in either the literal sense (some model produce manifold which "smears" time in the early universe, meaning there is no beginning). Even given a model which does begin at t=0, it is not certain that beginning to exist in that manner (beginning to exist with time, not in it) is sufficient reason to say something had a cause.
From the above 2, the argument, while possibly convincing is not shown to be logically certain.
Also, even if the argument was shown to definitely hold, you'd still have to argue for an interventionist god, and then to the god of the bible. Simply showin kalams argument to be true doesn't get you Jesus.

Another example would be a point brought up in the movie about the cell needing 215 different elements/components to exist in it's most basic form. Whereas it is highly improbable that such a complex thing "just happened" as the atheist must believe, ID proposes God guided the process.

That sounds like an argument from incredulity. On the face of it it does happen, but when you understand that very small changes, those of which are benificial being likely to be selected simply due to differential replication, over billions of years (life has been on earth for ~3billion years) it doesn't sound so incredible.

The evidence gleaned from the accepted scientific process is great stuff, but there are questions it leads to that can't be answered by natural selection. The primary one being "how did everything start?".
Are you talking about the theory of abiogenesis (origin of life) or big bang cosmology? Regardless there are very good models for each of these. Neither is as cut and dried as evolution as yet, but they're being worked on.

Natural selection only takes place once we have matter,
Natural selection happens when you have imperfect replicators competing for resources. Abiogenesis get's you the resources. Big Bang cosmology gets you the matter
but if you watch Expelled Dawkins and a few others stumble over the question of where matter came from (Dawkins proposes aliens planted life here, but that begs the questions where did they come from?).
The interview was conducted under false pretences, and dawkins was continuously asked a specific question in order to try to get a specfic response. Dawkins does not endorse "Alien ID". Even if he did, those aliens would have been subject to evolution on their home planet.

The answer can not be in matter, time, or space; and since God is the only theory that is not restricted by matter, time, or space I believe He is the most logical conclusion.
You haven't shown the answer cannot be in time and space. What would it mean to be outside of time and space? Our universe appears to be causally closed, so Yahweh intruding and intervening would break physical laws we have quite a lot of confidence in.
Do you have evidence for this Yahweh?

Havok said...

Many times it seems the definitions of macro and micro evolution are fluid, to fit the argument the person wants to make.
Micro evolution is usually taken to be "adaption available within a species (or kind)".
Macro evolution is usually "Any change in diversity larger than we have seen (also often changing kinds)"
With such a nebulous definition, it is difficult to show that either has occurred. The definitions forming a moving target that is never satisfied regardless of the evidence presented.
The definition of a kind is also left "fuzzy" to avoid validation.

Surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) benificial mutations as well as "speciation" events, the two standard definitions of "micro" and "macro" evolution have been observed. This is observed fact, as is the "descent with modification" which forms the basis of observed evolution.


The theory of evolution, which is simply a model explaining the observed data, allows us to explain and understand these observations, as well as make predictions. Mutation and natural selection provide the modification, with natural selection favouring beneficial mutations over harmfull.

If you're railing against evolution, darwin and dawkins have nothing to do with it - it simply happens in nature, and we have a model which does a damn fine job of helping us to explain and understand it.

If people don't accept the current model, all that needs to be done is to develop another model which:
- Explains the available data as well or better than the current theory.
- Allows predictions of equal or greater accuracy to the current theory.
- Is as simple or simpler than the current theory.

If the ID theorists think that their work is more deserving than the theory of evolution, they're going about things the wrong way. Science isn't decided in the media. It isn't decided on the character of individuals. It's decided by the evidence.

In short, ID proponents should be doing original research and publishing papers, instead of trying to co-opt the scientific community through public relations and complaining about a nonexistent bias against "non-darwinists".
A counter example to claims of bias is Lynn Magulis, who is a very well respected biologist and is not a "darwinist".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Margulis

GR said...

"There is a difference between observable science and historical science. The establishment makes no distinction between the two"

Of course they do! Expelled just wants you to believe they don't. Plus this comment is oversimplifying the issue, buying into the original posters misrepresentation of science as being just a bunch of observations. However, that'll require its own post. ;-)

Greg said...

Hi Patrick,

Please take my comments as constructive criticism. I'm not here to just blast your post, but I do disagree with several points and see you are making some big errors in several statements.

First and foremost, I'm concerned by your gross misunderstanding of how science works -- exemplified by your gravity, or nature of light examples (more on gravity in a moment). Science is certainly not just a set of observations. If a person were just making observations she or he be labeled a "Naturalist", not a "Scientist".

A HUGE part of science that you skipped over is hypothesis testing. Making observations is just step 1 in a long process that continues with forming hypotheses to explain your observations, testing those hypotheses in controlled experiments or by applying them back on natural systems to see if they hold "true" and then having other people test your hypotheses to see if they still hold "true", and if they do, your hypothesis may become a theory or a scientific fact. Etc, etc. There is obviously a LOT more to it than even this, but entire volumes exist on the methods and philosophy of science and I encourage you to do some reading in one of the many, many books available, as I don't intend on writing my own book here. ;-) Not quite anyway.

Back to your gravity example. You name it as your personal favorite. It is quite telling that you pass over 99.99% of scientific knowledge and go straight for something that is on the very edge of our knowledge about this universe. But of course you did, your point was obviously to make scientists look silly.

However, that being said, gravity IS a legitimate question and you're correct, that child does deserve and answer. However, there is in fact research going on concerning "why gravity has this power of attraction". Someday we might know and have that explanation. Maybe someone already does and we're both ignorant of the facts! I do a lot of reading on biology and geology, but not much in physics.

So, yes, for some questions, the scientist will currently have to say, "That's just how it is ", but you have failed to follow through and to also note that most scientists will follow that statement with, "...and we're trying to find out why that's the way it is."

What you also don't state is how YOU would answer this question. I assume you would invoke God. But this is not an explanation either. It is, just as you seem to accuse the scientists of, a just-so story. There's really not much difference (in explanatory power) between saying "That's just the way it is" and "God did it". The "God did it" explanation also suffers from the additional problem of creating even more questions than it answers -- which is one of several reasons why science never invokes God as an explanation. Explanations that create more questions than they answer are usually said to be poor explanations in science.

Another reason for avoiding God in science (and it has NOTHING to do with there not being a God, or atheism, and a naturalistic world view...it has to do with how and why we ask questions....) is that once you do, you stop looking for naturalistic answers -- thus you may miss out on a lot of knowledge about our world. I'm not saying God cannot have a place in your life at all, so don't get me wrong. If invoking God were a good practice that scientists stuck to, we'd still be in the stone age with magical explanations of everything from why volcanos erupt to why we get sick ... or why gravity is the way it is! The whole point is, scientists don't just feign defeat and say, "well, that's just the way it is." And for that same reason, science cannot use God as an explanation. If we do, all lines of inquiry quickly come to a halt!

So let's take gravity again. If we can't explain gravity, and so postulate God as the creator of gravity and go no further, what happens if/when we DO find out why gravity is the way it is (because scientists were doing a good job and never stopped questioning!)? Is God out of a job? It would seem so. Every time God is used to explain anything in the natural world, you are using the God of the gaps argument and that type of God is only as strong as there are numbers of gaps. This isn't a good line of argument for anybody -- religious or not. Now I don't know if you were getting to that or not in your discussions of light and gravity, but in the absence of offering a better explanation on your part, this is al I could conclude.

About your light example again. Well, it's not really a good example, because no scientist with any passing knowledge in physics would explain the "sky is blue" question like you've conjectured. But just assume the Q&A does get down to, "well, why is that the nature of light?" Well, we don't know. But this is not a problem for science. It's a call for investigation! Why? Because science is all about "explanation", not just observation as you tried to assert.


You state: "Ironically, secular science becomes religious whenever it can't explain "why things are the way they are."

In light of the above, I think you'll see why this statement if really off-base.

You say: "Atheistic Darwinists know that they'll get into trouble if they think too much about the ultimate origin of all things."

I'm not sure what you're getting at here, but if by "Darwinists" you're referring to evolutionary biologists, there's a problem. Evolution by Natural Selection only comes into play once life has already started. The Origins of Life issue is for biochemists mostly. And everything before that is for Geologists and Physicists to sort out.

Lastly, and the biggest problem with your statement there, Darwinism has absolutely nothing to do with the "ultimate origin of all things". The only people that seem to pretend that it does seem to be Creationist Christians. Darwinism deals with the evolution of life. Period. Your statement is a textbook example of a straw-man fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man).

I'm not trying to knock you personally for all this. I just think you are not informed very well on what science is and isn't. What Darwinism is and isn't. And how it all works. If you are truly interested I can recommend some good books on these various subjects.

Tim said...

Havok,
1. Could you tell me more about how the scientific process can be used to observe how the past took place? What do you mean by saying that the past can be observed and tested?

2. You mentioned that humans are apes. That is a biased statement based on your evolution paradigm. Why do you say that? You tried to nulify my point about the incompatibility of humans with apes by saying that we are the same. Why can't apes procreate with humans? Observably, humans exist on an entirely different level than any other organism. Our capabilities even in infancy are incredible in comparison to other organisms (meta-cognition). Therefore, I choose to draw the conclusion that humans are a different genetic kind than other warm-blooded, lactating, stand on two leg organisms.

3. I believe that you think micro-evolution is the introduction of new genetic information. How do you know that? Where have you observed that? Or, have you been told that by texts and profs?

4. You saw that macro-evolution exists, resulting in new kinds. When and where? I don't want websites, although they can be helpful. However, websites usually reflect the dogmatic bias of the webmasters. Do you know of any specific cases in observable science? I'm not talking about artists' renderings on a few scattered bones.

5. With all of the species evolving from a single-cell organism, I'll expect a plethora of evidence, as well as current organisms in transition in our science labs, zoos, national forests, lakes, oceans.

arsenchik said...

That Ben's presentation style is droll is not the biggest problem in the movie. It's that the movie is full of falsehoods, and that its making and marketing did not comport to the standards the filmmakers espouse.

Now to your post. Certainly, science cannot completely explain everything and get to the root of every phenomenon. But the predictions and inventions made through the use of scientific methods have considerably improved our living conditions.

There used to be a time when scientific predictions were derived out of the Bible. We call those days the Dark Ages. What the Intelligent Design proponents are trying to do is to dilute the scientific methods with supernatural, to once again give dogma veto over science. One would think that the embarrassment of Galileo's trials would keep people from making that mistake again, but that is not the case.

The reason for why we shouldn't do this is in your post: filling the gaps with God does disservice to both science and religion. When people accept that things are the way they are because God made them that way, it discourages them from exploring these things further. As someone pointed out, this approach to explaining the phenomena of the natural world is a science show-stopper. On the other hand, when someone fills a gap where God was put by a more natural explanation, that makes God just a little bit smaller. For God's sake, lets keep Him out of places where He doesn't belong: like science. Certainly, everyone is free to see the hand of God wherever they find it, but let's not incorporate personal beliefs into our scientific body of knowledge.

Finally, you talk about the comfort that religion brings when dealing "with circumstances that we cannot control." I understand that, but I prefer a different approach. Instead of sticking my head into the sand of faith, instead of saying "This is God's will" and giving up, I try dealing with my problems. I don't have no need for what I find to be false hope and comfort.

sweetswede said...

Hi Havok,
I see you've gone with the kalam cosmological argument. The simply rebuttal is:
1) it is not certain that everything which begins to exist has a cause. Check quantum vacuum fluctiations. Particles springing into existence with no cause.
2) It is not certain that the universe has a beginning, in either the literal sense (some model produce manifold which "smears" time in the early universe, meaning there is no beginning). Even given a model which does begin at t=0, it is not certain that beginning to exist in that manner (beginning to exist with time, not in it) is sufficient reason to say something had a cause.
From the above 2, the argument, while possibly convincing is not shown to be logically certain.
Also, even if the argument was shown to definitely hold, you'd still have to argue for an interventionist god, and then to the god of the bible. Simply showin kalams argument to be true doesn't get you Jesus.


Of course you see I’ve gone with Kalam, I openly said I would :) Anyway, on to the real issue.
I think we must understand absolute nothingness. With quantum vacuum fluctuations you at least have a quantum vacuum. There is still in fact something that the particles spring out of. Whereas an atheist must believe we came from absolutely nothing. If that is the case for the universe, there is no reason I shouldn’t believe a hippo is not going to just pop up behind me right now (which would be more possible then the universe coming uncaused from absolutely nothing, because I’m at least surrounded by matter). Science verifies that this won’t happen, and while we can’t necessarily “prove” this claim, it has never been scientifically falsified. I think it is therefore much more plausible then believing something might come from absolute nothingness.

Now this brings us to the second premise. Either the universe has always existed or it has not. Now William Lane Craig points out that as far back as the ancient Greeks people believed the world to be infinitely old. However, philosophically and scientifically, that doesn’t equate. Philosophically if the universe is infinite we could never arrive at the present time. If you flick a light switch, and just keep flicking it, you’ll never arrive at infinity. Infinity doesn’t apply to matter, time, or space, because infinity is just a concept. To say the universe is infinite leads to an infinite number of events in the past, but as I’ve just pointed out we can’t have an infinite number of events. Aside from being unachievable, an infinite number of past events would be contradictory. Infinity-infinity=0 right? Or if you only take the even-numbers of infinity you have infinity-infinity=infinity, or if you took all but 5 you have infinity-infinity=5.

Scientifically it is fairly certain the universe had a beginning. Every model that attempts to achieve a static, infinite universe has failed. The Big Bang model starts at a definite time. An expanding universe, as most believe we have, also has a singular beginning (or multiple simultaneous singular beginnings); take the < sign. It starts at a single point and moves outward, expands.

I agree simply showing the Kalam argument doesn’t get us Jesus. That’s an entirely different debate that I’d be happy to accommodate (we could e-mail each other and both publish it on our blogs, it would be fun).

That sounds like an argument from incredulity. On the face of it it does happen, but when you understand that very small changes, those of which are benificial being likely to be selected simply due to differential replication, over billions of years (life has been on earth for ~3billion years) it doesn't sound so incredible.

Well, if you have a 0% chance (or close to it) you can span that out over however long you want but the chance is still 0%. The atheist must accept a very small probability, a much greater leap of blind faith then believing that complexity demonstrates a purposeful design.

Are you talking about the theory of abiogenesis (origin of life) or big bang cosmology? Regardless there are very good models for each of these. Neither is as cut and dried as evolution as yet, but they're being worked on.

I’m talking about big bang cosmology. What is the original cause? (I’m not accepting matter as infinite, remember).


Natural selection happens when you have imperfect replicators competing for resources. Abiogenesis get's you the resources. Big Bang cosmology gets you the matter
That’s fine and dandy, but I’m still asking about an original cause.

The interview was conducted under false pretences, and dawkins was continuously asked a specific question in order to try to get a specfic response. Dawkins does not endorse "Alien ID". Even if he did, those aliens would have been subject to evolution on their home planet.

I don’t think the pretenses were false, but that doesn’t change the point anyway. I agree he was asked a specific question, as one claiming to know the facts should be. That doesn’t change the fact that Dawkins admitted he doesn’t know how the universe started in the first place. That is the entire premise of the movie. If Dawkins can have his guess why is it so illogical and so forbidden to propose God? Aliens, or any other guess at the original cause, should be debated based on what we know. Why is it people foam at the mouth (I’m not referring to you, you’re very respectful) when someone like me says “I think God started it all”?

You haven't shown the answer cannot be in time and space. What would it mean to be outside of time and space? Our universe appears to be causally closed, so Yahweh intruding and intervening would break physical laws we have quite a lot of confidence in.
Do you have evidence for this Yahweh?


Well the question of how time and space came into existence is based on the premise time and space were not in existence at some point (as I argued above). What you say about God assumes He is physical, which would send my entire theory down the drain. Do I have evidence for Yahweh (for those not acquainted with Judaism or Christianity it’s the Jewish name for God). Well I think so, between having witnessed people be healed; the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the exquisite fine-tuning of the universe that you mentioned (physical laws we have a lot of confidence in, that I don’t believe could have come from absolutely nothing), the various evidences for the Bible (once again, another debate I’d be happy to engage in), and various arguments that necessitate and prove God to be at least as likely (if not more likely) then nothing, I think I do.

Havok said...

Tim,
1. Could you tell me more about how the scientific process can be used to observe how the past took place? What do you mean by saying that the past can be observed and tested?
Various dating methods are used to find out how old things are.
Models are formulated to explain data. Predictions are made using the models. More data is gathered (fossils, geological data, stellar data etc depending on what is being studied).
The predictions are checked against the new data. If the new data and the model cannot be reconciled, the model is modified or a new model is formulated.
Rinse repeat.

2. You mentioned that humans are apes. That is a biased statement based on your evolution paradigm. Why do you say that?
Simple. Because humans - homo sapiens are apes. We're also primates. It's the zoological classification in which we sit.

You tried to nulify my point about the incompatibility of humans with apes by saying that we are the same. Why can't apes procreate with humans?
Why can't Chimps procreate with Gorillas? They're also both apes.
Observably, humans exist on an entirely different level than any other organism. Our capabilities even in infancy are incredible in comparison to other organisms (meta-cognition).
It may be of a different quantity, but there is no evidence that it is of a different quality. Evidence suggests other animals display rudimentary morality. Chimps and gorilla's can be taught some sign language. I see no difference in quality, just quantity.

Therefore, I choose to draw the conclusion that humans are a different genetic kind than other warm-blooded, lactating, stand on two leg organisms.
The evidence suggests that the common ancestor of chimps and humans was ~7 million years ago. Unless you show some evidence that something happened during that 7 million years which caused homo sapiens to "exist on an entirely different level than any other organism" your conclusion is unsupports.

3. I believe that you think micro-evolution is the introduction of new genetic information. How do you know that? Where have you observed that? Or, have you been told that by texts and profs?
There is no specific process which differentiates between "micro" and "macro" evolution. It's all evolution. "macro" evolution is usually used to denote speciation, whether through an accumulation of mutations over time, or through a specific event, such as occured with the grass I linked earlier.
Same process, which just classify the outcome differently in some cases.

4. You saw that macro-evolution exists, resulting in new kinds. When and where? I don't want websites, although they can be helpful. However, websites usually reflect the dogmatic bias of the webmasters. Do you know of any specific cases in observable science? I'm not talking about artists' renderings on a few scattered bones.
You use the word "kind". What do you mean by it.
If you want speciation, check the grass I mentioned above.
Websites can reflect bias. The scientific method is good at removing this bias however, or at least reducing it. Peer review allows other scientists to find fault with the research.

5. With all of the species evolving from a single-cell organism, I'll expect a plethora of evidence, as well as current organisms in transition in our science labs, zoos, national forests, lakes, oceans.
There is a plethora of fossil evidence. It's a branching tree which continues to get smaller the further back you go.
The myth of the transitional form is just that, a myth. Everything is transitional, even you and I. We use the term "transitional" for species which display features which demonstrate a "transition", but that doesn't mean that it is a "dog/cat" hybrid. That doesn't happen. You get new species, you don't get one species turning into another. Have a look at tiktaalik for a nice example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik

Havok said...

sweetswede
Take a look at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/davies.html for a rebuttal to Lane Craig's Kalam argument.
It makes the points I was going to myself, but in a much better fashion.

I don’t think the pretenses were false,
The contacted him under the name of a completely different movie called "Crossroads" which was to be about the intersection of science and religion. As they'd already bought the "expelledthemovie.com" domain name, and expelled is not about the intersection of science and religion, the whole thing does seem a little fishy.

I agree he was asked a specific question, as one claiming to know the facts should be.
The question was something like "What is the most favourable scenario for intelligent design?".
That doesn’t change the fact that Dawkins admitted he doesn’t know how the universe started in the first place.
Dawkings is a biologist, not a physicist. He's right too, how the universe started it isn't a very settled matter in physics. String theory is one possible contender to explain it. There are others.

That is the entire premise of the movie. If Dawkins can have his guess why is it so illogical and so forbidden to propose God? Aliens, or any other guess at the original cause, should be debated based on what we know. Why is it people foam at the mouth (I’m not referring to you, you’re very respectful) when someone like me says “I think God started it all”?
For one thing, the scientific argument has been and gone, and not much has changed - there is no evidence for the handywork of any intelligence in the evolution of species. The theory of evolution is the best we've got.
People can and do dissent all the time. The problem is the ID crowd are complaining in public about something that hasn't happende becase they don't have the evidence and research to back up their position.
Saying "God did it" explains everything, and therefore explains nothing.
Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Margulis for someone who is not a darwinist, but is very highly respected. She's respected because she did the work, not because she complained about bias.

Yahweh (for those not acquainted with Judaism or Christianity it’s the Jewish name for God).
To be fair it's the jewish name for the anglo "Jehovah". "God" is a generic term, in the same that the "allah" (arabic for "god") is. Both (all three) gods are named Yahweh (or Jehovah).

Well I think so, between having witnessed people be healed;
Healing happens across the board, not just to christians. Sathya Sai Baba even claims to have raised the dead - with witnesses.
the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Which has scant evidence to support it.
the exquisite fine-tuning of the universe that you mentioned (physical laws we have a lot of confidence in, that I don’t believe could have come from absolutely nothing),
It's an open question as to how "fine tuned" the laws are. We simply don't know, but scientists are working on it. Perhaps a universe could not be any other way.
the various evidences for the Bible (once again, another debate I’d be happy to engage in),
And the evidence against the bible? Happy to debate this one too.
and various arguments that necessitate and prove God to be at least as likely (if not more likely) then nothing, I think I do.
A complex supernatural being which is uncaused and eternal has to be less likely than just about anything.

I thought this thread was about expelled and the "falsity" of evolution :-)

Not sure how you'd like to exchange email addresses.

Havok said...

Tim,
1. Could you tell me more about how the scientific process can be used to observe how the past took place? What do you mean by saying that the past can be observed and tested?
Just wanted to make a further comment on this point. By trying to undermine the scientific study of history, you also remove any leg you have to stand on as regards the bible.
Either investigation into the past is valid (and genesis becomes a myth due to geology, biology, cosmology etc) or it is invalid (and the bible becomes a book of stories of whose origin we can't know). I'm afraid it's lose lose.
Simply saying "You can't study the past with science" or "no one was there 3billion years ago, so you don't know life started then" does not automatically give you "Genesis is correct". You'd need to show the hypothesis valid with positive evidence.
As all of the evidence gathered thus far does not lead to the conclusion that genesis is factual you'd have a very long road ahead of you.

GregR said...

"Could you tell me more about how the scientific process can be used to observe how the past took place?"

If I may step in... ;-)

Science can most definitely be used to study the past. Take plate tectonics for example. We can't see the continents move within our lifetime or even within many generations (similar to many macroevolutionary events). Yet, we know they do by studying the structures and clues that their movements have left behind. You can make hypotheses about what caused these structures to form. You can then test these hypotheses by postulating that these same process would have also caused "x" to happen. Then you go check, and sure enough, "x" did in fact happen. Then you check this hundreds of times over and every time your predictions about what you will find are correct. Then thousands of other scientists also "test" these hypotheses and confirm their validity. This most likely means that your hypothesis was correct.

Now, since you can't directly measure these large geologic events (since they take so long) within your life time, you decide to check to see if the smaller measurable changes in the movements of the earth's plates, which you can measure, can be found -- yet another test of your hypothesis. Sure enough, we detect small movements in the earths plates, and more evidence comes in to explain how all these things happen, erosion, earthquakes, measurable movements of molten rock beneath the earths crust. You even notice that the shapes at the edges of the continents "look" like they fit together. Not to mention, some previously unexplainable phenomena now make sense in the light of this new theory.

The data piles in and everything confirms that plate tectonics it true. An historical science! Geology.

Now look at evolution. The exact same type of hypotheses, tests, and validations have been used. It explains the previously unexplainable. Evolution and Plate Tectonics (and many other fields within Geology) use the same scientific methods. Why would a person deny one and accept the other? There is no logical justification for doing so. Denying one is a purely emotional response - though a somewhat understandable one in many cases.

Both plate tectonics and evolution are scientific theories that have been confirmed time and time again. They have been validated though the use historical data testing and the testing of events happening right now.

If nothing historical is really a science, nor actually provable, much of geology would be thrown out the window. However, this is not the case.

GR said...

5. With all of the species evolving from a single-cell organism, I'll expect a plethora of evidence, as well as current organisms in transition in our science labs, zoos, national forests, lakes, oceans.

I agree with the previous comment on transitional forms. It is just a linguistic label to make it possible to talk about these things. Everything is potentially "in transition".

However, a good example of something in transition, speciation, and something that also touches on a previous question about interbreeding... Ring Speices. Here's some basic info from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species

Ring species are yet another excellent example of evolution in action and also help to exemplify that, like "transitional form", our word "species" is just a linguistic construct invented so that we can attempt to have a meaningful conversation about these things. Humans love to categorize -- in part because it helps us communicate more effectively.

In addition, the demand for transitional fossils is a never-ending silly argument. Either someone demands that some oddball hybrid be shown to them, something that evolution wouldn't predict in the first place, or when someone is shown a transitional fossil they just say, that's not a transition, it's just a "such and such". Which always works like this:

You have fossil A and fossil E. A creationist demands that you show them a transitional fossil between the two. So you show them fossil C. Then creationist claims that this is just a "C" and now demands to see TWO transitional fossils, one between A and C and another between C and E. So you show them fossil B and fossil D. The creationist claims that these aren't transitional, these are just a "B" and a "D". On and on it goes into ad absurdium. Neither side can win this type of ridiculous line of questioning because the questions and demands are too vague and words undefined. I mean seriously, using this line of argument, every time the scientist presents a transitional form he's created even more gaps! I think both sides can see that this is actually quit absurd.

But I guess we're getting off topic... This thread was about the Expelled movie. ;-)

GR said...

@sweetswede,

"You commented: That doesn’t change the fact that Dawkins admitted he doesn’t know how the universe started in the first place. That is the entire premise of the movie. If Dawkins can have his guess why is it so illogical and so forbidden to propose God? Aliens, or any other guess at the original cause, should be debated based on what we know. Why is it people foam at the mouth (I’m not referring to you, you’re very respectful) when someone like me says “I think God started it all”

I don't think its a problem for any scientist to admit that they don't know something, especially for things like the origins of the universe. If you (well, not you specifically) were just positing that God started the universe and that's it, that's fine as long as it's kept to the realm of unverified belief. Because when it gets down to it, we just don't know. We don't even know if there was a beginning. Physics gets pretty weird (at least relative to our everyday "human" lives).

Plus, simply stating that God "started" it would make one a Deist. What I believe most ID'ers are claiming is that since the beginning, God has put his hands in to nature to tinker around (metaphorically speaking), make patches and push things in this or that direction. The typical examples are the flagellum, the eye, etc. that they see as too complicated to be evolved without some sort of designer at the helm.

If Dawkins is guessing at the first-cause in the film that's fine as well, and I'd assume he'd be at least attempting to use what available evidence there is. And I'm sure he'd admit that when it comes down to it, he just doesn't know either. Positing that it was God is fine too. But there are logical, objective ways to decide upon what is good and bad evidence and there is only one right answer.

If Dawkins commented something about aliens in the movie, he was obviously being somewhat sarcastic, but also trying to make a point.

Positing God is fine...but as I mentioned in a comment above, what if science then explains where you previously used God as the explanation? This has happened many times in the history of science-religion already. What if physicists somehow discover that the universe seems to have had no beginning? All the while ID'ers have been saying that God started it, and even use the beginning as "proof" for His existence. What happens then to this idea of God, when we find that there wasn't an exact beginning? It is possible. And it's not a good scenario for the religious. I think it's best to say the only thing we currently can say... "we don't know". This doesn't mean there isn't a god out there though. It just means that we don't know what started the physical universe or if it even had a "beginning" in our human conception of the term.

To me Intelligent Design is just a repackaged "God of the gaps" argument. God is used to explain things that our "current" science cannot -- and even, oddly, a few things that our current science CAN explain (the evolution of blood clotting, for example). But as I keep saying, this is not a very good position for ID'ers to put themselves in, because some of these things (or even all) may some day BE explained by science.

sweetswede said...

Havok,
Take a look at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/davies.html for a rebuttal to Lane Craig's Kalam argument.
It makes the points I was going to myself, but in a much better fashion.

I've not had time to read it at length, but what I saw simply suggested there are possible alternatives to Kalam; it didn't quite refute Kalam. At any rate Craig defends Kalam at great length at his own website, www.reasonablefaith.org

The contacted him under the name of a completely different movie called "Crossroads" which was to be about the intersection of science and religion. As they'd already bought the "expelledthemovie.com" domain name, and expelled is not about the intersection of science and religion, the whole thing does seem a little fishy.
Well, even if their moral behavior in making the movie was questionable (I'll let them defend their own actions) I still think it raised questions that need to be discussed.

Dawkings is a biologist, not a physicist. He's right too, how the universe started it isn't a very settled matter in physics. String theory is one possible contender to explain it. There are others.
Well we can agree that the issue is open to debate then ;) At any rate we have one of three scenarios, where matter is eternal, where something came from absolute nothingness, or there is a divine being. It is this scenario that Kalam attempts to address.

For one thing, the scientific argument has been and gone, and not much has changed - there is no evidence for the handywork of any intelligence in the evolution of species. The theory of evolution is the best we've got.
People can and do dissent all the time. The problem is the ID crowd are complaining in public about something that hasn't happende becase they don't have the evidence and research to back up their position.
Saying "God did it" explains everything, and therefore explains nothing.
Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Margulis for someone who is not a darwinist, but is very highly respected. She's respected because she did the work, not because she complained about bias.

I'll grant those in the ID community do complain quite a bit. I also agree that ID proponents must be willing to accept the "burden of proof" so to speak, and whining is not the way to do that.

To be fair it's the jewish name for the anglo "Jehovah". "God" is a generic term, in the same that the "allah" (arabic for "god") is. Both (all three) gods are named Yahweh (or Jehovah).
Yes that's true. Also, the Jews typically didn't use Yahweh, as they believed mis-pronouncing it was blasphemy, so they typically used "Ha-Shem" in common speech.

Healing happens across the board, not just to christians. Sathya Sai Baba even claims to have raised the dead - with witnesses.
Well then we agree God can heal anybody :) (actually, from a theological perspective we must bear in mind the fact that satan is allowed some supernatural ability as well).

Which has scant evidence to support it.
I disagree, but I think we'll address that in our future debate.

It's an open question as to how "fine tuned" the laws are. We simply don't know, but scientists are working on it. Perhaps a universe could not be any other way.
Well, it's not that open, physics are pretty specific.

And the evidence against the bible? Happy to debate this one too.
I look forward to it.

A complex supernatural being which is uncaused and eternal has to be less likely than just about anything.
That's debatable, lol

I thought this thread was about expelled and the "falsity" of evolution :-)

Not sure how you'd like to exchange email addresses.

ID doesn't need evolution to be false, I think that might be one of the mis-understandings. I don't think anybody is stalking me, so you can e-mail me at celticpiper07@verizon.net at your convenience we can discuss orchestrating this debate.

Tim said...

Havok:
At this point, I'm not trying to prove the accuracy of the Bible. My strategy is to challenge the foundation of evolution.

You said, "The evidence suggests that the common ancestor of chimps and humans was ~7 million years ago." What is that evidence? Is is an artist rendition of a few bones that were found? Every one of the would-be transitional beings have been proven to be false, as far as I know. How do you know it was 7 million years ago? (C-14 dating is based on an assumption of millions of years and that we achieved equilibrium millions of years ago.)

sweetswede said...

I realize that God has been used to explain some things that, in my opinion, He probably didn't want to be used for (e.g.-if a tree falls did God push it or was it lightning, wind, etc... I think God can push a tree over, but most of the time I'd say it's natural).

However, the God of gaps argument isn't a very good one. Every theory is an attempt to explain something. I could say people use evolution to explain things that we don't understand any better. Just because in the past people over-extended God as an explanation doesn't diminish Him.

When it comes down to it, there either is a God or there is not, there is no in between and no amount of science will make it any less clear cut. I agree there is a difference between good evidence and bad evidence and I think that's why we should be debating this.

As far as science potentially eliminating the necessity of the supernatural I'm not too worried. With such things as the Resurrection of Christ (hopefully Havok and I can address this in an upcoming debate), and the overwhelming evidence saying our universe does have a cause, and is not infinite there are things that have no natural explanation and will not have a natural explanation. Even if everything did have a natural explanation (and I think the more we've discovered the more we've found some things do not) that still could not eliminate the possibility of God. There are plenty of arguments for God aside from the cosmological/scientific ones.

I'm sorry if I've bored anyone amidst all this philosophical ranting :)

tim said...

Greg R,
Thanks for stepping in. You make a great point about plate techtonics. Have you considered that plate techtonics as it is now at 1 cm per year (vague memory from college) may not have always been at that rate? Interestingly, if the Bible is correct and huge resevoirs of water burst through the earth's crust, then plate techtonics may have moved at meters per second.

"Evolution is a theory that has been proved time and time again." It depends on what you call proof. C14 dating necessitates 30,000 years after origination to be an indicator of elapsed time. If God created the earth 6000 years ago, we haven't hit equilibrium yet. Yeah - I know - read the article over at infidels.com. I did and I wasn't convinced at all.

What I see is dating methods based on assumptions of millions of years used to date at millions of years. I see artist's renderings of transitional forms that don't exist in the fossil record.

Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe it? Is it because you were taught it or because you investigated it yourself? Start with the various dating methods. Do they necessitate assumptions to validate those same assumptions?

tim said...

GR,
I looked at the ring species. The example given is that different types of gulls can breed. Birds mating is significantly different than wolf-type animals becoming whales and land animals developing hollow bones and flight-designed feathers and breeding into birds. Or, a single-celled organism developing a special mitosis allowing it to become multi-celled, with its offspring eventually adding the genetic language into its DNA for tissues, organs and highly complex systems.

Have you ever thought of it that way?

On a side note, did you see that frilled shark youtube video from Japan? Intersting that a shark from 80 million years in the past has surviving offspring which have not evolved into another species or died out.

tim said...

Havok,
I think that it is convenient that we are all transitioning, therefore eliminating the need for fossilized transitional creatures.
I say - come on man! That's not proof. I see a bunch of organisms that function in environments that they were designed to function in.

Also, the terms you are using to make humans the same type as apes are words that are human-originated vocabulary.

There are fish today that spend some time on land and we wouldn't say that they are evolving into land animals. What makes the Tiktaalik different? Why would fish that the Tiktaalik supposedly evolved from still be in existance today? Does the Tiktaalik have a large enough pelvic bone to sustain walking on all fours? No. I think that it takes belief in evolution to take belief that the Tiktaalik eventually added DNA info to have offspring that had large enough pelvic bones to sustain walking on land.

It boils down to this. I believe that God wrote down the truth of history in the Bible. I believe that the Bible is true and that those truths are manifested in nature. God said that a flood happened - I see it all over the planet. Evolutionists say that over millions of years localized floods happen. So, they look and find evidence that the planet was covered with water. They see millions. I see thousands. I believe God designed everything and when I look at the universe, I see incredible genius in the design. You look and see incredible genius resulting from evolution. Incredible genius from God - the ultimate genius. Or, incredible genius from nothing.

I'm going to sign off of this discussion because I'm in a pretty busy week. Thanks for the enjoyable discussion, especially GR and Havok. You two are interesting to talk with. You can have the last word! I'll get it in my inbox. cheers!

Havok said...

sweetswede,
I've not had time to read it at length, but what I saw simply suggested there are possible alternatives to Kalam; it didn't quite refute Kalam.
It basically said that the premises could not reasonably be taken to be true. Hence the argument cannot be reasonable taken to be true.
At any rate Craig defends Kalam at great length at his own website, www.reasonablefaith.org
I'm sure to him his defense is reasonable.

Well, even if their moral behavior in making the movie was questionable (I'll let them defend their own actions) I still think it raised questions that need to be discussed.
Which are what? That making a movie full of falshoods can only drive your agenda if those falsehoods are not discovered?

Well we can agree that the issue is open to debate then ;) At any rate we have one of three scenarios, where matter is eternal, where something came from absolute nothingness, or there is a divine being. It is this scenario that Kalam attempts to address.
It is open to debate. How is debate concerning the origin of the universe realted to the premise of the move?

Yes that's true. Also, the Jews typically didn't use Yahweh, as they believed mis-pronouncing it was blasphemy, so they typically used "Ha-Shem" in common speech.
I think it was also supposed to have "mystical" powers.

Well then we agree God can heal anybody :) (actually, from a theological perspective we must bear in mind the fact that satan is allowed some supernatural ability as well).
That would be a christian theological perspective (I suppose we could squeeze muslims in as well).

Well, it's not that open, physics are pretty specific.
The standard model is flawed, we know that. We don't know if a universe could form with different values. We also don't know that changing the values would not result in complexity of some form. Ie. We don't know that the apparent fine tuning of the universe actually is.

ID doesn't need evolution to be false,
Then why does the sum total of ID seem to be picking "holes" in evolution?
Where are the theories, with studies, tests, observations etc?
I think that might be one of the mis-understandings. I don't think anybody is stalking me, so you can e-mail me at celticpiper07@verizon.net at your convenience we can discuss orchestrating this debate.
I'll get right on it.

Havok said...

Tim,

What is that evidence? Is is an artist rendition of a few bones that were found?
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/

Every one of the would-be transitional beings have been proven to be false, as far as I know.
I think you'll be surprised then.

How do you know it was 7 million years ago? (C-14 dating is based on an assumption of millions of years and that we achieved equilibrium millions of years ago.)
Dating, rate of genetic change and similarity of DNA
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10536414/

Havok said...

Sweetswede,
When it comes down to it, there either is a God or there is not, there is no in between and no amount of science will make it any less clear cut.
The concept of the possibility of a god, perhaps. One who has revealed itself in some manner is directly amenable to scientific investigation however.

I agree there is a difference between good evidence and bad evidence and I think that's why we should be debating this.
Glad we agree.

As far as science potentially eliminating the necessity of the supernatural I'm not too worried.
You've solved the problem of interaction?
If not, why is the supernatural (interventionist god variety, not the unknown "first cause" variety) reasonable?

With such things as the Resurrection of Christ (hopefully Havok and I can address this in an upcoming debate),
I hate to be negative, but you think it wil get addressed. I can play it out for you now. You'll put forward the canonical gospels as evidence, I'll say they're virtually anonymous hearsay and need further coroberation, preferably from sources from the time of the supposed life of Jesus. I'm happy to argue it, mind you, but I don't actually see it getting anywhere.

and the overwhelming evidence saying our universe does have a cause, and is not infinite there are things that have no natural explanation and will not have a natural explanation.
Cause does not imply personal interventionist agency. Even if a supernatural first cause was "found", the principle of parsimony would keep it as a deistic entity.

Even if everything did have a natural explanation (and I think the more we've discovered the more we've found some things do not)
If you want to postulate supernatural agency, you'll have to find a solution to the problem of interaction, as I mentioned above.
What doesn't have a natural explanation in your mind?
Note that singularities may be a problem with the theory and not actually exist and we know the standard model has problems. Neuroscience is also making good progress on consciousness.

that still could not eliminate the possibility of God. There are plenty of arguments for God aside from the cosmological/scientific ones.
It would eliminite the possibility of Yahweh, however. I suspect the concept of "God" would simply take a further step into the metaphorical, becoming less and less "real".

Havok said...

tim,
Interestingly, if the Bible is correct and huge resevoirs of water burst through the earth's crust, then plate techtonics may have moved at meters per second.
You have evidence that these huge reservoirs burst forth, right?
You understand how ludicrous that is, right? Apart from the complete lack of empirical evidence for a global flood, the idea of an entire continent moving that rapidly is silly. It would crumble due to the stresses of such fast motion.

As regards the flood, as I see it you've got three options:
1. Local flood which became myth over time. You could cay Yahweh did this and the evidence would support the flood happening.
2. Global flood never happened. This is what the evidence supports.
3. Yahweh caused the flood to happen, killing some 99% of the human population and untold animals and plants, and then "miraculously" made things look like it never happened.

It depends on what you call proof. C14 dating necessitates 30,000 years after origination to be an indicator of elapsed time. If God created the earth 6000 years ago, we haven't hit equilibrium yet. Yeah - I know - read the article over at infidels.com. I did and I wasn't convinced at all.
C14 dating is not particularly relevant to evolution. Do you have a problem with evolution causing speciation, or the concept of common decent? Both are well supported by the evidence.

What I see is dating methods based on assumptions of millions of years used to date at millions of years. I see artist's renderings of transitional forms that don't exist in the fossil record.
The various dating methods have different ranges of validity. They're based upon atomic theory, and they're calibrated with each other. Lake Seigetsu (sp?) has a varve history which goes back 40,000 years. This dating method is a simple "count the layers" method much like tree rings.

Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe it? Is it because you were taught it or because you investigated it yourself? Start with the various dating methods. Do they necessitate assumptions to validate those same assumptions?
I tend to go with the scientific consensus because there is no possibility to test all of scientific knowledge from first principles. I investigate when there appears to be some controversy. Generally science is not circular, and due to the cut throat nature of academia and the process of peer review, faulty reasoning and results tends to be corrected.

Havok said...

tim,
I looked at the ring species. The example given is that different types of gulls can breed. Birds mating is significantly different than wolf-type animals becoming whales and land animals developing hollow bones and flight-designed feathers and breeding into birds. Or, a single-celled organism developing a special mitosis allowing it to become multi-celled, with its offspring eventually adding the genetic language into its DNA for tissues, organs and highly complex systems.
Ring species show that it is possible for closely related animals to become unable to breed - ie speciation. Everything else you mention can be covered by simple descent with modification.

Havok said...

tim,
I think that it is convenient that we are all transitioning, therefore eliminating the need for fossilized transitional creatures. I say - come on man! That's not proof. I see a bunch of organisms that function in environments that they were designed to function in.
Why convienient? What do you want, some cat/dog hybrid - evolution doesn't happen like that. Evolution has no purpose, no agency. What you see are the organisms whose ancestors were well enough adapted to their enviornment to survive to reproduce.

Also, the terms you are using to make humans the same type as apes are words that are human-originated vocabulary.
You were the one who took offence.

There are fish today that spend some time on land and we wouldn't say that they are evolving into land animals. What makes the Tiktaalik different?
From wiki:
"Tiktaalik appears to be a transitional form between fish and amphibian. Unlike many previous, more fishlike transitional fossils, Tiktaalik's 'fins' have basic wrist bones and simple fingers, showing that they were weight bearing. Close examination of the joints show that although they probably were not used to walk, they were more than likely used to prop up the creature’s body, push up fashion.[5] The bones of the fore fins show large muscle facets, suggesting that the fin was both muscular and had the ability to flex like a wrist joint. These wrist-like features were speculated to evolve, if not from land excursions, then as a useful adaptation to anchor the creature to the bottom in fast moving current.[6][7]

A more robust ribcage is also a feature of Tiktaalik, which would have been very helpful in supporting the animal’s body if it did indeed venture from the water. Tiktaalik also lacked a characteristic that most fishes have - bony plates in the gill area that restrict lateral head movement. This means Tiktaalik is currently the earliest fish with a neck, which would give it more freedom in hunting prey either on land or in the shallows.[8]

Also notable are the spiracles on the top of the head, which suggest the creature had primitive lungs as well as gills. This would have been useful in shallow water, where higher water temperature would lower oxygen content. This development may have led to the evolution of a more robust ribcage, a key evolutionary trait of land living creatures.[2]"

Why would fish that the Tiktaalik supposedly evolved from still be in existance today?
That's inane. It's the same silly argument as "If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys".

Does the Tiktaalik have a large enough pelvic bone to sustain walking on all fours? No. I think that it takes belief in evolution to take belief that the Tiktaalik eventually added DNA info to have offspring that had large enough pelvic bones to sustain walking on land.
So, you can't see ANY possible way successive refinement through gradual adaption (ie. evolution) could possibly have done that? You have no problem with everything just magically appearing somehow? How did Yahweh assemble the animals plants and man from land and dust?

It boils down to this. I believe that God wrote down the truth of history in the Bible. I believe that the Bible is true and that those truths are manifested in nature.
Which is both historically and scientifically incorrect.

God said that a flood happened - I see it all over the planet.
What evidence are you "seeing"?

Evolutionists say that over millions of years localized floods happen.
Why say "evolutionists"? Why not say scientific evidence? Or simply science?

So, they look and find evidence that the planet was covered with water.
YEC's and flood hypothesis people read the bible, and then try to find evidence to support it.
Scientists look at the gathered evidence, and then theorise about what happened. They find that the evidence does not support a global flood.

They see millions. I see thousands.
They have evidence for billions (13.7 for the universe, 4.5 for the earth).
You have what?

I believe God designed everything and when I look at the universe, I see incredible genius in the design. You look and see incredible genius resulting from evolution. Incredible genius from God - the ultimate genius. Or, incredible genius from nothing.
I don't see incredible genius. Why do we have blind spots? Why are our spines (lower back in particular) much better at supporting our bodies on all fours?
I do however see a very simple process (descent with modification) resulting in complexity.

I'm going to sign off of this discussion because I'm in a pretty busy week. Thanks for the enjoyable discussion, especially GR and Havok. You two are interesting to talk with. You can have the last word! I'll get it in my inbox. cheers!
Pleasure!

GregR said...

@sweetswede ...

However, the God of gaps argument isn't a very good one.

We're in agreement then. ;-)

I could say people use evolution to explain things that we don't understand any better. Just because in the past people over-extended God as an explanation doesn't diminish Him.

It also could be that evolution is the correct explanation and that we do in fact understand it fairly well. However, this doesn't mean that we fully understand everything about it ... we don't. But debate about certain aspects of evolution, etc, doesn't diminish the whole theory either. I agree that extending our scientific knowledge about the world does not have to diminish anyones conception of god. A problem only comes about when 1.) people use the gaps in our "current" knowledge to see the hand of God, and 2.) people use God as an explanation and consequently stop any further investigation. I think ID supports are at great risk of abusing both these points.





When it comes down to it, there either is a God or there is not, there is no in between and no amount of science will make it any less clear cut.

We agree again. ;-) I don't believe science has anything to say about God at all. Science is an attempt to objectively study and discover the physical world. If God is outside that physical world, then there's nothing to study -- scientifically speaking. However, because of this, one cannot use God as explanations in science. And this goes for Intelligent Design too. I see no problem in seeing God in nature, even as the designer, etc. But when we discover what I would even call the "beauty" of evolution, then we have to accept that this is how things have happened (like plate tectonics). I personal find evolution fascinating because it actually explains so much, and yet the details are so intricate and complex. Personally I think evolution is much more wondrous and creative an idea than a "poof! and creatures, one by one, appear out of nowhere, wiping off the dust after being instantaneously created from nothing". Of course, that's not "why" I accept it as fact...that's just a little bonus. ;-)

Think about it this way .... if God were a pool player (I know its a bit silly, but bare with me), what would you find more exciting in a game:
1.) God picks up the cue and goes around shooting the balls in one at a time? Or...
2.) God taking one single well thought out and expertly planned shot towards a single ball, which connects each ball with each other, a branching effect if you will, causing a cascading effect across the table, with all balls slipping into one of the pockets.

The former (1), to me, is a bit like creationism. The later is like evolution -- and I'd say the later leaves me more awe inspired. God or no God, it doesn't make a difference. It's still amazing, complex and wonderful. It seems to me, seeing God in a process like that (2) would be quite inspiring. Especially if we discover this process, evolution, using the curiosity and intellect that He gave us.


there are things that have no natural explanation and will not have a natural explanation.

I think that's a very dangerous assumption to make. For one, how do you know this? I don't believe there is any way to know that there are some things that will not have a natural explanation, because we don't know what our future discoveries will be. To attempt to say with some certainty that there are some things that have no natural explanation is to say that you can predict the future.

The other problem is that (and I touched on this before) if one were to even go with the idea, for the sake of argument, that some things will not have a natural explanation, how do you even know which ones? There's no way to know. Do you just pick and chose randomly? Do you choose ones that seem more amazing to you personally? You can't say that, "well if our current science doesn't explain it, then it must not have a natural explanation", because, as I said, there's no way to know if it may be explained at a later time as our knowledge about the world increases.

This is exactly why science MUST assume everything has a natural explanation (and so far that's proving to be a VERY good method), because if it did not, many lines of inquiry would cease and we'd be potentially left very ignorant about many aspects of our universe.


Even if everything did have a natural explanation (and I think the more we've discovered the more we've found some things do not) that still could not eliminate the possibility of God. There are plenty of arguments for God aside from the cosmological/scientific ones.

I think quite the opposite ... the more we've learned about the world, the more we've learn that everything does "play" by the laws of nature and can and most likely will have a very natural explanation. However, I do agree with you that finding natural explanations does not eliminate the possibility of God. As I said before, science studies our physical world and has absolutely nothing to say about God -- apart from the fact that one might "see" God in the beauty of the natural world -- well, the parts we humans haven't messed up anyway. ;-)

And yes, there are many other arguments for the existence of God. But I think the God of the Gaps and the First Cause arguments are useless and fail on logical grounds, because they make the false assumption that we know all there is to know about our universe.

Also, from my understanding, when physicists discuss the "origins" of our universe, I don't believe they are also implying that it sprang into existence out of nothing (in a literal sense), and thus, must have been created. Our universe in its present form, yes, had a beginning. If it started, as I've heard discussed, with this extraordinarily dense singularity of energy and matter that then exploded into being, that just begs the question of where this singularity came from. Did that always exist? If not, where did it come from? For these questions we will get no further in positing that "god did it", "he started it". Because again, we don't know that someday we will discover a natural explanation.

This is why I think ID is a completely empty line of inquiry. It explains nothing, creates more questions than it answers (questions that are unanswerable by science - therefore don't belong in science), and most importantly, it leads to lines of inquiry halting in their tracks due to the "god did it" mentality. This is also why ID doesn't belong in science class rooms. It's not science. Though I haven't seen the movie (I will, I promise), movies (or books) like Expelled that complain about academic freedom and bias against ID and creationism actually have it all wrong. Or rather, I suppose you can say they have it all right, for the wrong reasons. There is bias against letting ID into science, of course, because its not science. If you're a scientist and someone tries to force you to do something that is not science, what would you do? You'd probably avoid it too (I hope). There is a place for believing in God, in seeing God in nature, or experiencing God in whatever manner you choose -- but He doesn't belong in the science classroom, nor in Scientific journals, or scientific theories, because these things deal with (by its very definition) natural explanations of the natural world. And as I've mentioned at length, there are so many rational, methodological and philosophical problems with trying to introduce God into science that we have justifiably come to the conclusion to leave him out (in a direct sense). That's not an attack on God, its just a function of what is required for science to work and thus, simply a definition of what science is: natural explanations of the natural world.

GR said...

@tim...

Have you considered that plate tectonics as it is now at 1 cm per year (vague memory from college) may not have always been at that rate?

Certainly, and that was probably one of the first questions scientists investigated when plate tectonics was first introduced as an idea -- the whole point of science is to uncover and answer questions, not ignore them. (I say this because I've heard some ID'ers claim that scientists ignore questions that trouble them. This is actually rather absurd, as most scientists probably got into science in the first place in part or in whole because they were so inquisitive by nature. Scientists love a puzzle!)

The rate of the movements of plates does vary a bit of course, though you do often hear a single average quoted for the sake of discussion. I believe all current rates are faster than 1cm/year, but I'd have to go look it up to be sure too. Geologists aren't so dim witted as to automatically conclude that the current rates measured for the movement of plates has always been constant. They're scientists. They ask questions, they form hypothesis, they test.

Anyone who tries to tell you that scientists make all sorts of assumptions without testing those assumptions are trying to fool or mislead you. For example, the whole purpose of peer review in science publications is to catch other scientists when they (usually mistakingly or out of incomplete knowledge) make an unjustifiable assumption. To highlight my point -- I have a friend who's a Paleontology prof at a University and an occasional peer reviewer for a Geology journal and he's turned down many papers for publication because he felt they overlooked things in their research, made faulty assumptions, or were just downright sloppy, etc. Scientists are hard on each other!

Or, I have another friend who did his masters in Archaeology. While writing his thesis, his professor drove him crazy by constantly sending him back to collect more data, do more research because he had made an unjustifiable assumption, missed something, etc, etc. In the end, his thesis ended up being more like a Ph.D. thesis than a masters thesis, but it was solid. Again, as a group, scientists are curious, detailed-oriented, sticklers for accuracy, and hard on each other.

So, back to the point, one way they can know what the rates were in the past is by counting the magnetic field reversals permanently etched in sea floor rocks. The earth's magnetic field (N-S) has flip-flopped at fairly regular intervals throughout Earth's entire history. There are ways of measuring the time between the flips and thus you can use those to infer the rate of historical plate movements.

But, scientists don't want just one method to measure past rates ... so you can also infer rates by looking at rock formations with known ages at the edges of continental boundaries, measure the distance of offset between formations and calculate the rate of movement over a specific time period.

There are others methods too... And when you independently use all these very different techniques to measure historical rates and they all come up with the same answer. That probably means the calculated rates are pretty good. Its kind of like having several independent mechanics look at your car to troubleshoot a problem ... if they all agree on the problem and the solution, you're probably safe to bet that they have diagnosed the correct problem and have suggested the correct solution.

I know, you'll now ask how they data the rocks and bring up inaccuracies of Carbon dating etc. Well, despite some creationist claims, carbon dating is pretty accurate and keeps getting more accurate as new discoveries are made. They didn't just "discover Carbon dating and then leave it at that. As a method it's continuously being examined, tested, updated, etc. Scientists know its limitations, what age ranges its accurate for, etc. There are also many other radio-chemical dating methods (Ar-Ar spin resonance and such). Some of these methods have overlapping useful dating ages. If these things weren't accurate, you would not expect them to agree with one another...but when you date a rock with several methods and they all agree, you can bet you've got a good set of dating methods.


Interestingly, if the Bible is correct and huge resevoirs of water burst through the earth's crust, then plate techtonics may have moved at meters per second.

But we know from using many different independent rate measurement methods that this is not the case. There are also a a huge number of other geologic clues that further show that this is not the case.

"Evolution is a theory that has been proved time and time again." It depends on what you call proof. C14 dating necessitates 30,000 years after origination to be an indicator of elapsed time. If God created the earth 6000 years ago, we haven't hit equilibrium yet.

But there are many, many other dating methods. There are also many, many, many indicators showing that the earth is MUCH older than 6000 years. Sure, god could have created the world with the "illusion" that is was 6000 years old, artificially aging rocks and formations, making things "look" like evolution happened, etc. But why in the heck would he do that? Why would he want to confuse us like that? Then you get into the philosophical question (which is a good argument against this point), that if everything, and I mean everything, "looks" like it is of a certain age, then how can you say that it isn't that age? There's no logical justification.

What I see is dating methods based on assumptions of millions of years used to date at millions of years. I see artist's renderings of transitional forms that don't exist in the fossil record.

Again, there are many dating techniques besides C14 that are useful for other age ranges from ones that work well for 1000s of year ago to ones that work well for the billions of years ago. The overlaps between that and other data strongly suggest they are very accurate. There are small margins of error with dating methods, and everyone who uses them knows this and knows what they are, but they are within acceptable levels for any given "useful" technique. Seriously, if there was a technique that could be used for things within the age range of 1 million to 500 million years old and the level of error was +/-50 million years, no one would use it. The level of error is too great compared to its useful dating range, rendering it useless. Scientists aren't that stupid. Well, there's a few nutty ones here and there, but you get that in every discipline. :-D

We have a LOT more evidence for evolution than a few transitional fossils. And I'm not sure what you mean by artist renderings of things that don't exist in the fossil record...I've never come across anything like that myself -- at least of things that were supposed to be taken seriously.

The evidence for evolution comes from geology, paleontology, biochemistry, physics, genetics, physiology, comparative anatomy and on and on... It's actually one of the most thoroughly verified theories in science. There's really not much disagreement about it...certainly orders of magnitudes less than IDers attempt to make people believe in the books and articles I've read. I personally, find their accusations of "vast disagreement within the scientific community" very disingenuous. Its simply not true.

To try and prove their point, the Discovery Institute gets a bunch of scientists to sign a statement against evolution. But science is a HUGE discipline (or better, "set of disciplines") with vast amounts of knowledge, with each sub-discipline taking years of intense studying become competent in. So you look at their list, just a handful are actually even in fields of biology and geology and then just a small fraction of those even study anything having to do with evolution. Hardly an impressive list. Especially considering that those scientists represent just a tiny fraction of the 1000s and 1000s of scientists world-wide -- most of whom have no problem with evolution.

Because of the fact that few, if any, of the signatories are actually Evolutionary Biologists, the list is for a large part, a fallacious case of "argument from false authority". Why would a mechanical engineer be some sort of authority on evolution? He's not. And most, if not all, of these "scientists" are very religious. I'm not saying that this in and of itself is bad, I'm just saying that it strongly suggests that there is some other "philosophical" reason for "denying" evolution rather than basing their denial strictly on the available evidence.

Just as yet another example that uses "transitional" fossils, but doesn't just stop at comparative anatomy... There are a group of animals that definitely appear to show transitional forms between a land mammal and aquatic one. First line of evidence... the land ones always appear in older rock formations, the intermediate ones always appear in somewhat newer formations and the ones that "look" fully or almost fully aquatic (inferred by anatomical structures) appear in the newest formations.

First, had the animals not been found in distinct formations of distinct ages, (in the order predicted by the theory of evolution) even if one were to say that they "looked" like transitional forms between one another, you'd have no way to know for sure. Using absolute and relative dating techniques, you can also could say if the transition seemed to be going from water to land, and land to water. So you date the fossils using several different dating techniques and they all agree. Also, low and behold, the dating techniques line the fossils up in an order of anatomical change vs. age that perfectly agrees with what you would expect in evolution...

The middle "form" didn't appear before the land form, it appeared right in between, in time and in anatomical structure. But how about further evidence. How can we be so sure, just by looking at some bones that this set of animals were really going from terrestrial to aquatic? Are we just forcing our own preconceived notions on these bones? Well there are ways of testing that too.

Here's one: If an animal were living on land, you'd expect most of its diet to from from terrestrial sources. If it was living in an aquatic environment you would expect an aquatically derived diet. If its living in the zone in between you'd probably expect a mixed diet. I turns out you can find these things out -- even on ancient fossils of extinct organisms.

All elements (Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, etc) have different isotopes. The isotopes are not randomly or evenly distributed in nature. Certain isotopes are favored in certain environments. Oxygen turns out to have quite different naturally occurring isotopes ratios between land and water environments. So, some smart person put these "transitional" fossils to a further test. Evolutionarily speaking, we should not just see the fossils line up time wise, not only see them line up anatomically speaking, but we should also see the diet change form terrestrial to aquatic. It turns out, that this agrees with all the previous data as well ... and on and on it goes. Using stable isotopes of oxygen it was also verified that the diet was changing from terrestrial to aquatic over time. This is just one amongst hundreds of examples. And hundreds of thousands of example from other disciplines that support evolution. The theory is tested constantly, everyday, and everything just "fits".

The evidence is really just overwhelming. It explains things that before didn't make any sense. Like, why would some snakes have rudimentary pelvises that don't seem to serve any function whatsoever -- since they don't have legs. It makes perfect sense however if the snake evolved from an animal that had legs and the pelvic bones gradually reduced in size until they were unnoticeable externally. And not surprisingly, we also found out that some whales also have remnant pelvic bones that make up part of their skeleton that no longer serve any function, because like snakes, they evolved from an animal that had legs. To test this you go into the fossil record and sure enough, you find animals the predate modern whales, look very similar, that have short limbs....go further back the the limbs are longer. Also interesting to note is that there is a not too uncommon mutation that has been observed in both snakes and some whales where the "historical" pelvis actually forms a bit more than usual and the animal grows slightly visible protrusions right where the legs "used to be". Makes perfect sense, in light of evolution

Note that scientists predicted that whales evolved from a legged terrestrial creature (and that snakes evolved from a legged reptile) well before the discovery was made that, low and behold, whales (and snakes) have a rudimentary pelvis. This exemplifies the predictive value of evolution as well.

When I took Evolutionary Biology in college, on the very first day, the professor said, "I'm here to teach you about a theory called Evolution. My job is prove that it is not correct. So far, I've been unsuccessful. If any one of you come up with a way to disprove evolution, please see me after class. We'll write up a paper together, get all the research grants we ever wanted and maybe win the nobel prize." He really wasn't being completely facetious either.

Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe it? Is it because you were taught it or because you investigated it yourself?

Ok, now you're getting personal. ;-) Actually though, just to lay out any biases, I grew up in a somewhat conservative and quite christian household. I studied biology with a minor in chemistry in school (started grad school in biology but didn't finish because my advisor was a complete flake and I had an opportunity to live abroad, so seemed like a good time to exit and to come back later -- never did though). So, I'm fairly well informed (I hope) on both religion and science. I didn't study biology for any religious or anti-religious reasons. I never made any connection really. I studied it because I found it fascinating and I just wanted to know more. Along with way I also took several philosophy courses, Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Western Religion and Epistemology (the theory of knowledge, basically, how can we say we know what we think we know?) because I've always enjoyed taking a step back and thinking about my own beliefs and seeing if they're really justified. I believe things when the facts lead me to that conclusion. If the facts change in light of new evidence, like any good scientist, I revise my belief.

I think while learning, everyone, and I mean everyone goes through both stages you mention above....first you are taught it (you need the basics), then you investigate it yourself (hopefully!). I love doing both. And if I could, I'd quit work and go back to be a full time student again....but alas, the world is not a perfect place. ;-)


Wow! Good thing work is slow this week... ;-)

GR said...

@tim...

Thanks for the enjoyable discussion, especially GR and Havok. You two are interesting to talk with. You can have the last word! I'll get it in my inbox. cheers!

Thanks Tim! Anytime! Yeah...I need to get to work too...whew.

Nice to have civil conversation about this stuff. 9 times out of 10 these things spiral into flame wars on the internet. Seems to be a good group of people on here.

sweetswede said...

It basically said that the premises could not reasonably be taken to be true. Hence the argument cannot be reasonable taken to be true.

Well if the premises are false then obviously the conclusion is false, but I don’t think we’ll get much further regarding this. I’m sure Craig and Dawkins can duke it out themselves.

I'm sure to him his defense is reasonable.

Well I should hope he thinks his own defense is reasonable.

Which are what? That making a movie full of falshoods can only drive your agenda if those falsehoods are not discovered?

The primary themes were atheists using science to attack God (and those who believe in Him). It also posits the possibility of God creating the universe. Now if science is the study of natural phenomenon, then I agree that this is more philosophical/religious in nature, but there is an overlap in the fields.

It is open to debate. How is debate concerning the origin of the universe realted to the premise of the move?

The entire movie is about open debate and discourse.

I think it was also supposed to have "mystical" powers.

I guess that depends on who you talk to and what you mean by mystic.

That would be a christian theological perspective (I suppose we could squeeze muslims in as well).

Indeed, if I’ve not done so already let me state that I am a Christian and as such I’ll only attempt to represent my own theology as I’m not acquainted with other theologies well enough to represent them (however there is a very large overlap between my theology and Jewish theology, obviously).

The standard model is flawed, we know that. We don't know if a universe could form with different values. We also don't know that changing the values would not result in complexity of some form. Ie. We don't know that the apparent fine tuning of the universe actually is.

Well I think we know that Earth is in the right location to support life, and that if certain things were to change in the slightest life would cease (e.g.-if Earth moved just a few degrees towards/away from the sun we would not have the right range of temperatures to support life).

Then why does the sum total of ID seem to be picking "holes" in evolution?
Where are the theories, with studies, tests, observations etc?


I think you’d do better to ask Stephen Mayer, Jonathan Wells, or someone along those lines that question, because I’d like for them to explain why they spend so much time attacking evolution as well (I guess the obvious answer would be they think it’s wrong). At any rate I’ll let them propose and defend their own theories, as I’m not a scientist (which is probably becoming apparent); and thus far I’ve attempted to defend the possibility and probability of God from a more philosophical perspective.

sweetswede said...

Havok,
The concept of the possibility of a god, perhaps. One who has revealed itself in some manner is directly amenable to scientific investigation however.

Well not necessarily, as science studies natural phenomenon and the God I believe in is not natural, except in terms of the person of Jesus Christ. I agree there is a certain overlap between theology and science, however, as they both make claims regarding facts.

Glad we agree.

Indeed!

You've solved the problem of interaction?
If not, why is the supernatural (interventionist god variety, not the unknown "first cause" variety) reasonable?


I’m not sure as if we’re thinking of the same problem of interaction. For I’m thinking of dualist interactionism and I fail to see how that follows.

I hate to be negative, but you think it wil get addressed. I can play it out for you now. You'll put forward the canonical gospels as evidence, I'll say they're virtually anonymous hearsay and need further coroberation, preferably from sources from the time of the supposed life of Jesus. I'm happy to argue it, mind you, but I don't actually see it getting anywhere.

Well if that’s your argument then I’m truly not worried (please take that in jest). If by virtually anonymous you refer to no dispute among the early Church (people around during the lives of the Gospel authors) as to who wrote what then I must agree. I’ll grant the Gospels weren’t “signed”, like we might sign a letter we wrote, but who wrote them was not ever in question among the early Church. There is a miniscule debate regarding the Gospel of John, but that is based on Papias referring to John the apostle and John the elder, it’s not clear if it’s two John’s or one John with two different roles (Blomberg qtd. In Strobel, The Case for Christ 23). As far as further corroboration I’d say the writings of Flavius Josephus and Tacitus are a start. You’ve also got a few references to Christ in early Jewish writings.

Cause does not imply personal interventionist agency. Even if a supernatural first cause was "found", the principle of parsimony would keep it as a deistic entity.

I’ve already agreed cause does not imply a personal interventionist agency. That is another debate entirely. I don’t think, however, that parsimony eliminates an interventionist agency, on the basis we’ve got so many claims that God has intervened.

If you want to postulate supernatural agency, you'll have to find a solution to the problem of interaction, as I mentioned above.
What doesn't have a natural explanation in your mind?
Note that singularities may be a problem with the theory and not actually exist and we know the standard model has problems. Neuroscience is also making good progress on consciousness.


I don’t think the Resurrection of Christ has a natural explanation. I don’t think miracles have natural explanations. The origin of the universe may have natural explanations, but as of yet I'm not convinced they're very probable.

It would eliminite the possibility of Yahweh, however. I suspect the concept of "God" would simply take a further step into the metaphorical, becoming less and less "real".

Well some people have been trying to move God into the less and less real. And it would not necessarily eliminate Yahweh, for there are many interpretations of the Genesis account. Just look at Gregr’s pool table illustration.

sweetswede said...

Gregr,

We're in agreement then. ;-)

Great!

It also could be that evolution is the correct explanation and that we do in fact understand it fairly well. However, this doesn't mean that we fully understand everything about it ... we don't. But debate about certain aspects of evolution, etc, doesn't diminish the whole theory either. I agree that extending our scientific knowledge about the world does not have to diminish anyones conception of god. A problem only comes about when 1.) people use the gaps in our "current" knowledge to see the hand of God, and 2.) people use God as an explanation and consequently stop any further investigation. I think ID supports are at great risk of abusing both these points.

Well I can see those risks (for example, people used to believe sneezing was the body’s means of releasing a demon; which I suppose could be possible, but unless there is obviously something supernatural going on I don’t think is probable, at any rate the Bible never refers to demonic activity in this sense). But there are places where I think science and religion do overlap. For example, it has been scientifically demonstrated that the place where the Israelites are believed to have crossed the Red Sea has a ridge under the water, and when the wind blows (I think it was a west wind, not sure) the ridge is uncovered revealing dry ground.

We agree again. ;-) I don't believe science has anything to say about God at all. Science is an attempt to objectively study and discover the physical world. If God is outside that physical world, then there's nothing to study -- scientifically speaking. However, because of this, one cannot use God as explanations in science. And this goes for Intelligent Design too. I see no problem in seeing God in nature, even as the designer, etc. But when we discover what I would even call the "beauty" of evolution, then we have to accept that this is how things have happened (like plate tectonics). I personal find evolution fascinating because it actually explains so much, and yet the details are so intricate and complex. Personally I think evolution is much more wondrous and creative an idea than a "poof! and creatures, one by one, appear out of nowhere, wiping off the dust after being instantaneously created from nothing". Of course, that's not "why" I accept it as fact...that's just a little bonus. ;-)
Think about it this way .... if God were a pool player (I know its a bit silly, but bare with me), what would you find more exciting in a game:
1.) God picks up the cue and goes around shooting the balls in one at a time? Or...
2.) God taking one single well thought out and expertly planned shot towards a single ball, which connects each ball with each other, a branching effect if you will, causing a cascading effect across the table, with all balls slipping into one of the pockets.
The former (1), to me, is a bit like creationism. The later is like evolution -- and I'd say the later leaves me more awe inspired. God or no God, it doesn't make a difference. It's still amazing, complex and wonderful. It seems to me, seeing God in a process like that (2) would be quite inspiring. Especially if we discover this process, evolution, using the curiosity and intellect that He gave us.


I can see what you’re saying. Which is why I’ve really not attempted to go into evolution versus creation for in either case, I’m still just as much a believer. I’ll fully grant evolution is the only “natural” explanation.


I think that's a very dangerous assumption to make. For one, how do you know this? I don't believe there is any way to know that there are some things that will not have a natural explanation, because we don't know what our future discoveries will be. To attempt to say with some certainty that there are some things that have no natural explanation is to say that you can predict the future.
The other problem is that (and I touched on this before) if one were to even go with the idea, for the sake of argument, that some things will not have a natural explanation, how do you even know which ones? There's no way to know. Do you just pick and chose randomly? Do you choose ones that seem more amazing to you personally? You can't say that, "well if our current science doesn't explain it, then it must not have a natural explanation", because, as I said, there's no way to know if it may be explained at a later time as our knowledge about the world increases.
This is exactly why science MUST assume everything has a natural explanation (and so far that's proving to be a VERY good method), because if it did not, many lines of inquiry would cease and we'd be potentially left very ignorant about many aspects of our universe.


I’m referring to things like the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I truly don’t believe any of the “natural” explanations are credible (e.g. –the swoon theory).

I think quite the opposite ... the more we've learned about the world, the more we've learn that everything does "play" by the laws of nature and can and most likely will have a very natural explanation. However, I do agree with you that finding natural explanations does not eliminate the possibility of God. As I said before, science studies our physical world and has absolutely nothing to say about God -- apart from the fact that one might "see" God in the beauty of the natural world -- well, the parts we humans haven't messed up anyway. ;-)
And yes, there are many other arguments for the existence of God. But I think the God of the Gaps and the First Cause arguments are useless and fail on logical grounds, because they make the false assumption that we know all there is to know about our universe.
Also, from my understanding, when physicists discuss the "origins" of our universe, I don't believe they are also implying that it sprang into existence out of nothing (in a literal sense), and thus, must have been created. Our universe in its present form, yes, had a beginning. If it started, as I've heard discussed, with this extraordinarily dense singularity of energy and matter that then exploded into being, that just begs the question of where this singularity came from. Did that always exist? If not, where did it come from? For these questions we will get no further in positing that "god did it", "he started it". Because again, we don't know that someday we will discover a natural explanation.
This is why I think ID is a completely empty line of inquiry. It explains nothing, creates more questions than it answers (questions that are unanswerable by science - therefore don't belong in science), and most importantly, it leads to lines of inquiry halting in their tracks due to the "god did it" mentality. This is also why ID doesn't belong in science class rooms. It's not science. Though I haven't seen the movie (I will, I promise), movies (or books) like Expelled that complain about academic freedom and bias against ID and creationism actually have it all wrong. Or rather, I suppose you can say they have it all right, for the wrong reasons. There is bias against letting ID into science, of course, because its not science. If you're a scientist and someone tries to force you to do something that is not science, what would you do? You'd probably avoid it too (I hope). There is a place for believing in God, in seeing God in nature, or experiencing God in whatever manner you choose -- but He doesn't belong in the science classroom, nor in Scientific journals, or scientific theories, because these things deal with (by its very definition) natural explanations of the natural world. And as I've mentioned at length, there are so many rational, methodological and philosophical problems with trying to introduce God into science that we have justifiably come to the conclusion to leave him out (in a direct sense). That's not an attack on God, its just a function of what is required for science to work and thus, simply a definition of what science is: natural explanations of the natural world.


Well I do believe we’ve reached a consensus of sorts. This is much like what my history professor said, “I do think we should teach intelligent design, but in the philosophy class, not in the science class”. I’m happy we can agree science and religion are not in conflict. I did enjoy the exchange, God bless! (I may spark another debate yet).

tim said...

Well, I'm back because I can't agree with Sweetswede that we've all reached concensus.

That is a tired line: "ID belongs in a philosophy class." It is tired because it reflects the blindness of our times. It is foolish to disregard that the creation declares the amazing creativeness and genius of God. You can create a false dicotomy if you want: science and God.

Evolution is not science. Evolution is a world-view imposed on observable facts in the present.

Sweetswede - don't buy into the lie of the false dicotomy. Investigate it - go to Mt. St. Helens and see what catastrophies can create in just a few days. Find out the slick sidesteps that evolutionists use by claiming mountains of evidence in other fields. Find out the circular assumptions made in the dating methods in order to justify 5.6 billion years.

Havok said...

sweetswede,
Well if the premises are false then obviously the conclusion is false, but I don’t think we’ll get much further regarding this. I’m sure Craig and Dawkins can duke it out themselves.
Dawkins is a biologist, not a cosmologist or a philosopher. You'd be talking about guys like Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking and Adolf Grünbaum.

The entire movie is about open debate and discourse.
The movie, as far as I can tell, is about "evolutionists" and "darwinists" stopping the ID'ers from having a voice.
The debate concerning the origin of the universe doesn't come into that. The origin of the universe debate is going on as we speak (Craig is trying to show logically that there was a first cause, other philosophers showing there may not have been, and scientists trying to determine what happened.

Indeed, if I’ve not done so already let me state that I am a Christian and as such I’ll only attempt to represent my own theology as I’m not acquainted with other theologies well enough to represent them (however there is a very large overlap between my theology and Jewish theology, obviously).
And one would suspect Muslim theology, as they take both the OT & NT to be revealed from Yahweh (though corrupted).

Well I think we know that Earth is in the right location to support life, and that if certain things were to change in the slightest life would cease (e.g.-if Earth moved just a few degrees towards/away from the sun we would not have the right range of temperatures to support life).

The earth is in the so called "goldilocks" zone. Regardless of where live arose/arises, it will be in the "goldilocks" zone for itself.
If you changed the cosmological constants, you would end up with a different universe. Life such as us would (most likely) be impossible. That does not mean that the arising of complexity is impossible. Life seems to be simply the arising of complexity.
Regardless of what you and I believe about this, the current answer is "We don't know what effect it would have".

I think you’d do better to ask Stephen Mayer, Jonathan Wells, or someone along those lines that question, because I’d like for them to explain why they spend so much time attacking evolution as well (I guess the obvious answer would be they think it’s wrong).
If plate tectonics and relativity (two widely known paradigm shifts) are anything to go by, the way to change the scientific establishment is to show your theory is better than the current one. As I said above, the standard model cannot account for certain observations. It is still "The Standard Model" because it explains better and is more parsimonious than the others. This may change when the LHC comes online, but for now, though flawed, we use the standard model.
There are known difficulties with evolution, so the complaints of the ID'ers are in line with other scientists. The problem is ID'ers feel we need to throw out the theory of evolution. If we do, what do we replace it with? ID has no theoretical underpinning, no body of tests.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_the_Standard_Model

At any rate I’ll let them propose and defend their own theories, as I’m not a scientist (which is probably becoming apparent); and thus far I’ve attempted to defend the possibility and probability of God from a more philosophical perspective.
That's fine. There is no way to prove or disprove the possibility of a god. It is shown improbable given the state of scientific knowledge ie. there is no reason to assume that an interventionist god exists given the lack of evidence. That is, simply, the position of science.

Havok said...

sweetswede,
Well not necessarily, as science studies natural phenomenon and the God I believe in is not natural, except in terms of the person of Jesus Christ. I agree there is a certain overlap between theology and science, however, as they both make claims regarding facts.
That definition of science is probably overly restricted. Read this:
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/RelSci/Can%20Science%20Test%20Supernatural%20Worldviews-%20Final%20Author%27s%20Copy%20%28Fishman%202007%29.pdf

I’m not sure as if we’re thinking of the same problem of interaction. For I’m thinking of dualist interactionism and I fail to see how that follows.
That is the same interaction problem. How do the material and immaterial interact?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_dualism#Arguments_against_dualism

You’ve also got a few references to Christ in early Jewish writings.
I'll leave this for our email conversation.

I’ve already agreed cause does not imply a personal interventionist agency. That is another debate entirely. I don’t think, however, that parsimony eliminates an interventionist agency, on the basis we’ve got so many claims that God has intervened.
There is the problem of mutually exclusive belief systems, so while you may argue for something intervening, you'd have trouble showing it to be a singular "deity" as conceived by man.

I don’t think the Resurrection of Christ has a natural explanation. I don’t think miracles have natural explanations. The origin of the universe may have natural explanations, but as of yet I'm not convinced they're very probable.
And we end up back with the problem of interaction.

Well some people have been trying to move God into the less and less real. And it would not necessarily eliminate Yahweh, for there are many interpretations of the Genesis account. Just look at Gregr’s pool table illustration.
The genesis account of creation does not stack up with the evidence (both time period and order of creation). Neither does the account of the garden of eden. Nor the account of the global flood. That ought to put it in the same category as the other accounts of creation from around the world, and yet it is taken as having more meaning than them.

Havok said...

sweetswede,
Well I can see those risks (for example, people used to believe sneezing was the body’s means of releasing a demon; which I suppose could be possible, but unless there is obviously something supernatural going on I don’t think is probable, at any rate the Bible never refers to demonic activity in this sense). But there are places where I think science and religion do overlap. For example, it has been scientifically demonstrated that the place where the Israelites are believed to have crossed the Red Sea has a ridge under the water, and when the wind blows (I think it was a west wind, not sure) the ridge is uncovered revealing dry ground.
Do you have a reference for that?

I can see what you’re saying. Which is why I’ve really not attempted to go into evolution versus creation for in either case, I’m still just as much a believer. I’ll fully grant evolution is the only “natural” explanation.
If you allow a supernatural explanation, then all of the creation myths are as valid as each other, as in their own way, they all explain creation from a super natural perspective.

I’m referring to things like the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I truly don’t believe any of the “natural” explanations are credible (e.g. –the swoon theory).
And then we get to the question of how you even know it happened? I suspect we'll go over that on in the email exchange as well.

Havok said...

Tim,
That is a tired line: "ID belongs in a philosophy class." It is tired because it reflects the blindness of our times. It is foolish to disregard that the creation declares the amazing creativeness and genius of God. You can create a false dicotomy if you want: science and God.
You realise that ID postulates an anonymous designer. If you postulate "Yahweh" as that designer, then you end up with Creationism, which, I'm sorry for you, doesn't fit the evidence. On the same hand, neither does what little ID'ers have presented.

Evolution is not science. Evolution is a world-view imposed on observable facts in the present.
Sorry, it isn't. I know you're not going to suddenly agree. There are plenty of scientists who are Christians etc, who accept evolution because of the overwhelming evidence supporting it. Ken Miller is one example.

Sweetswede - don't buy into the lie of the false dicotomy.
Are you refering to NOMA here? If so, I believe you. Science and religious belief do overlap.
Investigate it -
Agree. You should investigate it.

go to Mt. St. Helens and see what catastrophies can create in just a few days.
If you're speaking of comparisons to the grand canyon, you're mistaken. The grand canyon does not have features which are typical of fast formation - 'U' chaped basin. River in channel at the base. Slight twists. It does have features of a slow, gradual process - 'V' shaped basin, river being covering the base, tight turns etc).

Find out the slick sidesteps that evolutionists use by claiming mountains of evidence in other fields.
What slick sidesteps and false claims of evidence do you mean?

Find out the circular assumptions made in the dating methods in order to justify 5.6 billion years.
Where did you get 5.6 billion years? You're almost a million years older than the current estimate of 4.7 billion years.
On dating methods, how do you explain that the curves of overlapping dating methods match up? This includes such simple "counting" methods as ice cores, tree rings and "varves". In fact, varves from lake seigetsu have been show to go back 40,000 years.

sweetswede said...

I said a "consensus of sorts".

The fact is evolution is the only "natural" explanation. I believe God created the universe and the Earth, but that's a belief in the supernatural. What I've tried to argue is belief in God is not threatened by science as most atheists want it to be.

Science shows that Earth is in precisely the right location to support life, rather then believe we just "landed here" I think it's more logical to believe God started and guided the process. I think that's more of a philosophical assertion, but it's based on science. For science to work it must show processes that can be repeated and have the same results. As I don't think at any point man will be able to put God in a lab where we can control Him (if we could He wouldn't be God) it makes sense to me that science would say "this is a philosophical issue".

I realize just as much as anybody that evolution has suffered it's big scams. Just last semester I wrote a research paper on Haeckel's Embryos, explaining how they fall short. I quoted such people as PZ Myers, and Stephen J. Gould, as well as Jonathan Wells. Everyone is in agreement that Haeckel's Embryos are not valid (as Richardson's Embryos demonstrate, there are also at least two admissions by Haeckel that he filled in data where he didn't have any). Honestly though, I wasn't asking that they stop teaching evolution, I was asking they at least put a foot note in textbooks explaining what's wrong with the embryos.

I agree there is no false dichotomy between science and religion, but that is not to say they are in many ways two distinct spheres (albeit with an over-lap).

sweetswede said...

Havok,
That's fine. There is no way to prove or disprove the possibility of a god. It is shown improbable given the state of scientific knowledge ie. there is no reason to assume that an interventionist god exists given the lack of evidence. That is, simply, the position of science.

I think this may be the heart of where we disagree, as I think God is shown to be probable based on scientific evidence. I truly don't think there is a real lack of evidence, and even so an absence of evidence is only evidence of absence if we should reasonably expect more evidence for somethings existence if it does in fact exist. As with some of the examples I've already listed, at least one of which we will discourse on further, I don't think we should reasonably expect more evidence for God then what we already have.

And we end up back with the problem of interaction.
Truth be told I don't know all the hows regarding God's interaction with Earth and the Universe. But just because we might not understand it doesn't mean it can't happen, as you've already admitted we don't perfectly understand physics and fine tuning and all of that but that certainly doesn't mean physics don't exist. If you really want to know more about God's nature (from my Christian perspective) I'd recommend "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer.

The genesis account of creation does not stack up with the evidence (both time period and order of creation). Neither does the account of the garden of eden. Nor the account of the global flood. That ought to put it in the same category as the other accounts of creation from around the world, and yet it is taken as having more meaning than them.

While I may not agree with other interpretations, there are several that wouldn't compromise the main claims of Christianity, nor would they compromise evolutionary principle as it is presently understood.

Do you have a reference for that?
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Story?id=99580&page=1

If you allow a supernatural explanation, then all of the creation myths are as valid as each other, as in their own way, they all explain creation from a super natural perspective..

Well I think we have to pin different texts against each other (e.g. -examine the authenticity of the Bible compared to the Koran and so forth).

It looks like we're going to have quite an interesting e-mail discourse ;)