Monday, February 21, 2011

The Debate with Labsci Continues. . . .

By Michael David Rawlings

The problem here is, that you continue to make assertions as to the bias and dishonesty of those who understand evolution. Most scientists understand evolution, and realise that it is the best explanation of the differences and similarities between all living things on Earth. It meshes neatly with other sciences, such as genetics, medicine, dentistry, paleontology, archeology, geology, chemistry, physics and any others you could name.  —Labsci
Actually, anything can be brought into line with the theory.  There’s really nothing “meshy” about it. Anyone of those fields could do without it, especially physics. Evolutionary theory makes few predictions, and in truth the sort of predictions it makes are historical in nature. They are made in hindsight, wherein something or another is observed and then (viola!) the evolutionist proclaims that's exactly what the theory would expect or predict. (The expectations of Creationism can do the same thing, and you might see that if you were to rid yourself of certain assumptions about the nature of the biblical record and the baggage that has been piled on top of it without due consideration.)  Anything can be brought into line with a tautological mechanism of “what survives, survives”. Both environmental change and mutation are random; the product of two random variables is a random variable. The arguments that have been made by some including the likes of Dawkins to the contrary are nonsense. And that’s problematical for any attempt to account for the conservation of any ensemble of genetic characteristics that might affect transmutation.


Of course there are certainly some proponents who are anti-religious: championed by the likes of Richard Dawkins, but their science is impeccable and elegant. —Labsci
Trust me, there’s nothing “impeccable and elegant” about the prospects of abiogenesis to which atheists like Dawkins must necessarily appeal.

Nothing visible is going to happen in so short a time as 200 years in the laboratory. If a fly changed into anything other than a fly, it would blow evolution out of the water, and falsify it completely. —Labsci
Yes, I do understand that, Labsci. I’m glad to see that we agree, sort of. My point with respect to fruit flies had to do with this statement: “[m]any microevolutionary steps equals macroevolution.” At various points along the way, evolutionary theory entails a common ancestry of branching transmutations. You imagine a biological history consisting of an unbroken chain of natural cause-and-effect, mostly driven by the mechanism of natural selection, and believe that this scenario provides the “best explanation of the differences and similarities between all living things on Earth.” I see a biological history consisting of a series of creative events and episodic extinctions, and believe that this scenario provides the best explanation for the abundance and vast variety of life, and expect that all forms of terrestrial life would necessarily share certain genetic and morphological characteristics, including the inherent ability to affect adaptive variations within. The evidence would look the same either way.

In accordance with your confirmation of my point about fruit flies, we can’t observe speciation beyond the “micro-evolutionary steps” and, also, we don’t see an abundance of obvious transitory forms in the fossil record, so what's Darwinism (the gratuitous insertion or extrapolation of a common ancestry) ultimately based on, if not a materialistic naturalism? There's nothing in the observable and quantifiable compositions and processes of biological systems that is at odds with the fundamentals of Creationism. Hence, as for the regnant scientific community’s a prior bias, what is the substance of this "sand" you claim Creationism is built on?

In my opinion, it follows that the post-modern Catholic Church prematurely and unnecessarily conceded creatio ex essentia, just as the pre-scientific Church errantly adopted Aristotelian cosmology. (The Bible does not recommend a literal geocentric cosmology, by the way.) While the latter is understandable, the former is not, and neither of them are biblically justifiable.

There is no need to “modernize” the Bible. The ancients' pre-scientific conception of the universe is not relevant to biblical inerrancy, much less the pre-scientific expositions of empirical phenomena that might be attributed to the Bible by misguided believers and non-believers alike. God’s word stands and stays; it’s surety is not subject to the passing conceptual fads of imperfect and half-blind creatures.

While the Bible does make some scientific claims, it's not a scientific treatise and never has been, except in the minds of some. I’ve never thought of Creationism as being anything more than a general exposition of origins against the backdrop of original sin and the problem of evil. Beyond that, God has simply left the details of scientific inquiry to us. Learned, post-scientific hermeneutics has no problem with the idea that Creationism is not a scientific system of thought, but merely a general set of guidelines by which we may properly understand the essential meaning of the empirical data.

And there’s no ideological tension between the Bible and the Big Bang theory, if that's what you're implying. On the contrary, it is more suggestive of creatio ex nihilo than steady-state theory, though as LemaĆ®tre himself rightly observed the appearance is not necessarily conclusive of anything in that regard.

You say that evolutionists play games with words and categories. . . . —Labsci
They do, at least with respect to the fossil record and the politics of education. As for the latter, they behave like rabid fundamentalists with little regard for the liberty-sustaining prohibitions of natural law. To my mind, whether they be ultimately right or wrong, that makes them a seriously dangerous threat to civil society, and this is especially true of the atheists among them given their tribal predilection for statism in history.

And evolutionists are playing a game of conceptual hide-and-seek when they claim that the classical construct of irreducible complexity in and of itself has been debunked. Refuting Behe’s ill-considered application of it to biochemistry—a half-baked version that fails to anticipate the obvious possibility of degraded systems or their isolated components performing less efficient or alternate functions—is of no consequence. (Incidentally, I wrote Behe about that possibility back in '96 after reading his book. Sure enough, well, you know the rest. . . .) Properly rendered, irreducible complexity does not dispute the plausibility of diminished systems, it illustrates the implausibility of complex systems arising by blind luck. That has not been debunked by anyone. Behe should have paid more attention to the essential quality of Paley’s formulation and the prerequisites of Kant’s.

In other words, in the classical tradition, irreducible complexity obtains to the rise of organization from chaos, not to any potential degradation of function. The former entails an uphill battle in the midst of a chaotic collection of precursors vying against conservation. It has to do with the problem of anticipatorily formulating the overarching function of an interdependent system of discretely oriented parts, each contributing to the sum of a whole that could not have orchestrated its own composition from the ground up.

Further, and now comes the slight-of-hand that impresses no one but bleating sheep, evolutionists themselves do not refute Behe’s straw man with the paper biochemistry of evolutionary theory. The theoretical mechanism of natural selection does not compose complex machines by systematically stripping them of their parts.  Instead it must build them without a blueprint and do so in a sea of competing precursors, once again, vying against conservation. It’s not the other way around. Miller can illustrate the alternate functions of degraded mousetraps all he wants; that does not demonstrate that the mechanisms of evolutionary theory are the cause of the comprehensive functions of complex integrated systems.

But the sheep go “bah, bah, bah.”


What kind of scientific term is that anyway? The matter cannot be resolved syllogistically or analogously. It’s a matter of experimentation and falsification.

Now you see it. Now you don’t.

In other words, ultimately, it’s not even a matter of morphology. It’s a matter of accumulating information, not only against a tidal wave of difficulties that rebuff conservation, but against the whims of a genetic material whose sequences are not arranged by any chemically preordained bonding affinity, but by extraneous forces. And to my mind that means nothing of particular interest could arise in the first place without the intervention of an intelligent being. I trust that we at least agree on that point, given that you are a theistic evolutionist. Why would you recommend the prattle of an atheist savant who must necessarily override the putative distinction between the vagaries of abiogenesis and the calculi of evolutionary theory?

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