Evolution is illogical

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jun 20, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    As I have participated in these debates, there is something that strikes me again and again. Why are the Darwinists – the evolutionists – fighting? There is an essential lack of logic in their position involved on several points:

    1. If evolution is true, then how we think is programmed into us. Our very thought processes are matters of evolutionary development and should just be accepted as such. I am religious because I was ‘wired’ to be religious. Atheists are ‘wired’ to be atheists, etc. Therefore what creationists believe should simply be accepted as part of their evolutionary development.

    2. It has been said consistently by evolutionists that science is not interested in truth; truth is metaphysical and does not belong in the realm of science. Science is looking for the natural, material explanation for things, and I can only conclude that they are looking for these explanations whether or not they are true! Therefore, my concern with the truth, as a creationist, should not bother them at all, for it is outside their concern. The other way of looking at this point, from their direction, is that since truth is not an issue, one untruth is as good as another ethically, so creationism is no big deal.

    3. Since our thought processes are results of evolutionary development, which in its turn is dependant on time and chance, there is no guarantee that what anyone thinks can be trusted any more than simple chance can be trusted. We are the results of random mutations and natural selection, according to evolution, but that means nothing because so are their thought processes, which gives no reason to believe what anyone thinks or says!

    In other words, evolution says we are not responsible for who we are, or the way we think. When they then ‘fight’ for what science is taught in schools as wanting it to be honest or true (which to them simply means ‘mainstream’), that is an oxymoron. They cannot claim to want truth there when they deny it in science itself. They cannot try to resort to something being ‘right’ when right is not only subjective, but wired into a person’s thinking, in their view.

    They are illogical at the core of it.

    This explains to me why they are so willing to twist what has been said by creationists who are attempting to present truth about what is seen and what is interpreted; about what is objective and what is subjective. I watched it in the “Irreducible Complexity” thread and the “Questions for Evolutionists” thread in particular in the past week or so.

    The true evolutionist position is atheistic, their verbiage aside. Both immediate and final causes are demanded to be natural and material. This eliminates God from the picture entirely. I submit that this is the actual reason for an insistence on evolution. They are not interested in truth, anyway, according to them, so there is no problem with denying God exists, let alone that He is the Creator.

    The theistic evolutionist is heretical from where I stand because he is trying to tell God what God is allowed to do, both past and present: “you are allowed to start it all off, God, but then you have to back off and not get involved again, because the way you started it must result in everything happening naturally and materially after that. You are not to enter the picture again – unless, of course, it is for our salvation and benefit. Then we will allow you a miracle or two with Jesus, but that’s it, you hear? No more before or after that one!”

    Pure heresy. I don’t find theistic evolution to be worth the time to try to fight it. These people are deliberately choosing to fit God into what they can deal with and that’s not God at all; that’s their imagination working overtime.

    Which works fine if you are an evolutionist and not concerned with the truth of the matter!

    Evolution’s true and logical position regarding what is taught in schools or believed by anyone should be that people should be left alone, because they can’t help what they are or how they think anyway. They are products of evolution and therefore not responsible for themselves.

    It should be obvious I disagree strongly. I know we are not like that. I know we have choices about what we will consider true and what beliefs we will build our lives around. And I know that the very concept of truth and right themselves deny evolution in its essence. I know God is real and involved, and I know that science cannot get past simple variation within kind by any means other than direct genetic manipulation, and that even this is really not producing anything new in form or function in any living being; the best it can do is substitute and hope something works.

    On the other hand, they are also illogical to hope. What will be, will be….

    Evolution demands suspension of all daily experience and reality. I am talking here of the idea that everything has a natural material cause and that all forms of life therefore are the results of time, chance, mutations, and natural selection.

    The ONLY way evolution can really be believed is through a denial of reality as we know it and a radical departure from logic itself.
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Helen raised these interesting points:
    Evolution has nothing to do with whether or not free will is possible in our universe. Either free will is possible in our universe or it is not, but if it is possible, then it is reasonable that creatures with more free will might be better off in terms of reproductive success than those that don't incorporate the free will option in their behavior. Therefore creatures with free will would eventually evolve, given enough time to do so, wouldn't they? The ability to make a random decision is a definate plus for any organism. The classical problem is the donkey between two piles of hay, each equally enticing. Shall he starve to death, unable to choose between the two? Of course he doesn't. Something allows him to choose between the two. Failure to have evolved such a random choosing mechanism would leave him starving but the fact that even donkeys can make such a choice allows us to have hope for the rest of us that it might be possible, once in a while, to see a mind change. Maybe activating a random choice generator isn't free will but it will do until the real thing comes along.

    I think you misunderstand the scientist's attitude towards truth. Scientists want to get to the truth as much as anybody. It's just that they realize we can never be absolutely certain we have found it. Therefore scientists continually check their findings by experiments and peer review and mathematical consistency. They work very hard to pin down as much truth as they can. This is not indifference to truth!

    Now we believers have a concept called "faith". The beginning thinker who first turns to God in faith probably just assumes there is a God, that's it. The more advanced thinker discovers doubt. You have wisely counseled people troubled with doubt that merely having doubt is not, itself, such a bad thing. What matters is the commitment. True faith is not revealed by refusing to doubt but by being committed in spite of doubts. And we have reasons for our commitments that we feel outweigh our doubts, don't we? Well, this is really another way of saying just what I said in the paragraph above. We get as close to the truth as we can and we accept, intellectually, that we don't have perfect certainty; we simply find we must commit one way or another, and we do have our reasons.

    Well, natural selection automatically eliminates the worst thinkers. The merely bad thinkers are eliminated more slowly. We're working on it! We've discovered that running experimental tests, conducting careful investigations, thinking clearly and logically about things, actually helps.

    If a scientist truly believes that his motivations for seeking truth are the result of an evolutionary past and the way his brain is wired, what is to stop him from approving of that evolutionary past and the way his brain is wired, and continuing to earnestly seek for truth? Your words are passionate but not logical.

    Readers, translate "willing to twist" to mean "reason wrongly" and judge all our posts appropriately.

    Helen, you might be interested in the fact that I prayed before composing this post for God to give me wisdom as to how to reply. God has answered my prayers in the past and I feel such answers are miracles by definition, although most of them would not be subject to analysis in a test tube.

    Evolution has stuck us with offspring that spend years learning from adults before maturing. Any of us that decide to ignore that need are no only being immoral and irresponsible, we are denying our evolutionary heritage.

    Evolutionists agree we are not "like that", that is, we are not without responsibility.

    Evolutionists agree, we have and make our choices.

    Well, that is the thing we debate, but we can't prove it by assuming it is true.

    I also share that faith.

    Mutations ARE direct genetic manipulation. Substituting and seeing if it works is EXACTLY what evolution does. (don't hold me to the anthropormalization in the word "seeing . . . ") The notion that there is a built in limitation to variation at the "kind" level is an invention with no evidence for it. The only way evolution can be DENIED is through denial of reality as we know it and a radical departure from logic itself.
     
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    RADIOCHEMIST

    I have the following comments in response to Helen's numbered points:

    1. I agree that the way we think and to some extent the
    conclusions that we come to, are wired into us to some extent.
    But that does not mean that we should automatically give in to
    these impulses. Nor does it mean that we should automatically
    accept the logic of anyone, whether they are creationists or not.

    2. I disagree with Helen's assertion that science is not interested
    in truth. Certainly in my work as a scientist I was interested in
    learning the truth of things, in regard to the natural world.
    While some scientists might agree with her, I don't think that
    her remarks on this point can be considered a valid summary
    of the way that science works. High quality scholarship places great emphasis
    on getting things right.

    3. Helen does not trust our thought processes if they are the result
    of evolutionary development. I agree on that point, to the extent
    that our conclusions are suspect if there is no way to provide
    checks
    on these conclusions. But there are ways to check the validity of
    most ideas or conclusions. For instance, the idea of evolution
    can
    be checked against the natural world. The assumption
    that
    because the reasoning process has developed naturally, that it is
    therefore suspect, is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Many
    animals have talents that are quite effective. Why should
    naturally
    developed reason be ineffective?

    I disagree with Helen's claim that if one accepts evolution it
    makes for less responsibility. Although I agree that humans
    do not make entirely free choices. We do not decide to have
    sexual urges for instance. And we do not decide to love our
    children. Those things are inborn and outside our control to a
    great extent. That does not mean that people should not be held
    accountable for anti-social actions.

    Helen may think that God rules rather than natural causes, but
    proof of that is hard to come by.
     
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    HELEN

    To Paul of Eugene:

    Thank you for your note.

    Evolution is based on the belief that everything has a material, natural cause. If this is the case, then I’m afraid there is no option but for a pre-determined mental condition. Free will is by necessity a joke, an illusion, as, should evolution be true, we are totally subjects of our inheritance. The only thing important in the evolutionary scheme is survival, not thinking or reasoning. Witness bacteria and insects.

    Nor is it logical to make a plea of ‘reasonableness’ in this scenario, for that does not count, even if it exists. Evolution has no reason to be reasonable with! The idea of a donkey stuck between two piles of hay is unrealistic. I have never seen a horse or donkey have a problem about eating – only about when to stop! You cannot take an unrealistic picture and use it to try to explain a theoretical concept – it would be so nice if the people who thought up such silly pictures actually paid attention to the real world so they would know what they are talking about! (To other readers: Paul did not make this picture up; it is a common one used in classrooms and discussions.) On the other hand, the ‘choice’ of the animal’s is not a matter of freedom or randomness, but of opportunity and a variety of other factors – is he more comfortable away from you or near you? Are there other animals in the vicinity? Where is he accustomed to eat? Etc. etc. Thus, there is no ‘freedom of choice’ for this animal – he responds according to a combination of comfort and learning.

    Reproduction depends on numbers of offspring, not in how well the parents can think. Accidents happen, and when there is only one offspring that’s that for that genetic heritage!

    And, Paul, pursuant to Radiochemist’s ‘testimony’ after yours, no, evolutionary science is not interested in truth – only in what works. And, hopefully, why it works. The fact that “it is true that it works” is not the truth being approached here. Rather, my reference, and I suppose I should have been more clear, was to the metaphysical concept of truth as opposed to a lie. Lies are very good operating tools in a good number of instances, by the way! In addition, it needs to be said that the truth about something working might be considered a ‘mechanical truth’ as opposed to, or at least compared with, the concept of ‘truth vs. lie.’

    Peer review does not check for truth. It checks for consistency, presentation according to known functions and accepted paradigms, correctness of references, understandability, etc.

    Faith, by the way, is not something one discovers, but something that is developed in a person. It is the bridge between belief and action. It is not at all necessarily connected with God as its object. I can say I believe a certain chair will support my weight, but if I don’t sit in that chair my faith, as James so eloquently puts it, is dead. It means nothing. Sitting in that chair is a matter of action that required faith 1) in my belief and 2) in the chair. Faith in God is the action required BECAUSE one already believes in God, it is not something one can ‘turn to’, despite the popular way of using that phrase. We all act in faith every minute of our lives. I have faith this computer is actually going to work, or I would not spend time with it. I have faith the clock is accurate as I plan my day. Hebrews defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This sureness, this certainty, gives rise to the words and actions that are the evidence of that faith.

    You said natural selection “automatically eliminates the worst thinkers.” I know of no case where that is true. Maybe you had better explain what you mean, for I must be missing something here!

    And why would clear and logical thinking be the product of evolution? And if it is, why do only human beings seem to employ, or refuse to employ, them?

    You wrote: “ If a scientist truly believes that his motivations for seeking truth are the result of an evolutionary past and the way his brain is wired, what is to stop him from approving of that evolutionary past and the way his brain is wired, and continuing to earnestly seek for truth? Your words are passionate but not logical.

    I’m afraid the concept of an objective truth has no place in evolution, Paul. It is only a matter of what works or what doesn’t work and what enables procreation. Objective anything is something imposed from the outside, and evolution denies that particular Outside!

    And, no, the words and meanings of various posts were actually twisted, and knowingly so, such as the claim that ‘kind’ must relate to kingdom or some such nonsense. He knew better than that and was just playing word games. Things that I said were mangled and THEN argued with. There is no way to deal with that which is not a total waste of time in my experience.

    I’m glad you prayed before you responded, Paul. I pray that God gives you the wisdom to see evolution for what it really is: direct and intentional opposition to Him and His Word. It is also direct and intentional opposition to the reality we see everyday. By the way, if God can give you that wisdom as a miracle, and I am willing to go with that, then why are you refusing to believe Him in what He said He did during creation?

    You wrote: “ Evolution has stuck us with offspring that spend years learning from adults before maturing. Any of us that decide to ignore that need are no only being immoral and irresponsible, we are denying our evolutionary heritage.” Many of the most complex animals train and protect their young through protracted periods of helplessness. None of them train reasoning or moral codes but us. It is not necessary. Nor is it necessary for our physical survival. Monogamy, for instance, is morally right but evolutionary nonsense. At some point you have to come to terms with something like that! Evolution demands procreation and survival, not ‘responsibility’. Any actions promoting procreation and survival are ‘good’ evolutionarily. Actions against that are bad. Lies promote procreation as every young man and woman is aware!

    Finally, you stated “mutations ARE direct genetic manipulation.” No they are not, Paul. They are direct genetic CHANGE. But ‘manipulation’ requires something to be doing the manipulating and that is precisely what evolution denies. Trial and error in the sense of random chance and living organisms is not manipulation.

    As for the biblical ‘kind,’
    1) either God knows what he is talking about or He doesn’t (in which case, why on earth pray to Him?)
    2) there is very good evidence that this is true, as every breeder of anything, from E.coli to elephants knows.

    =================

    To Radiochemist:

    Thank you for your note.

    You wrote: “ I agree that the way we think and to some extent the conclusions that we come to, are wired into us to some extent. But that does not mean that we should automatically give in to these impulses. Nor does it mean that we should automatically accept the logic of anyone, whether they are creationists or not.

    Why NOT ‘give in to these impulses’? If they are the product of millions of years of evolution, they must be working well! Why resist them? And on what basis resist them?

    Nor is truth simply a matter of ‘getting things right’ in the sense of getting them to work. That, as I told Paul, is more like a ‘mechanical truth’ – just getting something to work! But truth as held in opposition to a lie has no place in evolutionary science. It is precisely because of the internal war this can cause that some evolutionary scientists end up rejecting evolution altogether. They do not always become creationists, as in the case of Michael Denton, but they know evolution is basic garbage! (Please, when I refer to evolution, I am NOT denying change by virtue of simple variation, but change in basic body type, form, and function)

    You said the idea of evolution can be checked in the natural world. Attempts are made at that constantly, but we still can’t get it to ‘work’ past simple variation within kind!

    Nor is it a point of ‘naturally developed reason’ being effective or ineffective. That is beside the point. The point is that there is no reason for it to have developed in the first place! Evolution does not put a premium on reasonableness by its very definition!

    You also said “we do not decide to love our children. …[This] is inborn and outside our control to a great extent.” I really do beg to differ with you. There are an awful lot of unloved children in this world.

    Nor is it necessary for me to somehow prove that God rules rather than natural causes. All I have to do is show natural causes are not sufficient.
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Hello again, Helen, Paul of Eugene here. Thank you again for your willingness to continue dialoguing on this issue. I hope we can both learn more about what the other adheres to, and why. Let’s start with your initial assertion:

    The theory of evolution, like every scientific theory, proposes to make sense of some phenomenon by means of material, natural cause. It does not explain "everything" as having a material, natural cause. Science is played out like a game with rules. Go beyond material, natural cause and you are breaking the rules of the game. This does not mean that a scientist cannot believe in spiritual truths or beauty vs. ugliness or morality, not at all, it simply means that once he starts working with these things, he is no longer doing pure science. Science can tell us how to make thermonuclear bombs that can destroy the earth. Science cannot tell us it is perfectly OK – or not! to go ahead and make them. In exactly the same way, the scientific limitation on assessing material, natural causes of evolution (as long as we’re sticking to the science) cannot inform us of the importance or lack of importance for life itself. For this, we must go outside of science.

    When you speak to the notion that evolution would mean there is no free will, I’m afraid I don’t see the logic there. The whole idea of whether or not free will can even exist is debated strenuously, but you and I are on the same page there, we both believe in free will. You justify your stand that evolution implies no free will by stating we would be totally subjects of our inheritance. Well, I concede this may be true for plants, bacteria and worms. But animals blessed with free will have an advantage over less intellectually endowed creatures, and therefore evolution selects for them. I define free will in this context as the ability to make a choice based on an effective random selection between alternative actions that does not depend on mere summation of attractions.

    Of course the scenario is unrealistic! The whole reason to consider the unrealistic scenario is to show that a donkey has a means of making a decision even when the raw physical inputs are so balanced as to require something other than mere weighing of competing values! Philosophers first used this example to "prove" there was such a thing as free will. I merely use it to show that free will, defined as the ability to make arbitrary choices that have a random choice element within them above and beyond a mere summation of our instinctive drives, has survival value for donkeys and for us. This in support of my claim that evolution would actually favor the arrival of organisms that exhibit free will. I suppose the actual mechanism for donkeys is the presence of chaotic firing patterns within the neurons of the brain that can impose their own patterns on the patterns respresenting external stimulii. And when you say "evolution has no reason to reason with", you are mixing things up. TOE refers to what gets inherited and how that has changed over time, and why. In TOE, there is no "reasonableness". But the PRODUCTS of evolution – creatures that have evolved over millions and millions of years – can do all kinds of things that evolution itself can’t do. Fly, eat, walk, talk, reason, and even exchange differing opinions over internet debating boards. Free will can be grown just like wings and nest making instincts.

    Science is all about uncovering the truth. Always has been, and always will be. In the past, some people have thought they had the truth and they have since then been proven scientifically wrong. In looking at the long history of science, honest people reasonably suppose even we today don’t really have all the truth yet. Don’t take this honest facing of our human limitations as a lack of desire to know the truth! Here, I’ll do some of that in front of you and the whole world right now. It is my own personal belief that when I get to heaven and learn a lot more truth I will discover that I have been wrong about some things during my lifetime on earth. Does that mean I’ll go change my mind right now about those things? Of course not! I don’t know what they are yet! I muddle along as best I can learning what truth I can.

    Hmmm. Are you saying that lieing can be an effective strategy that evolution might therefore be expected to foster? Is a "walking stick" insect telling lies to the world about what it is? <gggggg> I’m sure with a little digging we can find examples of liers among any collection of humans. Did you hear about the fellow who asked the Lord if all fishermen are liars, or do all liars fish? The answer came back, all men are liars and some men fish.

    Well, the effectiveness of lying is not exactly a new insight. Actually, I’d appreciate a little more of a clue as to where you’re taking this lieing thing before saying very much more about it.

    Well, you and I did a little joint peer review of another’s work in the thread about the earth moving. We both ganged up on Bartholomew for asserting the earth is unmoving. Were we checking for truth, or merely consistency, accepted paradigms, etc. etc.? I think it was a little bit of both. Checking for consistency, etc. By the way, let me mention it was a good to be on the same side of the discussion with you.

    Well, have you heard about habitual drinkers killing themselves in car wrecks, and thereby becoming unable to have any more kids? Sometimes when they’re young adults and have never had any? That’s the kind of thing I had in mind.

    OK again, to my way of thinking, you’re confusing the theory of evolution with the total thinking of the person who happens to be an evolutionist. No scientific fact will ever prove it is desirable to cure disease or feed the hungry or seek truth. Only a value judgment, made outside of science, will provide motivation! That’s just the way we’ve decided to define science. There was a good historical reason for doing that. What we label as "values" was discovered to interfere with "good" science, "good" science here being defined as more accurate science, science therefore closer to the truth. So a wall of mental separation between the two was erected, for the sake of more accurate science. I remember reading somewhere that the Chinese Communists declared the theory of the "Big Bang" was false because it implied a beginning of the universe and therefore a creator and therefore a God. That kind of thinking is not the way to do science!

    For example, should we outlaw the feeding of antibiotics to cattle, which makes them grow faster? Evolution theory warns us that there is a risk of developing a whole lot of bacteria that are immune to antibiotics. Science can shed light on the outcome one way or the other, if we pass the laws or we don’t. But the REASON for passing the laws is beyond science. We have to decide we value the ability to heal the sick cheaply more than the ability to raise cheaper meat. Do we? And does it matter if the meat is just a little bit cheaper, and the sickness gets to be a real bad problem? Science can get the facts. We must choose what values we apply to those facts.

    I don’t claim God given wisdom in these posts, only that God has IN THE PAST answered my prayers. Not denying it, either. Not touching that with a ten foot pole! I certainly don’t want to see a discussion degenerate into "God told ME" "But God told ME . . ."

    As for the idea of accepting what God said, I know you are referring to the Bible. And I refer you, again, to our mutual disagreement with Bartholomew on the notion of the earth not moving. He claims scriptural grounds against it. He’s not the first – there is a long history of doing that, going all the way back to Martin Luthor, even Gallileo! The evidence, however, compels most of us to choose an alternate interpretation about the moving of the earth. I merely assert we are faced with that situation with regards to the theory of evolution as well as the moving of the earth. The evidence compels a rethinking of the interpretation of scripture.

    Would it be fair to assume that this, for you is the crux of the matter? The scriptural interpretation?

    I’m going to pause here and let you respond – and don’t forget I want to find out when the best time of year is to see the Clouds of Magellen!
     
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    HELEN

    Evolution does not allow for any non-natural, non-material causes. Although I personally figure that everything not explicitly mentioned in the Bible as a miracle where natural phenomena are concerned is probably the result of a ‘studyable’ material cause (presumably natural), -- and I think I am like a lot of creationists in this – I do think it is not good science to limit all ‘answers’ to just what man can work with. And that is what evolution/mainstream science is doing.

    What science should be is not a game but a search for knowledge. Thus the restrictions placed on science at this point are not only artificial in order to accommodate the evolutionary mindset, but false as well.

    Two points here:

    1. You are diverging into the field of ethics, and I was not referring to that. You did that later in your response as well, when you confused what to do with science with science itself. I was not referring at all to the morality of feeding the hungry, etc., but rather to the willingness of science to admit to non-natural, non-material causes. That willingness is not there. And it has nothing to do with the ethics of how to use technology.

    2. By confining all acceptable conclusions/answers to the natural and material, science is doing exactly what you say it is not: telling us the meaning of life. This is a logical conclusion which is stated by a number of evolutionists even if it is not in texts. If life is only natural and material, then it, of necessity, has no meaning that is not natural and material – and that is no meaning at all except what you or I personally choose to decide it means. It is post-modernism, if you will, played to the hilt.

    I think, if you look around you, you will find that no creature but man has free will. Instinct demands every sparrow build the same kind of nest. Instinct demands the migration of geese. Instinct tells the doe where to hide the fawn, and the fawn to be absolutely still. It is precisely because they have no free will or ability to reason that free will demands that they are totally at the mercy of their instincts. Yes, they can learn, but even in learning cannot override their instinctive behavior. The best animal trainers know this and work with it.

    Man is different. But evolutionarily he should not be. What you and I are doing discussing this issue has nothing to do with our instincts. Yet evolution demands it must arise via evolution, which means it must have a natural and material cause. In order to get around this, you are using words foreign to evolution itself: blessed and endowed. Both require an outside agent to do the blessing or endowing. Evolution and science in general refuse you that option. They both absolutely demand that there be NO outside agent – that’s part of the rules of the game. Thus I hold to the statement that evolution is illogical, precisely because it is said to have produced that (man) for which it has no natural mechanism. There is nothing about communication in a philosophical way such as this which would help with survival. In fact I can imagine that it would not! “The absent-minded professor” is not just the title to a Disney film of long ago! It is a stereotype based on observation of many professors and ‘thinkers’ who are not even aware that their shoes may be untied. This would be a mighty hindrance in running from an enemy.

    When I wrote that the donkey scenario was unrealistic, you replied ‘of course’. The fact that it is unrealistic, Paul, means that you cannot use it to describe reality. And I did think that is what we were attempting to do here :D Furthermore, the donkey has no means to make any ‘choice’ which is NOT governed by instinct. All that you have done is to implicitly admit you don’t know all of the factors involved which his instinct is responding to, not that there is such a think as free will for a donkey, all the philosophers in the world aside!

    And while I totally disagree that evolution would favor the arrival of free will, that is not the tack I wish to take right now. Consider, instead, that free will demands a level of intellect which can judge between two options on a basis NOT governed by instinct. Not only is that intellect not there in any animal, but a lack of instinct is almost a surefire way to become dead in the animal kingdom. It is not that free will itself is bad or good evolutionarily, but that its requirements are not met in any naturalistic, material paradigm.

    The lack of free will in other creatures is acknowledged by science daily in working with animal behavior. When an animal does something in a particular situation, the question is ALWAYS “Why?” In other words, it is assumed from the start that the behavior was determined by something that can be discovered with enough study, not that it was a choice based on randomness!

    You said the theory of evolution has no ‘reasonableness’, and I never argued otherwise. However I will say that the lack of reasonableness in the process makes it quite a paradox that it should produce reasonableness in the outcome. This does not make sense. And this is another crucial point to my thread here: to reason something out demands an ‘apartness’ from it, but evolution declares there is no apartness from evolution. This is illogical. This means we cannot reason, and certainly not reason objectively. Yet we do. The fact of our existence as human beings denies evolution entirely.

    You stated that “free will can be grown just like wings and nest making instincts.” That is a nice thought but has no basis in experimental evidence or the natural, material world science rules says you must stick to in its game. It is, rather, a necessary conclusion based on those arbitrary rules and has nothing to do with reality at all. Reality shows us that nest-making is full-fledged (if you will pardon the pun) and not any progressive matter at all. That is the same, to me, as the idea of an egg-laying critter somehow simultaneously developing some kind of uterus instead as well as mammary glands and the instincts to nurture the young – all of which must be there together for a mammal! There really is an irreducible complexity involved that is being ignored completely. What the evolutionary response is “Evolution happened. That’s a fact. Therefore those things also happened.”

    That is no kind of answer.

    You are mixing up science with a quest for truth. Science cannot afford to be a quest for truth as long as it is a manmade game with manmade rules. And that, as you implied above, is exactly what it has become.

    When I said that lies were good operating tools, I was thinking more of human beings, actually. I don’t consider insect camouflage to be ‘lying.’ Lying, to me, requires intentional deceit and that is something almost natural to man. Why? What evolutionary reason would promote the tendency to deceive and then result in you, a product of evolution, declaring that science is seeking the truth? That runs against our actual tendencies as observed everyday! Peer review does not say anything about truth, only about agreement.

    In the section of our discussion about the worst thinkers being eliminated, you brought up drunk drivers. The sad fact is that drunk drivers more often kill others than themselves. How does that fit in with your idea that the worst thinkers are eliminated?

    You stated “Evolution compels a rethinking of the interpretation of scripture.” That, sir, is part of my objection as a Christian. I do consider that God knows what He is talking about far better than man knows what he is talking about! In those areas of Scripture where idiomatic phrases are used, which can then lead to confusion regarding beliefs (the sun rising and setting, for example) is a different matter altogether. But when something is stated clearly and simply and straightforwardly, as happens in the Genesis account of beginnings, one must either accept or deny it on its own terms. Imposing your terms on it is denying its validity, only in a slightly more roundabout way.

    But, no the crux of this thread is NOT Scriptural interpretation, to answer your question. The crux of this thread is that evolution is illogical on its own merits, all Scripture aside.

    As far as the Clouds of Magellan are concerned, I’ll ask Barry and post tomorrow.

    Thanks, by the way, for your various compliments in your post. I am not ignoring them but do appreciate them. I am also desperately trying to stay on-topic! :D
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Paul of Eugene here, replying again to Helen. Greetings to you and to all who read these words. May the Lord continue to use us all in ways that advance His kingdom.

    In speaking of the need for science to be seperated from the non-material, it may be that we are missing something here. I'm thinking of the abortive efforts to investigate the paranormal undertaken at Duke University by J B Rhine . . . Rhine came away convinced he was actually on to something that cannot be explained by our current physical only paradigms. The key was, he did not investigate this by proclamation from authority, but by the scientific, experimental method. Anybody is free to duplicate his experiments and perhaps shed light on the results. And sure enough, others have done so and reported the results did not bear up under such repitition. Now I am not a scientist nor the son of a scientist but it would appear to me that you may have a point about the arena of scientific investigation. Sooner or later the interface between the physical and the spiritual is going to have to be evaluated scientifically! For example, there has GOT to be some kind of brain activity associated with the state of prayer and the opinions reported by practicing christians (such as you and me) that we are experiencing a state of fellowship with God. Is this or is this not associated with activity in a particular brain area? If that area is damaged does that hamper one's perceived relationship with God? These are questions that can conceivably be approached scientifically. Which means, with the objective, scientific method. We cannot, for example, consult the I Ching and from there derive insights into the behavior of electrons. Nor can we, scientifically, consult the Bible and rule out evolution. History has shown this way of ruling out scientific truth can be very very wrong.


    I suspect that in talking about free will here we are disagreeing about definitions as much as anything. Did you notice I defined free will? Let me repeat the definition. I define free will as the ability of an entity to choose a course of action based on random internal factors in addition to an appropriately weighted summation of instinctive drives. Donkeys stuck between equally appealing bales of hay have no trouble choosing because they have that random internal input that overcomes those quandries.

    Now I have the impression you mean something MORE when you are talking about free will. So, I await your definition! And in the meantime, perhaps you can see how evolution could favor the arrival of "free will" according to my presumably more restricted definition.

    One of the primary rules for clarity of thought is to keep track of the level of abstraction. Elements combine into sets; sets in turn can be elelements of higher sets. When you move from one level of abstraction to another you have a transformation of kind that takes place. Hydrogen and Oxygen come together to make water. Water is NOTHING LIKE hydrogen OR oxygen! Evolution works with genes by means of natural selection, throws out mutations that don't work, keeps the ones that do. Gene frequency and composition therefore varies with time. But the EXPRESSONS of that gene frequency and composition vary in ways that are NOTHING LIKE tables of frequency. Wings, nest making, and that free will stuff AS I DEFINED IT.

    Lots of birds make less than elaborate nests. Some just lay eggs on the ground. Some just cross a couple of twigs so the eggs don't roll much. And the duckbilled platypus has mammary glands but lays eggs.

    Actually, with science, we've finally found a way to learn more truth and verify it as we go!
    And the fruits of science continually demonstrate that the scientific method works.

    Are you sure about that? I think we just more often hear about the innocents killed because they sell more newspapers. But lets think about this more carefully. Everybody, drunk and sober alike, is at the same risk against drunk drivers out there when we hit the road. Therefore, among ordinary drivers, accidents caused by drunks don't change the frequency of our drinking related genes, in the long run. But drunks are heavily involved in the accidents caused by drunks. There's one of them in every such accident! Therefore these accidents will tend to put a definate drag on the "drinking gene" complex. Or if there should be a complex of genes that tends to block drunk driving, that complex will be selected for. We'll see some changes in the amount of drunk driving after a few hundred years of evolution, providing we keep driving for that length of time. (I look for the cars to begin driving for us within a hundred years or less, plus I expect the second coming in just a few years, etc. etc.)

    Now when it comes to lying - I agree with you that there is a definate difference in kind between the activities of humans and animals in this regard. There are examples of animal deception, giving false alarms, for example so that when the others dive for cover, the one who gave the alarm can eat all the food. But in any animal there is something missing - that is, the larger understanding of the nature of a lie. This comes with language and the larger understanding of reality based on the use of language. Dog owners know their dogs can look very guilty. But a dog's guilt is nothing like our guilt. Our larger understanding does not do away with the fact that we have instincts, but it makes us more responsible for the weight we choose to give our instincts. I would never overfeed my horse (actually I have no horse, I speak rhetorically) but why do I overfeed myself? Hmmmm.

    Looking forward to your reply
     
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    HELEN

    Hi Paul,

    I think you are right – we were referring to different things. I was thinking specifically of origins when I was referring to the non-natural conclusions which really should be drawn by studies in some areas. I was not referring to paranormal phenomena today.

    And, try as they might, I doubt seriously if scientists are actually going to be able to evaluate any interface between the physical and the spiritual. But I’ll be curious to watch the attempts!

    You asked some interesting questions about whether or not brain damage hampered one’s relationship with God. My answer is based on the fact that we are made in His image as primarily spiritual beings and so I would say “no”, it does not. The brain is the ‘super-computer’ the spirit and soul use to interact with the physical world, so that interaction would be, and is hampered by brain damage, with the amount of damage determining the amount of hampering. But on a spirit-to-Spirit level, I don’t think the brain is needed at all. Once you are out of the physical realm, physical things are simply not needed.

    And I do disagree with your statement that the Bible does not rule out evolution. I think it very specifically rules it out both in Genesis 1 and 2 Peter 3.

    And I would ask, since you used the phrase, what is “scientific truth”? Conclusions drawn in science differ so drastically not just from one time to another but from one person to another, what has science actually got to determine truth?

    Next we went back to the free will part of the argument. You defined free will as “the ability of an entity to choose a course of action based on random internal factors in addition to an appropriately weighted summation of instinctive drives.” I’m a little stuck here. What do you mean by “random internal factors’?

    When I speak of free will, I am speaking simply of the freedom to want something or another, be it attainable or not. While your mythical donkey may have had, to the best of any test’s ability to provide, the freedom to CHOOSE between one pile of hay and another, this does not mean he really had the freedom to choose based on his ‘donkeyness.’ Choice has the concept of decision-making internal to it. Decision-making requires the ability to consider the different choices. I have never met a donkey (and I have met a few…) who had the ability to consider anything! There is no reasoning ability that I have ever seen in any equine. Some have incredible instincts, true – we had a little white pony/Arab mix who was totally trustworthy in an unknown field as she was able to spot, somehow, every gopher hold and avoid it. We gave her the lead in those fields! We appreciated her skill in this area immensely, but I never saw her stop and consider or choose a thing, such as which way to go. And yet, to an outside observer, it certainly would have appeared that she was somewhat randomly changing directions as she wished! But it was not that at all…

    I think we need to be very careful about not anthropomorphizing where animals are concerned.

    As far as nest-making in birds is concerned, you stated that lots of birds make less elaborate nests. Please note, though, that you are speaking of different kinds of birds! The idea we are debating is the concept of choice here, and I don’t think any sparrow has a choice about the type of nest to build. We can tell the kind of bird by looking at the type of next, in fact, for they are instinctively built the same way by all members of a species.

    And yes, I know about the platypus. I have seen them in Australia and it’s too bad they don’t make good pets! At any rate, they are considered mosaics, not evolutionary transitionals. And evolutionary theory has no explanation for them at all!

    Regarding drunk drivers – you will note that as often as not they escape from accidents with their lives while many of those they hit do not. This would not tend to eliminate drunks from the gene pool!
     
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    THE GALATIAN

    Helen remarks:
    And yes, I know about the platypus. I have seen them in Australia
    and
    it’s too bad they don’t make good pets! At any rate, they are
    considered
    mosaics, not evolutionary transitionals.


    Evolutionary transitionals are almost always mosaics, because natural
    selection does not automatically change all features of an organism
    at once.
    Unless they are functionally coordinated, like the mammalian teeth,
    jaw,
    and palate, there is no reason for this to happen. Gould points out
    this
    fact in the case of Archaeopteryx, which has evolved some birdlike
    features,
    but retains some dinosauran features as well. I can't think of one
    transitional that shows smooth transitions in all features. Maybe
    one of
    the horses. But even there, much of horse evolution leading to the
    one
    surviving genus is adapted to one fact, the adaptation to living on
    open
    plains and eating grass.

    And evolutionary theory has no explanation for them at all!

    I don't know of any paleontologist who considers them a great puzzle.
    Evolutionary theory, as noted above, expects such a thing. Properly
    speaking, modern platypuses are not transitionals, because they
    haven't yet
    evolved into anything else. However, there are transitional
    platypuses in
    the fossil record, and they are, as evolutionary theory predicts,
    more like
    other mammals. The fossil record is still spotty on them, but as you
    know,
    time has a way of taking care of that in most cases.

    In the fossil record at the transition between therapsids and
    mammals, there
    are many examples of animals with mammalian jaws and skulls, but with
    primitive shoulder girdles and other reptillian features. So far,
    it's been
    impossible to say where the cloaca was replaced by the mammalian
    urogenital
    structure, but since the present evidence indicates that mammals are
    all
    evolved from a single line, it appears that this evolved after
    mammals.

    I had a chance to see a platypus skull last fall. It definitely had
    a
    mammalian jaw; only the dentary was present. I forgot to see if it
    had one
    occipital condyle or two. I'm betting it had two.
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Greetings, Helen, and may the Lord guide our discussions in a way that will continue to give Him the glory and honor in all that we say and do.

    Perhaps you've read about Phineas Gage, who was brain injured with a marked change resulting in his personality. His story can be read here:

    http://www.deakin.edu.au/hbs/GAGEPAGE/Pgstory.htm

    The thing of relevance here is that following his severe brain injury he was considered to have become "irreverent" and "profane". Most of us on this board are particularly sensitive to those who swear and take God's name in vain casually and apparantly this is what he started doing as a direct result of this damage to his physical brain. Now I take this as a warning to all of us as we judge the souls of our fellow man to consider we do not know the difficulties they labor under and to leave those judgments to God. But let's face it - he did a lot of swearing which we consider to be a sin that he wouldn't have done with a whole brain! I think this shows things are not so simple as you postulate here. Let's put out two possibilities:

    a) In addition to the brain, there is a soul, which is composed of a spiritual substance and is responsible for all the higher abilities of man over the animals

    b) The Soul is a function of the higher capabilities of the brain and all functions of the soul are also brain functions.

    In the years before the development of modern science, the soul of man was considered to be of such a different nature from matter that it was impossible to consider mere matter as the host of our spiritual natures. May I suggest that our modern knowledge of the mysterious quantum nature of the basic building blocks of matter shows us they are mysterious enough to serve as the elemental blocks of our spirit natures. When Adam was formed, the scripture does not say he was supplied with a soul, it says he became a living soul.

    I think I've been misquoted here. What I actually typed was "Nor can we, scientifically, consult the Bible and rule out evolution. History has shown this way of ruling out scientific truth can be very very wrong." In other words, there are times when our knowledge of the facts must guide our interpretation of the Bible and not the other way around. Historically this was observed to happen with regard to the fact that the earth moves. Today, even steadfast literalists such as yourself agree that the earth moves, but this was not always the case. And what do we do with that famous little verse talking about four legs on grasshoppers? Either we decide to not take the bible literally there or we move heaven and earth to find a way to reinterpret things. IF WE ACTUALLY LET THE BIBLE DECIDE FOR US, we would conclude grasshoppers really have four legs. They actually have six, of course. Evolution is scientifically so true that we need to deal with it in the same way. We can either conclude the bible is not to be taken so literally where evolution seems ruled out OR we can move heaven and earth to find a way to reinterpret things. Myself, I take the first choice. You would probably be more comfortable taking the second route, and someone of your abilities taking that route could very conceivably be doing a great service for the Lord, helping many of His servants to reconcile their faith with the realities science has discovered.

    The quarterbacks and the referee come together to decide which team gets to choose the side they will start at the beginning of the game. Everybody wants to be fair. Somebody has to be chosen. How can one person be fairly chosen over another in such a situation? Fortunately, they have has a random function on which to draw - a coin toss. If an organism has something in its head that can do something like toss a coin - it has an advantage over others that do not. There is a reason why every computer language provides a random number generation funtion.

    Let me attempt to put your idea here into my own words. You seem to be saying that animals can make choices but their choices differ in kind from our choices because our choices are based on a higher understanding that is so much higher than the understanding of animals as to become a different kind of thing altogether from any animal understanding. And of course this is true today. There also seems to be an a kind of absolute negation of any kind of reasoning ability at all in animals. You never see equines reason, you say. I've not been around equines, but I've heard that some of them have figured out how to unlatch gates with their lips and teeth. Even a dog, they say, can tell the difference between an accidental trip and a deliberate kick. Some kind of higher function allows the dog to choose between pre-programmed modes of tolerate or retaliate.

    I appeal to you to consider your experience raising children! Didn't they start off, all of them, at a level of understanding and ability on a par with the babies of any of the higher mammals? Didn't you observe them develop over time the ability to far outstrip any other animal? Just as God gave this ability to our children, you know it is not beyond His ability to cause the same thing to happen over the ages in the larger process we call evolution.

    As you point out, it is the glory of science to progress. There was a time when people believed in phlosgen, but the oxygen theory won out. We think we know something and then find out we didn't know it after all. Nevertheless, as science makes progress, there are pitons of truth driven down we can depend on as we try to reach greator heights. The vast size and age of our universe is one of those truths. Conservation of mass/energy. E=MC^2. If Gallileo didn't mutter "it still moves", the thought was in his heart. String theory remains speculative. Inflation theory is nice and maybe they'll even get that one figured out some day. But by the grace of God we've finally been able to learn some things, including the grand sweep of evolution as the means of our creation.
     
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    HELEN

    Paul,
    I have not said this before but I do appreciate your opening greetings and join in your implied prayer that we honor God in our discussions and actions. God bless you for that.

    OK, regarding the brain and personality change: you are not going to believe this, but I am going to appeal to Dawkins’ and his reference to the brain as a sort of super-computer. He seems to think the computer runs itself, however, and I don’t. Now, if a computer gets a virus, it is going to do things and even send things out that the operator is not responsible for, right? I think brain damage can do the same thing. In the same way Tourette’s Syndrome can make a person do or say what he does not want to do or say, other forms of brain malfunction can do the same thing.

    Along these lines, I have seen something that has really given me pause. I have seen a number of cases where a person who undergoes chemotherapy for cancer ends up seeming like a different person afterwards. And I have not seen it resulting in an improvement! Patience seems to become impatience, and similar. It makes me think that if I ever get diagnosed with cancer I will refuse that sort of treatment!

    And again along these lines, I have had, as I think you may know, a number of major surgeries. In surgery different anesthesiologists will use different combinations of drugs. I have had a few different combinations. With one I woke up terribly angry at the entire world. That’s not me! Dental local anesthetics and even one time with eye drops during an eye check have caused almost suicidal depressions for me. None of that is me, and I am so glad when the chemicals are out of my system! Do you see? There is a ‘me’ in back of all those variant expressions which may or may not be expressing me.

    I sometimes look at my retarded son, Chris, and wonder WHO he is in back of all that! I know he’s there, and I find myself treating him with enormous compassion and love when I try to think what enormous pain and frustration he might be feeling behind all that brain damage! Sometimes when I get a big hug or a laugh, or when he responds at all, I think I get a glimpse of a very wonderful person back there. I think I do….

    And no, I reject that idea that anything physical is an ‘elemental building block’ of our spirits. The reason for this is essentially biblical. In 2 Peter 3 we are told that this creation will be entirely destroyed – “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” Nevertheless, we who are His will be in heaven, untouched by that destruction.

    Adam became a living soul when God breathed into him. This is nephesh, or the breath of life. Adam’s body was made from the same elements as the earth, but his soul, his nephesh, was God-breathed and not associated with matter.

    You wrote “there are times when our knowledge of the facts must guide our interpretation of the Bible and not the other way around.” I would agree only in areas where the Bible is not clear, or is idiomatic, and most certainly NOT in areas where it is clear and straight. Then God’s Word is absolute. Genesis 1 is clear and straight. I don’t see how it could get clearer or straighter!

    The earth moving was not a matter of the Bible being clear or unclear but of our lack of understanding of the Hebrew historically. The Hebrew makes VERY clear what is being referred to, and it does not disagree with what we know is true at all.

    As far as the grasshoppers go (and bats being lumped with birds, and whales with fish), we often presume our way of categorizing things is the only right way. That is terribly ethnocentric. We also have not been willing to understand the meaning of phraseology associated with other types of categorization. If you look at the Bible in reference to categorization of living things you will find three ways: by kind, by clean/unclean, and by locomotion. This last was the most common. In this categorization, there were those things that crawled on their bellies – all manner of serpents and snakes. There were those things which flew – but in this category were two basically separate categories: birds (bats included as they flew by flapping), and bugs. The distinguishing between the two more than size was number of legs. Either two or four. Four was more than two and included everything with four or more. Unless we understand that, we think the ancient Israelites (or God, for giving the rules) were awfully stupid. They weren’t.

    The point, then, in not taking the Bible ‘literally’ but in understanding what it is talking about on its own terms – this is literal, actually, but usually ‘literal’ is applied to the English translations, which is really a crazy way to do it! If you want literal, let’s go back to the original literature, or at least as close to it as we can get!

    If one takes the time to research, nothing needs to be ‘reinterpreted’ in the Bible in a way to detract from its straightforward meaning. Genesis 1 gives us a straightforward narration. Meat can be added to the bones, but the bones cannot be rearranged to suit modern tastes and still be faithful to the text.

    About random internal factors: you gave a coin toss as an example. That is external. You mentioned computers. Those are external. I was asking about animal brains, and from my experience with animals, I see nothing random about anything they do. They can learn, yes, but that is not random either.

    What I was trying to say was that although it may APPEAR to us that animals make somewhat random choices, they end up not being random at all, but determined by more factors than we knew at the time. I did have a horse that learned to unlatch a gate, by the way! She learned it because she ‘lipped’ everything, but everything! The first time it just happened because we had not latched the gate securely. But she was not stupid and she went back to where it had worked before and fooled around for a bit. The next few times didn’t work but then, once in awhile, it would work again, so she would go back time and time again. I remember when I was in a college psychology course, we did labs with pigeons. We found that one only had to randomly and rarely reward a particular course of action for that action to become repeated and deliberate. That is exactly what happened with Sprite. There was no reasoning on her part, but a very happy accident which she liked (freedom to eat the corn in the area near the horse corral!) and that lure of that food caused her to try to get out again and again. Once in awhile she was successful until we finally bungeed the gate shut and she never did figure out that cord with the hooks on it!

    You mentioned dogs recognizing a kick from a trip. Some dogs do. Some dogs don’t. I’ve had both. Some dogs have a more patient nature than others. This has nothing to do with reasoning.

    You then used the idea of a developing child as an example of how evolution could have happened through the ages, but that is an entirely false analogy! Babies come into this world programmed to be humans! Their development has nothing to do with genetic changes, but with those things which happen because they are human. For instance, profoundly deaf children in hearing families will develop a language of their own, referred to as ‘home sign.’ The urge to communicate in an individual, advanced way is that strong in humans. Evolution had to come up with that urge, not simply develop what was already there! Early mammalian helplessness has nothing to do with evolution!
    Yes, of course God COULD have done anything He wanted any way He wanted, but the fact is that He told us that he created relatively recently and by kind and that is what mainstream science disputes. At some point one has to choose. I was weak; I didn’t choose God until I saw scientific evidence backing Him up, and I am now ashamed of that. I know now that God can be trusted no matter how many ‘experts’ are lined up against Him.

    Yes, science does make progress, but I submit that any progress it makes is in spite of itself! For instance, you have declared the vast size and age of our universe to be a scientific truth. I think the size is something science is getting the hang of, but the age is pure interpretation and nothing else. It is not a scientific fact! In fact, even conservation of mass/energy is not an absolute fact, it is just that it seems to be the case with what we see and can work with. But we have to be careful about those things. There are already arguments I have read against it. Now I cannot analyze these arguments because I don’t have the background, but they are being made by physicists and I have seen Barry’s exchanges with some of them and read some articles and it’s fascinating.

    As far as Galileo was concerned, Copernicus was way ahead of him and Galileo was detained and tried on political/religious reasons, not scientific ones.

    And no, evolution as a ‘grand sweep’ simply didn’t happen. There is no biblical support for it (but exactly the opposite) and biologically there is no mechanism for it outside of men’s imaginations.
     

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