Spring Loaded

One of the things we should have realized by now is that the world around us is far crazier than we could ever have dreamed. Just when we have finally accommodated ourselves to taking yesterday’s staggering discoveries for granted, along comes another one. Our sinful hearts have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted, and even we are having trouble keeping up.

Word now comes that the language of DNA is not limited to one language. This is more than just a genetic palimpsest. This means that we have, at least in some places, a line of code that is coded in two different ways in order to perform two different functions. It is as though the boss at the factory said something like “turn on the fitzoblaster” and two different employees understood him perfectly, and went and turned on two different machines, and both employees did exactly what the boss wanted — obeying his command in two different but homophonic languages. But the boss, under evolutionary assumptions, along with the factory, both came into being as the result of a huge explosion in a nearby junkyard. As in, ka-blooie.

Malcolm Muggeridge once said that evolution in retrospect will be seen as one of the great jokes of history. If it keeps up much longer, it will be the premier howler of history.

Now my point here is to note that the God who does this kind of staggering thing is the same God who gave us Scripture. Why should we assume that His revelation is merely “inerrant”? Why should we stop there?

Whenever I write on this, I want to be extremely cautious. I do have problems with the standard understanding of inerrancy, but not because it claims too much for Scripture. My problem is that it claims far too little. Because it tends to claim too little, in the same kind of way that Muslims claim aboriginal authority for the Arabic Koran only, descended from Heaven, we tend to get stuck on petty discrepancies that are actually not discrepancies at all.

I am a biblical absolutist. But I also believe that we are only on the cusp of understanding the ramifications of this.

Commitment to the absolute authority of Scripture has to extend both into the past and the future. As far as the past is concerned, we are children of the Reformation, and so we answer to the ad fontes summons. We want to give ourselves to exegetical study of Scripture in the canonical languages, and we want to increase biblical literacy with the canonical texts as the foundation stones.

But there is a future-oriented aspect to this as well. Scripture is spring-loaded beforehand for translation. Translation into every human language is not a bug, it is a feature. Bible translation is not like the telephone game, where we are gradually moved farther and farther away from what God originally said. It works the other way around. The more we labor in the Word, taking it to the nations, the better we understand it.

Think of it this way. The Lord Jesus taught in Aramaic, a dialect descended from Hebrew. But the canonical text that we have in the gospels is all in Greek. When we get back to the autographs of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we are already one generation removed from the words that Jesus actually spoke. This, incidentally, is a help to us in resolving certain synoptic discrepancies, but I have a larger point at present.

The process of translation adds to our understanding of God’s Word. It does not subtract from it. I am, of course, assuming genuine efforts at translation, and not incompetent efforts or heretical ones. The more good and godly translations we have, the better it gets. The more we have scholars laboring in Hebrew and Greek, the better it is, and the more their work results in a vast array of Bible translations downstream, the better it is.

The Westminster Confession says that God not only gave us His Word in the original, but that He providentially preserved that Word down through history (WCF 1.8). He did not do this by means of one solitary manuscript kept in a safe box, but rather through the glorious mess that we otherwise call by the name of church history. But it just looks like a mess. God is up to something big.

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55 comments on “Spring Loaded

  1. I’m having trouble understanding why multiple DNA languages is incompatible with evolution (and I actually do have a biology degree).  So, without using too many big words, please start at the top and explain why you think this discovery tends to show that evolution didn’t happen.
     

  2. Eric, you might try Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box as a starting point. He explains how, statistically, the interrelatedness of multiple detailed activities at the cellular level could not have all changed at the same moment.

  3. Eric,
     
    In good nature (no scowling), and not being the esteemed site owner, I think that your question is asking for something separate from what is seems to be asking. To depersonalize it just a bit (not “your question” but “the question”) is insisting upon an answer from a supposed position: a scientific answer proving the existence (or not) of “evolution”.
    Nonetheless, as a Christian, I must, as a created being, bow in submission to Words such as “In the beginning, God…” God says that faith comes before understanding, and not the reverse. He also says that one reason that men cannot see is not due to a lack of sufficient proof, but that they unrighteously suppress the truth.
    To answer your question in the terms or conditions that you/atheists desire, as least as it seems to me, would require me to depart from honoring the Creator and try to use His lap to reach up to pinch His nose to prove that He is real.

  4. RFB, I am perfectly fine with Christians saying they disbelieve evolution because it goes against the Bible.   I don’t agree with that position, but it’s a defensible position to take.  If you accept the Bible as the ultimate authority, then that resolves the issue.  However, that’s not what I understand Doug to be doing here.  As I understand it, he’s making what he thinks is a scientific argument — somehow, the existence of multiple DNA languages conflicts with evolution — and if he’s going to do that, then he does need to be prepared to defend his position based on scientific reasoning.  I can’t for the life of me understand why multiple DNA languages would be in conflict with evolution, so I’d like clarification as to why he thinks there’s a conflict.  If his answer is the same as yours — the Bible settles the issue — then any discussion of science at all is a red herring.

  5. Indeed, we must trust the processes God uses as well as the Word itself. 

  6. Eric, the way I understood the post is that he’s referring to the probability of evolution producing such a system, but I could be misunderstanding his point.

  7. But the boss, under evolutionary assumptions, along with the factory, both came into being as the result of a huge explosion in a nearby junkyard. As in, ka-blooie.

    This is what makes me think that.  I think the biological implications would also be an interesting conversation to have, too — not that I know what those biological implications are beyond their probability, though.

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    -      – Eric the Red
    The point being made is one of principle:  The more complex something is, the less likely it is a product of random chance. If you walk into the woods after a storm and find four fallen trees in a square, it may be the result of the storm or may be the result of a person. If you walk into the woods after a storm and find a log cabin, it may also be the result of the storm or may be the result of a person… however the former explanation becomes increasingly unlikely.
    In the case of the DNA encoding, it’s like having a single text that, using the same characters, has a complimentary meaning in two languages. Maybe it’s the result of Scrabble pieces shaken in a bag and dumped on a table. Or, maybe it’s the result of an author. The argument for the latter is not antithetical to reason, logic, or the scientific method.

  9. Eric – information never comes from non-information. DNA is information. Having more information packed in it than we thought makes it that much less possible for it to have come from non-information.

  10. One of the main arguments evolutionists make is that randomly mutated features are put to several uses so as to be beneficial to the species and retained. They’ll no doubt use this highly improbable feature as an argument FOR their position.

  11. Doug, 
    The times that I have heard you preach you use the King James version, which was the first version that I grew up reading and many of the verses that I have memorized are from this version. Yet, what you say here could make it appear to some that each translation that comes next would be a superior one since it builds off what came before it. Also, have you ever read the “Voice” translation, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it if you have read it. 

  12. I read Darwin’s Black Box when it first came out quite a number of years ago.  Whatever legitimacy its arguments may have had back in the 1970s (which is when I think it was first published) has been completely undercut by subsequent scientific observation.  The idea, for example, that the multiple cellular modifications couldn’t have happened at once has been shown to be false, both in premise and conclusion.  In premise because there’s no requirement that they all happened at once; in conclusion because it’s been demonstrated that all of those modifications can and do happen simultaneously.  Google “how the eye evolved” for more details.

  13. But whatever unanswered evolutionary questions still remain – and there are some, I will acknowledge – is more than made up for by the fact that there are about a dozen scientific disciplines and subdisciplines that are founded on evolutionary assumptions, meaning that if evolution is wrong, so are the premises of all those disciplines.  They include genetics, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and oncology.  The fact that you can get a vaccine that will keep you from getting a disease that used to kill people is applied evolution.  And, when evolutionary assumptions are applied in the laboratory, valid and testable conclusions inevitably follow.  That’s a pretty solid bit of evidence, in my opinion.

  14.  
    Which takes us back to where we started in my original comment.  If you want to disbelieve evolution because it conflicts with the Bible, that’s fine, but don’t then bring science into it.  Because if I understand your position, ultimately it doesn’t matter what the science says anyway.

     

  15. Hey Eric, if you’re going to make the analogy of vaccines progressing, you have to include everything. For example, in your example, there is an intelligent being guiding the process. Not an impersonal force of nature, but an intelligence. To complete your analogy of vaccines properly, that would be God.

  16. Eric,
    those who are even moderately familiar with the state of the debate concerning evolution and ID will know that you are bluffing (or just ignorant?) in what you claim.
    I think it is probably a combination of both, with a higher proportion of the latter as evidenced by this howler of yours:

    I read Darwin’s Black Box when it first came out quite a number of years ago.  Whatever legitimacy its arguments may have had back in the 1970s (which is when I think it was first published) has been completely undercut by subsequent scientific observation.

    Darwin’s Black box was not written in the 1970′s. The first edition was written in 1996 and a 10-year anniversary edition was written in 2006 which engaged the attempted responses in the intervening 10 years.
    In contrast to your protestations, the evidence against Darwinian evolution has only been stacking up even higher and the responses to the ID literature have been whimpering at best. For example, see ‘Signature in the Cell’ by Meyer and the underwhelming responses we saw from men such as Darrel Falk. More recently we have ‘Darwin’s Doubt’ and the howls of pain that is causing.
    Your appalling grasp of the state of the debate in this area should caution readers in taking seriously anything else you say.

  17. Eric, Darwin’s Black Box came out in 1996 – not even close to the 70′s.      Since then, a far more powerfully persuasive book has come out called “The Edge of Evolution” which utterly dissolves the modern neo-Darwinian paradigm. I strongly encourage you to read the book itself and not just the hyperventilating critics that have a helluva lot to lose if Behe is right. There are valid criticisms to be sure – just as there are for any serious scientific treatise – but the gist of his position is very solid indeed. Behe is, as you know, a believer in common descent. But he demonstrates, not only that sexual/survival selections  of random mutations are not likely to produce the hyper complexity of many features of bio-organic systems ; but neo-Darwinism simply cannot, for all intents and purposes, achieve these results. It is because of arguments like these that the highly respected and noted atheist philosopher Antony Flew became a theist in his 80′s. (Now, how often do we find a man who has built his career and reputation in skillful argumentation for one world view go and completely reverse his opinion much later in life – due to the sheer power of evidence contrary to his lifelong position?)
    So Doug’s point is that a series of selectable random transcription errors are not the explanatory mechanism for the extreme and specified complexity of the biological language/interpretation/application system. (Read DNA/RNA)

  18. OK, so my memory is not what it used to be and I forget when Darwin’s Black Box was published.  That doesn’t change the substance of any of my arguments, and the idea that evidence against evolution has been building in the last 20 years is not the consensus of people who do biology for a living.  If all of this evidence against evolution is building, why is it not appearing in print anywhere except creationist apologetics?  Are all biologists dupes or liars or stupid or some combination thereof?  

  19. The point of a vaccine is not that intelligent humans discovered it, but the fact that conceptually it works at all, and also the fact that vaccines have a limited amount of time before they stop working.  However, if you’re going to claim design as an argument, then you have the whole problem of just how badly the human body is designed.  Women are prone to urinary tract infections, and men to hernias, and neither of these would be a problem with only minor adjustments to human anatomy.  Vestigal organs, like the appendix, do no good and potentially great harm.  Is this really the best intelligent design can do?

  20. Jay, google “how the eye evolved.”  You’ll find plenty about how complexity doesn’t require intelligence.
     

  21. Eric, the idea of vestigial organs is not being taught in most secular medical schools. My medical doctor brother was explicitly taught in a secular med school that idea was outdated. There may be problems with them after their use is over, but they all serve a function.

  22. Eric, as per a couple of comments above, if the fact of one code in DNA is evidence against evolution by reason of information implying design, then more than one code is further evidence.    //    “there are about a dozen scientific disciplines and subdisciplines that are founded on evolutionary assumptions, meaning that if evolution is wrong, so are the premises of all those disciplines.  They include genetics, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and oncology.”  You are probably equivocating on the word “evolution” here. Has the HIV virus changed since the 1950s, yes. Is this really what people mean by evolution from single celled organisms to pelicans, not really—other than the HUGELY disputed assumption of common descent. I have worked with all these fields—genetics, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and oncology—and they work fine with my absolute denial of common descent/ evolution. Evolution is not foundational at all and there are many examples where evolutionary assumptions have hindered these fields. Evolution is not the motor that keeps these fields running, it is the spanner that evolutionary enthusiasts keep jambing in the cogs.

  23. This new discovery reminds me of the movie Contact.  In that movie, scientists with atheistic assumptions are convinced that intelligent life exists in outer space when a pattern is detected that keeps repeating the prime numbers from 2 through 97.  They know that intelligence is  behind the signal.  But there are still skeptics.
    When information is found embedded in the beats of the signal that when filtered correctly turns out to be one of the first television broadcasts, it becomes impossible to deny.
    Finally, the television broadcast is discovered to have an even more complex message within the message that turns out to be the blueprints for a space ship.  
    Throughout the movie atheism and evolution are still held by faith by the rational and cool protagonist while at the same time maintaining (rightly) by faith that information equals intelligence.  I love this movie because only a blind fool (our culture) could make this movie and miss the irony.

  24. Great stuff.
    Wouldn’t it be amazing if the text of the Bible looked like DNA? Oh, wait!
    http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Matrix-Michael-Bull/dp/1449702635
    and
    http://bit.ly/1ehV0Ri

  25. Mr. Wilson: Since you’ve read Rushdoony, I’m sure you’re aware of his “apographs” argument. He said even though the original texts were inspired (“autographs”) that in one sense it the process of translation and preservation itself was inspired (“apographs”). Do you agree?

  26. Doug, Whenever I read this “Commitment to the absolute authority of Scripture has to extend both into the past and the future. ” and this “But there is a future-oriented aspect to this as well” I had a memory of you saying something about talk like this raising a red flag in our minds. Now with all the disclaimers you put in there its not flying full mast but I would be very grateful if you could elaborate on what you mean by “and the future”. I have been around the world and back with the doctrine of inerrancy (no thanks to the Bible Belt) and by His grace have settled it in my mind not in a final position way (since I don’t know the original languages and must trust other people’s translation of them) but in a foundational and transformational (I know what I know) way to be inerrant. Ironically this topic of scripture is at the heart of the matter with all the hub hub related to the Strange Fire stuff. So again, I’m not trying to be thick (even though thick people rarely do), but if you could explain more of what you mean I would greatly appreciate it. Have a good one.

  27. “Whenever I write on this, I want to be extremely cautious.  I do have problems with the standard understanding of inerrancy, but not because it claims too much for Scripture.  My problem is that it claims far too little.”
     
     
    It is a really interesting idea to compare our understanding of biology with Scripture interpretation.  Meaning does not change but words change and as a result we need new ways to say the same thing.  But you mean more than that correct?  The revelation of scripture increases as time goes by? I have never considered interpretations as moving closer to the truth.  Similarly, but in an opposite manner, science takes us further from our answers by uncovering more and more questions.  I think that is the joke in evolution.   There is an assumption that we have it figured out.  That may be the joke in science.  A cruel application of this joke is cancer treatment (maybe even death itself).  We don’t have it any more figured out than we have the interpretation of the creation as given by Moses.  It doesn’t stop there – we cannot figure out how Christ became a cell or rose from the dead.  But by the Grace of God we know that it did happen.  The Grace of God and the existence of evil are what keep me from being agnostic.  That and how Christians treat each other.  And for reference, this includes Dr. Falk – agree or not with his refutation of Dr. Meyer, and it includes Dr Meyer.  They both are Christians and you would know it by their love.  Please don’t misunderstand, the argument is good and the argument is interesting and I think probably the people in this forum would gladly argue with Eric the Red and then go to a pub together.  But evolution/creation debates seem to always spiral away from what ever point sparked the original debate.  This is where Pastor Wilson’s remark about scripture rings true for me.  Scripture is big enough to deal with the fluid nature of Science.  We must have conviction about the truth and must not draw lines in the sand where they do not belong.  Also, inasmuch as I ever really fully understand Pastor Wilson’s entire point, I liked it.  And Finally, I’m with Ben – the message translation for example…  

  28. I’ve never had a problem with the idea of evolution per se.  I suppose it could be  amechanism at work in nature, but we would have to apply a more ‘mythic’ reading to the beginning of Genesis, something I think C. S. Lewis was willing to do.  Most Protestant Evangelicals are not willing to ascribe that sort of style or genre to it.  I know it was not scientific or even historical in the sense we think of today.  But I don’t know how ‘mythic’ it is either.  Lewis was under the impression that the O. T. grows more historical–at least in the ancient sense I guess–around the time of King David.  Of course I realize truth and fact are different in one sense, and that the Sacred Story is always truthful. 

  29. Eric, in my oh-so-easily-evolved light sensitive apparatus, it appears that, due to your faith in the scientific community’s popular vote, any actual reading of the latest from Dr. Behe – and his attendant sources and references – is out of the question. But Antony Flew’s entire life’s work rested on the sort of opinions you find so persuasive. However,  as an honest and right thinking person, mere apparent consensus was not good enough. He looked into the actual evidence itself – and came away astonied at the stunning and ridiculous fishy-ness of the universe at large. Dangitall if this place has not been tinkered with by a certain Super Somebody!
    Now we, as folks who have actually experienced what it takes to manipulate matter and energy into functional forms, instinctively get that fortuitous kablooeys don’t make themselves into dynamic yet efficient machines and language/interpretation/application systems. Amazingly, even the odd selectable mutated molecular protrusion or DNA transcript error hasn’t got that sort of power.  - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -  

    As for the just-so stories about the eye… ?
    One little problemo: they’re just-so stories.
    Two little problemo: they are not taking into account the important factor of neuro-mutation to render the physiological changes effectual. In other words, the brain tissue needs to evolve with the eye tissues.
    Problemo Tres: We got more than simple tissue growth to account for… including the blood vessels, the cell shapes growing in a regulated circular pattern, the light sensitive cell formation and arrangement at the retina, the lens tissue incipient formation and shape, and so on…
    On the BARE macro-physiological level we might be able to imagine, with Dawkins, the form of the eye taking shape via natural selection acting on random mutation.
    But the MICRO level has a heckuva lot more going on to get those shapes and tissues than you can imagine! At the actual observed maximum rates of positive selectable mutation, all the stuff of Mr Dawkins design - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwew5gHoh3E –   mutates from Mount Improbable to Chasm Impossible
    But you just go ahead and play with the popular guys. They’d never let you down, would they?

  30. The genuine efforts of good and godly modern translations have certainly made the word of God more pleasant and palatable.  Especially when the Word is dipped in an imitation of spiritual sauce.  

  31. Genesis 1 is pretty obviously myth.  No one was around to witness it, so how could it be otherwise?

  32. Thanks, Matt.  You raise a point that should have been obvious. 

  33. I’ve yet to read a critique of Behe’s work that accurately represents his work. As a non-biologist who cannot always follow the fine details of the argument, I find that telling.

  34. [quote]But whatever unanswered evolutionary questions still remain – and there are some, I will acknowledge – is more than made up for by the fact that there are about a dozen scientific disciplines and subdisciplines that are founded on evolutionary assumptions, meaning that if evolution is wrong, so are the premises of all those disciplines.  They include genetics, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and oncology.  The fact that you can get a vaccine that will keep you from getting a disease that used to kill people is applied evolution.  And, when evolutionary assumptions are applied in the laboratory, valid and testable conclusions inevitably follow.  That’s a pretty solid bit of evidence, in my opinion.[/quote]
    Speaking as a non-biologist, not well versed in biology, this sounds like you’re saying that all biology is evolution. So all biologists are evolutionists. Is that correct?

  35. grr horrible formatting sorry about that

  36. E the R: I think DW is basically arguing irreducible complexity.  You have to admit that if operator overloading is going on at the genetic level it vastly increases the complexity.

  37. Mr Casey, nobody in their right minds has a problem with the facts of evolution. 
    Things in biology change…  sometimes even for the “better“.  Darwinian processes do result in morphological differences between ancestors. It is a bare fact.
    The problem here is the quasi-religious view of Omni-Darwinism –  I.e. The belief that random genetic mutations that are naturally selected for increased suitability for survival or reproduction explain all complex biological design. “Omni-Darwi” is not grounded in real empirical evidence or demonstrable calculation. It is merely an extrapolation from the evolution we do observe – combined with the dogmatic insistence that any apparent design feature that seems to be the work of intelligence is anathema. (Because the identity of designer is neither detectable nor explainable within an orthodox materialistic framework!) It is, in other words, a materialistic worldview system that is thus rendered invincible to all argument and evidence to the contrary. 
    But if we have an open mind and even allow for the possibility of intelligence as a causal factor… we have a far better explanation for a tremendous amount of breathtakingly complex phenomena. (Like DNA/RNA, blood cascade sequences, cellular factory construction/ maintenance/energy/ defense/ transport/reproduction/ systems, the human mind, etc.)
    In other words, if there is a Creator God, (And there really is no logical reason to assume that is not the case) He has something to do with how things came to be. 
    And this world is a very fishy (IXOYE) place, isn’t it?

  38. “Genesis 1 is pretty obviously myth.  No one was around to witness it, so how could it be otherwise?”    //    This seems to be unnecessarily granting naturalist presuppositions. God was there. I assume he told Adam about it.

  39. <p>Another interesting break in the dam that is Darwinism is the recent news that 400,000 year old human  DNA has been discovered.</p><p>
    Has anybody else detected the outline of the pattern of the ‘collapsing settled science’ ? We are watching it in real-time with the global warming argument. To my eyes Darwinianism is going the same route</p>
     

  40. This is the first time I have not appreciated what Eric the Red has brought to the table (as wrong as it may be). Usually his comments result in a good back and forth but this time it has taken the entire discussion and made it about evolution when we should be talking about the argument being made for what seems like progressive revelation from an ardent cessationist. Maybe I’m off base here but if we could use all those truly wonderful brains to talk about what Doug is really saying it would be more productive. At least it would be more productive for me….sorry for being selfish.

  41. Question:
     Why is it that scientists believe in so-called “Dark Matter”, even though it is not detectable through the means of any known sense or instrument?
    Answer: 
     Because we can observe certain effects in the universe that demand the existence of another causal factor besides the known laws and forces of physics such as gravity, electromagnetic force, etc.
    Question 2: If certain effects in the universe are best explained by the existence of intelligent agency – even if said being is not detectable through sense or instrument – why not accept the existence of a sort of “Dark Mind”? (“Dark” here having nothing to do with goodness or badness, of course.) 

  42. Jay, “Dark Matter” is some scientists version of what they often refer to as “the god of the gaps” explanation. What bothers a lot of scientists is when people say “well, God did it.” when they are at a point of not understanding. To them it seems like turning your brain off. However, the Dark Matter answer is essentially doing the same thing they always get frustrated with. Yet, what few seem to understand about the God of the gaps is that God is not just God of the things we can not yet explain, but of the things we already can explain as well. Gravity is just one of God’s creations, just like whatever Dark Matter turns out to be. 

  43. As Darwin’s theory is found to be a myth it seems there will be many in the scientific community who desperately hold to their dogmatic naturalistic presuppositions will ride the theory to oblivion like  Major Kong.

  44. Ben,     exactly. ;)

  45. Chesterton would smile at this.
    </br>
    Over at <a href=”http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinism/epigenetics-dawkins-selfish-gene-discredited-by-still-more-scientists-you-should-have-heard-of/”>uncommondescent</a> in a discussion about Dawkin’s selfish gene is this <a href=”http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinism/epigenetics-dawkins-selfish-gene-discredited-by-still-more-scientists-you-should-have-heard-of/#comment-482662″>gem</a>
    </br>
    “Our mistake. Turns out it’s actually a generous gene!”
     

  46. To Mr. Wilson: Amen, Amen, Amen! I have walked a knife edge trying to say this in my church before, but now I will be able to read this article out loud instead of gulping air like a fish between questionably orthodox attempts to explain, for example, why it should be totally acceptable for the Rhyming psalter versifications of the Psalms to be included in the English Bible instead of the traditional straight-verbal translations. Word to word and form to form, I say! And I’m not a heretic, I think! If there is one God, outside of time and eternally present within His church, who inspires the scriptures, then the English is no less inspired than the Greek. He calls himself THE WORD, for crying out loud- and when he does speak out loud, it has a tendency of coming out as things instead of sounds. He said “light” at the beginning, and it didn’t simply echo in the dark. The holy scriptures are living and active, and that means things; really important things that I can’t articulate right now! One day! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ To Eric the Red: (you have so much feedback already, what in the world will you do with mine?!) HOORAY! There is another biologist here. I would propose that the difficulty this dual-coding scenario raises for current evolutionary models is a sort of exponential expansion on the sophistication/complexity conundrum. If one strand of DNA codes for two sorts of information within the same sequence, then what were formerly considered “silent” mutations probably aren’t, and two alleles that code for indistinguishable proteins, and thus under the current model should produce the same results when expressed, may actually be producing significantly different results when expressed. This would reduce the number of mutations capable at a given locus that would not negatively impact viability. On the other hand, it could also provide yet another tier of adaptive potential under selective pressures. As always, the more “layering” and integration among systems that you have, the more a change in one area will cascade and impact other areas. In concept, this means that speciation may actually occur before the appearance of new genes, alleles, and the other things currently identified as the thresholds of speciation; it also means that speciation may be a totally bogus concept, and the integrity of a genetic identity/population through time can not be violated. This dual-coding thing essentially redefines all of the boundaries, and if it goes the way of the genetic and epigenetic revelations, evolutionary models are in for a re-write. They will probably benefit in some ways and wither away in others, but they won’t be the same, and some folks are going to look stupid for being so dogmatic in the meantime.

  47. Rueben K,   You certainly weren’t gulping air like a fish with your excellent post; particularly with the second half!
    As per your point that certain dogmatic paradigms will have to be jettisoned, I believe you’ll find this lecture very interesting. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJhotrNeYGE&list=LLOiuDEkvkLntbq8i76BJa3w

  48. I am amazed at all the “Confession, Confession, Sola Inerrant Confession” people that do not take exception to 1.8.  Not that I think that they are heretics, although Turretin and Owen would for sure.  And then comes the ignorant Critical Text label, “King James Only”, except that I love the NASB for its rendering of the Greek, but I am disturbed by the Greek Critical Text they use, and I love the Geneva and others for various different reasons, although I tend to prefer either the NKJV or KJV for ecclesiastical purposes.  Neither does 1.8 mean Textus Receptus only, even though I love it, but it is much bigger than this, but without the pitfalls of what Muller calls “the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility.”

  49. Eric the Red wrote:

    “the fact that there are about a dozen scientific disciplines and subdisciplines that are founded on evolutionary assumptions, meaning that if evolution is wrong, so are the premises of all those disciplines.  They include genetics, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and oncology.  The fact that you can get a vaccine that will keep you from getting a disease that used to kill people is applied evolution.”

    I’ve heard this kind of claim many times in my experience with evolutionism, but it has always evaporated into equivocation when faced with a requirement to produce a specific meaningful example.  Creationists don’t dispute that mutations occur, or that genetic recombination occurs in sexual reproduction (producing offspring that are not genetic clones of their parents).  Christian Creationists just reject Darwinian common descent, and theories of accidental biogenesis.  As such, none of the fields that Eric mentioned require any belief in Evolutionism and its assumptions.  If Eric thinks they do, then he needs to provide an example of a fact or field of repeatable scientific knowledge that would somehow be inaccessible to Creationists who continue to reject Evolutionism.  Regarding immunology, a Creationist would encounter no worldview crisis by studying a mutation or adaptation in a harmful bacteria and developing a safe treatment (without ever once supposing that the bacteria and the elephant shared a common ancestor, or that life is an accident of matter).
                                                                                                                                                      
    Eric appears to be equivocating the mere fact of mutations and genetic variation with his own ideological commitment to common-descent Evolution-ism.  Either he can’t see that he’s doing this, or he thinks that we can’t see that he’s doing it.  Either way, it’s just sloppy.

  50. I would like to point out here that as with many words in the modern vocabulary, including the modern scientific vocabulary, the word “evolution” means a lot of different things depending on when, where, and how you say it, and what you need it to mean. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   CURRENTLY, the foundational biological definition of evolution is, “a change in the distribution frequency of alleles in a population from generation to generation”. What this means is that evolution is considered to have occurred when an unusually large number of blue-eyed children are born to a population of brown-eyed adults. As a foundational metric for establishing genetic drift, gene flow, and the rate of genesis of “new” alleles, this is a fantastic definition of the word “evolution”. It is also happens every single day. Almost every year, the distribution frequency of alleles in a population will be different in the new generation. This is generally the scientific definition of the word “evolution” that vexed biologists are thinking of when they insist that evolution happens before our very eyes, and that denying this is ludicrous. But this definition is almost completely useless for any other reason. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  Thus, we have the myriad other definitions. In its largest sense, “evolution” is currently a synonym for “Naturalism” or “Material Determinism” used by people who do not know these latter two terms. “Evolution” (or frequently “Darwinism”) is also used as a catch-all term to refer to the theory of common descent. “Evolution” can also describe the genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, or physiological adaptations made by individual organisms in response to environmental pressures. These are adaptations and not evolution in any scientifically legitimate use of the word, but are colloquially called “evolution” regardless of that fact. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++    I would here like to note that there is no longer a distinction made in the biological establishment between the concepts of microevolution and macroevolution. The classical species concept (i.e., the model in which a species is a group of organisms with the same external appearance) and the biological species concept (i.e., the model in which a species is a group of organisms that can produce healthy, fertile offspring) are being increasingly disfavored in preference for the genetic or cladistic species concept, in which a species is an arbitrarily defined group of individuals identified by genetic similarity and/or evolutionary common ancestry. Since this new species concept is refreshingly arbitrary, the old macroevolution distinction as the point of evolution where speciation occurs is no longer necessary. HOWEVER, in light of the discoveries discussed in the article above, genetic similarity means something a lot different than we thought, and so somebody will have to invent a new species concept! What fun.  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   All this being said, I would like to suggest that those of you who like to argue about such things restrict your discussions to this question: “Is the universe of naturalism capable of generating, through the process of genetic change driven by selective forces, a being that is able to accurately and reliably perceive and rationally understand the functioning of said universe?” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++   It is a much better question and the discussion is much less arbitrary. The answer to the question is no, but it is for you all to figure out why.

  51. Reuben K. wrote:

    “CURRENTLY, the foundational biological definition of evolution is, “a change in the distribution frequency of alleles in a population from generation to generation”. What this means is that evolution is considered to have occurred when an unusually large number of blue-eyed children are born to a population of brown-eyed adults. As a foundational metric for establishing genetic drift, gene flow, and the rate of genesis of “new” alleles, this is a fantastic definition of the word “evolution”. It is also happens every single day. Almost every year, the distribution frequency of alleles in a population will be different in the new generation. This is generally the scientific definition of the word “evolution” that vexed biologists are thinking of when they insist that evolution happens before our very eyes, and that denying this is ludicrous. But this definition is almost completely useless for any other reason.”

    Well said.  Good summary.  This equivocation on their part has led to no end of talking past each other in origin debates.  Unless you are dealing with a species that reproduces by cloning, the problem with “frequency of alleles in a population” is that every live birth necessarily and continuously represents a change to the frequency of alleles expressed in that population (as does every death).  Who can argue against birth and death?  This definition is about as useless as the premeditated rhetorical shift from “global warming” to “climate change”.  Of course the climate changes.  It changes from season to season, and across longer cycles that we are just beginning to understand.  Who can argue with that?  But is it something our government needs to save us from or not?  Such rhetorical games seem like deliberate misdirection on their part.
                                                                                                                                                     
    This is why I like to use the word Evolutionism to describe the actual worldview commitment of the materialist.  Evolutionism entails an accidental universe, a purposeless abiogenesis, sustained increases of information and ordered complexity through the mechanism of copy errors, billions of years of death prior to mankind, and typically common descent.  Several of these are questions of historic particulars and are not even within the purview of strict repeatable science.

  52. The only evolutionary process that coudl make sense is one generated by God.  Whether such a thing ever existed on the macro-level is highly questionable.  It is not something we must posit.  It is merely an idea, and one that has few if any merits.

  53. katecho – of course a creationist could be “compatible” with any of those fields, because creationism makes no predictions or testable assertions. Anything the evolutionists discover, the creationists either become compatible with (if it helps their lives today) or reject it (if it doesn’t affect their lives today).

  54. One thing the Behe-loving creationists always fail to point out themselves is that Behe is not a creationist, Behe believes the Earth is old, Behe believes that all living things came from a common ancestor, and Behe believes that DNA proves that humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor. Behe believes that science shows every meaningful claim of creationism against evolution is false…just that random mutation doesn’t explain evolution by itself.

  55. Concerning something else that Eric the Red has over looked in Behe’s book (and this may have been pointed out already, in which case, my apologies) it is not necessarily morphology that is at issue with respect to irreducible complexity. Behe specifically mentions certain biochemical processes that are irreducibly complex, meaning that all the various parts need to be in place for the function to work at all.  We may imagine parts of the vertebrate eye missing, yet some level of vision still functioning. But with these biochemical aspects, all the various proteins and amino acids need to be interacting in a specific chain to achieve any vision. With respect to vision, when a photon of light strikes the retina it is absorbed by a molecule that alters an attached protein, which then initiates what biochemists call a cascade, essentially a chain reaction involving numerous and various molecules, which is essential in transmitting a nerve impulse to the brain. Remove any one of these molecular pieces and vision is not just diminished, it ceases -  the poor soul is 100% blind. 
    So pointing out ‘just so’ stories about how physical structures such as eyes could have developed in a step by step fashion hardly suffices. In fact, that was never any part of Behe’s argument at all. He was pointing to the biochemical systems involved with vision (along with other functions such as blood clotting and the immune system) not merely physical morphology.  And at the biochemical level, the complexity of these systems is astounding.  Needless to say, even the most ‘primitive’ eye would still require the biochemical system to function, thus the complexity at the biochemical level would need to be present from the get-go, or any eye (complex or less so) is useless.

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