Evolution’s Alligatornado

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Coyne’s next chapter is on the  “engine of evolution,” which is to say, natural selection. One of his examples was one I was already familiar with, and since it is quite a fun one — let’s just go with it.

There is a kind of roundworm that is a parasite to a species of ant in Central America. I will just give you the short form here. An infected ant has its normally black abdomen turn a bright red. The ant is made sluggish by the parasite, and his now red abdomen is made to stick straight up into the air, looking for all the world like an edible berry, at least to birds. In addition, the connection between the thorax and the abdomen is weakened, making it easier for a bird to pick that berry (p. 113). And while ants normally can produce a pheromone which warn the other ants of an attack, the pheromones in the infected ant are all shut down. Got all that?

A bird comes down and scarfs the berry, which is full of roundworm eggs. Those eggs are passed on through in the bird droppings, which other ants think would be good to scavenge in order to get food for their larvae back home. Taken back to the ant colony, these roundworm eggs hatch inside the pupae, and the worms head on down to the abdomen to mate and produce more eggs, and make the abdomen red and berry-like.

Now anyone who can read an account like this, while stipulating that it must be the result of natural processes flying blind, without laughing out loud, is simply not paying attention.

“It is staggering adaptations like this — the many ways that parasites control their carriers, just to pass on the parasites’ genes — that gets an evolutionist’s juices flowing” (p. 113).

That word staggering is right, and what we know about such processes is scarcely a fraction of what is actually going on. And it is going on everywhere.

To his credit, Coyne admits how it looks. “Everywhere we look in nature, we see animals that seem beautifully designed to fit their environment” (p. 115). At the same time, he denies that natural selection is blind. He acknowledges that the chance mutations are blind, but argues that the filtering of such mutations by natural selection is manifestly not random (p. 119). The cards are shuffled by chance, but the invisible poker playing hand (natural selection) renders everything reasonable and scientific. The only problem is that the hand is not attached to a head, but is pretty smart anyway.

So this means my first point in response to all this is something that Coyne would cheerfully grant, and indeed says himself. But I want to say it stronger. All this means that the roundworm in our example does not know anything. It does not know that there is such a thing as an ant, or an abdomen, or a thorax, or a berry, or a bird, or bird droppings, or a roundworm. It is not doing anything. It is just propagating along, and then a mutation happens. Coyne acknowledges that “most [mutations] are harmful or neutral” (p. 118). He goes on to say that a “few can turn out to be useful.” “The useful ones are the raw material for evolution” (p. 118).

The engine of evolution breaks down a lot, but it still drives everything everywhere.

And this is where I need to jump ahead to another part of the chapter where Coyne interacts (very inadequately) with the ID argument of “irreducible complexity,” articulated most effectively in Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box. Coyne’s one-sentence statement of irreducible complexity is accurate as far as it goes, which is not very far, but which after that gets really lame pretty rapidly. The first sentence below is his summary.

“IDers argue that such traits, involving many parts that must cooperate for that trait to function at all defy Darwinian explanation. Therefore, by default, they must have been designed by a supernatural agent. This is commonly called the ‘God of the gaps’ argument, and it is an argument from ignorance” (p. 137).

Since the citation above concludes with the word ignorance, now would be a good time to point how that Coyne doesn’t have the faintest idea of how his opponent’s arguments actually work. For a scholar to argue this way, with the banner of knowledge snapping smartly above his head, is simply disgraceful. Better an argument from ignorance than an argument in ignorance, that’s the first thing. And second, Behe’s argument isn’t an argument from ignorance. It is an argument from our knowledge of complex systems.

Irreducible complexity is an argument which engages with the claims for natural selection, and does so at every step of the process. Take Behe’s simple illustration of a mousetrap. In order to build an evolutionary mousetrap, it is not sufficient to give yourself hundreds of thousands of years in which to wait patiently for the mousetrap to evolve and to then confer a staggering survival advantage all at once. The argument requires that each step of the process confer a significant survival advantage, all by itself. Coyne acknowledges the necessity of this, but then proceeds blithely on his way with his nose in the air.

This is a serious argument, one which (in the details) Coyne just ignores. He is either ignoring it because he is ignorant in the old-fashioned way, or he is ignoring it because he knows that he has no answer to the argument, and decided to blow smoke instead.

To take Behe’s mousetrap example, you can’t have a mutation that gives you a small wooden platform, which catches the occasional mouse, thus conferring a slight survival advantage. The wood platform wouldn’t catch anything, and would just get the way. And no bird would mistake it for a berry.

Then the next thing you can’t have is a hundred thousand years of dragging around a small wooden platform, as you wait for the mutation that produces a spring that rests uselessly on that platform, doing nothing also, just like the platform, but somehow resulting in a few more mice being caught. No, the whole mousetrap must be there, completely assembled, in order to do anything helpful at all. It is an irreducibly complex system.

Back to the roundworm. He doesn’t know anything about this argument, so his mutations keep turning the ant abdomen into replicas of berries that birds detest, into camo-skin that hides the ants better than they were hidden before, and into little pebble replicas. When he finally hits on the red berry, yay, it was at the same time that another uncooperative mutation made the attack pheromone release in triple amounts, so that the other ants were in a state of constant vigilance. Not only that, but another mutation made the attachment of abdomen and thorax a super-strong one, and also made the ant particularly energetic, not sluggish, and yet another mutation made the red abdomen droop down between the ant legs where the birds couldn’t see it. So then we had to wait for another one hundred thousand trips around the sun for the red berry thing to happen again, but this time with the pheromones shut off, and the abdomen attachment weakened, and the ants interested in hunting down roundworm eggs, which they came to believe were just the thing for their larvae.

Not only that, but we have to explain what’s in it for the ants. We can see at once that this exquisite system confers survival advantages on the roundworm. But why aren’t the ants mutating themselves a red berry hider? All you need is a hundred thousand years, and some ants still alive at the end of it.

So then, in building this system, you are not just rolling one dice with fifty sides. You are rolling ten die at the same time, each one with fifty sides. And you are doing this, or something equivalent, on every third leaf in the jungle. Evolution advances, inexorably, on the strength of a Powerball winner every ten minutes.

Whenever you are telling a fictional story, the one thing you must not lose is “the willing suspension of disbelief” on the part of the audience. One writing coach (a gent named Bickham) advises fiction writers to avoid dropping “an alligator through the transom.” You lose people when they say, “Oh, for pity’s sake!”

In the early years of evolutionary theory, there was an awful lot we didn’t know about the staggering complexity of life forms, all the way up to the elephants and whales, and all the way down to flagellated bacteria. But now our scientific knowledge is advancing so rapidly that evolutionists, in order to keep telling us their “just so” story, have to drop an alligator through the transom on a more or less continual basis. It is raining alligators. Better yet, we have gotten to that tipping point of scientific knowledge has finally gotten its big break, and has been allowed to write the screenplay for Alligatornado.

This chapter also has a section where Coyne argues from the success of animal breeders.

“If artificial selection can produce such canine diversity so quickly, it becomes easier to accept that the lesser diversity of wild dogs arose by natural selection acting over a period of a thousand times longer” (p. 126).

I see. The fact that a farmer in Nebraska can grow a thousand acres of corn, all of it in straight rows, makes it easier to believe that this could eventually happen by itself, if only we give it enough time? The fact that something can happen when tended is an argument for not having to tend things?

So one last thing, and I will leave this chapter be. If the Creator packaged the capacity for striking diversity within kinds (as He plainly did with the dog), how is the existence of a striking diversity an argument against God having done that?

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Nathan
Nathan
9 years ago

The bit at the end about artificial selection is a clear case of variation within a kind, which is exactly what the post-flood dispersion model of global re-population demands. Evolutionists aren’t talking about diversification of the dog kind in the grand scheme of things. That is all sorting and culling the pre-existing genetic beans. Evolution as a grand theory of everything demands NEW beans to be added to the gene jar. The artificial selection-natural selection argument is classic evolutionist bait-and-switch equivocation. The direction of the genetic change is down for the former and up for the latter. A may imply… Read more »

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

The reason why books like Coyne’s are still being written is itself strong evidence of the inherent frailty of the theory. The foundations need constant tending and mending, which is more akin to a faith commitment than any resolved scientific conclusion. Historically, when an actual scientific theory has achieved over 95% cultural adoption (as evolutionism also has), people aren’t still writing books evangelizing for the idea 150 years later. The faithful must be reminded of the narrative (in the style and manner of Carl Sagan) or else competing ideas will erode it. This is why even a few lingering creationists… Read more »

Max
Max
9 years ago

The argument of irreducible complexity is not as strong as Behe would like you to think. There are several strong rebuts, but let’s take a simple one and apply it to the mouse trap analogy. It is hard to imagine the individual pieces of the whole functioning mouse trap to evolve independently and simultaneously. However, what if each piece is useful for survival on it’s own? The piece of wood is not good for catching mice, but it is good for floating. And in a climate where rain is prevalent, being able to float on the top of the occasional… Read more »

Wesley
Wesley
9 years ago

Well there’s a magical, unfounded speculation if I’ve ever heard one… That speculation is one of desperation and necessity, and not out of observation of historical events.

Wesley
Wesley
9 years ago

That’s referring to Max, and that respectfully.

Max
Max
9 years ago

@Wesley: This is not unfounded at all. In fact, a famous example is that of the flagellated sperm. Many YECs have cited the flagellum of a sperm cell, with it’s complex motor system, as an example of irreducible complexity. However, it has been shown that each individual part of the flagellum’s motor system has its own independent biological advantage. Here’s an article if you want to learn more: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design1/article.html

Paul Huxley
Paul Huxley
9 years ago

But to be fair, Max is working within the constraints of someone else’s analogy – no one is actually claiming that mousetraps evolved.

Although the argument in the article is neat, wouldn’t the abdomen-thorax link strength have lots of other potential benefits? I have no idea about the specifics but the probabilities could lessen dramatically.

I say that as an evolution-denier – I just want to make sure my arguments are air-tight and I’m not sure about this one yet.

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

“If artificial selection can produce such canine diversity so quickly, it becomes easier to accept that the lesser diversity of wild dogs arose by natural selection acting over a period of a thousand times longer”

If this argument holds, it also becomes an argument AGAINST omni-darwinism.
That the anatomy of dogs could transform into such astoundingly diverse forms – and yet never even hint at becoming something other than dog – is certainly problematic for those that insist that natural selection acting on that oh-so-rare beneficial mutation is the sole explanation for all speciation.

Ash Giri
Ash Giri
9 years ago

Woah. jay niemeyer, good catch.

Matthaeus
Matthaeus
9 years ago

An interesting bit from my blog reader on the “convergent evolution” of anoles (little lizards) that relates to your point about randomness of mutations and the mechanism of natural selection: “Over the last 40 million years, there have been ample opportunities for lizards on the four islands [of the Greater Antilles] to take different evolutionary paths: genetic drift, species invasions, and small climatic differences could have caused divergence. But despite these historical fluctuations, the anoles of the Greater Antilles have evolved in near-parallel ways provided they were occupying the same niche, suggesting that evolution may be more robust to these… Read more »

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Some hold to variation within boundaries, others prefer genetic variation without boundaries. But what we actually observe are genetic fences everywhere, otherwise our artificial selection of animals could drive offspring anywhere without encountering any borders. However, the problem for general irreducible complexity arguments is that, once you grant infinitesimal gradualism, you can always tell a story that moves from one form to any other form by one atom at a time if you have to. It’s another example of how evolutionists must reject Occam’s Razor, with mutations occurring on cue, and just in the right place, without going backwards. The… Read more »

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

Max is right about irreducible complexity. I would only add that the pieces of the mousetrap don’t need to be useful, but merely not harmful. Natural selection would eliminate a harmful mutation but a benign one could stick around for some time.

Any given case of IC is a historical argument rather than a scientific one, so there is no way to settle the case.

Andrew W
Andrew W
9 years ago

Speaking of alligators, I’ll bite.

One die, many dice, all died. ;)

Andrew W
Andrew W
9 years ago

I think parts of Doug’s counter-example are weak. For the sake of argument, assume that the life-cycle exists: ant gets eaten -> bird -> droppings -> collection -> pupae -> infection. Further, assume that the worm has mechanisms to inject developmental hormones into the ant. From this point, all the improvements (suppressing ‘attack’ pheromones, colour, carapace changes) could be due to expressions of hormones and “selecting” those that optimise the process. Processes and expressions are more prone to ad-hoc optimisation. Behe’s point is that there are quantum transition points in “organs” (used loosely, sorry), where a significant set of changes… Read more »

Andrew W
Andrew W
9 years ago

(Ugh – this paragraph break issue really needs to be fixed – there are three paragraph breaks in the previous post, believe it or not)

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

Many of the critiques of “Darwin’s Black Box” do deserve thoughtful consideration – and some of them are valid IF one holds to several suppositions. That is why it is extremely important to read Behe’s follow up book, “The Edge of Evolution”. Behe there examines what we’ve actually learned from scientific observation. We’ve found that Darwinism (Natural selection/Random Mutation) can do some pretty amazing stuff; but it falls ridiculously short as an explanation for many bio-complexities. We have observed thousands of generations of less complex organisms under extreme environmental and selective pressures (think what we’ve done with domestic breeding –… Read more »

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

HIGHLY recommend this lecture by Behe for those interested… or not.
(Somewhat poor audio)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_XN8s-zXx4

David Douglas
David Douglas
9 years ago

Max’s defense of the non-necessity of irreducible complexity is interesting. But the ability of all these disparate tools to gel into all those feats of wonder (which is to say EVERY biological process) give one pause. Let’s (as Art Buchwald once wrote) run that one up the flag pole…. Max, can you point to anything in the cell that is simple and solitary and useful. Something not intimately attached to a gazillion other processes…something that stands alone in its usefulness. If we can believe in real life a mousetrap can somehow come together from a disparate number of random events,… Read more »

Jacob
9 years ago

I heard about the roundworm/ant parisitic relationship on Radiolab (http://www.radiolab.org/2009/sep/07/). They also have other very interesting stories in this particular segment on hook worms, nematodes, and toxo.

Check it out everyone!

-Jacob

Scott Price
Scott Price
9 years ago

“And no bird would mistake it for a berry.” This sentence at the end of paragraph 15 made me laugh.

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Matt wrote: “I would only add that the pieces of the mousetrap don’t need to be useful, but merely not harmful. Natural selection would eliminate a harmful mutation but a benign one could stick around for some time. Any given case of IC is a historical argument rather than a scientific one, so there is no way to settle the case.” Indeed, this is about the particulars of ancient genetic history, which doesn’t leave much scientific data to work with. It has more to do with plausibility of the narrative. I.e. faith. Matt is also correct that it is much… Read more »

David R
David R
9 years ago

“Natural selection would eliminate a harmful mutation but a benign one could stick around for some time”

Wouldn’t the mutation in Coyne’s example be an example of a harmful one? The red and protruding abdomen is harmful to the ant, so why has this mutation stuck around. The mutation is beneficial to the worm, but clearly harmful to the ant, yet this is used in defense of evolution?

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

Max, Michael Behe has never said that irreducibly complex systems do not have parts that could be used in another manner. It’s difficult for me to see how one can take from his mousetrap analogy that the individual parts could serve no other purpose. . In fact, “Darwin’s Black Box” has a chapter about “Rube Goldberg” machines – making the analogy between them and IC systems. Goldberg’s drawings consisted of many everyday household objects assembled to form an overly elaborate machine for solving a simple problem. In each of these machines, if one part were missing from the mechanism, it… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

I find it interesting that so many anti-evolutionists here are quoting Behe approvingly, when Behe himself has said that all the evidence DOES point to the progression of the species and a common ancestor. He’s arguing about the mechanism of what happened, not the reality that it happened:

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

“For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin’s mechanism – natural selection working on variation – might explain many things, however, I do… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

“For example, both humans and chimps have a broken copy of a gene that in other mammals helps make vitamin C. … It’s hard to imagine how there could be stronger evidence for common ancestry of chimps and humans. … Despite some remaining puzzles, there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin had this point right, that all creatures on earth are biological relatives.” – Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Also, for those who note that the molecular chemical evolution is much harder to imagine than the larger anatomical developments, I agree. That’s probably why it took a few billion years for the diversity of single-celled organisms to develop, but only a few hundred million or so for all the multicellular diversification that we see today to occur.

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

Jonathan, I only site Behe because his critique of the mechanism is quite powerful. Also, if the darwinian mechanism is as deficient as Behe says, we are left, as his critics love to point out, with an intelligent superintendency over natural history, period. In other words, we have God acting in and through history itself in order to attain bio-complexity, fine tuning, IC, etc.
As for Behe’s other assertions… he has not argued extensively for them. He believes they are true, but does not really argue extensively for their truth like he does in his neo-darwinian critique.

Jonathan P
Jonathan P
9 years ago

Douglas’ arguments from probability are also flawed. If I were to flip a fair coin one million times, the resulting sequence of heads and tails would be “improbable”; the probability of replicating the exact sequence is close to zero. However, that fact alone tells us nothing of how the sequence was generated. On the other hand, if I were to examine the number of heads and tails, and the distribution of consecutive heads and tails, I could infer whether or not the sequence was generated by a fair coin. In a similar way, any outcome of evolution is “improbable”; after… Read more »

jay niemeyer
jay niemeyer
9 years ago

Coin flip 50/50 probability, when talking about the mechanisms of Darwinism, is not a valid way of looking at things. When we know that
.
– mutations are almost always bad,
.
– and that, among the beneficial mutations, we almost always only get DELETIONS of information,
.
– add to this the natural RESISTANCE to alteration in speciation. (Lots of anatomical changes, but a “dog is still a dog”, etc.)
.
.
These – and other factors – exponentially increase the real improbability of bio-complexity.

Jonathan P
Jonathan P
9 years ago

I forgot to mention that there are sequences of heads and tails that would indicate the generating process was not a fair coin: a sequence of all heads for example. Even so, every sequence is still equally improbable. The outcome of evolution is akin to a sequence with an equal number of heads and tails; improbable but clearly the result of an evolutionary process. @jay Mutations may or may not be harmful, but natural selection filters out the mutations that decrease fitness. Your comment about the deletion of “information” presumably refers to semantic information. But cells do not perceive or… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Jay, the problem is that Behe’s arguments aren’t actually powerful at all for people who don’t understand molecular biology to the necessary level (which actually includes everyone here, including myself, despite my coursework and research on the subject). Behe’s argument in the popular context is simply an argument from authority, because he’s making assertions that you don’t have the slightest ability to evaluate. And I’m just pointing out to you that if you think Behe is an authority, then it’s hypocritical of you to accept certain assertions of his which you don’t have the knowledge to properly evaluate, and reject… Read more »

Wesley
Wesley
9 years ago

Well, then it seems to me that arguments for evolution are based far more on authority than people admit; such as being able to read into Genesis evolution (which takes quite a bit of “education” beyond what the average reader has or wants) when the very plain reading is opposed to common descent and an earth that’s billions of years old (but I could swallow that WAY before evolution).

Wesley
Wesley
9 years ago

And just because there are scientists and “experts” who say something that I lack the knowledge and skill to test, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the rights and responsibilities to throw heavy objects at them when they make such outlandish claims, nor do I just assume that they interpreted the material correctly or in an unbiased manner. Jonathan, respectfully, you claiming that you have done some coursework or study in the area of evolutionary biology doesn’t convince one ounce that I need to listen to you. And given the fact that the perceived common character of pro-evolution experts… Read more »

Wesley
Wesley
9 years ago

Now, none of that disproves evolution, I just wanted to argue against any thought that I should trust a scientist’s or expert’s word, however well-meaning they may be, just because I don’t have the ability measure or evaluate their claims in a lab.

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Since Jonathan admits that he does not “understand molecular biology to the necessary level” then he must put his faith in an authority. As an advocate of evolution, he has clearly committed himself to his chosen authorities who dismiss Behe. Yet he makes this statement: I’m just pointing out to you that if you think Behe is an authority, then it’s hypocritical of you to accept certain assertions of his which you don’t have the knowledge to properly evaluate, and reject other assertions, especially assertions that are held by FAR more such experts. First of all, this contains an ad… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Katecho, as usual, you have completely mischaracterized almost everything I said. There is a straw man who just took a very strong beating, but since your claims about me have nothing to do with me, I’ll wait for him to reply.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Wesley, I’ll make an analogy with Biblical interpretation. I don’t read ancient Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, or Coptic. And even if I could, I don’t have the resources to search for and compile the ancient manuscripts, to weigh the different texts and various differences against each other to come up with the English-language narrative that I cherish. I have to trust others to do that for me. Now, sometimes those others disagree. When they do, I can try to look at the reasoning behind their disagreement. But honestly, without the background knowledge, it would be very easy for a… Read more »

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Jonathan has revealed the centrality of trust and faith regarding his commitment to evolutionists and evolution. Who’s word are we going to believe? What is our standard? Jonathan writes: What I find hypocritical about the focus on Behe here is that those who are relying on his expertise DON’T actually trust him on other issues in the field. Perhaps the difference is that our faith in the Creator’s Word does not depend on human authorities and experts, so we are not required to give blanket trust to any man or group of men. We are free to compare the various… Read more »

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Jonathan wrote: Nothing we discover about creation could be against God. Wasn’t Jonathan telling us just the other day that rock hyraxes don’t chew the cud, and that bats are not birds? Jonathan employed these examples, not to offer a reconciliation between God’s Word and our discoveries about creation, but to inform us that God’s Word is parochial and is not be considered reliable beyond certain limits. Scripture is viewed as constrained and bounded in its authority. Jonathan is embarrassed when Christians attempt to reconcile Scripture in the light of certain modern scientific discoveries. Jonathan wags his finger and is… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Note that the so-called experts who rebuke Behe are offended because he affirms a Designer God. No, Katecho, they don’t break with Behe because he affirms a Designer God. First of all, they break with him because they think he arguments for irreducible complexity are flawed. Second of all, Behe has repeatedly said that his arguments do not at advance the case for God – arguments for God are philosophical and theological arguments, beyond the realm of science. And finally, Behe explicitly states that “I saw no theological problem with Darwin’s theory (properly understood)—and still don’t.” The argument between Behe… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Yet Jonathan does not follow the bandwagon consensus of his own evolutionist experts to conclude with them that there is no God. Why? Are they suddenly not trustworthy? Jonathan breaks ranks with his own standard of expert consensus. Therefore Jonathan testifies that his experts, and his standard of human consensus, are not trustworthy or authoritative after all — especially regarding the most important truth. If his experts can be so wrong about God, what else might they be wrong about? How are they qualified to be anyone’s standard? Who is really having a crisis of faith? That is one of… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Wasn’t Jonathan telling us just the other day that rock hyraxes don’t chew the cud, and that bats are not birds? Jonathan employed these examples, not to offer a reconciliation between God’s Word and our discoveries about creation, but to inform us that God’s Word is parochial and is not be considered reliable beyond certain limits. Scripture is viewed as constrained and bounded in its authority. Jonathan is embarrassed when Christians attempt to reconcile Scripture in the light of certain modern scientific discoveries. Jonathan wags his finger and is ashamed that intellectual types will think we are rubes. But what… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Of course, you can always take the example of Joshua. The Bible says that the sun stopped, and therefore the day was extended. Now, of course, we know that the sun’s movement has nothing to do with the length of the day. Does believing that it’s actually the earth’s rotation, and not the sun’s movement, that determines the length of the day mean that we are rebuking the authority of the Bible? Of course not, because that isn’t the message of the passage at all. The point is that God could even stop the length of the day for his… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Of course, I’m in good company: Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

As far as the claims that scientists prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead…that’s ridiculous rubbish. First off, I’ve never been made aware of a scientist who had any data about that event. Second of all, I’ve never heard of a theologian who argued that Jesus’s resurrection disproves anything that scientists understand about the biological workings of death. The whole point of the resurrection is that it transcended those biological workings. That didn’t change anything we know about death – all the evidence we have about how people die is still out there. What it changed is what… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 years ago

Here’s another helpful resource on Augustine and evolution:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/may/22.39.html?start=1

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Jonathan wrote: No, Katecho, they don’t break with Behe because he affirms a Designer God. First of all, they break with him because they think he arguments for irreducible complexity are flawed. Second of all, Behe has repeatedly said that his arguments do not at advance the case for God – arguments for God are philosophical and theological arguments, beyond the realm of science. And finally, Behe explicitly states that “I saw no theological problem with Darwin’s theory (properly understood)—and still don’t.” Jonathan can’t just brush aside the philosophical implications of irreducible complexity for the theory of evolution. Philosophy, theology… Read more »

katecho
katecho
9 years ago

Jonathan wrote: Honestly, do you think anyone would buy that corrupt logic. Someone being an expert in one field does not make them an expert in an unrelated field. How is that even debatable? If we wanted to remain oblivious to the historic relationship between science and religion, and if we wanted to suppose that a claim in one area had no implications for the other, then Jonathan might have a point. But it is precisely because Evolutionism and Christianity intersect and conflict in their claims that Jonathan does not have the luxury of appealing to the consensus of experts… Read more »