Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Watch the full “Expelled” movie for free online

Is there a wall of separation between the religion of materialism and the scientific evidence? (H/T The Poached Egg)

What do the Darwinists do when someone tries to cross that wall?

Earlier in the week, I posted a lecture on the origin of life by Stephen C. Meyer, if you are interested in understanding what intelligent design is really about.

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Do leading evolutionists think that evolution is compatible with God?

Here is a post from Jerry Coyne’s blog: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/selective-creationists/. (H/T Retha from Christian Rethinker)

Coyne is a radical atheist and evolutionist. And he is also a very prominent biologist.

He writes:

Only a tad more than one in four teachers really accepts evolution as scientists conceive of it: a naturalistic process undirected by divine beings.  Nearly one in two teachers thinks that humans evolved but that God guided the process.

Can we count those 48% of “guided-by-Godders” 0n our side?  I agree with P. Z.: the answer is NO.  Yes, they do accept that our species changed genetically over time, but they see God as having pulled the strings.  That’s not the way evolution works.   The graph labels these 48% as believers in intelligent design, and that’s exactly what they are, for they see God as nudging human evolution toward some preconceived goal.  We’re designed.  These people are creationists: selective creationists.

To count them as allies means we make company with those who accept evolution in a superficial sense but reject it in the deepest sense.  After all, the big revolution in thought wrought by Darwin was the recognition that the appearance of design—thought for centuries to be proof of God—could stem from purely natural processes.   When we cede human evolution to God, then, we abandon that revolution.  That’s why I see selective creationists like Kenneth Miller, Karl Giberson and Francis Collins as parting company with modern biological thought.

Just to let you know, Ken Miller and Francis Collins do not think that science can perform experiments and detect that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for some effect in nature. They are committed to explaining every effect in nature as the result of natural processes, before they ever sit down in front of a microscope to look and see. That is their faith commitment – naturalism. I.e. – God didn’t do anything in nature that we can know about using objective measuring.

Theistic evolution versus atheism

Who was the foremost evangelical proponent of theistic evolution? Well, one of them was Howard Van Till of Calvin College. Why do I say “was”? Take a look at this event he did for a FREETHOUGHT group a while back.

Excerpt:

FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT: The Road Less Traveled
by Howard J. Van Till

Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Emeritus
Calvin College
Presented 5/24/2006 for the Freethought Association of West Michigan
Lightly edited 5/26/2006

Precis: Born into a Calvinist family, shaped by a Calvinist catechism training, educated in the Calvinist private school system, and nurtured by a community that prized its Calvinist systematic theology, I was a Calvinist through and through. For 31 years my
teaching career was deeply rooted in the Calvinism I had inherited from my community.

During most of that time it was a fruitful and satisfying experience. Nonetheless, stimulated in part by the manner in which some members of that community responded to my efforts to practice what I had learned from my best teachers, I eventually felt the need to extend my intellectual exploration into philosophical territories far outside the one provided by Calvinism. Did I complete the lengthy journey from Calvinism to Freethought? The listener will be the judge.

Freethought is atheism, by the way.

I think that either God can interfere or he can’t. Theistic evolutionists and atheists think that he can’t intervene – at least not in a way that is independent of “faith” – by which they mean blind belief ungrounded by evidence. What theistic evolutionists are really saying is that God interferes where we can’t test in a lab (the resurrection), and he doesn’t interfere in the area that they can test in a lab (science). This allows them to appease their wives and churches with pronunciations of orthodox beliefs (of course I believe in miracles, honey), and also to appease their scientific colleagues (God didn’t do anything that we can know objectively). Well. Isn’t that convenient for them AND THEIR CAREERS as scientists?

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A simple reponse to theistic evolutionists, by Andrew

This is an e-mail I received from a reader.

I was having dinner the other day with Greg Koukl and friends, when the topic of THEISTIC EVOLUTION came up. Greg Koukl shared the following insight on this view in his usual clear-thinking manner…

Many people like to invoke theistic evolution as an explanation of the origin of life. Theistic evolution refers to the belief that God used evolution as a method of creation; God created life and then stood back and left things to run on their own though the laws of nature. If God intervened at all, it was only when absolutely necessary. While this explanation sounds really nice on the surface, the devil is in the details.

Simply put, theistic evolution is a self-refuting idea. An idea that commits suicide, so to speak. The ‘evolution’ part of theistic evolution is by definition a process that is blind, undirected and left to chance (natural selection). The ‘theistic’ part of theistic evolution, on the other hand, is by definition directed and personal (design). How do you reconcile these two opposing ideas? Clearly you can’t, since they are mutually exclusive. You simply cannot have something that is both undirected and directed.

It’s like asking the question: “How do you boil water?”. Someone could give the response: “Well, you take a pot, fill it with water, put the lid on, put the pot on the stove, turn on the stove, and add a leprechaun”. The question could then be asked: “What happens if I don’t add the leprechaun?”, to which the response would be “well…the water still boils”. The objective can be achieved without adding the leprechaun, which is therefore unnecessary. In the same way, both components of theistic evolution can, in theory at least, provide for the origin of life. In my opinion theistic evolution is a view held by those who have bought into Darwinism but don’t want to let go of God. Therefore, they proclaim both to be true. Unfortunately for them, the manner in which these two processes work (undirected versus directed) are contradictory and cannot both be true. The resulting mixture, theistic evolution, is not even an option, and proponents of this view should be called on this flaw in their thinking.

Below I’ll give my thoughts on theistic evolution.

My thoughts

Theistic evolution is basically atheistic evolution, with an unnecessary fairy tale riding on top. It’s like Santa Claus and Christmas. A child’s parents put the presents under the tree. If you film the tree, you see parents putting presents under the tree – that’s what actually happens, and who actually does the work. Santa Claus is a myth that makes children feel good – the concept of Santa Claus does no work putting presents under the tree in reality. And that’s the same role God plays in theistic evolution – he does no work in reality.

The dividing line between theists and atheists is whether the natural world shows any OBJECTIVE evidence of an intelligent agent at work. If a person claims to be theistic, but states that there is no OBJECTIVE evidence of intelligent causes acting in nature, then that person is actually an atheist. Theism is either real or it is nothing. I am not interested in personal preferences and personal delusions – I only care what is scientifically demonstrable.

The scientific evidence for intelligent design (fine-tuning, origin of DNA, Cambrian explosion, habitability, irreducible complexity, molecular machines, etc.) shows evidence of an intelligent agent causing effects in nature. It’s not up to our opinions to decide if an intelligent agent has acted  – it’s the way the world is, regardless of what we want – or need – to believe.

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Has the progress of science vindicated Mike Behe or Ken Miller?

ECM send me a couple of articles recently from Uncommon Descent and Evolution News that I wanted to write about.

The topic is Junk DNA, which is the name given by naturalists to the portions of the DNA code that do not code for proteins. Is Junk DNA really just leftover junk from a blind, purposeless process of fully naturalistic evolution? Or does it have a function, like intelligent design theorists say? Let’s put these predictions to the test and then update our worldviews to fit with the scientific evidence.

The prediction of Ken Miller

Anti-theistic biologist Ken Miller said in 1994 that DNA is filled with junk left over from naturalistic, random evolution:

…the designer made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles.

Ken Miller

One thing you have to like about Ken is that he manages to fit in some predictions along with his factually incorrect statements under oath.

The prediction of Michael Behe

Theistic biologist Michael Behe said in 2002 that DNA isn’t as junky some people think, because of the evidence:

As a public skeptic of the ability of Darwinian processes to account for complex cellular systems and a proponent of the hypothesis of intelligent design, (1) I often encounter a rebuttal that can be paraphrased as “no designer would have done it that way.” …
If at least some pseudogenes have unsuspected functions, however, might not other biological features that strike us as odd also have functions we have not yet discovered? Might even the backwards wiring of the vertebrate eye serve some useful purpose?
….
Hirotsune et al’s (3) work has forcefully shown that our intuitions about what is functionless in biology are not to be trusted.

Sincerely, Michael J. Behe
An Open Letter to Nature

Those are the two predictions.

So, what does the progress of science say to confirm one prediction or the other? Well, let’s see what Nature, the most prestigious peer-reviewed science journal, has to say.

In 1961, French biologists François Jacob and Jacques Monod proposed the idea that ‘regulator’ proteins bind to DNA to control the expression of genes. Five years later, American biochemist Walter Gilbert confirmed this model by discovering the lac repressor protein, which binds to DNA to control lactose metabolism in Escherichia colibacteria1. For the rest of the twentieth century, scientists expanded on the details of the model, but they were confident that they understood the basics. “The crux of regulation,” says the 1997 genetics textbook Genes VI (Oxford Univ. Press), “is that a regulator gene codes for a regulator protein that controls transcription by binding to particular site(s) on DNA.”

Just one decade of post-genome biology has exploded that view. Biology’s new glimpse at a universe of non-coding DNA — what used to be called ‘junk’ DNA — has been fascinating and befuddling. Researchers from an international collaborative project called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) showed that in a selected portion of the genome containing just a few per cent of protein-coding sequence, between 74% and 93% of DNA was transcribed into RNA2. Much non-coding DNA has a regulatory role; small RNAs of different varieties seem to control gene expression at the level of both DNA and RNA transcripts in ways that are still only beginning to become clear. “Just the sheer existence of these exotic regulators suggests that our understanding about the most basic things — such as how a cell turns on and off — is incredibly naive,” says Joshua Plotkin, a mathematical biologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

On the Evolution News post, pro-ID guy Rob Crowther writes:

…not that long ago, junk DNA was being defended as an important element of the Darwinian evolution paradigm… The question now seems to be whether Ayala, Dawkins, Collins, Falk and other junk DNA proponents will continue to defend junk DNA, whatever they call it?

The post by Rob Crowther has more information on this story.

If you are one of those people who thinks that naturalistic molecules-to-man evolution is as proved as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun, then check out the links below – ESPECIALLY the debates. Peter Atkins, Michael Shermer and Lewis Wolpert are some of the most prominent prominent proponents of naturalism and materialism out there. Watch the debates. Have an open mind. If science can be hijacked by global warmists, then it can be hijacked by evolutionists, too. We need to guard against that.

I know there is a lot of pressure on people to just believe in naturalism, especially when their degree or career depends on a public profession of faith in the power of chance and material processes. But we have to follow the evidence – science is about evidence, not ideology. Science is about testing to see what is true, not forcing the evidence to confirm what you want to believe (e.g. – materialism). There is a difference between the religious assumption of naturalism/materialism and the scientific method of predicting and testing.

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Learn more about intelligent design

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Why is critical evaluation of Darwinism not permitted in the public square?

UPDATE: Welcome Post-Darwinist readers! Thanks for the link Denyse!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from 4Simpsons! Thanks for the link!

No one doubts what can be proved in the lab or in the fossil record about the ability of organisms to adapt to their environment. Finch beak sizes can change, bacteria can become resistant, etc. Perhaps even some limited “speciation” between ancestors due to geographic isolation. But that isn’t what Darwinism-skeptics object to. We object to naturalistic accounts of the origin of life and to macro-evolution.

But Darwinism, like global warming, is one of those beliefs that is long on faith and short on evidence. And the way you can tell that you’re being sold a pig in a poke is by taking a look at how welcoming Darwinists are to debate. Do they organize public debates and publish books with their opponents? Or do they simply have them fired and black-listed from the academy? Let’s talk a look at the data.

The case of NPR media bias

Here is an interesting article from Evolution News by ID proponent Casey Luskin. Casey was interviewed by the government-run, taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, regarding the recent decision favoring critical thinking in science by the Texas Board of Education.

Casey writes:

Last week I did an interview with an NPR reporter, Bob Garfield, for his NPR show “On the Media” about the recent Texas decision…

The interview started with benign questions about the recent decision of the Texas State Board of Education to welcome scientific critique of evolution into the curriculum. This quickly descended into various “how dare you” type questions, about whether this was all a plot by the “Religious Right” to insert religion into public schools, and why I rejected all the fossil and cosmological evidence that shows the universe isn’t 10,000 years old. “Huh?,” I replied. I quickly informed Mr. Garfield that not only do we oppose advocating religion in science classrooms, but that I’m not a young earth creationist, and that the debate in Texas has never been about young earth creationism. The new Texas Science Standards only require scientific critical analysis of evolution, and in no way shape or form invited biblical creationism or religion into the classroom.

Mr. Garfield was also reminded that many of the 13 members of the Texas State Board of Education who voted for the new science standards both professed to accept evolution and stridently opposed the teaching of creationism, and thus it would seem highly unlikely that the new Texas standards were a “Trojan horse” for teaching religion. Nonetheless, the final story favorably quoted members of the evolution lobby saying this is all a ruse for creationism.

How familiar is the left-wing elite media with the 700+ scientists who dissent from Darwinism? Not so much:

But during our interview, having lost his argument that the new Texas Science Standards were a conspiracy to bring religion into the curriculum, Garfield shifted our conversation to the science. Again, he asked various “How dare you?” type questions, making assertions like virtually “100%” of scientists accept evolution, or that evolution comprised the unchallengeable “consensus,” or that there is no fossil evidence that challenges evolution. I reminded him that a critical mass of well-credentialed scientists in fact don’t support neo-Darwinian evolution, and that a number of Ph.D. biologists testified in Texas about scientific weaknesses in evolution. He then accused me of cherry-picking data because, outside of the Texas hearings, he asserted that essentially the “universe” of scientists support evolution. Not true, I told him. I replied that while surely majority of scientists do support evolution, there are credible scientists who dissent from it–hundreds of Ph.D.s in fact–and that there are plenty of discussions of doubts about core claims of neo-Darwinism in the scientific literature. I also discussed some of the reasons for these doubts-ranging from the inability of empirical evidence of natural selection to be extrapolated to bolster the grand claims of neo-Darwinism to the lack of confirming fossil evidence.

And the result of this cloistered, close-minded, intolerant, bigoted, echo-chamber caricature of evolution critics?

Mr. Garfield’s reply to my discussion of the science was that we were getting outside of his field, and he cut all of my discussions of the scientific weaknesses in neo-Darwinism from the final story. There’s no shame in him not knowing much about science, but it’s troubling that despite his self-professed ignorance on the science, he acted like he knew for a fact that skeptics of Darwinian evolution had no scientific basis should be treated like crazy religious fanatics.

But isn’t the left-wing elite media right to think that opposition to evolution is entirely from Bible-thumping, snake-handling, shotgun-toting, pick-up-truck driving rednecks?

As a last ditch attempt to discredit Darwin-doubters, Garfield compared teaching critique of evolution to teaching Holocaust denial. I replied that not only is there a world of difference between the two (hundreds of serious Ph.D. scientists doubt neo-Darwinism, and one cannot find such credibility supporting something as pernicious as Holocaust denial!), but I also told him that given that I (as well as many other Darwin-skeptics) am Jewish and had close friends impacted by the Holocaust, his comparison was not just fallacious, but out-of-line. I mentioned that even more scientists would come out of the closet to express their doubts about evolution were it not for the intolerance in the scientific community towards dissent from Darwinism. His reply was to twist my position into allegedly arguing that scientists don’t really believe in evolution, they’re just forced to pledge allegiance to it due to pressure.

I replied that this was not at all what I was saying, because of course a great many scientists harbor purely bona fide scientific support for evolution. My point was that were it not for the climate of intolerance, we’d see far more doubters and skeptics breaking their silence. However, in the final story, Garfield apparently sliced and diced my response so that it sounded like I affirmed his assertion that any “consensus” over evolution is the result of intimidation, when that is not at all how I responded to his question and false characterization of my views.

The article goes to explain how NPR cited a well-known critic Ken Miller of intelligent as an authority on intelligent design, despite the fact that he elementary errors on obvious details about the ID research program. I recommend reading the entire article, as it explains a lot about leftism and their propensity for group-think, censorship and fascism.

When he isn’t misleading his readers about historical facts, even Richard Dawkins allows that the first living system may have been intelligently designed by aliens. But those aliens must have evolved. How does Dawkins know that? Even without looking at the evidence, they must evolved, because of Dawkins’ anti-science faith in materialism. Evidence is irrelevant once you pre-suppose materialism, on faith.

So how did the Darwinists win then?

The same way that they’ve been winning on global warming alarmism. By avoiding a fair, open debate on the merits!

First, by intimidation, censorship and ridicule of anyone who opposes them. To say that their treatment of skeptics is like McCarthyism would be a tremendous insult to McCarthy. These are fact-averse fideistic fascists, plain and simple. If they had the evidence, they wouldn’t be firing peope left, right and center in the academy – they would be welcoming public debates.

Consider the case of Caroline Crocker. Here is video clip 1 of 6:

Second, by deliberate deception. Jonathan Wells’ book “Icons of Evolution”, showed multiple serious inaccuracies in the way that Darwinism is presented in textbooks. To take just one, the images of Haeckel’s embryos used in textbooks are fraudulent and have known to be so for decades! And this fraud is debunked in the highest research journals, like Science and Nature.

Consider this one example from Science: (Science 5 September 1997: Vol. 277. no. 5331, p. 1435)

[Abstract:] Using modern techniques, a British researcher has photographed embryos like those pictured in the famous, century-old drawings by Ernst Haeckel–proving that Haeckel’s images were falsified. Haeckel once admitted to his peers that he doctored the drawings, but that confession was forgotten.

Third, by judicial activism. Since Darwinists cannot win a debate on the evidence, in the public square, the next best thing is to win by judicial fiat. Judges typically have no relevant qualifications, either in science or in philosophy of science. They can also be intimidated by peer-pressure to conform to the opinions of the elite, regardless of the evidence.

Conclusion

The reason why critical evaluation of Darwinism is not permitted in the public square by Darwinists is because they would lose the debate. I will be posting a few of the debates that have occurred between faith-based Darwinists and their fact-based critics later in the week, and you will be able to see how well their case for naturalistic evolution holds up.

Further study

Here are posts on cosmological argument and the fine-tuning argument.

UPDATE: How well do Darwinists do in debates: Michael Shermer vs Steven Meyer.

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