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But I really DO think that Christian Darwinism is an oxymoron


Something I wrote recently seems to have sparked quite the little discussion. (Dang! Everybody talks to Barry, nobody talks to me … 🙂 )

Briefly, I noted that a friend’s post had been removed from a Christian Darwinist site because the moderator felt that he had intimated that Theodosius Dobzhansky was not a Christian. (He was not a Christian by any reasonable standard.)

How can one tell if a person is a Christian, many wanted to know. Isn’t that just making a judgement (judge not, lest ye be …)?

Barry Arrington made the excellent point that asking the person to affirm the Creed may be setting the bar a little high.

Fair enough: When I have used the Creed that way, I aimed to sort out situations where the person darn well knows what the Creed says and how it may differ from his private convictions. And I had good reasons for asking; otherwise, I wouldn’t bother. I have neither time nor inclination for hunting down heresies. (And none of this is written with prejudice to any other religion. It’s just that salesdarwinists currently target confused Christians more than other confused folk. So, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others, please pardon us Christians as we set the record straight.)

We must say something when someone like Dobzhansky is fronted as a “Christian” to advance the Darwinist cause. I don’t object in principle to other rational criteria for assessing whether someone is a Christian, ones such as Barry offered. The main thing to see here is that a person cannot in good faith believe two doctrines that oppose each other at the most basic level.

Darwinism opposes Christianity in a much more serious way than is generally recognized: The Darwinist must – and usually does – believe that Christianity accidentally evolved amid the noise of neurons and it spread via natural selection.

Thus it was that man created God.

Now, if the Darwinist also believes that Read More ›

You’d rather watch this than passing trains …

A friend drew my attention to this video essay: “The animators of life”, New York Times (November 15, 2010): Building on decades of research and mountains of data, scientists and animators are now recreating in vivid and sometimes jaw-dropping detail the complex inner machinery of living cells. Essentially, the Darwinists’ problem isn’t with us. It is twofold: an ever-intensifying blizzard of disconfirming evidence from nature, plus the bad fortune to be working at a time when the Internet brings that information to people who are not inoculated against it. Essentially, time and chance do not create high levels of information through ruthless competition. Darwinism is a form of magic, and has the same success rate as the others. Here’s a Read More ›

Listening: Michael Behe crosses the warm little Pond

Mike Behe, widely hated author of Edge of Evolution has been on the road recently, in Britain. Behe’s most recent heresy has been to detail what Darwinism can and can’t do, as shown in experiments and evidence. For some reason, that man has a problem with rehabilitating magic and calling it Darwinian evolution – but that is just what heretics are like. Apparently, he got quite a bit of response, and not only from Darwin’s rice bowls. Here’s a radio program with a British Christian Darwinist, Keith Fox. Go here for the mp3 podcast and here for Itunes. The skinny: It was a shock to people of the nineteenth century when they discovered, from observations science had made, that many features Read More ›

Gravity Does Not Account For Itself

In response to my last post jurassicmac writes: “Darwinism has nothing to say about God other than that natural processes seem to be sufficient to account for life. I find it odd that the same amount of vitriol isn’t directed at Laplace for showing that the orbits of planets can be explained without invoking supernatural intervention. Darwin did for biology what Laplace (and Newton) did for astronomy: provide an explanatory framework. Why is Darwin vilified and Laplace not?” It is true that Laplace refined Newton’s calculations and finally showed that the orbits of the planets can be accounted for by a “scientific law,” in this case, the law of gravity. But what is a “scientific law”? It nothing but an Read More ›

Is “Christian Darwinist” an Oxymoron?

I commend to you Denyse O’Leary’s excellent post below concerning whether famous Darwinist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) was a Christian.  O’Leary demonstrates that while there is certainly no doubt about the “Darwinist” part, there is plenty of room to be skeptical about the “Christian” part. 

The problem with claiming that a Spinozan mystic like Dobzhansky was a Christian is that the claim does violence to language.  The word “Christian” classifies.  In other words some people are in the class “Christian” and some people are not.  If this were not so, the classification would cease to classify and become meaningless.  “Christian” is not simply a synonym for “agreeable fellow.”  The word has substantive content and divides people according to their religious beliefs.  

What I have said so far is uncontroversial.  Some people are Christians and some people are not.  Who could disagree with that?  The problem comes when we try to sort people into or out of the class.  Here we are faced with at least two problems:  (1) where is the border of the class; and (2) how do we know which side of the border any particular person is on? Read More ›

Michael Behe in Peer-Reviewed Journal!

Casey Luskin Reports: Peer-Reviewed Scientific Paper by Michael Behe Challenges “Gain of Function” Mutations in Molecular Evolution Behe argues that we do not generally observe the evolution of new adaptive FCTs (Functional Coded ElemenTs) in the laboratory. Rather, when we observe adaptive evolutionary changes in the laboratory, they typically involve loss of function or modification of FCTs. This leads to the question, How do new adaptive FCTs arise? In two subsequent posts, I will discuss Behe’s review of FCT evolution in bacteria and viruses, as well as the implications he draws from that data.

If you are a Darwinist, can you be a Christian if people just say so … ?

A friend mentioned that a certain Christian Darwinist Web log removed a post in which he intimated that Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) was only doubtfully a Christian. We are advised by the mod that Dobzhansky, who was certainly a loyal foot soldier for Darwin, was also a “firmly committed Christian.” Indeed? Those who might be expected to know report, Dobzhansky was a religious man, although he apparently rejected fundamental beliefs of traditional religion, such as the existence of a personal God and of life beyond physical death. His religiosity was grounded on the conviction that there is meaning in the universe. He saw that meaning in the fact that evolution has produced the stupendous diversity of the living world and has Read More ›

From the quote mine: The misunderestimated virtues of skepticism

And look who’s talking, too:

Our theory of evolution has become one . . . which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus `outside of empirical science’ but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training. The cure seems to us not to be a discarding of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, but more scepticism about many of its tenets.

– L.C. Birch and P. Ehrlich Nature 214 (1967) 349-352

As usual, the abstract makes clear that we must not suppose that the authors mean the plain sense of their words: Read More ›

Alien Life Reax

The alacrity of the refutations to NASA’s breathless press release have been surpassed only by their vitriol. “Should not have been published“, “scathing attack“, “big idea with big holes“, “arsenic cowards” etc.  But to my googling eyes, there really are two, and only two refutations given to the Science paper, a) The technique was sloppy, and the arsenic might be just a contaminant, not a constituent of the cell, making the phosphorus levels low, but still consistent with phosphorus-starved normal life. b) Arsenic bonds are 100x less stable than Phosphorus bonds, so the claims for As replacing P in DNA are theoretically impossible. Now both comments are valid, as far as they go, but can be refuted with the simple Read More ›

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

Unlike Darwin’s bicentennial, here is one anniversary that is certainly worth celebrating.   Unlike Darwin’s rock pile, here is one example of how the science of today is building on the solidity of yesteryear’s durable substructure.  Anti-evolutionists are not anti-science.  But they are opposed to the beligerence of those who contumaciously refuse to accept the broader implications of science’s beautiful procession towards the truth.

Elliott Sober and the Enemy

Politicians and football coaches understand that what motivates people is an enemy. What better way for a leader to solidify support than by war with an evil foe. Internal failings and scandals fade in the light of an external threat. Whether it is nazism, communism or terrorism, there always seems to be an appropriate “ism” to capture and focus our attention.  Read more

Taking Manhattan out of the Apple?

The Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto asserting the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and liberty of conscience, has been discussed previously on Uncommon Descent (see here and here ). Well, it’s in the news again.

I expect many readers will have heard by now that Apple has removed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone/iPad application from the iTunes Store. The Declaration – a Christian statement drafted in 2009 that supports religious liberty, traditional marriage and right to life issues – now has 479,532 supporters. The Manhattan Declaration app was accepted by Apple and rated as a 4+, meaning that it contained no objectionable material.

Last month, around Thanksgiving, the Manhattan Declaration application for iPhones and iPads was suddenly dropped, after the activist group Change.org gathered more than 7,700 signatures for a petition, after claiming that the application promoted “anti-gay” bigotry and “homophobia,” and that it attacked both “equal rights and the right of women to control their own bodies.” Under a headline entitled, “Tell the Apple iTunes Store to remove anti-gay, anti-choice iPhone application,” the petition drive concluded with the words: “Let’s send a strong message to Apple that supporting homophobia and efforts to restrict choice is bad business.

The petition seems to have had the desired effect. Catholic News Agency contacted Apple on December 2 for the reason behind its decision to pull the Manhattan Declaration application. Spokesperson Trudy Muller said via phone that the company “removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.” Strange. Why the 4+ rating, then?

I believe in calling spade a spade, so I’ll just come right out and say it: Change.org lied to its readers and to Apple about the purpose of the Manhattan Declaration.
Read More ›

Alien Life?

NASA announced several days ago, an upcoming press conference that would talk about “alien life”. This is big news. They have sent more than one mission to Mars looking for life, water and extraterrestrials. But several people, including the late Sir Fred Hoyle, have suggested that alien life was coming here, which would save a lot on expenses. The question became, how do we know it is alien? Paul Davies, working from a suggestion from my colleague Richard Hoover, has been looking for life on our planet that does something different from all other Earth life. The argument is a bit indirect, but here’s the gist of it. If life exists on our planet by accident (standard Darwinian hypothesis) then Read More ›