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Ethicist Wesley J. Smith accuses theistic evolutionist Francis Collins of copping out

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File:Francis Collins official portrait.jpg
Francis Collins

Recently we’ve been publishing Laszlo Bencze’s thoughts on theistic evolution (sometimes called theistic naturalism, theistic Darwinism, or Christian Darwinism where applicable).

Bencze is here (Bowling with God) and here (why theistic evolution is incoherent).

Francis Collins founded BioLogos, dedicated to promoting an entente between Christianity and Darwinism (or whatever they call the latter now). It’s not just a theory, as Smith explains; it has implications:

Here is what I mean. From [Collins’] “We Need Two Kinds of Truth:”

So I do think people of faith and people who don’t have faith are capable of thoughtful ethical decision-making. So any notion that we are becoming less ethical as scientists because of a diminution I think has to be actually countered by arguments to say that a sense of ethical behavior is not distributed to just the people who are in fact interested in spiritual matters.

But that doesn’t say anything substantive, does it? What the term “ethical” means in science–as in life–depends on the context.

Example: Is it ethical to create human embryos via cloning to be destroyed in research? In the past, Collins has supported human cloning research. Many–both the religious and those who are not–disagree with Collins because they believe that human cloning is, per se, unethical as it creates human life through manufacture.

Who is correct about that? Science can’t tell us. It can tell us what is and what could be, but not what is right and wrong.

One obvious problem is that “thoughtful ethical decision-making” could lead in almost any direction.

It has for Collins.

In Newsweek (2009), journalist Lisa Miller, emphatically a non-Christian, supported his appointment as head of NIH*, saying, “Collins’s evangelicalism works to (his and) Obama’s advantage.” It soon became clear why. He not only supported destructive research on human embryos, he did so publicly and enthusiastically. A colleague told Newsweek, “He definitely supports it. I’ve worked with him closely, and I’ve never seen any evidence that he’s opposed to it. Zero. None.”

Collins has argued that such embryos are “not part of God’s plan,” whereas a child conceived in the usual manner is “very much part of God’s plan, carried out through the millennia by our own species and many others.” (Francis Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, 2006), p. 256.)

So there are humans who are “not part of God’s plan.” That is, of course, a logical consequence of the belief that God is not really in charge, but has resigned his powers to Darwinian evolution.

Collins’ argument here clarifies what he means when he says, “people of faith and people who don’t have faith are capable of thoughtful ethical decision-making”: Essentially once a Christian really embraces Collins’ version of theistic evolution, his approach to such questions will be only minimally distinguishable from that of a person of no faith.

* He resigned from Biologos in order to accept the appointment.

How can an Immaterial God Interact with the Physical Universe
What if God is material? TheisticEvolutionist
Ignore my first sentence. The data you want can be accessed directly in any random order. ThatDarnCat
A bit off thread (or maybe not?) Can someone explain, why ‘random access memory’ is called ‘random access memory’?
Because the memory can be accessed from anywhere. As opposed to sequential access (start from beginning and read until to get to what you were seeking). A tape would be sequential access, not random access. ThatDarnCat
Deity Added - Theistic Evolution Is Nearly as Problematic as Atheistic Darwinism by Casey Luskin - Fall 2013 http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo22/deity-added-theistic-evolution-nearly-as-problematic-as-atheistic-darwinism.php bornagain77
A bit off thread (or maybe not?) Can someone explain, why 'random access memory' is called 'random access memory'? Kajdron
But what is devastating for the atheist (or even the Theistic Evolutionist) who wants ‘randomness’ to be the source for all creativity in the universe, is that randomness, (i.e. the entropic processes of the universe), are now shown, scientifically, to be vastly more likely to destroy functional information within the cell rather than ever building it up’. Here are my notes along that line:
“Is there a real connection between entropy in physics and the entropy of information? …. The equations of information theory and the second law are the same, suggesting that the idea of entropy is something fundamental…” Tom Siegfried, Dallas Morning News, 5/14/90 – Quotes attributed to Robert W. Lucky, Ex. Director of Research, AT&T, Bell Laboratories & John A. Wheeler, of Princeton & Univ. of TX, Austin in the article Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010 Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=demonic-device-converts-inform
,,having a empirically demonstrated direct connection between entropy of the universe and the information inherent within a cell is extremely problematic for Darwinists because of the following principle,,,
“Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.” Gilbert Newton Lewis – preeminent Chemist of the first half of last century “Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.” Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.
and this principle is born out empirically:
“The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010 Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain. http://behe.uncommondescent.com/2010/12/the-first-rule-of-adaptive-evolution/
Thus, Darwinists are found to be postulating that the 'random' entropic events of the universe, which are found to be consistently destroying information in the cell, are instead what are creating information in the cell. ,,, It is the equivalent in science of someone (in this case a ‘consensus of scientists’) claiming that Gravity makes things fall up instead of down, and that is not overstating the bizarre situation we find ourselves in in the least with the claims of atheistic Darwinists and Theistic Evolutionists. It is also very interesting to note that Ludwig Boltzmann, an atheist, when he linked entropy and probability, did not, as Max Planck a Christian Theist points out in the following link, think to look for a constant for entropy:
The Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann first linked entropy and probability in 1877. However, the equation as shown, involving a specific constant, was first written down by Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics in 1900. In his 1918 Nobel Prize lecture, Planck said: “This constant is often referred to as Boltzmann’s constant, although, to my knowledge, Boltzmann himself never introduced it – a peculiar state of affairs, which can be explained by the fact that Boltzmann, as appears from his occasional utterances, never gave thought to the possibility of carrying out an exact measurement of the constant.” http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/B/Boltzmann_equation.html
I hold that the primary reason why Boltzmann, an atheist, never thought to carry out, or even propose, a precise measurement for the constant on entropy is that he, as an atheist, had thought he had arrived at the ultimate 'random' explanation for how everything in the universe operates when he had link probability with entropy. i.e. In linking entropy with probability, Boltzmann, again an atheist, thought he had explained everything that happens in the universe to a ‘random’ chance basis. To him, as an atheist, I hold that it would simply be unfathomable for him to conceive that the ‘random chance’ (probabilistic) events of entropy in the universe should ever be constrained by a constant that would limit the effects of 'random' entropic events of the universe. Whereas on the contrary, to a Christian Theist such as Planck, it is expected that even these seemingly random entropic events of the universe should be bounded by a constant. In fact modern science was born out of such thinking:
‘Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared—the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true.’ Lewis, C.S., Miracles: a preliminary study, Collins, London, p. 110, 1947.
Verse and Music:
Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Phillips, Craig & Dean - When The Stars Burn Down - Worship Video with lyrics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPuxnQ_vZqY
Supplemental Note:
“It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109. Quantum Zeno effect Excerpt: The quantum Zeno effect is,,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay. per wikipedia
I think the whole Theistic Evolution issue, in which some Theists think God somehow guides evolution through ‘random’ processes (and therefore Darwinian evolution is true), hinges on the misapplication of the term ‘random chance’. For something to be considered a ‘random chance’ event in the universe is generally regarded as something lacking predictability to its occurrence or lacking a pattern to it. Some Theists have seized upon this and stated 'Aha, God can work through random processes!". Indeed, it has been observed by no less than the noted physicist Wolfgang Pauli that the word ‘random chance’, as used by Biologists, is synonymous with the word ‘miracle’:
Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012 Excerpt: While they (Darwinian Biologists) pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) - http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/nobel_prize-win056771.html
Talbott humorously reflects on the awkward situation between Atheists and Theists with the word 'random' here:
Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011 Excerpt: In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.” This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?” http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/evolution-and-the-illusion-of-randomness
Basically, if the word random were left in this fuzzy, undefined, state one could very well argue as Theistic Evolutionists argue, and as even Alvin Plantinga himself has argued at the 8:15 minute mark of this following video,,
How can an Immaterial God Interact with the Physical Universe? (Alvin Plantinga) – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kfzD3ofUb4
,,, that each random event that occurs in the universe could be considered a ‘miracle’ of God. And thus, I guess the Theistic Evolutionists would contend, God could guide evolution through what seem to us to be ‘random’ events. And due to the synonymous nature between the two words, random and miracle, in this ‘fuzzy’, undefined, state, this argument that random events can be considered ‘miraculous’, while certainly true in the overall sense, would none-the-less concede the intellectual high ground to the atheists since, by and large, the word random, as it is defined in popular imagination, is not associated with the word miraculous at all but the word random is most strongly associated with unpleasant ‘random’ events. Associated with ‘natural’ disasters, and such events as that. Events that many people would prefer to distance God from in their thinking, or that many people, even hardcore Christian Theists, are unable to easily associate an all loving God with (i.e. the problem of evil). Such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and other such catastrophes. Moreover, Darwinists, as Casey Luskin and Jay Richards pointed out in a disagreement with Alvin Plantinga, have taken full advantage of the popular definition of the word ‘random event’, (as in the general notion of unpredictable tragic events being separated from God’s will), in textbooks to mislead the public that a ‘random’ event is truly separated from God’s divine actions,,,
Unguided or Not? How Do Darwinian Evolutionists Define Their Theory? – Casey Luskin – August 11, 2012 Excerpt: While many new atheists undoubtedly make poor philosophers, the “unguided” nature of Darwinian evolution is not a mere metaphysical “add on.” Rather, it’s a core part of how the theory of Darwinian evolution has been defined by its leading proponents. Unfortunately, even some eminent theistic and intelligent design-friendly philosophers appear unaware of the history and scientific development of neo-Darwinian theory. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/unguided_or_not_1063191.html
But, because of the advance of modern science, we need not be armchair philosophers that must forever, endlessly, wrangle over the precise meaning of the word random being synonymous with the word miraculous, (all the while conceding the public relations battle to the Darwinists over the word 'random'), we can now more precisely define exactly what the word random means, as to a causal chain, so as to see exactly what a Darwinist means when he claims a ‘random’ event has occurred! ,, In this endeavor, in order to bring clarity to the word random, it is first and foremost very important to note that when computer programmers/engineers want to build a better random number generator for a computer program they are creating then a better source of entropy is required to be found by them in order for them to achieve the increased randomness they desire for their program:
Cryptographically secure pseudorandom number generator Excerpt: From an information theoretic point of view, the amount of randomness, the entropy that can be generated is equal to the entropy provided by the system. But sometimes, in practical situations, more random numbers are needed than there is entropy available. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptographically_secure_pseudorandom_number_generator By the way, if you need some really good random numbers, go here: http://www.random.org/bytes/ These are truly random (not pseudo-random) and are generated from atmospheric noise. per Gil Dodgen
Along that line:
Entropy Excerpt: It is often said that entropy is an expression of the disorder, or randomness of a system, or of our lack of information about it (which on some views of probability, amounts to the same thing as randomness). per wikipedia
Also of interest, not that computer programmers will ever tap into it, but the maximum source for entropy (randomness) in the universe is now known to be black holes,,,
Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010 Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated. http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe
It is also important to note the scope of explanatory power that entropy (i.e. randomness) enjoys in science:
Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012 Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,, Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,, The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,, http://crev.info/2012/10/shining-light-on-dark-energy/

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