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A.N. Wilson — Skewered, but Now Re-Converted? Can One Love God and Darwin?

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Recall this post by Bill Dembski, August 31, 2006 where Bill pointed out how A.N. Wilson railed against the ID proponents in Kansas and labeled them Morons.

A.N. Wilson Skewered — it couldn’t happen to a nicer credulous moron!

A. N. Wilson, the epitomy of English snootiness, recently fell for an elaborate prank that he could have avoided if he had drawn a design inference. Note that Eve de Harben doesn’t exist either, and the letters in “her” name are an anagram for “Ever been had?”

Why am I being so hard on Wilson? Here’s what he wrote back in 1999 about the good people of Kansas: “Their simple, idiotic credulity as a populace would have been the envy of Lenin. That is the tragic paradox. The Land of the Free, telly and burgerfed, has become the Land of the Credulous Moron.” (go here and scroll down) What goes around comes around.

–Bill Dembski

But what now, April 2, 2009, Can you love god and agree with Darwin?

The Descent of Man, with its talk of savages, its belief that black people are more primitive than white people, and much nonsense besides, is an offence to the intelligence – and is obviously incompatible with Christianity.

I think the jury is out about whether the theory of Natural selection, as defined by neo-Darwinians is true, and whether serious scientific doubts, as expressed in a new book Why Us by James Lefanu, deserve to be taken seriously. For example, does the discovery of the complex structure of DNA and the growth in knowledge in genetics require a rethink of Darwinian “gradualism”. But these are scientific rather than religious questions.

–A.N. Wilson


and

Why I believe again

For a few years, I resisted the admission that my atheist-conversion experience had been a bit of middle-aged madness. I do not find it easy to articulate thoughts about religion. I remain the sort of person who turns off Thought for the Day when it comes on the radio. I am shy to admit that I have followed the advice given all those years ago by a wise archbishop to a bewildered young man: that moments of unbelief “don’t matter”, that if you return to a practice of the faith, faith will return.

When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion – prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.

I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God “a category mistake”. Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge – “Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . ‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life’.” And then Coleridge adds: “‘And man became a living soul.’ Materialism will never explain those last words.”

Has the Prodigal Son returned home? Is A.N. Wilson one of us now? 🙂

Notes:
From Betjeman love letter is horrid hoax

AN Wilson, the biographer, admitted this weekend he had fallen victim to an elaborate hoax.

The trick was so successful that the letter has been published in Wilson’s new book Betjeman as evidence of the poet’s previously unknown “fling”.

The giveaway — and a clue that a bitter rival of Wilson’s may be behind the trick — is that the capital letters at the beginning of the sentences in the letter spell out a vivid personal insult to the biographer.
….
Close study of the letter, however, shows that the capital letters at the beginning of each sentence spell out a message: “AN Wilson is a sh-t”.

HT: John A Designer, Telic Thoughts, Detecting New Atheism on the Religious Radar Screen

45 Replies to “A.N. Wilson — Skewered, but Now Re-Converted? Can One Love God and Darwin?

  1. 1
    scordova says:

    Perhaps it would be instructive to hear AN in 1999:

    The Evening Standard (London), August 13, 1999, Pg. 13
    HEADLINE: Land of the Born Again Boneheads
    BYLINE: A. N. Wilson

    A decision to ban the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in Kansas state schools shows how keen Middle America is to gobble up religious nonsense along with its buckets of chicken wings and fries, says A. N. WILSON

    EVERYTHIN’S up to date in Kansas City. Not any more it ain’t. In the words of the song, “They’ve gone about as far as they can go” but not in the direction of what we would call progress. The Board of Education in the State of Kansas has now voted to remove the teaching of evolutionary theory from its schools. A mighty victory has been won by the so-called Creationist school. What Kansas did yesterday, other states will doubtless wish to do tomorrow, or at some time in the future.

    So here we have yet more evidence that the most powerful nation in the world is refusing freedom of knowledge, freedom of intellectual discussion, to the rising generation. The Land of the Free is making itself as obscurantist and as backward-looking as any of the European tyrannies from which the poor and huddled masses and the brave Pilgrim Fathers fled in the first instance to create the land, and the idea, of America.

    The next generation of Americans will be if such a thing is possible even more boneheaded ignorant, even more inwardlooking than their parents.

    The first, primary and truly shocking thing about these so-called Creationists is not their contempt for science. It is their complete ignorance of the Bible. The Bible is apparently their favourite book. They thump it and they wave it at their liberal adversaries, and they quote carefully selected bits of it.

    How refreshing it would be if they sat down and, with open and observant minds, actually read it!

    The Bible begins with a myth, a story, that God created the world in six days and that He rested on the seventh. Anyone reading this story can see that it was never meant to be what we would call a scientific account of an historical sequence of events. It was just one myth the Bible has other ways of expressing the same truth that the world is God’s world; that He is present in it; that as many must have echoed in their hearts during the eclipse “the heavens declare the glory of God”. It was John Milton, in Paradise Lost, and not any of the authors of the Bible who suggested that all the species on earth were created all in one go.

    Christian theology, by contrast, ever since it began to think about these things in the third or fourth centuries, has always taught the truth of evolution. [Not so. Have a look at Basil the Great’s Hexameron. –WmAD]

    When the Darwinian controversy first broke in the 1860s in England, no less a conservative than Dr Pusey, leader of the High Church diehards, preached a sermon at Oxford in which he reminded the congregation of the teaching of St Augustine (AD 354-430) that the earth produced grass and flowers and animal species “causaliter” that is, God gave them the power to reproduce of themselves.

    The curator of the Botanical Gardens in Oxford at the time, another purely Orthodox clergyman, Aubrey Lackington Moore, rejoiced in the writings of Darwin, which destroyed the false “God of the philosophers”, the Deist God the absentee landlord of the Creation and restored again the sense of “the immanence of God in nature and the omnipresence of his creative power”.

    Many people won’t agree with these judgments. There will be those such as the Darwinian populist Richard Dawkins in our own day who say that Darwin made it possible to be “an intellectually fulfilled atheist” because he removed any necessity to discern a purpose in Nature. And because there does seem to be a relentless determinism in the Darwinian worldview.

    How does this square with Free Will?

    DEEP waters, Watson! But it is by meditating upon these mysteries that we shall all develop and grow as mature thinking people. For some, a consideration of the majesty and strangeness of nature will make it impossible to be atheist. For others, who consider the apparent heedlessness with which whole species evolve and are then “cast as rubbish to the void” as Lord Tennyson put it, the notion of a loving God will be impossible. Not to be able to think about these things, not to allow young people the data with which to make up their own minds about them, is surely a recipe for stultification, spiritual as well as intellectual .

    Of course, one should not be tempted to generalise about a country as huge as the United States. There are many reasonable people there, nearly all of them living on the Eastern seaboard and in the big cities.

    But it would be wrong for Europeans to think that the enlightened inhabitants of New York, Boston and Washington were in any way typical of the Great American Public, particularly in states like Kansas. There the stupidity and insularity of the people is quite literally boundless. It is for them that such periodicals as the National Enquirer are written, with its fantastic tales more improbable than anything in the Arabian Nights, but believed by millions.

    These are the people who believe that Elvis Presley has risen from the dead or that President Clinton has repented of his sins and never looked at another bimbo since Monica.

    Their simple, idiotic credulity as a populace would have been the envy of Lenin. That is the tragic paradox. The Land of the Free, telly and burgerfed, has become the Land of the Credulous Moron. And one of the things which the religious Right has been cleverly spooning into these millions of roly-poly, CocaCola-swigging cretins is that they have the last word in complicated matters of theology and science and philosophy. Hence the crude doctrine of “Creationism” that God — some cartoon-giant American Dumbo in the sky moulding his play dough — “made” the universe one week back in 4004 BC. If you don’t believe this in Kansas, you’re probably some kinda pinko fairy who should go wash your mouth out.

    Religious and political ideas are always deeply entwined. It is no accident that all the serious contenders for the presidency in the autumn claim to have been Born Again. If there is a close call, they will no doubt all be prepared to denounce Darwin’s The Origin of Species, a brave book based on more than 20 years of painful research, and which no serious student of natural history really doubts.

    There’s still a debate about Darwin — for instance, how far his idea of a thrusting, competitive universe was really influenced by the fact that he was the product of a thrusting, male-dominated capitalist society. But these subtleties don’t concern the boneheaded fatties of Kansas, gobbling up religious nonsense with their buckets of chicken wings and fries.

  2. 2
    beelzebub says:

    Um, Sal —

    Pointing out that A.N. Wilson is a “credulous moron” (to borrow Dembski’s phrase) who has reconverted to Christianity doesn’t exactly help your cause.

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    Showing that ID works certainly does.

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Um, Sal —

    Pointing out that A.N. Wilson is a “credulous moron” (to borrow Dembski’s phrase) who has reconverted to Christianity doesn’t exactly help your cause.

    Why not.

    If A.N. Wilson is representative of his former peers (like Dawkins and Hitchens), then it suggests his former peers are “credolous morons” too. The air of intellectual invincibility is only an illusion. If so, the ID movement can prevail because its foes are not as invincible as supposed.

    If A.N. Wilson is not a credoulous moron, then it shows that ID has stronger traction than supposed.

    The point being, whether A.N. Wilson is a “credolous moron” or not is independent of the ultimate significance of the story, namely, a hardened heart can be changed, and a prodigal son can return to his home.

  5. 5
    beelzebub says:

    Sal writes:

    If A.N. Wilson is representative of his former peers (like Dawkins and Hitchens), then it suggests his former peers are “credolous morons” too.

    Why would you assume that A.N. Wilson is representative of people like Dawkins and Hitchens?

    Do atheists all look alike to you?

  6. 6
    beelzebub says:

    Sal writes:

    The point being, whether A.N. Wilson is a “credolous moron” or not is independent of the ultimate significance of the story, namely, a hardened heart can be changed, and a prodigal son can return to his home.

    But as you noted at Telic Thoughts, it usually happens the other way around:

    Salvador T. Cordova Says:
    May 6th, 2009 at 1:12 am
    One has to wonder if theists are having more offspring than atheists, why there has not been complete overtake of the population by theists.

    The answer is simple, the offspring of theists sometimes become atheists. About half the athiests I know come from devout homes.

    This suggests to me that theistic homes are often good incubators for atheists.

    IAbout half the big name NA’s that come to mind, came from Christian homes.

    It’s not surprising, the way Christendom defended its claims over the last century has not held up well in the modern culture, and they driven people out of their ranks.

    If Christendom had adopted and vigorously defended the ID hypothesis, they would have fared better, imho.

  7. 7
    scordova says:

    Beelzebub,

    Thank you for you comment. I do believe the reason Christian homes are incubators of atheism is the lack of ID’s spread in the discussion in churches and Christian homes.

    The Atheist agenda has set up camp in our own house through Darwinism.

    The intellectual battle is also in the churches and seminaries and Christian groups. The public school issue is another issue, but the Darwinists have successfully invaded the Christian church with what I consider a suspect hypothesis of mindless evolution.

    Sal

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    Why would you assume that A.N. Wilson is representative of people like Dawkins and Hitchens?

    Do atheists all look alike to you?

    Looking at Wilson’s writings in 1999 it has the same shallow reasoning and high snooty confidence of the New Atheists.

    Such confidence is only justified if one really has a grasp of the truth.

    It turns out A.N. Wilson was too confident of his understanding of reality.

    His more circumspect views show more humility and recognition of the limitation of human knowledge.

    Wilson writes:

    My return [to faith] was slow, hesitant, doubting.

    I find this to be a proper attitude in light of how little we know about anything.

    Dawkins and Hitchens exude a confidence not consistent with how much we really know (which is very little).

    Dawkins and Hitchens don’t strike me as deep thinkers. Their confidence is rooted in rather shallow reasoning.

    Bradley Monton and David Sloan Wilson and Bertrand Russell strike me as much more reasonable Atheists.

  9. 9
    Mapou says:

    scordova @4:

    The air of intellectual invincibility is only an illusion.

    I like the sound of that. Some people in the atheist/Darwinist camp are convinced that they have a monopoly on reason and understanding. Big surprise come soon.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    “Some people in the atheist/Darwinist camp are convinced that they have a monopoly on reason and understanding.”

    I have never seen one here with either reason or understanding. I wonder why they do not come to this site. Maybe they do not exist. Self delusion is what seems to come here. RFD’s. Robots for Darwin.

  11. 11
    scordova says:

    Um, Sal —

    Pointing out that A.N. Wilson is a “credulous moron” (to borrow Dembski’s phrase) who has reconverted to Christianity doesn’t exactly help your cause.

    Actually, on further reflection of Wilson’s account:

    My return [to faith] was slow, hesitant, doubting.

    The quote suggests he had looked back on his life and saw himself as a credulous moron. At least now he’s come to his senses!

    I place weight on a return to faith that was “slow, hesitant, doubting”.

    The one thing that I’ve been pretty sure of: Dawkins couldn’t possibly be right about Blindwatchmakers.

  12. 12
    Barb says:

    “How refreshing it would be if they sat down and, with open and observant minds, actually read it!”

    I say this about atheists a lot. I said it especially after attempting to read Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

  13. 13
    beelzebub says:

    Sal writes of Wilson:

    His more circumspect views show more humility and recognition of the limitation of human knowledge… I find this to be a proper attitude in light of how little we know about anything.

    It’s striking how often Christians level charges of arrogance at atheists without pausing to consider whether that description applies to their own beliefs.

    I don’t know about you in particular, Sal, but many Christians have told me that they are certain that God exists, that the Bible is his inerrant word, that Jesus was his Son, that he died for our sins, that he rose from the dead, that they will be saved if they believe, etcetera, and that I am wrong to doubt these things. I don’t see many (if any) atheists making claims as exorbitant.

    Christians proclaiming the certainty of these things are not exhibiting the “humility and recognition of the limitation of human knowledge” that you profess to admire in Wilson.

    As I put it in another thread:

    What you’re forgetting is that we humans have nothing at our disposal other than our minds to decide these questions. We’re not born believing in the Christian God or the truth of the Bible. Each of us has to decide, using our mere human minds, whether to accept these things. Believing on the basis of someone or something else’s authority doesn’t absolve you of responsibility; you still have to decide, using your mere human mind, whether to accept that person, institution, or book as authoritative.

    Consider what that means. When a Christian says “I am absolutely certain that the Bible is the word of God”, she is saying, in effect, “I have used my human mind to determine that the Bible is the word of God, and I cannot be wrong about this.” Talk about arrogant!

    And as I said in the quote, believing on someone else’s authority doesn’t get you off the hook. If you say “I believe it because the Church teaches it”, you’re saying in effect “I, with my human mind, have determined that the Church is correct about this and that it cannot be wrong.”

    That is not humility by any stretch of the imagination.

    Note that I’m not saying there’s sinister intent here. Christians generally see themselves as humbly submitting to the truths of the Bible or of the Church, and until it’s pointed out to them, I think most of them are genuinely unaware that they’re taking an arrogant position. For the record, I used to be a Christian and I didn’t recognize it myself until I started questioning my faith.

  14. 14
    beelzebub says:

    Barb wrote:

    “How refreshing it would be if they sat down and, with open and observant minds, actually read it!”

    I say this about atheists a lot. I said it especially after attempting to read Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

    Barb,

    Do you see the irony in your comment?

  15. 15
    Upright BiPed says:

    Belzip,

    Given the counter claims that ID is religiously movitvated and materialist wont deal with the evidence, perhaps you can see the irony of going to a ID website and venting your spleen about Christianity while ignoring the empirical science.

  16. 16
    beelzebub says:

    Upright,

    Your syntax doesn’t quite make sense. Could you try again?

  17. 17
    Upright BiPed says:

    No, I din’t think so.

  18. 18
    scordova says:

    Beelzebub wrote:

    It’s striking how often Christians level charges of arrogance at atheists without pausing to consider whether that description applies to their own beliefs.

    Thank you for you comment. I actually have some agreement with your assessment.

    I don’t know about you in particular, Sal, but many Christians have told me that they are certain that God exists, that the Bible is his inerrant word, that Jesus was his Son, that he died for our sins, that he rose from the dead, that they will be saved if they believe, etcetera, and that I am wrong to doubt these things. I don’t see many (if any) atheists making claims as exorbitant.

    Christians proclaiming the certainty of these things are not exhibiting the “humility and recognition of the limitation of human knowledge” that you profess to admire in Wilson.

    Thank you for your consideration here. I don’t know much for sure and like A.N. Wilson I have returned to faith through a process of many doubts.

    1. “they are certain that God exists”,

    I can only say I believe He exists. I’ve certainly had my doubts, but I’m at the point now it would be harder to believe the contrary.

    The question of ID was very central to my return to faith.

    Physicists like Barrow, Tipler, and Belinfante provided their mathematical proof of the reasonableness of God’s existence through basic laws of physics, I found the possibility of ID compelling. See: Peer-Reviewed Stealth ID Classic. That derivation renewed my interest in physics, my now chosen field of study. Tipler, by the way used to be an atheist. He began to change his mind after a paper he published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 1983….

    2. “that the Bible is his inerrant word,”

    I’m not, strictly speaking, an inerantist. I believe the manuscripts we received today are about 98% faithful to the originals.

    The topic of Genetic Entropy and Noah’s Flood and Revision of Maxwell’s equations are quite relevant to deciding how literal and accurate are the manuscripts we have received. Suffice to say, although I’m formally undecided, I don’t think the case has been closed and is an active area of research. The geneology of Christ might have some support from the work of Cornell Geneticist John Sanford. I wouldn’t write his work off just yet. He too, used to be an atheist.

    3. that Jesus was his Son,

    The testimony of history suggests that God has intervened in history. The question of ID is not sufficient to prove a miracle, but I think the Genesis account, even if not literal, is closer to the truth of what happened than the Darwinian account. Although ID is not necessarily about miracles, I believe the level of design in life rises to that of miracle. I posted on David Abel’s papers here at UD. That is the best argument I have as to why I think life is miracle.

    Thus the idea of ressurection is feasible, especially in light of the fact that physics makes possible the notion of God, and biology suggests life is a miracle.

    If one does not accept miracles, then one cannot accept the resurrection. But if one can accept miracles the resurrection seems the best explanation of history.

    God has chosen not to make His presence directly known nor blatantly evident. It appears he has chosen to make the quest for truth fairly challenging but not impossible…

    4. “that he died for our sins, that he rose from the dead, that they will be saved if they believe, etcet”

    The resurrection strikes me as open to historical inquiry. Also the prophecies of plagues, famines, wars, distrubances in the heavens, earthquakes.. are subject to possible observation.

    The other parts are a matter of faith ( whether Jesus is the Son of God, whether he died for our sins, etc.). The postulate of eternal life is, formally speaking, testable by every individual on the planet. People might know for sure once they die.

    Consider what that means. When a Christian says “I am absolutely certain that the Bible is the word of God”, she is saying, in effect, “I have used my human mind to determine that the Bible is the word of God, and I cannot be wrong about this.” Talk about arrogant!

    I agree this attitude doesn’t inspire faith in others but rather revulsion. Remember what I said about how some Christian homes are incubators for atheism. 🙂

    I prefer to say I have a mustard seed of faith.

  19. 19
    scordova says:

    The postulate of eternal life…

    If life and consciousness are akin to software, then eternal life does not seem so outrageous.

    Where your consciousness resides today is not on the same substrate of atoms as say, 15 years ago.

    Like software migrating from computer to computer so your life and consciousness have migrated from one set of atoms to another.

    The decoupling of software from hardware is a good illustration of a soul on a material body.

    If your soul and consciousness are like software, it doesn’t seem outrageous that it could be resurrected in another world or context.

    The fact that your consciousness persists despite the replacement of atoms in one’s body on an ongoing basis suggests a trancendance of consciousness from material substrates, much like software is decoupled from hardware.

    As A.N. Wilson observed, the idea of a soul is not easily explained by pure materialism.

    Neither side of the debate can irrefutably prove their point on the topic of consciousness and the trancendance of mind over the material world, but one side seems to be more logically consistent, namely the non-materialists.

    One philosopher expressed his sarcasm toward the idea of souls as “ghosts in a machine”. Little did he know, that was so appropriate to describing software.

  20. 20
    PaV says:

    Beelzebulb #13 (how appropriate :))

    I don’t see many (if any) atheists making claims as exorbitant.

    Nothing is more “exorbitant” than the claim that God doesn’t exist. Scripture says that “the heavens proclaim the glory of the Lord.” To deny that God exists in the face of the BEAUTY of creation is, in the end, absurd.

    I think it is rather easy to “think” your way to God. I did so when I was 5 years old.

    First, consider that time exists. Consider that a time existed when you, personally, did not exist. Hence, there was a moment in time when you, personally, began to exist. If you “began” to exist, how did this happen? If you then take the position that I, personally, as a mass of chemicals simply was “mixed together and was formed”—a strictly ‘materialist’ position—this cannot, in any way, explain your existence as a “person”. IOW, in my backyard were living things: trees, plants, bugs, and birds. We even had a dog. But none of these had the characteristics of myslef and my parents and my brother. And yet we all shared life. My own inner sense of my beingness, coupled to my ‘personhood’, informed me that my being was of another quality than that which I experienced in other forms of life. My ‘personhood’ had to have come from some kind of personal being. If I then say that my parents are the source of my ‘personhood’, then all you have to do is ask the simple question: Where did they get it from? Which then leads to a regress to an orginal mother and father. Well, where did this original mother and father get their ‘personhood’ from? Well, it had to be from a personal, all-powerful being able to create both life and ‘personhood.’ And that being is God. Again, five years old and I could figure this all out.

    Confusion about this comes from three sources: my sinful impulses, the presence of evil in the world, and college professors.

    The first explains the second, and usually the third. Evil arises from sinful personal beings, capable of acting out that sinfulness. Religion serves as a restraint on those sinful tendencies.

    And, so, what happens when you combine personal sinfulness with personal power—as happened a number of times in the 20th century? Unimaginable horrors.
    Atheism’s insistence on ONLY material causes renders morality moot. Thus, in effect, humans are viewed as being no different than animals. It’s this ‘enlightened’ thinking that explains the evil excesses of atheism seen in the slaying of millions upon millions of humans in the last century. A.N. Wilson seems to have found his way back to the faith by experiencing firsthand the excesses of a godless madman named Hitler. Maybe it’s time for you to reflect on these realities.

  21. 21
    Cabal says:

    but I think the Genesis account, even if not literal, is closer to the truth of what happened than the Darwinian account.

    I may be wrong, but isn’t Genesis only about “what happened” once upon a time while the Darwinian account is about “what has been and still is happening” in the history of life on this planet since Genesis?

  22. 22
    scordova says:

    PaV wrote:

    My ‘personhood’ had to have come from some kind of personal being.

    Exactly. When I was in public high school studying evolution, the Darwinian didn’t seem reasonable to explain this.

    And in college, when I began studying artificial intelligence, the question of personhood and conscious intelligence could not quite seem to be resolvable to material hardware alone.

    A. N. Wilson captured the issue beautifully quoting Coleridge:

    ‘And man became a living soul.’ Materialism will never explain those last words.

  23. 23
    scordova says:

    PaV,

    I’m going to send you an e-mail. Is your UD e-mail current?

    I’d be glad to come out and visit you sometime. I think I don’t live that far from you.

    Sal

  24. 24
    PaV says:

    Sal:

    Yes, it’s the same email address. I would very much enjoy such a visit.

  25. 25
    scordova says:

    I was alerted to this article by Nullasulus

    http://tinyurl.com/r93wj6

    MILITANT atheism may be on the warpath in the English-speaking world, but last week its advocates had to take on board some unwelcome news.

    According to the latest American research, parents with no religious affiliation are losing the battle to indoctrinate their children. A majority of those surveyed who grew up in atheist or agnostic households, or where there was no particular religious attachment, later chose to join a religion.

    The New York Times sees it as a retrograde step, labelling the process “defecting to faith” and noting that in comparison only 13 per cent of those raised as Protestants and 14 per cent of cradle Catholics later severed connections.

    These unexpected findings come from a study, Faith in Flux, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It also reveals a high churn factor among denominations.

    “Americans change religion early and often. In total about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives. Most people who change their religion leave their childhood faith before age 24, and many of those who change religion do so more than once,” it says.

    The survey says 4 per cent of the total US adult population now belongs to a religious group after being raised unaffiliated. The unaffiliated category has, paradoxically, gained the most members from the process of religious change, despite having one of the lowest retention rates of all the categories.

    About 54 per cent of those reared in unaffiliated households have since got religion. Nearly 40 per cent have become Protestants, 22 per cent evangelicals, 13 per cent mainline and 4 per cent have joined one of the black churches. Six per cent converted to Catholicism and 9 per cent embraced some other faith.

    Thanks to the Pew Forum we can now put some numbers on the often-remarked zeal of the adult convert.

  26. 26
    Frost122585 says:

    Scordova nice post as usual.

    I just want to rehash the observation that Darwinian gradualism clearly is at odds with the Thermodynamic law of entropy. I think this is a fascinating paradox given that many people accept both as true- yet it seems there is some other property that is guiding the evolutionary lineage from simplicity to super complexity.

  27. 27
    Frost122585 says:

    “Consider what that means. When a Christian says “I am absolutely certain that the Bible is the word of God”, she is saying, in effect, “I have used my human mind to determine that the Bible is the word of God, and I cannot be wrong about this.” Talk about arrogant!”

    How about when the moral relativist says that there is no such thing as absolute truth and when you ask them if they are sure of this they answer…

    “Absolutely!”

    Lol, one of my favorites.

  28. 28
    Alan Fox says:

    I just want to rehash the observation that Darwinian gradualism clearly is at odds with the Thermodynamic law of entropy.

    You are incorrect, Frost122585. A living organism is able to maintain its structure by expending energy. When there is no available energy source, that organism dies and decays, blending back into its substrate.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Fox (and others):

    You are begging the question of first needing to get TO functioning, complex, information rich configurations to begin being living in the first place.

    That is, of OOL: credibly at least 600 kilo bits worth of information from lucky noise in a chemical soup.

    Similarly, at body plan origination level, you are begging the question of having to originate, dozens of times over, 10’s – 100’s + Mega bits of information that has to function.

    Until you arrive on the shores of an island of bio-function, you cannot apply differential reproductive success to hill-climb.

    And so, Frosty is right that thermodynamics applies to such questions. (Cf my summary app 1 the always linked through my handle.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: BTW, for whom it concerns, on a point of gross misunderstanding: the person who, having met God personally in the face of the risen Christ described in the Bible, now finds confidence in the Bible as the Word of that God s/he has met — the God who backs up his Word with his manifest blessing, saving, correcting and transforming power, is not playing at arrogant petty pope; just the opposite. (I am therefore pleading for the dropping of a supercilious, ad hominem laced strawmannish rhetorical distortion that spreads heat not light.)

  30. 30
    Alan Fox says:

    You are begging the question of first needing to get TO functioning, complex, information rich configurations to begin being living in the first place.

    If, by “begging the question”, you mean “assuming what one claims to be proving”, I don’t follow. I have previously stated that the origin of life is an open question. But the process of living is not contradicted by thermodynamics.

  31. 31
    tribune7 says:

    Alan –When there is no available energy source, that organism dies and decays, blending back into its substrate.

    So applying energy to the DNA of the deceased will bring them back to life?

  32. 32
    Alan Fox says:

    Similarly, at body plan origination level, you are begging the question of having to originate, dozens of times over, 10’s – 100’s + Mega bits of information that has to function.

    No.

    Each organism gets its chance with a set of genes and and a starter kit of cellular parts in the embryo. Small accumulated changes over generations achieve the rest.

    Until you arrive on the shores of an island of bio-function, you cannot apply differential reproductive success to hill-climb.

    Life does not have to have to “island-leap”. All organisms have antecedents, parents who were viable enough to live and reproduce. Each organism starts out (assuming its inherited genetic and epigenetic kit is viable) only a little different from its parents. (Unless you are a saltationist) there are no vast empty seas for lineages to cross

  33. 33
    Alan Fox says:

    So applying energy to the DNA of the deceased will bring them back to life?

    If you could salvage and repair the DNA and insert it into the appropriate embryo and supply that embryo with the necessary means for its development (big “ifs”, I grant you), you could clone that organism.

  34. 34
    tribune7 says:

    If you could salvage and repair the DNA and insert it into the appropriate embryo and supply that embryo with the necessary means for its development (big “ifs”, I grant you), you could clone that organism.

    And create a Jurassic Park 🙂

    Interesting point, Alan, but the disorder in our DNA does increase with our years until inevitable failure.

  35. 35
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Tribune7,

    I cannot agree. Even in the case of cancer, at death most of the trillions of cells in your body have DNA that is still functioning normally. People do not die of genetic exhaustion.

  36. 36
    Alan Fox says:

    And create a Jurassic Park

    I think they’ll have enough problems cloning a mammoth!

  37. 37
    tribune7 says:

    Even in the case of cancer, at death most of the trillions of cells in your body have DNA that is still functioning normally. People do not die of genetic exhaustion.

    Nakashima-san, as you age the body fails even if you never get cancer.

  38. 38
    tribune7 says:

    I think they’ll have enough problems cloning a mammoth!

    It’s still very cool to try 🙂

  39. 39
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Tribune7,

    Yes, our bodies fail, but not because of “disorder in our DNA”. No matter how old I get, my skin cells will be making more working skin cells 99.999…% of the time.

  40. 40
    Alan Fox says:

    Here is a recent paper on ageing.

  41. 41
    Alan Fox says:

    Don’t seem to be able to get link tags to work. URL is:

    http://precedings.nature.com/d...../version/2

  42. 42
    Alan Fox says:

    From the paper:

    However, the theory of complex systems together with basic physical principles such as the Second law of Thermodynamics teach us… that
    entropy-increase and equivalently Misrepair accumulation and as a consequence aging are inevitably imposed by nature on living beings.

  43. 43
    tribune7 says:

    Alan, thanks!

  44. 44
    scordova says:

    Scordova nice post as usual.

    Thanks Frost. Nice to see you again. It was nice seeing 2 years ago at the Discovery Institute.

    I hope all is well with you.

    Salvador

  45. 45
    scordova says:

    Some creationists say that the Second Law of Thermodynamics renders impossible the chemical origin of life because of the infusion of information (decrease in entropy) required.4 Some evolutionists respond that the required decrease in entropy is precluded by the Second Law of Thermodynamics only in a closed system They would argue that energy flow from the run mates the earth an open system, and that this energy flow is somehow capable of producing the required decrease in entropy (increase in information).5

    Strictly speaking, the earth is an open system, and thus the Second Law of Thermodynamics cannot be used to preclude a naturalistic origin of life.

    Walter Bradley

    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1.....adley.html

    Walter Bradly was co-author of Mystery of Life’s Origin in 1984. That book is widely considered the beginning of the ID movement.

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