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Bowling with God: The Problem of Theistic Evolution

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Laszlo BenczeRecently, our philosopher photographer friend Laszlo Bencze wrote on why theistic evolution is incoherent, attracting some considerable interest and discussion. He has written to say that he would like to follow up with a shoutout to William Lane Craig, and here it is.

Editor’s note: The topic got started with “Is apologist William Lane Craig a follower of Darwin?” (And if not, wherein does he differ from him in a coherent way)?

The theologian William Lane Craig, writing in the book Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue, has this to say in defense of theistic evolution:

[The evolutionist] may agree that there are in nature no fundamental telic [goal-oriented] causes, while maintaining that nature itself is constructed with the end in view of the evolution and existence of intelligent life. The view commonly known as theistic evolution would be a religious version of this perspective. (page 62)

A designer with knowledge of such counterfactuals could choose to arrange the appropriate boundary conditions and constellation of natural laws that God knew would lead, via a blind evolutionary process, to intelligent life. For these reasons we cannot treat dismissively the theistic evolutionary perspective. (page 63)

The perspective Craig argues for is what I characterize as the Bowling with God point of view. If God were to bowl a game with you he might make the game more fair by agreeing not to monkey with the ball or pins while they were in motion. He might agree to launch the ball just as you would and remain absolutely “hands off” after that. But because he is God and has perfect knowledge of the lane, ball, pins, and all subtle environmental factors, every time he let go of the bowling ball, he would know its absolute trajectory and precisely how each pin would respond and thus be able to create a strike or (more impressively) any spare he chose. He would be in perfect control of his game even though all the random factors played out without interference from him.

File:Bowling ball and pins.jpg

Could this be considered a fair game? Of course not! You’re playing against God! The score of the game frame by frame is exactly what God wants it to be. You’ve been set up. The situation is the same in Craig’s theistic evolution scenario. If God fools around with initial conditions such that they will result in the outcome he desires, it makes no difference that he agrees not to interfere as the process plays out. The deck is stacked. God is in control. This is not evolution as Darwin or any of his current acolytes see it. It is simply an astoundingly subtle form of creation. Call it “Initial Conditions Creation” not theistic evolution.

It’s not surprising that Craig and countless others would want to hitch a ride on evolution. The word carries immense metaphysical power as no other science word does. It is for this reason that I think it is important to come to grips with it even though it is often used in ways so ambiguous and contradictory as to defy definition. Because of its power, it is a word which religious people of all stripes including deists, theists, crystal power enthusiasts, Catholics, Protestants, communicators with the dead, agnostics, and atheists all seek to co-opt and use to promote their own particular agendas.

Earlier this year a professor of theology at Wheaton College vehemently objected to my saying that the term theistic evolution was a flat out contradiction. He mocked me as a mind reader because none of the many self-described theistic evolutionists he knew at Wheaton happened to see any contradiction. Because several respondents to my previous post argue along the same lines, I shall try to present my case as clearly as possible.

File:Williamlanecraig.jpg
William Lane Craig (1949-)

First of all, the bare term “evolution” is a protean term. It is used to mean anything from “change over time” to “the way God creates” to “a purely materialistic process based on random mistakes chosen by natural selection.” No wonder the term can be so hugely confusing and the source of vehement argument. However, there is only one usage of evolution that wields immense metaphysical power. It is the version which says speciation proceeds by a process undirected by any conscious agent (no God), operating via the spontaneous appearance of mistakes (random mutations), and filtered by natural selection (elimination of the unfit). This is the standard Darwinian or neo-Darwinian usage, which is how current biologists understand and use the term.

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Of course Darwin objected to such theistic misunderstandings. As he so often and so patiently explained, his theory needed no help from any god or spirit and if a god had to be injected into it to make it work, it would be a worthless theory.

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This purely materialistic version is the one which revolutionized the foundations of Western thought when it first appeared in Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Even though Darwin did not use the word in early editions of Origin (it first appeared in the writings of Herbert Spencer), by the 1870s “evolution” was the accepted way of referring to his theory. Almost immediately after the 1859 publication of Origin, people began explaining evolution as a guided process. Often it was God doing the guiding, sometimes a “vital spirit” or “life force.”

Of course Darwin objected to such theistic misunderstandings. As he so often and so patiently explained, his theory needed no help from any god or spirit and if a god had to be injected into it to make it work, it would be a worthless theory. The whole point of his book was to present an overwhelming case for why evolution worked automatically, without guidance from any conscious entity. Eventually the guided versions of evolution were swept away and by the 1940s only the pure Darwinian version was taken seriously in scientific circles.

It’s easy to see why Darwin’s theory of evolution was so revolutionary. Before Darwin, clerics, biologists, and laymen all agreed that nothing so complex as a living thing could be produced without the efforts of a conscious agent, generally agreed upon as God. After Darwin just about every intellectual, including clerics, agreed that generation of new species could happen on its own without the efforts of God. In fact, as more and more people fell under Darwin’s influence it became clear to them that not only was God unnecessary in creating life but that God was entirely unnecessary, nothing more than a human concept that had run its course. In this way the impulse towards methodological naturalism received a huge boost from Darwin, a boost which has accelerated steadily right into the present.

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No longer did serious thinkers have to put on the hair shirt of humility and kneel in awe before the works of a Mind far greater than theirs. Now they themselves were gods standing high above creation armed with the long sought key to understanding—evolution.

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“Evolution” became a word with which to slay any lingering remnants of a religious tradition in science. Evolution could even explain human behavior, ethics, the origins of war, and the intricate dance of relationship between man and woman all without any reference to a creator. It was so fresh, so enlightening, so wonderfully scientific! No longer did serious thinkers have to put on the hair shirt of humility and kneel in awe before the works of a Mind far greater than theirs. Now they themselves were gods standing high above creation armed with the long sought key to understanding—evolution.

Mind you, I’ve engaged in a bit of rhetorical hyperbole here for the sake of simplicity. Of course there were always dissidents from the evolutionary program, some of them brilliant thinkers in their own right. But—and this is important to remember—they were not in the main stream. They were snipers, gadflies, curmudgeons, or eccentrics firing from the sidelines. Some of them, seeing the power of the word, chose to hijack it. They gave it private meaning. They explained that their version of evolution was not materialistic but indeed allowed for direct action from God.

Some of these were sincere, good natured people like a pastor I met at Wheaton College who mentioned evolution frequently and favorably in his sermons. He explained that the word is so widespread in society that he must use it whenever he preaches on the book of Genesis in order to make his sermons congenial to science-minded listeners. But he said he was always careful to explain that evolution as he used it did not describe a random, material process. I responded that by so preaching he was sowing much confusion. You can define a cow as a horse, but why bother with this verbal stunt when everyone else uses the terms in the usual way?

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Is there any reason to conflate evolution with creation other than to curry favor with evolutionists? And if you do, won’t they assume you have accepted their world view? And won’t they be upset when they find out your use of the word means the opposite of their use?

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Is there any reason to conflate evolution with creation other than to curry favor with evolutionists? And if you do, won’t they assume you have accepted their world view? And won’t they be upset when they find out your use of the word means the opposite of their use? As for innocent bystanders who listen to such evolution praising sermons, won’t they assume that materialism and atheism have received your blessing?

Here’s what I propose. Let’s leave evolution to materialists. Let them have exclusive rights to the word. Let them use it to describe the process of unintelligent design, fueled by mistakes, and devoid of God. Let their proposal, untainted by theistic emendations, stand or fall.

Let those of us who do believe that a purely material program is impossible use other terms to describe our views. Creationism unfortunately has degenerated into a term of pure mockery. Any use of it implies some sort of backwoods Christianity that may involve handling snakes.

Fortunately there is one term which has gained currency and which makes honest reference to its world view. That term is “intelligent design” and it covers a very broad swath of opinion regarding God’s creative style. It can be applied to God creating all living things in six days. It can equally well be applied to God’s creative activities over four billion years. In fact, it could also cover instantaneous creation or creation lasting quadrillions of years. Time makes no difference. The number of steps doesn’t matter. The precise way in which things come to be—whether they poof into existence in a flash or whether their genetic structure is modified through a succession of generations—is also inconsequential. It links two sound words frequently used in the sciences and engineering. Despite the best efforts of evolutionists to sully the term it remains honorable and useful. Let’s continue to use intelligent design whenever and wherever it makes sense.

55 Replies to “Bowling with God: The Problem of Theistic Evolution

  1. 1
    StephenB says:

    William Lane Craig:

    A designer with knowledge of such counterfactuals could choose to arrange the appropriate boundary conditions and constellation of natural laws that God knew would lead, via a blind evolutionary process, to intelligent life. For these reasons we cannot treat dismissively the theistic evolutionary perspective.

    It’s hard to believe that someone with such a talented mind could miss the mark so completely. The contradiction should be evident:

    If evolution is groping without purpose, then it cannot also be leading with purpose; it evolution is leading with purpose, then it cannot also be groping without purpose.

    If evolution is groping without purpose, then it can produce any one of many possible outcomes; if evolution is leading with purpose, then it will produce only one outcome–the one that God intended.

    Contemporary Theistic Evolutionists want to turn the tables and say that God “knew” what the one result of a groping process would be. This argument, however, is illogical because it would mean that God didn’t intend or cause the final outcome that He knew would occur.

  2. 2
    JLAfan2001 says:

    This is exactly why I have become a Nihilist. Evolution and God can’t be reconciled no matter how you try. Biologos, Collins, Falk, Venema etc all look stupid in everyone eye’s. The evidence for evolution is numerous to the point where I just couldn’t hold onto my Christian beliefs any longer and still be honest with myself. Now Nasa has calculated that there are 8.8 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. The chances that life could arise naturally on one of these planets are quite high when one takes in the age of the universe too. As I have said many times before, it’s time for you guys to give up your faith because evolution isn’t going anywhere. Even your apologetics champ seems to agree. My how Christians can turn on their own when one disagrees with dogma.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    JLA, as to,

    Now Nasa has calculated that there are 8.8 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone.

    WOW that’s it guys, shut UD down, the gig is up.,, But before they do that JLA, how about these few facts?

    Among Darwin Advocates, Premature Celebration over Abundance of Habitable Planets – September 2011
    Excerpt: Today, such processes as planet formation details, tidal forces, plate tectonics, magnetic field evolution, and planet-planet, planet-comet, and planet-asteroid gravitational interactions are found to be relevant to habitability.,,, What’s more, not only are more requirements for habitability being discovered, but they are often found to be interdependent, forming a (irreducibly) complex “web.” This means that if a planetary system is found not to satisfy one of the habitability requirements, it may not be possible to compensate for this deficit by adjusting a different parameter in the system. – Guillermo Gonzalez
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50871.html

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236
    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate ? 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate ? 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe ? 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    And what should be very interesting for quantum geeks is the the observability correlation of the ‘Privileged Planet’ principle:

    Privileged Planet – Observability Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5424431

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    The Privileged Planet – The Correlation Of Habitability and Observability
    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”
    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”
    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”
    – Guillermo Gonzalez – Astronomer
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnWyPIzTOTw

    The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery – book By Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Wesley Richards
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    A video of related ‘observability correlation’ interest;

    We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History – Hugh Ross – video
    http://vimeo.com/31940671

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    One problem with the OP is that God is portrayed as only controlling his own bowling ball.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    This is exactly why I have become a Nihilist. Evolution and God can’t be reconciled no matter how you try. Biologos, Collins, Falk, Venema etc all look stupid in everyone eye’s.

    I am afraid that this comment misses the point. It is unguided macro-evolution that cannot be reconciled with God.

    The evidence for evolution is numerous to the point where I just couldn’t hold onto my Christian beliefs any longer and still be honest with myself.

    Though a case can be made for guided macrp-evolution it is, by no means, a fact. There is just as much evidence against it as there is for it. Check with bornagain77 and Cornelius Hunter.

    The chances that life could arise naturally on one of these planets are quite high when one takes in the age of the universe too.

    Life could not arise without a design boost.

    As I have said many times before, it’s time for you guys to give up your faith because evolution isn’t going anywhere. Even your apologetics champ seems to agree. My how Christians can turn on their own when one disagrees with dogma.

    This sentence contains three different themes, all of which are too ambiguous and unconnected to merit a response. Please write it again and try to make your point comprehensible.

  6. 6

    This is exactly why I have become a Nihilist.

    That’s not really much of a “reason” to become a nihilist, IMHO.

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    Nihilism invites unreason, WIJ. The final frontier for the atheist theoretician: total inanition. The Multiverse to the power of infinity.. produced from nothing. ‘Out, out, brief candle!’ we hear them declaim.

    But the heart has its unreasons, also, that reason knows not of…

    I expect a Noble prize for literature for that.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Mentally capitalize that letter, ‘L’ of ‘literature’ for me, will you?

    PS: I think that JLSfan2001 wishes he were ‘a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas.’ Particularly tragic for one so young. I think he was born in 2001.

  9. 9
    johnp says:

    More proof that WLC should stick to cosmology…

  10. 10
    nullasalus says:

    Here’s what I propose. Let’s leave evolution to materialists. Let them have exclusive rights to the word. Let them use it to describe the process of unintelligent design, fueled by mistakes, and devoid of God. Let their proposal, untainted by theistic emendations, stand or fall.

    On this, Dembski is simply making a mistake. The fact is that the ‘science’ of evolution is utterly incapable of ruling out or even ruling on the very sort of design that WLC is discussing – and it’s important to stress that. Pointing this out does not ‘curry favor’ with evolutionists and materialists – they dislike it intensely. Pointing out the limitations of science, the lack of scientific evidence for atheistic claims, etc, should be one area that theists generally – whether or not they accept ID as science or as valid reasoning – can agree upon.

    So no, let’s not leave evolution to the materialists, let’s not let them have exclusive rights to the word. Let’s take words that we like and find useful, let’s point out the flaws in atheistic reasoning, and let’s make perfectly clear that just because something evolved does not mean that it was not designed. Yes, this will confuse some people. I think it will educate far more people than it will make needlessly frantic.

  11. 11
    KRock says:

    @ JLAfan2001

    “This is exactly why I have become a Nihilist. Evolution and God can’t be reconciled no matter how you try. Biologos, Collins, Falk, Venema etc all look stupid in everyone eye’s. The evidence for evolution is numerous to the point where I just couldn’t hold onto my Christian beliefs any longer and still be honest with myself. Now Nasa has calculated that there are 8.8 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. The chances that life could arise naturally on one of these planets are quite high when one takes in the age of the universe too. As I have said many times before, it’s time for you guys to give up your faith because evolution isn’t going anywhere. Even your apologetics champ seems to agree. My how Christians can turn on their own when one disagrees with dogma.”

    Surely you don’t believe what you’ve posted here to be objectively true and meaningful, do you?

  12. 12

    In my experience, people become Nihilists due to some other kind of need/desire/emotional commitment and then look around for justifications – but that’s probably true of most people and most beliefs.

  13. 13
    JLAfan2001 says:

    BA77
    Think about this for a minute. There are 8.8 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy ALONE!!! The calculation doesn’t even include the rest of the universe. Do you really think that our planet will be the only one to meet all those conditions out of billions of planets? The odds of that happening are very low. I think Ross and Gonzalez need to go back and rethink their calculations in light of this new data. I bet the results won’t be the same. RTB has a podcast out concerning this topic and they don’t really say that the NASA data is wrong. In fact, they say better go back to the bible to see if there is any mention of alien life in there. This would probably be could thing though because when science does find life, Christians can say “we knew about that all along. In fact, the bible says there is.” The bible may have to be modified and reinterpreted yet again because of science but the faith will still be safe.

    StephenB
    “I am afraid that this comment misses the point. It is unguided macro-evolution that cannot be reconciled with God.”

    This was the point I was trying to make. Unguided macro-evolution IS a fact and it can’t be reconciled with God in anyway that Biologos thinks it can.

    “Though a case can be made for guided macro-evolution it is, by no means, a fact. There is just as much evidence against it as there is for it. Check with bornagain77 and Cornelius Hunter.”

    Yes it is a fact. We have enough evidence to confirm it as such. Also, I don’t follow creationist or ID material anymore. They just twist the facts to match their faith.

    “Life could not arise without a design boost.”

    Where is your proof for this or is this another “god of the gaps” thing? We have many pieces of the puzzle but we just haven’t figured out how to put them together. When that does happen, creationism and ID will be dead.

    “This sentence contains three different themes, all of which are too ambiguous and unconnected to merit a response. Please write it again and try to make your point comprehensible.”
    I was trying to say that everyone here was singing Craig’s praises for how he wins debates and furthers the arguments for God but once he goes with something that you guys don’t agree with, he gets chastised. People at UD have become disappointed with him because he doesn’t back ID thinking.

    WJM
    “That’s not really much of a “reason” to become a nihilist, IMHO.”

    There is no meaning, purpose or value in the universe. People make it up but that doesn’t make it real anymore than Santa Claus is real. Hence my nihilism. I have gone where the evidence led.

    Krock
    “Surely you don’t believe what you’ve posted here to be objectively true and meaningful, do you?”

    I believe whatever my brain makes me believe, just like your do.

  14. 14
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    JLAfan2001: This is exactly why I have become a Nihilist. Evolution and God can’t be reconciled no matter how you try.

    Given what you said later, I’ll assume you mean “purposeless, blind-watchmaker style evolution” and “Christianity as I understand it” cannot be reconciled. I am not surprised by that.

    So the only choice is “Christianity” (as you understand “it”) and nihilism? You swing pretty wide. The smorgasbord has a lot more choices than that.

    Well, welcome to the world of growing up and handling evidence like an adult. It can be ugly and disturbing at first. But it can be downright fascinating. And it sure as hell does not necessarily lead to nihilism. Not at all.

    Like the old Carpenter’s song says: you’ve only just begun.

    “Evolution” is an equivocal term, use, misused and abused not only in the popular press, but even in peer reviewed literature. Great precision is a virtue.

    The evidence for evolution is numerous to the point where I just couldn’t hold onto my Christian beliefs any longer and still be honest with myself.

    Whether or not you abandon “Christianity” is up to you. But I agree that the evidence for “evolution” is substantial. There has been “change over time” in the fossil evidence. It appears to contradict a six-24-hour-day creation account offered in Genesis. I don’t believe the six-day account either anymore. However, the evolution that actually exists in the historical evidence, that is, in the fossils, does not comport with the gradualism that Darwin envisioned. And that’s why scientists ever since have been trying to tap dance and “explain” away this or that fact ever since, with nonsense like “punk eek” and other excuses that many of those not in the Church of Darwin are astonished that they believe it.

    The “blind watchmaker” type of evolution (which is what most of those committed to the Modern Synthesis believe in) is loaded with problems and it gets worse by the day. It’s interesting to watch with an open mind.

    Then there’s the whole problem of the origin of life; the origin of the extremely sophisticate DNA replication system. Scientifically, OOL studies are bankrupt. And things are getting worse, not better. Pure and simple.

    It looks more and more to me as if earth was created and managed with infusions of information at various stages. With an astonishing beginning.

    Now Nasa has calculated that there are 8.8 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. The chances that life could arise naturally on one of these planets are quite high when one takes in the age of the universe too.

    “Chances” refers to statistical probability. We have a sample of life on a planet of exactly one. Earth. And we don’t know how life started on earth, whether it is an artifact or whether it occurred to due the action of natural forces alone as we understand them. (Chance and necessity.) So to say “the chances that life could arise naturally on one of these planets” is based on nothing scientific. For such a claim to even being to be meaningful you’d have to at least know how life started on earth. Nobody knows it started here. Any such claims about life on other planets, made by NASA or Donald Duck, are scientifically vacuous at present.

    As I have said many times before, it’s time for you guys to give up your faith because evolution isn’t going anywhere. Even your apologetics champ seems to agree.

    It may be high time for people to give up their kindergarten faith, I would agree with you on that. And there may be good reasons to be a nihilist, but you haven’t provided any. There’s a lot more possibilities than the black and white thinking you’re wallowing in.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    JLA, the science is what it is. Take it or leave it. But it is what it is! And what our science tells us is that, given Naturalism, we should not expect another life permitting planet in the universe. The odds against all the parameters coming together for a planet to permit life vastly exceed the possible number of planets in the universe:

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. = 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. = 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. = 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. = 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. = 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    And please note, that even if every one of the 10^80 sub-atomic particles in the universe were a planet that would still be a 1 in 10^974 probability against a life permitting planet originating by chance.

    Moreover, that is just the probability of finding a planet that may possibly support life in the universe. Throw on top of that the probability of life ‘spontaneously’ forming under idea conditions for any life supporting planet and then the odds against that happening quickly explode into gargantuan proportions:

    “The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!”
    (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)

    Dr. Morowitz did another probability calculation working from the thermodynamic perspective with a already existing cell and came up with this number:

    DID LIFE START BY CHANCE?
    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias)
    http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html

    Punctured cell will never reassemble – Jonathan Wells – 2:40 mark of video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKoiivfe_mo

    of related note:

    Abiogenic Origin of Life: A Theory in Crisis – Arthur V. Chadwick, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: The synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids from small molecule precursors represents one of the most difficult challenges to the model of prebiological evolution. There are many different problems confronted by any proposal. Polymerization is a reaction in which water is a product. Thus it will only be favored in the absence of water. The presence of precursors in an ocean of water favors depolymerization of any molecules that might be formed. Careful experiments done in an aqueous solution with very high concentrations of amino acids demonstrate the impossibility of significant polymerization in this environment. A thermodynamic analysis of a mixture of protein and amino acids in an ocean containing a 1 molar solution of each amino acid (100,000,000 times higher concentration than we inferred to be present in the prebiological ocean) indicates the concentration of a protein containing just 100 peptide bonds (101 amino acids) at equilibrium would be 10^-338 molar. Just to make this number meaningful, our universe may have a volume somewhere in the neighborhood of 10^85 liters. At 10^-338 molar, we would need an ocean with a volume equal to 10^229 universes (100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000) just to find a single molecule of any protein with 100 peptide bonds. So we must look elsewhere for a mechanism to produce polymers. It will not happen in the ocean.
    http://origins.swau.edu/papers.....fault.html

    Thus JLA, you can believe that life spontaneously pops up all over the universe if you want, but I simply ain’t got enough faith to be an atheist!

  16. 16
    Brent says:

    SB

    Contemporary Theistic Evolutionists want to turn the tables and say that God “knew” what the one result of a groping process would be. This argument, however, is illogical because it would mean that God didn’t intend or cause the final outcome that He knew would occur.

    Devil’s advocate here.

    How does that work in context, however, of the evil that exists in the world? You would be open to the charge that God is, by the same reasoning, really responsible for evil, no?

    I’m curious how you would answer such a challenge.

  17. 17

    There is no meaning, purpose or value in the universe. People make it up but that doesn’t make it real anymore than Santa Claus is real. Hence my nihilism. I have gone where the evidence led.

    And yet here you argue, as if your argument has merit or meaning. What do you hope to accomplish here, Mr. Nihilist, besides demonstrating hypocrisy with every post?

  18. 18
    JLAfan2001 says:

    CentralScrutinizer

    May I ask if you have a faith of some type, what it is and why you have it? I’m a nihilist because it shows reality. If there is no higher power, then everything humanity holds dear was constructed by humanity and therefore not real. I’ve posted before:

    •No objective, absolute, inherent meaning in life or the universe
    •No objective, absolute, inherent purpose in life or the universe
    •No objective, absolute, inherent value in life or the universe
    •We are the cobbled together Frankensteins of billions of years of trial and error
    •No objective, absolute, inherent morality in life or the universe. No good, no evil, no right, no wrong
    •No objective, absolute, inherent truth in life or the universe
    •No objective, absolute, inherent knowledge in life or the universe
    •No objective, absolute, inherent logic in life or the universe
    •We have no free-will, mind, consciousness, rationality or reason. They are illusions and very personhood, identity and humanity are not real.
    •The emotions we express are just chemicals in our brain. The very things we seek in life like happiness, peace, contentment, joy are just chemicals reducing us to nothing more than chemical addicts.
    •We are no more important than other animals. A dog is a rat is a pig is a boy.
    •There is no after life. Once we die, we fade from existence and all our memories, experiences, knowledge etc goes with it. In time, we are forgotten.
    •All the things we do in life are just for survival. Learning, loving, seeking, being positive, eating, relating, having fun are created for the sake of ignoring the real reason we are here and that’s to live as long as we can.
    •There is no help coming to save humanity as a species or as individuals. We are all alone and on our own. If you can’t survive, you die.

    To escape this reality, one has to construct his own reality with meaning, purpose, love, logic, reason etc. That would be just another lie to live in. Humanity generally lives in their own personal matrix of their own creation. We had to in order survive. Nihilism is the only way out of the matrix. It’s not pretty but it’s reality.

  19. 19
    Jon Garvey says:

    “To escape this reality, one has to construct his own reality with…” …nihilism.

    Even nihilism then is another lie to live in. Meaninglessness is the only thing that makes sense. That nothing is real is the only reality.

    Logic and reason tell us that there are 80 billion inhabited planets – which proves there’s no logic or reason. So they can’t tell us there are 80 billion inhabited planets.

    I think you’re on to a self-defeater there, son.

  20. 20
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    JLAfan2001,

    You laundry list is a collection of conclusions. Not facts. How you came to those conclusions is an interesting question.

    But since you ask…

    “May I ask if you have a faith of some type, what it is and why you have it? ”

    I have very little faith in anything. My view of life and existence follows from the objective facts that do exist, and personal experience of what one might call, “the numinous.”

    It is clearly obvious to me that consciousness is primary and that I am part of a “supernatural” reality that is not dependent on space-time. That you do not have this, well, I feel sorry for you. But my direct conscious experience informs everything else. It is the starting point.

    Your laundry list of conclusions is flatly contradicted by my personal experience. I’m not going to try an psychoanalyze you, but I think there’s more going on than what you’ve indicated.

    So, as WJM asked, what do you hope gain here?

  21. 21
    reductio says:

    JLAfan2001,

    Nihilism is truly self-defeating because once all meaning has been discarded, what is the point in arguing for anything at all – even meaninglessness? You are using the tools of meaning (logic, science, language) to say that there is really no meaning; the entire enterprise is a giant contradiction. And clearly there is *some* shred of meaning left to you because you want to take the time to convince the rest of us of the correctness of your case.

    If any meaning at all exists, then logical necessity demands the existence of an ultimate meaning – what philosophers call Truth (with the captial T).

    Don’t give up the search.

  22. 22
    Brent says:

    JLA,

    You may be in a blessed place. There is a sort of coherence in your thinking, but once you’ve concluded that everything is, really, meaningless, it seems the only evidence left to consider is that evidence within: meaning is real because that’s simply the way it feels. Start from there.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Well said reductio,

    Before I read your post which you put so well, I had just realized that without a perspective outside the natural order in order to judge (assign meaning) as to whether something within the natural order is meaningless or meaningful then no such judgement would be possible. i.e. The judgement itself requires that meaning exists prior to the natural order. Or as CS Lewis would put it:

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

  24. 24
    reductio says:

    Thanks for the kudo’s BA77. (Fforgive my derail from the main thrust of the thread here) I’ve been admiring your content for years on this site. Your copious links to supporting videos and websites are almost always worth a visit. I’m still mining the “Dangerous Knowledge” BBC video (which I found through you) for lots of apologetic material. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem has some interesting theological implications which I’m surprised have not found a wider audience, but that’s another story.

    Now back to our regular programming…

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    Hi Brent:

    You write,

    How does that work in context, however, of the evil that exists in the world? You would be open to the charge that God is, by the same reasoning, really responsible for evil, no?

    Brent, I am not clear about why my argument against TE would implicate God in this way. Could you stretch out on that one a bit more? It seems to me that man, not God, is responsible for evil. To know something is going to occur is not the same as causing it. God knows if the stock market is going to crash, but that doesn’t mean he caused it. So, I must not be understanding your objection. Based on your record of thoughtfulness, I suspect that you may have something else in mind.

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    JLA”

    This was the point I was trying to make. Unguided macro-evolution IS a fact and it can’t be reconciled with God in anyway that Biologos thinks it can.

    It is clear that unguided cannot be reconciled with God, but it is not at all clear that unguided evolution is a fact. Indeed, it is a fact that there is no evidence whatsoever to support that claim.

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    Following up on @26 for Brent, I seems to me that contemporary TEs (defined as Christian Darwinists) try to separate what God does with what He knows. Yes, many of them say (not all), God “knew” what the final outcome of evolution would be, but he didn’t design it such that it would infallibly produce that result. It’s as if His right hand didn’t know what His left hand was doing. Nonsense.

  28. 28
    SirHamster says:

    To escape this reality, one has to construct his own reality with meaning, purpose, love, logic, reason etc. That would be just another lie to live in. Humanity generally lives in their own personal matrix of their own creation. We had to in order survive. Nihilism is the only way out of the matrix. It’s not pretty but it’s reality.

    Why do you value truth in an existence with no meaning? If the point of your existence to recognize the truth, doesn’t that undermine your claim that there is no point to your/mankind’s existence?

  29. 29
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    BA77: “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…” CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    Indeed. To further quote Lewis: if the universe did not contain eyes, “darkness” would have no meaning.

    The whole idea of “meaning” is meaningless, and we wouldn’t be discussing it all, unless meaning is something real. It cannot be an illusion, for illusions themselves are illusions at all because they point to something real.

    Next time someone says that meaning is an illusion ask them, “what is an illusion of?” It would be like saying color is an illusion. And illusion of what? Color is what it is. Meaning is what it is. And so is color. They are primary.

    Because consciousness is primary.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Very well put CS. Makes a person reflect deeply. I think I shall mess with a friend of mine, who is deep into the whole ‘universe is an illusion’ thing, and spring your insight upon him! 🙂

  31. 31
    JLAfan2001 says:

    If evolution is guided by God then why do we see bad designs like the giraffe larynx nerve? Does God guide the evoultion of plants, animals, viruses that kill each other and humanity? If so, why would he do such a thing if He is good? Does he also guide rock and star formations, does he control the winds and waves, does he control the digestion in my stomach? Why one thing and not the others? If He does guide all this then we are in danger of thinking like the ancient Romans and Norse who that their gods controlled everything.

    The reason why I keep searching for truth in life and keep trying to convince people is because my brain chemistry and genes compel me to since I have no free will. This will seem like a self deafter hence the reality of nihilism – there is no truth or meaning. We are compelled to do what we do by our genes in order to survive. It’s possible that the reality of nihilism that I perceive is just another matrix construct.

    Why should I continue to be a christian when so much of it has been refuted and falsified? She I be a muslim, jew, buddhist, hindu, jedi? Where is the evidence that any of that is true? The idea that there is no supernatural should be the default postion until it is proved otherwise.

    I find the atheist postion BS too. “God is dead….Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” is also a delusion. If there is no higher power then we must become that higher power. I think that another construct that we make up too.

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    JLA

    If evolution is guided by God then why do we see bad designs like the giraffe larynx nerve? Does God guide the evoultion of plants, animals, viruses that kill each other and humanity? If so, why would he do such a thing if He is good? Does he also guide rock and star formations, does he control the winds and waves, does he control the digestion in my stomach? Why one thing and not the others? If He does guide all this then we are in danger of thinking like the ancient Romans and Norse who that their gods controlled everything.

    Some would argue that Original Sin compromised God’s design. Indeed, many argue that nature had already been compromised as a result of the Angel’s first sin, even before man entered the arena.

    The reason why I keep searching for truth in life and keep trying to convince people is because my brain chemistry and genes compel me to since I have no free will. This will seem like a self deafter hence the reality of nihilism – there is no truth or meaning. We are compelled to do what we do by our genes in order to survive. It’s possible that the reality of nihilism that I perceive is just another matrix construct.

    So you have no choice but to pursue meaning and truth even though neither exists? So you have no choice but to convince people that they hold a false belief even though there is no such thing as a true belief. So you really think that this is a rational position.

    Why should I continue to be a christian when so much of it has been refuted and falsified?

    Which parts have been refuted and falsified?

    She [should] I be a muslim, jew, buddhist, hindu, jedi?

    So you have no capacity with which to make a free choice, but you feel that you must choose which religion to adopt?

    I find the atheist postion BS too. “God is dead…

    So you think that the arguments for God’s existence are false and the arguments against God’s existence are false? I gather, then, that you also think that the law of non-contradiction is false.

    Just for fun, what do you understand the arguments for God’s existence to be and what is your objection to them?

  33. 33
    Axel says:

    To take up the point about meaning again, JLAfan2001, in order to register truth and meaning, you have to have a heart capable of wanting your mind to register truths and their significance. Yet you, ‘a priori’, find the truth of the supernatural so unpalatable that you have preferred to construct a fantasy world which bears no relationship to reality.

    Your strictures that there is a total lack of proof of the supernatural is beyond risible. Apart from the universal anecdotal evidence throughout history, (including my own), which I am predisposed to find more convincing than the fruit of any scientific paradigm, even though the likes of bornagain and David Berlinski point to the accuracy of some of QM’s proofs to seven decimal places and the like!!!!

    Men of letters in the first half of the last century who were non-scientists, such as Aldous Huxley, IMMEDIATELY realised that quantum physics had broken the reductionist, mechanistic mould.

    If you can’t bring yourself to believe in a Creator and Grand Designer, it only makes any sense at all, in the teeth of the ubiquitous evidence, to settle for agnosticism. Yet you seem totally unaware of the reality of current scientific knowledge – never mind the non-scientific supernatural.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how light manages to always hit the back of a person traveling in the same direction at its constant speed, irrespective of how fast that traveller/Observer is moving.

  34. 34
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    JLAfan2001: If evolution is guided by God then why do we see bad designs like the giraffe larynx nerve?

    http://www.ideacenter.org/cont.....hp/id/1507

  35. 35
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Does God guide the evoultion [sic] of plants, animals, viruses that kill each other and humanity?

    Yes. First of all, animals and plants have no consciousness. They are merely props in the world for our benefit. Although animals appear to suffer, they do not. They are zombies.

    As for humanity, we are living in a prison of sorts. This world is not indented to be perfect at this current time. This is not “heaven.” It is intended to exhibit both pain, pleasure, beauty and ugliness. The contrast of extremes. You are in jail. This place is intentionally dangerous and fraught with genuine peril and pail. So that you might show some courage and love to your fellow humans in the face of danger, so that you might surrender to the Creator,and allow the Creator to “promote” you to the next level of existence. “Heaven” comes later.

    Open your eyes and see.

  36. 36
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    JLAfan2001: The reason why I keep searching for truth in life and keep trying to convince people is because my brain chemistry and genes compel me to since I have no free will. This will seem like a self deafter hence the reality of nihilism – there is no truth or meaning.

    Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.

    Hang all the law and prophets on this.

    Those who follow this will know the truth of it.

    Try it and report back in ten years.

    What have you got to lose?

    All of the rest is flapdoodle. Fun, perhaps, to discuss (I do it all the time.) But it won’t land you any closer to The Truth until you start practicing agape.

    Then you’ll know.

    Things will start to be revealed to you.

    Like you’ve never dreamed of.

    I promise.

  37. 37

    The reason why I keep searching for truth in life and keep trying to convince people is because my brain chemistry and genes compel me to since I have no free will. This will seem like a self deafter hence the reality of nihilism – there is no truth or meaning.

    Nothing quite like someone running around arguing that nothing they say means anything.

  38. 38

    Axel,

    If you can’t bring yourself to believe in a Creator and Grand Designer, it only makes any sense at all, in the teeth of the ubiquitous evidence, to settle for agnosticism. Yet you seem totally unaware of the reality of current scientific knowledge – never mind the non-scientific supernatural.

    Running around saying “I’m an agnostic” and “I don’t know” doesn’t pack quite the comedic punch as running around saying “I’m a nihilist! Nothing I say means anything!”

  39. 39
    Moose Dr says:

    As the article discusses, the meaning of “evolution” is quite flexible. For instance, I consider myself to be a theistic evolutionist because I hold to universal common descent.

    I contend, therefore, that a new term is called for to separate UCDers from Darwinists. I would call them theistic Darwinists. I would certainly not consider myself to be a theistic Darwinist.

  40. 40
    Jon Garvey says:

    Moose Dr

    I agree with your stance, though I think your suggested term is also subject to confusion, since “darwinism” is almost as flexible a term as “evolution”.

    Bear in mind that Darwin only adopted the word “evolution”, late, because of Spencer’s railroading the term into public useage: Darwin preferred more neutral terms like transformation of species. Spencer’s idea was a universal (not just biological) principle of progress.

    Yet the term “evolution” itself means an unfolding of what is inherent – like running a zipped .exe file – quite the opposite of an undirected process.

    Robert J Russell, one of the better science-faith academics, used the word “Semi-deist” of most current theistic evolution discussion. That fits well – BioLogians like Darrell Falk (with whom I debated at some length on BioLogos) are happy for God to do occasional miracles in the Bible, or even maybe today. Even miracles in the natural creation are a theoretical possibility, but would demean both God and science.

    God’s set up laws, and set up chance, and nature must now be free from his “coercion” to create itself. It’s very congruent with Liberty, Democracy and the American Way, but theologically both wrong and incoherent.

    And, like far too many even in the ID and Creationist camps, they have no more subtle categories of divine action than “God did it miraculously” or “Nature did it without God.” You’ll always end up in a mess if those are your only choices – what is needed is a recovery of the strong doctrine of providence that permeates the Bible and was well-developed in 2000 years of Christian Theology until both Liberals and Evangelicals thought they knew better.

    We have a PhD in history of theology, James Penman, starting a series on the doctrine of providence in the next day or so on The Hump of the Camel. Unashamed plug.

  41. 41
    Brent says:

    SB,

    . . . it would mean that God didn’t intend or cause the final outcome that He knew would occur.

    Aren’t you saying that God really is responsible for an outcome that He started the dominoes falling on? If He knew, He is responsible?

    If that’s the case, and if I were an atheist trying to argue against theism, I would seize on that and use the same reasoning against you: God is responsible for evil.

    Again, this is a devil’s advocate point, and I think the challenge is answerable; just curious what you’d say.

  42. 42
    Brent says:

    Oops!

    . . . it would mean that God didn’t intend or cause the final outcome that He knew would occur.

    Aren’t you saying that God really is responsible for an outcome that He started the dominoes falling on? If He knew, He is responsible?

    If that’s the case, and if I were an atheist trying to argue against theism, I would seize on that and use the same reasoning against you: God is responsible for evil.

    Again, this is a devil’s advocate point, and I think the challenge is answerable; just curious what you’d say.

  43. 43
    StephenB says:

    SB: [….it would mean that God didn’t intend or cause the final outcome that He knew would occur].

    Hi Brent. Thanks for the question:

    Aren’t you saying that God really is responsible for an outcome that He started the dominoes falling on? If He knew, He is responsible?

    If God designed the conditions for evolution, then God is responsible for the outcome insofar as He is the only causal agent involved in the process and insofar as the effect (nature) is forced to follow the intent of that design. After man arrives, another causal agent capable of frustrating the intent of that design has entered the picture. Now one of the effects of God’s creative effort, namely man’s intellect and will, suddenly has the power to also be a cause, which, when misused, will result in evil (Original sin). As a result, man’s human nature (and perhaps nature itself) is adversely affected and God’s design has been compromised.

    This brings us to the question of knowledge and responsibility. With respect to nature, God knows the outcome that he caused. With respect to evil, God knows the outcome that someone else caused. In the latter case, God is not responsible for the outcome, even though He knows it will happen. One is responsible only for what one causes.

    Should we stretch out on this, or will that answer suffice?

  44. 44
    JLAfan2001 says:

    StephenB
    “Some would argue that Original Sin compromised God’s design. Indeed, many argue that nature had already been compromised as a result of the Angel’s first sin, even before man entered the arena.”

    Sounds like nonsense to me. Where does the bible say that nature was corrupted because of the angels? This is just speculation. I do know it says that man corrupted the earth but we see evidence of violence long before man entered the scene.

    “So you have no choice but to pursue meaning and truth even though neither exists? So you have no choice but to convince people that they hold a false belief even though there is no such thing as a true belief. So you really think that this is a rational position.”

    That’s nihilism for you. I never said it was a rational position, it’s just reality. In fact, there is no rationality or reason in the universe. Why would there be when there is no meaning, purpose or truth.

    “Which parts have been refuted and falsified?”

    Just about the entire book of Genesis for starters. But let’s start off with the fact that man evolved from chimpanzees and were not created from the dust of the ground as a special creation. This is where the metaphor or analogy argument comes in. The authors of the bible were certainly not reading Genesis that way. They read it literally. Also, I think the Egyptian creation account is right. What’s that? Science has refuted it? It was metaphor so science can’t refute it.

    “So you have no capacity with which to make a free choice, but you feel that you must choose which religion to adopt?”

    There is no such thing as free will. We do as our brain, genes and physics dictate. I was speaking more along the lines of entertaining the idea that IF there was a God, which one would it be? Which religion is correct? Which denomination? Which doctrine?

    “So you think that the arguments for God’s existence are false and the arguments against God’s existence are false? I gather, then, that you also think that the law of non-contradiction is false.”

    There is no logic in the universe. No truth, no reason, no meaning, no purpose, no logic. Just us following our genes and synapses for the purposes of survival, whatever form that takes.

    “Just for fun, what do you understand the arguments for God’s existence to be and what is your objection to them?”

    It would take too long to answer this here. This would be something to do off thread.

    CentralScrutinizer
    “Yes. First of all, animals and plants have no consciousness. They are merely props in the world for our benefit. Although animals appear to suffer, they do not. They are zombies.”

    You need to take a closer look at nature if you think animals don’t suffer. Try seeing a dog who has been hit by a car and tell me he’s not suffering in pain.

    “As for humanity, we are living in a prison of sorts. This world is not indented to be perfect at this current time. This is not “heaven.” It is intended to exhibit both pain, pleasure, beauty and ugliness. The contrast of extremes. You are in jail. This place is intentionally dangerous and fraught with genuine peril and pail. So that you might show some courage and love to your fellow humans in the face of danger, so that you might surrender to the Creator,and allow the Creator to “promote” you to the next level of existence. “Heaven” comes later.”

    Then why bother to create this world in the first place? Why not go straight to “heaven” instead and save all the suffering? Can God even create a perfect world without suffering? If not, then all those passages that speak of the coming “new earth” and “every tear will be wiped away” is false.

    “Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.
    Hang all the law and prophets on this.
    Those who follow this will know the truth of it.
    Try it and report back in ten years.
    What have you got to lose?”
    Why should I when none of us are valuable? We are all dust in the wind destined to go extinct and become forgotten. None of us have any importance whatsoever. Nature can easily do away with us as it brought us here.

  45. 45
    KRock says:

    @ LAfan2001

    “JLAfan2001: The reason why I keep searching for truth in life and keep trying to convince people is because my brain chemistry and genes compel me to since I have no free will. This will seem like a self deafter hence the reality of nihilism – there is no truth or meaning.”

    Are you absolutely sure of this?

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    SB: So you think that the arguments for God’s existence are false and the arguments against God’s existence are false? I gather, then, that you also think that the law of non-contradiction is false.

    JLA

    There is no logic in the universe. No truth, no reason, no meaning, no purpose, no logic. Just us following our genes and synapses for the purposes of survival, whatever form that takes.

    Congratulations. You acknowledge without shame that you are an irrational person and are impervious to rational arguments. By admitting that fact, you are heads and shoulders above most of your atheist colleagues who are equally irrational but do not know it or will not admit it.

    Whenever reason confronts atheism, atheism will lose. That is why atheists choose irrationality. I suspect that is why you chose irrationality. Unconstrained by reasons rules, you can say anything you like and feel no responsibility to make any sense. Because of your honesty, you are my favorite atheist.

    That’s nihilism for you. I never said it was a rational position, it’s just reality. In fact, there is no rationality or reason in the universe. Why would there be when there is no meaning, purpose or truth.

    Notice how you appeal to rational standards to make your case and then follow up by denying the standards that you just appealed to. Pay special attention to the IF/Then formulation inherent in your proposition: [IF] there is no meaning or purpose, [THEN] there is no rationality in the universe. But if there is no rationality in the universe, then your if/then statements are meaningless and you should not make them.

    SB: Just for fun, what do you understand the arguments for God’s existence to be and what is your objection to them?

    It would take too long to answer this here. This would be something to do off thread.

    But you were doing the driving. First, you insist that the arguments for God’s existence are false. Then, when I ask you to explain what is wrong with them, you want to drop the subject. Alas, I have no reason to believe that you are familiar with these arguments at all.

    It appears rather that you have an emotional attachment to your nihilism that is without any rational basis. Indeed, you have already rejected reason in principle. What has happened in your life that would cause you to reject a robust life of the mind. You certainly did not arrive at your present position by seriously considering all sides of the issue.

  47. 47
    SirHamster says:

    I wonder if the Nihilist would object to relabeling himself an Absurdist – in a world without meaning or reason, the labels are equivalent. Even if they aren’t, what does it matter to the nihilist? One word is as good as another for describing reality.

  48. 48
    Brent says:

    SB @43,

    Thanks. All very well laid out and stated, as usual.

  49. 49
    Phinehas says:

    JLA:

    JLA: In fact, there is no rationality or reason in the universe. Why would there be when there is no meaning, purpose or truth.

    SB: “Which parts [of the Bible] have been refuted and falsified?”

    Just about the entire book of Genesis for starters.

    If there is no rationality, reason, or truth, how in the world can anything be refuted and falsified? There is no truth, but the Bible is definitely false? Truthfully? How does that work?

    Whether or not there is rationality in the universe, there certainly isn’t any to be found here in your nihilism.

  50. 50
    JLAfan2001 says:

    StephenB
    “Whenever reason confronts atheism, atheism will lose. That is why atheists choose irrationality. I suspect that is why you chose irrationality. Unconstrained by reasons rules, you can say anything you like and feel no responsibility to make any sense. Because of your honesty, you are my favorite atheist.”

    Atheists don’t choose anything and neither do theists. Their genes, environment and physics do. Free will is an illusion. There should be no responsibility for any action because we are just acting on our animalistic instincts. We are all predators and prey.

    “Notice how you appeal to rational standards to make your case and then follow up by denying the standards that you just appealed to. Pay special attention to the IF/Then formulation inherent in your proposition: [IF] there is no meaning or purpose, [THEN] there is no rationality in the universe. But if there is no rationality in the universe, then your if/then statements are meaningless and you should not make them.”

    Just following my brain chemistry.

    “But you were doing the driving. First, you insist that the arguments for God’s existence are false. Then, when I ask you to explain what is wrong with them, you want to drop the subject. Alas, I have no reason to believe that you are familiar with these arguments at all.”

    You were already asked some questions which you have not responded to. I don’t blame you though because it’s just your brain fleeing from an attack that it can’t defend.

    “It appears rather that you have an emotional attachment to your nihilism that is without any rational basis. Indeed, you have already rejected reason in principle. What has happened in your life that would cause you to reject a robust life of the mind. You certainly did not arrive at your present position by seriously considering all sides of the issue.”

    I’ve read as much as I could. Three words for my nihilism, “DARWIN KILLED GOD!!!”. There is no evidence that evolution is a guided process. Our observations show that it is random therefore NO GOD!!! My brain changed to match this new environment and it will change again if/when a new environment comes. It still won’t be truth though just something to get me to survive life.

    Phinehas
    “If there is no rationality, reason, or truth, how in the world can anything be refuted and falsified? There is no truth, but the Bible is definitely false? Truthfully? How does that work?
    Whether or not there is rationality in the universe, there certainly isn’t any to be found here in your nihilism.”
    That’s the wacky world of nihilism for you. Everything makes sense and at the same time nothing does. Nihilism is a world of contradictions and confusion. Reality is the illusion. Show me that blind evolution is wrong and my mind will change.

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    SB: First, you insist that the arguments for God’s existence are false. Then, when I ask you to explain what is wrong with them, you want to drop the subject. Alas, I have no reason to believe that you are familiar with these arguments at all.

    JLA

    You were already asked some questions which you have not responded to. I don’t blame you though because it’s just your brain fleeing from an attack that it can’t defend.

    What questions did you ask that I did not respond to? Please be specific. Also, I can defend the arguments for God’s existence very easily. I have no reason to believe that you are familiar with them.

    I’ve read as much as I could.

    Like, who, for instance?

    Three words for my nihilism, “DARWIN KILLED GOD!!!”

    Yes, we know the pattern:

    [a] You make an emotional statement as if had intellectual content.

    [b] Others challenge you to give a rational defense.

    [c] You respond by saying that rationality and logic don’t exist, invalidating [a].

    [d] Others remind you that you have just contradicted yourself.

    [e] You assert that IF the universe is illogical, THEN contradictions are legitimate.

    [f] You are reminded that the argument in [e] assumes the validity of logic.

    [g] You revert back to [a] with an emotional statement.

  52. 52
    Timaeus says:

    JLAfan2001 (50):

    Who do you think you’re kidding?

    You say “I’ve read as much as I could.” False. You were advised of all kinds of things to read that would help you, and you’ve simply refused to read them. Which of these books have you read all the way through, JLAfan2001? The Edge of Evolution? Nature’s Destiny? The Devil’s Delusion? Which of C. S. Lewis’s books have you read all the way through? Which of G. K. Chesterton’s? Have you read any of the works of Plato? Augustine? Aquinas? Calvin? For that matter, have you even read Darwin? I’d say you not only haven’t read all you could, but that you haven’t made an effort to read anything — except atheist and Darwinist websites.

    JLAfan, over a year ago you confessed that you were struggling to hold on to Christian faith. You were offered help here — lots of it — by people concerned for the state of your soul. But it’s now clear that you *wanted* to be talked out of Christian faith. Otherwise, you would have spent at least as much time, if not more, reading classical Christian material recommended to you, works by ID authors showing design in nature, etc., as you have reading atheist and materialist propaganda. In fact, you had already essentially chosen sides when you first posted here. And the rest of us wasted our time, thinking you were sincere, and really open to the evidence on both sides. But you weren’t, and haven’t been. You’ve stubbornly ignored all advice and all attempts to address your situation from the beginning.

    Your statements about evolution are ignorant. It’s apparent that you have close to zero scientific training and are relying on popular science written by the atheists to inform you. You write:

    “Our observations show that it is random therefore NO GOD!!!”

    Our “observations” show no such thing. Evolution is not an observed process; it is an inferred process. No one has ever “observed” an evolutionary change (beyond trivial microevolution). Even the conclusion that evolution has occurred is an inference, not an observation. As for the claim that it is “random,” that is an *interpretation* of the change, not an observation. And in fact, if you knew anything about actual evolutionary biology — that is, if you knew enough real science to read and understand what professional evolutionary biologists are saying, instead of having to rely on crappy sources like Wikipedia and Panda’s Thumb because you dropped science after tenth grade and need someone else to tell you what science says, you would know that many of the brightest and best evolutionary biologists now doubt that “random mutations” are a major factor in generating new biological form. But you aren’t about to break your back reading Shapiro or Newman or anything that takes study. You aren’t about to go back to school and take a course in biology. You just want some cheap, easy, scientific justifications for atheism, such as you can pick up from the propaganda sites.

    I tried at first being kind, soft, and sympathetic with you, JLAfan. I tried to help you when you said you were struggling with faith, and seeking answers. I thought you were reaching out, asking for reasons to believe. But it’s clear that you didn’t really want help. What you were looking for were reasons to disbelieve. You just wanted to justify your turn to atheism.

    And I wouldn’t mind a principled turn to atheism. But the way you’ve gone about things is cowardly and dishonest. If you’ve stopped believing in God, if you’ve stopped believing that the Bible is divinely inspired, then fine. But don’t pretend that you went through anything like a fair process for deciding those things. Don’t pretend that you read the hardest, most sophisticated arguments on both sides of the question. You willfully turned away from all the best writings and thoughts on the traditional side; you embraced the atheistic interpretation of evolution without even having the slightest understanding of evolution’s biological basis, or any scientific training at all; and you’ve lapped up everything you’ve found on the atheist and Darwinist websites uncritically.

    All of this is a sheer act of will on your part, not an act of intellectual honesty. You wanted to be convinced that your childhood religious upbringing was false. You selected out of the available data what you needed for that conclusion, and ignored everything else. I have no intellectual respect for you at all. And you have exhausted all the personal sympathy I originally had.

    Be an atheist, materialist, nihilist, etc. if you like. It’s your constitutional right. But don’t pretend to us here — who knew you “when” — that you really tried hard to preserve your traditional faith but were overcome by the evidence. In fact, your efforts to preserve traditional Christian faith were entirely anemic.

  53. 53
    Barb says:

    Wow, JLAfan2001 got a lot of bites with his latest attempt at trolling.

    My response to everything he’s posted here? Go cry, emo kid.

  54. 54
    Barb says:

    I believe theistic evolution to be incoherent. To undermine belief in the creation account in Genesis is to undermine the very foundations of the Christian faith. Evolutionary theory and the teachings of Christ are incompatible. Any attempt to marry these beliefs can only give birth to a weak faith that is prone to being “tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching.”—Ephesians 4:14.

  55. 55
    Mung says:

    Why is it that God is portrayed as only controlling his own bowling ball?

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