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As we head into the new year and the impending Darwin bi-centennial on February 12th, we’re sure to be regaled with story after story of the wondrous things that Darwinian evolution hath wrought.  A friend e-mailed the following to me, and with his permission, I reproduce it here below the fold.  Perhaps pondering some of these questions might bring some balance to what is otherwise sure to be a lopsided Darwin love-fest for the next couple of months.  The original of this can be found at the University of California Santa Barbara Veritas Forum website

1. Evolution by natural selection is more plausible in a theistic world than an atheistic world.

Evolution in a theistic world is possible if God pre-programmed the universe and infused Nature with information (the ultimate fine-tuning argument).

Evolution in an atheistic world is absurd. It’s “random turtles all the way down” – all the way down to the random origin of Nature itself and its ability to naturally select anything. A filter (e.g. natural selection) which was formed by chance and selects random events may best be described as garbage in – garbage out. It doesn’t describe the universe we find ourselves in, hasn’t got a chance of surviving the rigors of scientific and skeptical inquiry, cannot sustain scientific reasoning, and would certainly never have inspired science in the first place. It is simply unfit for rational thought and must naturally be selected against. Constantly evoking a god-of-chance is neither scientific nor rational.

2. Darwin never accounted for the arrival of the fittest. Naturalism’s god-of-chance is always called upon to do the job.

“Directed by all-powerful selection, chance becomes a sort of providence, which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped.”

Grasse, Pierre-Paul (1977), p. 177
Evolution of Living Organisms
Academic Press, New York, N.Y.
Pierre-Paul Grasse is the past President of the French Academie des Sciences and editor of the 35 volume “Traite de Zoologie” published by Masson, Paris.

3. Science rules out the possibility that natural processes might prevent major evolutionary change simply by definition because biological stability and conservation would imply that creation events had taken place since the creation of the universe.

If no data is required to eliminate real possibilities, why do we call this science? It clearly isn’t. Given that the origin of Nature itself constitued a singularity (or natural discontinuity), it is certainly possible that other natural discontinuties exist in the history of life (e.g. the origin of life itself). The goal of science ought to be to most accurately describe how nature functions, even if so doing would discover natural processes that prevented spontaneous generation (abiogenesis) or inhibited major evolutionary change (macrostasis).

4. Creation preceded Evolution anyway.

Evolution points back to a beginning – initially to the origin of the first species and then back to the origin of everything else including space and time. Nature is finite in time and space (whether referring to our universe or a potential multiverse) and obviously required a Law Giver.

“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” – Sir Fred Hoyle

“For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” – Robert Jastrow, “God and the Astronomers”

5. Edward Blyth described the process of natural selection well before Darwin and Wallace. He concluded that it acted as a force of conservation eliminating deterimental variations from populations.

A Theory of Conservation based upon Blythian selection would better describe how nature actually functions than Darwin’s interpretation of natural selection.

Edward Blyth wrote three articles on variation, describing the process of natural selection as restoring organisms in the wild to their archetype (rather than forming new species). These articles were published in The Magazine of Natural History between 1835 and 1837. There can be no doubt of Darwin’s regard for Edward Blyth: in the first chapter of The Origin of Species he writes “…Mr Blyth, whose opinion, from his large and varied stores of knowledge, I should value more than that of almost any one…”

Loren Eiseley claimed that “the leading tenets of Darwin’s work – the struggle for existence, variation, natural selection and sexual selection – are all fully expressed in Blyth’s paper of 1835”. He also cites a number of rare words, similarities of phrasing, and the use of similar examples, which he regards as evidence of Darwin’s debt to Blyth.

Ernst Mayr objected to this interpretation by stating, “Blyth’s theory was clearly one of elimination rather than selection. His principal concern is the maintenance of the perfection of the type. Blyth’s thinking is decidedly that of a natural theologian…” (Mayr E. 1984, The Growth of Biological Thought.)

“What was the work of Blyth?… Blyth attempts to show how [selection and the struggle for existence] can be used to explain, not the change of species (which he was anxious to discredit) but the stability of species in which he ardently believed.” (Darlington C.D., 1959, Darwin’s Place in History)

But Mayr’s onjection fails because natural selection cannot select anything that doesn’t already exist. All it can do is eliminate the “unfit.” However one wishes to describe the “fit” and “unfit,” natural selection clearly cannot account for the arrival of the fittest and the change in species in which Mayr ardently believed.

6. Darwin admitted that based upon the data published in his Origin of Species, one could come to “directly opposite” conclusions. For example, natural selection can prevent major evolutionary change from occurring on a gradual step-by-step basis by eliminating useless transitional stages thus explaining the lack of transitional sequences leading to all of the major body plans (phyla) in the fossil record.

“I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question, and this cannot possibly be done here.”

Charles Darwin
The Origin of Species

7. Natural selection better describes biology’s “ordinary rules of stability” than major evolutionary change.

“To know the reasons for infrequent change, one must understand the ordinary rules of stability. The Burgess Shale teaches us that, for the history of basic anatomical designs, almost everything happened in the geological moment just before, and almost nothing in more than 500 million years since.”

Gould, S. J. (1988),
A Web of Tales”
Natural History, October, pp. 16-23

8. Darwinian theory predicts a pervasive pattern of natural history that is upside-down from the pattern found in the fossil record.

Darwin’s theory predicts that as species diversity can ultimately be extrapolated to account for the disparity (major differences) among the higher taxa (e.g. phyla). New species should cluster to initially form new genera. As more and more species evolve their morphological differences should accumulate to justify classifying them into new families. As more and more species diversify, new classes and orders should appear filling out morphological space. Ultimately the disparity of the phyla would be produced. Species diversity should precede disparity of the major body plans.

The only problem with this major prediction of Darwin’s theory is that it is exacty backwards: the disparity of the higher taxa preceded species diversity (see Stephen Jay Gould’s discussion in Wonderful Life on the iconography of the cone).

“The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, and orders before families. This is not to say that each higher taxon originated before species (each phylum, class, or order contained at least one species, genus, family, etc. upon appearance), but the higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa.”

Erwin, D., Valentine, J., and Sepkoski, J. (1988)
“A Comparative Study of Diversification Events”
Evolution, vol. 41, p. 1183

Described recently as “the most important evolutionary event during the entire history of the Metazoa,” the Cambrian explosion established virtually all the major animal body forms — Bauplane or phyla — that would exist thereafter, including many that were ‘weeded out’ and became extinct. Compared with the 30 or so extant phyla, some people estimate that the Cambrian explosion may have generated as many as 100. The evolutionary innovation of the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary had clearly been extremely broad: “unprecedented and unsurpassed,” as James Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently put it.

Lewin then asked the all important question:

“Why, in subsequent periods of great evolutionary activity when countless species, genera, and families arose, have there been no new animal body plans produced, no new phyla?”

Lewin, R. (1988)
Science, vol. 241, 15 July, p. 29

9. Natural history is more compatible with progressive creation than Darwinian evolution.

Given that all of major groups of life appear suddenly in the fossil record and the “ordinary rules of stability” act in such a way as to inhibit major evolutionary change, it is rational to conclude that they were the result of progressive creation – the progression of variations in time on a common pre-existing theme. If the major themes were the result of direct (primary rather than secondary) acts of creation, scientists would be able to discover natural discontinuties beyond the origin of the universe and the irreducible complexity of life. While we would no longer have an adequate materialistic creation story (not that we have one now), we would undoubtedly have a more accurate description of nature and how it actually functions.

10. The ultimate origin of Nature itself cannot be natural. Either Nature or a Natural Law Giver has always existed. Nature has not always existed. What do you conclude?

When scientists tell you that the origin of everything natural must be explained purely in terms of natural processes, we need to remind them that no natural processes existed before Nature came into existence. We hold this truth to be self-evident, don’t we?

Creation preceded evolution.

To uoflcard If you are relying on faith that God did it why are you at a website using science to find evidence for God? GSV
To JGuy I think the better arguments for design are what Mr Dembski and others are establishing, scientific arguments like the EF not philosophical arguments. Do you disagree? Do you think the EF or indeed the presence of CSI in nature is incorrect? GSV
GSV: "1) isn’t very satisfactory for me, if something as ordered and complicated as the universe requires a creator than surely something as ordered and complicated as God does also?" This sounds very much like one of the primary "proofs" of Richard Dawkins' stance of atheism. As discussed in the thread linked above, Alvin Plantinga is a great read for why these ideas are just not relevant to most faiths on Earth. Basically, this stance is a PHILOSOPHICAL intrepretation made by BIOLOGISTS. Dawkins' mind is completely wrapped up in the idea of everything being materialistic, including God, if there is one. basically, if nature is one huge complex machine created by God, then God must be a machine at least that complex...that represents approximately 0% of all faiths on earth. For Plantinga's entire read, see this link: Alvin Plantinga Here's my thoughts on it (it not only applies to Dawkins, but any other atheist with similar beliefs). God does not have to be complex. He is beyond nature, materialism. The laws of nature were created by Him. So he does not necessarily have to operate by them. He is probably not just an extremely intelligent old guy with a white beard, like the stereotypical portrayal in the TV show Family Guy. My guess is that He doesn't have a body or form at all in the sense of our world. And if that's the case, Dawkins' entire argument for why the existence of a god is "highly improbable" is worthless. But on the other hand, he has no trouble ignoring the basic laws of nature, which are the pillars of his faith, to account for the existence of everything (universe, multiverse, etc.) to begin with. I can't find the quote, but I've heard him say something to the extent of "mathematicians have shown how it could be possible for something to come out of nothing". ...so they were staring at a blank page, or at most 'f(x) = 0' and suddenly a useful function appeared? the only other remotely acceptable stance for an atheist is exhibited here. Basically, there is no origin, everything has existed forever. Infinity is now (at least temporarily, for the sake of blindly defending their faith) considered a real part of our existence, not just an abstract mathematical concept. On the page I linked in the above paragraph, the atheists say: "...we simply don’t know the origin of the universe and the Christian doesn’t know either. We’re both in the same boat with the same question, and if you think you know the origin of the universe the burden of proof is upon you to explain it." No, no living Christian knows exactly how the universe originated, but we believe God did it. We don't know how he did it, but he did it. The difference between the atheism and theism (and the reason they are in fact NOT in the same boat) is that a theist does not require natural law to never be broken. The pillar of our fatih is God, his existence, his power. He did it, and it really doesn't matter exactly how He did. On the other hand, for an atheist, there are only two concievable routes, and both violate our current understanding of the natural world. Either something came from nothing (a mathematical, physical, thermodynamic impossibility) or the "multiverse" has existed infinitely, which is not a real concept, only an abstract, mathematical one. So the stance that atheists and theists "are in the same boat" is not true...we aren't even on the same stream. The atheist boat is at a fork in a river, both choices leading to a waterfall that plunges into the abyss uoflcard
GSV #5 >"if something as ordered and complicated as the universe requires a creator than surely something as ordered and complicated as God does also?" I sense residual materialist assumptions or paradigms there. The paradigm seems to be that - if God - God would be reducible into immaterial analogs of cogs and wheels. What is the rationale for that? Consider, for example, the Laws of Logic. Can they be reduced into immaterial working parts? Or can the Laws, in some sense, just 'be'. >"There are better arguments for design." What are they? And how are they actually better? JGuy
“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” - Sir Fred Hoyle
Do you have a reference for this quote please? I've always thought that Fred Hoyle was an atheist to the end of his days. I'd love to know the context of this. Thanks dacook
GSV #5 That theological discussion has already taken place in Frustration. Patrick
lars: good catch...don't know how I missed that. Not enough coffee I guess! DonaldM
Thanks for the 10 thoughts... BTW, may want to fix the punctuation in the title (extra apostrophe). lars
Merry Christmas All: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo - 12/24 - Track 5 - Trans-Siberian Orchestra http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ce54716c611e70904773 bornagain77
sparc, I had the same problem but the remedy for me was just to reload the page once I had logged in, then the comments section appears: bornagain77
A few good points here but 1) isn't very satisfactory for me, if something as ordered and complicated as the universe requires a creator than surely something as ordered and complicated as God does also? There are better arguments for design. GSV
sparc: I haven't experienced any problems. If it continues, let us know, we'll try to figure out what's going on. Donald M DonaldM
sparc: I experienced similar problems with mozilla, but not with other browsers. Maybe it's some problem with forms. And why don't you want to comment on the length of our comments? It's so trendy! :-) gpuccio
Is it just me or are there common problems with the login at UD. In some of the threads the comment window doesn't open and I am re-directed to the login page again and again. When I tried older posts instead I didn't experience any problems although I actually don't want to comment on the length of KF's and gpuccio's comments. Anyway, is this a general problem? sparc
"Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of Creation." "Let there be light" (Official motto of the University of California - Copyright UC Regents) The logic is simple: 1. If the arrival of the fittest was the result of pure chance and the arrival of the universe was the result of pure chance then everything the universe should look like the result of pure chance. 2. Even the simplest possible form of life is not only irreducibly complex, it is incredibly complex. 3. Given the 2nd law of Thermodynamics, anything physical (universes, multiverses, .. ) must have had a beginning. 4. Creation preceded Evolution. 5. Evolution couldn't even get started without Creation and, given our scientific knowledge, does not make sense in a atheistic worldview. Battman

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