Challenging Darwin at the Westminster Conference

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Over the weekend, a number of us traveled to Philadelphia for the Westminster Conference on Science & Faith. The two-day event, which was a pack-out with nearly 800 attendees, featured notable speakers including John Lennox, Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Paul Nelson, Vern Poythress, John West, Megan Best and Scott Oliphint. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, participants attended a total of three breakout sessions, with options of attending the science track, the theology and culture track, or the apologetics track. I decided to attend all three of the science breakout sessions, which featured Axe, Meyer and Nelson.

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15 Replies to “Challenging Darwin at the Westminster Conference

  1. 1

    Sounds like a great conference!

  2. 2
    Graham2 says:

    Is ID in the Science track or the Theology track ?

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    Well neither Darwinism nor neo-darwinism are on the science track…

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2 asks:

    Is ID in the Science track or the Theology track ?

    Yet as was recently pointed out so elegantly in niwrad’s ‘Comprehensibility of the World’ post,,,

    Comprehensibility of the world
    Excerpt: ,,,Bottom line: without an absolute Truth, (there would be) no logic, no mathematics, no beings, no knowledge by beings, no science, no comprehensibility of the world whatsoever.

    ,,,’science’ is not possible without theistic presuppositions! One may rightly ask, “If science is not possible without Theistic presuppositions then how in blue blazes has the pseudo-science of neo-Darwinism entrenched itself so deeply in modern scientific thought?” The answer to that question is rather straight forward. Charles Darwin smuggled in Theistic presuppositions as to what God would and would not do in the world so as to appear scientific:

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011

    The Descent of Darwin – Pastor Joe Boot – (The Theodicy of Darwinism) – video

    To this day, theological argumentation about what God would and would not do is primary to Darwinian claims about coherently explaining reality:

    The role of theology in current evolutionary reasoning – Paul A. Nelson – Biology and Philosophy, 1996, Volume 11, Number 4, Pages 493-517
    Excerpt: Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. Yet many of the same scientists who argue theologically for evolution are committed to the philosophical doctrine of methodological naturalism, which maintains that theology has no place in science. Furthermore, the arguments themselves are problematical, employing concepts that cannot perform the work required of them, or resting on unsupported conjectures about suboptimality. Evolutionary theorists should reconsider both the arguments and the influence of Darwinian theological metaphysics on their understanding of evolution.

    Dr. Seuss Biology | Origins with Dr. Paul A. Nelson – video
    accompanying pdf

    Not so ironically, this Theological position of Darwinists, to argue against Theism, is found to be self-defeating on many fronts. Here is one example:

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159

    Supplemental note:

    Is Your Bod Flawed by God? – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Theodicy (the discipline in Theism of reconciling natural evil with a good God) might be a problem for 19th-century deism and simplistic natural theology, but not for Biblical theology. It was not a problem for Jesus Christ, who was certainly not oblivious to the blind, the deaf, the lepers and the lame around him. It was not a problem for Paul, who spoke of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain till the coming redemption of all things (Romans 8).

    I think it is pretty obvious that ‘reconciling natural evil with a good God’ instead of denying the reality of ‘natural evil altogether’ as Darwinists try to do, is where Christianity leaves all other theodicies in the dust for it deals with ‘the problem of evil’ head on!


    Citizen Way – Should’ve Been Me (Lyrics)

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Design by Any Other Name – April 9, 2013
    Excerpt: One reason for Endy’s team’s success is the way that they have approached biological systems. Rather than in terms of modular pieces, they took a more integrated approach.,,,
    Darwinism assumes that organisms are built from the bottom-up, where complexity comes from the incorporation of additional components via chance and selection pressure. An engineering perspective assumes that biological systems are built from the top-down.
    In other words, the end function is already in mind when the biological system is constructed. Because of this, the system functions as a cohesive whole, rather than as modular components. Furthermore, and as (the success of) Endy’s group in particular points out, the parts of the biological systems are not interchangeable like Lego blocks. They have specific functions.
    Evolutionary theory says that trial and error lead to the biological structures that we see today. But this same trial-and-error method does not work in the laboratory setting, so why should we assume that it worked in nature?

  6. 6
    billmaz says:

    It is good to look at evil sometimes from a creative, artistic point of view. When a writer writes from the point of view of an “evil” character, or an actor acts such a role, it becomes clear very quickly that a so-called evil character does not consider himself evil. If the writer tries to write him in such a way, as being evil, he/she fails to create a believable, rounded, character. The reason is that no matter how evil a character is, or may look to be to others, he never looks evil to himself. He would never be able to live with himself if he thought himself to be evil. So he either creates rational reasons for his “evil” actions or, from his point of view, they were not evil.

    Examples abound: One man’s revolutionary hero is another man’s terrorist; the act of killing a tyrant and mass-murderer (assassinating Hitler, for example) which would have saved millions of lives, would, in itself, be considered murder; the bombs the US dropped in WWII which supposedly “saved” lives is considered an evil act by much of the world, certainly by the Japanese, and so on.

    From this perspective, one can make the argument that evil is really the act of not knowing how connected we all are. It may be viewed as an act of ignorance. Self-delusion, self-interest based on fear or blindness to our interdependence, greed, are all reasons for evil acts that take the word “evil” out of the lexicon. If one looks at “evil” acts in this way, it becomes harder and harder to define evil per se. Evil acts can be seen as ignorant acts, acts based on a lack of understanding of oneself or the world, acts that consider each of us as being alone, separate from both other human beings and the universe at large. Evil can be seen as acts of desperation by a figure full of fear and incomprehension of a seemingly violent and uncaring universe.

    So I don’t use the word evil anymore because I don’t understand what it means. I use words like stupid, ignorant, delusional, narcissistic, psychotic, fearful, agonized, terrorized, depressed, etc. instead.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Although Darwinists have no way of ever explaining the existence of moral good and evil in the world, (in fact if they were consistent in their atheism they would deny the existence of good and evil altogether), they cannot escape the fact that they themselves are constantly evaluating the moral evil and goodness of the world around them.

    Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.

  8. 8


    So I don’t use the word evil anymore . . .

    You used it 18 times in 3 paragraphs alone! Just kidding. 🙂

    More seriously, there may be an objective understanding of evil, perhaps even along the lines of the words you are using to describe what you mean by evil. But it is true, that we can only see a small part of the facts at any one time and deciding what is evil is not easy.

    One of the best essays I’ve read on this topic is Benjamin Wiker’s. Definitely worth reading:

    This thread, is also worth reviewing:

  9. 9
    Joe says:

    Eric and kairosfocus,

    Do you have a copy of “No Free Lunch”? Page 209 says that Elizabeth Liddle’s concept of a simple self-replicator and darwinian evolution can produce the diversity of life, had been refuted in 1967.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:


    “Dembski says” carries essentially no weight with the objectors.

    This, we have seen over and over again.

    But it has long since been quite clear that there have been no successful self replicating molecules produced under reasonable pre-life conditions, and that the requisites seem to suggest that an uncontrolled environment is utterly unlikely to produce such.

    Then, to be relevant to cell based life [the imaginary replicator molecule is a red herring led away to a strawman], there would have to be coding (thus a language), a code reader, algorithmic information storage in quantities of order 100 – 1,000 kbits, and execution machinery adapted to the protocols of the code, all in the context of creating a host metabolic automaton with encapsulation and smart gating that lets in what is needed and excludes what is not, as well as exhausting wastes appropriately.

    That such a system should arise by chance variations/circumstances and the forces of chemistry reaction kinetics and associated physics in a warm little electrified pond, or the like, is a practical impossibility, and plainly so. (Just the need for chained monomers of the correct chirality to make the folding geometry or the coding geometry work, in a context where the natural forms will have mixed handedness, and where all of these molecules are rather endothermic anyway to form, would put paid.)

    The game has long been over once it was evident that the living cell was an information system, just that there are those clinging to the sinking ship to the bitter end.

    Do you wonder why, six months after a free- kick- at- goal challenge was put on the table there have been no takers? That’s why: OOL is the killer, and once design is plainly on the table as best explanation at OOL, there is no good reason to exclude it at any other point.

    That’s why power games are being played to gerrymander definitions of science and how it is to proceed in reasoning. It is why, when people who know the informatics or the thermodynamics or chemistry and physics stand up and ask hard questions, the response is to pretend this is all about nefarious right wing theocratic fundy fascists trying to bring back the rack, and other such sickening and ugly smears. (They don’t even seem to want to see that fascism, properly, is a left wing, socialist derived ideology of political messianism and the mystical deliverance form oppression of some designated victim group by a Nietzschean superman anointed saviour. In short, statist political idolatry of the worst form, an outright piece of sick blasphemy.)

    And, BTW, that disrespect for accuracy, truth and fairness is telling us a lot about what the sort of objectors who indulge such tactics or harbour those who do, would do with serious power.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of sustained liberty.


  11. 11
    nightlight says:

    bornagain77 #7 (777?): Although Darwinists have no way of ever explaining the existence of moral good and evil in the world, (in fact if they were consistent in their atheism they would deny the existence of good and evil altogether)

    It’s even worse than that — their real problem is with “explaining” itself, let alone with ‘explaining X’, since truth or logic or understanding are not synonymous with fitness.

    Regarding the subject proper, the problem of evil, if one takes “maximize happiness around you” (however far ‘around you’ extends) as the primary guideline, then the solution for that ‘happiness around you’ maximizing function is not unique if done by imperfect evaluators, such as humans.

    Evil is merely a label we give to all other solutions which differ from our own. Hence, the continued existence of evil means continued existence of imperfect evaluators for the difficulty of the problems in front of us.

    However, once a sufficiently high level of harmonization is reached at the social scale, even the imperfect evaluators like us will become adequate for the new task of greatly reduced complexity, thus will be able to arrive at the common solutions, rendering the term “evil” obsolete.

    This level of harmonization implies, among others, that these domains ‘around you’ either coincide for all evaluators (which is infeasible considering our cognitive limitations), or that there is sufficient ‘uniformity’ so that evaluations are invariant (interchangeable) with respect to the shifts among the ‘around you’ domains.

    In fact we already know that harmonization at smaller scales, such as that of physical laws/patterns (which were harmonized by Planckian networks eons ago), relies precisely on the “evaluation invariance” strategy to render evil obsolete at that level. For example, physical laws are invariant with respect to change of place, time and the state of motion of the observers (uniform motion for STR, general motions for GTR), as well as to numerous other more subtle shifts in the perspective such as local and global gauge invariance.

    { Whoa, these captchas on UD are getting trickier, mine asked X-8=zero }

  12. 12
    Joe says:


    It has nothing to do with “Dembski says”.

    In 1967 Spiegelman conducted tests of darwin evolution in a test tube. He had replicating molecules, resources (building blocks) and an enzyme to help with the polymerization process involved in self-copying.

    However the copying was not accurate. The initial sequence became shorter and shorter, NOT more and more complex.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe: You think they don’t know about Spiegelman’s monster? That was a case of the basic premise of going down the hill energetically: from 3000 bases to “just big enough to grab the replicase enzyme and copy itself.” This, as “[i]t had apparently jettisoned sections that coded for protein coats and other components it didn’t need in the artificial environment.” Then, in the teeth of what is happening, we see the inference that “long before cells were invented, there could have been selective forces that pushed nucleic acid molecules to greater and greater length and complexity in order to solve the selective problems.” KF

  14. 14
    Joe says:


    If they know about it they sure as heck ain’t saying anything about it.

    They are hoping if they ignore it, it will go away.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe: They turned the empirical results around, as summarised. KF

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