Evolution, Schmevolution

Hugh Ross insightfully responds to questions about his “inconsistency” in believing in stellar evolution, but not in biological, macro- “theistic evolution,” in a 4:35 clip from the 1/22/08 (15:35–20:00) Creation Update Podcast from Reasons to Believe. Please to listen…

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12 Responses

  1. Very interesting.

    However, Ross seems to imply that all “theistic evolutionists” believe in a Blind Watchmaker theory of Creation… i.e., that God started things going and then remained largely uninvolved with natural processes.

    I didn’t disagree with his three forms of miraculous intervention at all. The fact that God intervenes in the operation of natural processes doesn’t mean that God-ordained natural processes (“theistic evolution”) aren’t responsible for the over-arching structure of Creation.

    In general, I find that everybody means something a little different when they use terms like intelligent design, theistic evolution, old-earth creationism, etc. Since there’s no universally-defined consensus on definitions, one person’s dismissal of any of these ideas is really just a rejection of their personal interpretation of that idea.

    By the way… it’s not made clear in that sound clip, but does Ross believe that the stars are 14.1 billion years old and also that Adam was born in 4004 BC? If so, what does he think happened between the creation of the Universe and the birth of Adam? If he agrees with me that God gradually set the stage for Adam through both natural and miraculous processes, I’d consider him a theistic evolutionist.

  2. imply that all “theistic evolutionists” believe in a Blind Watchmaker

    I would say (and would guess that Ross would say) that atheists believe in non-theistic evolution, and theistic evolutionists believe in God-directed evolution, where “God-directed” could probably be conceived in differing strengths, but it’s still gradualism. Ross describes himself as a “progressive creationist”, i.e. that God miraculously introduced every new species at its appointed time, rather than miraculously macro-evolving species into new species. See also this taxonomy of creation views

    does Ross believe that the stars are 14.1 billion years old and also that Adam was born in 4004 BC?

    Universe 13-14 billion, Earth 3-4 billion, organic life many millions, human life (beginning with an individual, literal Adam and Eve) somewhat less than 100 thousand years old. And yes, he absolutely would agree that “God gradually set the stage for Adam through both natural and miraculous processes,” but as I mentioned above, he would distinguish himself from “theistic evolutionists” in that he would argue that the fossil record does not support the gradual development of life assumed by biological evolutionists, but shows rapid bursts of change between long periods of stasis, as God intervened more directly.

  3. OK, that makes sense. I’ve never heard the PC/TE dichotomy defined as precisely as in that link.

    In the past I have considered myself part of the Theistic Evolution camp, though in that spectrum I suppose my views are right in between Progressive Creation and literal-Adam Theistic Evolution. The reason I don’t fully commit myself to one or the other is that I’m unwilling to state the “ratio” of natural to miraculous processes involved in Creation. Both of those views seem to prescribe the degree to which God miraculously intervened, but I don’t find it necessary to make such a judgment.

    In addition, it seems unclear whether Progressive Creation states that God just dropped new species on the planet or that he intervened miraculously to speed up evolution between each discrete period of biological stasis. I don’t think that’s possible for us to know, which is another reason I’m abstaining from alignment with one group or the other.

  4. Since you’re no fan of the concept of a global flood, this article may pop your eyes open a bit. I’ll highlight the tastier quotes:

    Yahoo News: How it happened: The catastrophic flood that cooled the Earth

    PARIS (AFP) – Canadian geologists say they can shed light on how a vast lake, trapped under the ice sheet that once smothered much of North America, drained into the sea, an event that cooled Earth’s climate for hundreds of years.

    During the last ice age, the Laurentide Ice Sheet once covered most of Canada and parts of the northern United States with a frozen crust that in some places was three kilometres (two miles) thick.

    As the temperature gradually rose some 10,000 years ago, the ice receded, gouging out the hollows that would be called the Great Lakes.

    Beneath the ice’s thinning surface, an extraordinary mass of water built up — the glacial lake Agassiz-Ojibway, a body so vast that it covered parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Ontario and Minnesota.

    And then, around 8,200 years ago, Agassiz-Ojibway massively drained, sending a flow of water into the Hudson Strait and into the Labrador Sea that was 15 times greater than the present discharge of the Amazon River.

    By some estimates, sea levels rose 14 metres (45 feet) as a result.

    How the great flood was unleashed has been a matter of debate.

    Some experts suggest an ice dam was smashed down, or the gushing water spewed out over the top of the icy lid.

    Quebec researchers Patrick Lajeunesse and Guillaume Saint-Onge believe, though, that the outburst happened under the ice sheet, rather than above it or through it.

    In a study appearing on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, the pair describe how they criss-crossed Hudson Bay on a research vessel, using sonar to scan more than 10,500 kilometres (6,000 miles) to get a picture of the bay floor.

    In the south of the bay, they found lines of deep waves in the sandy bed, stretching more than 900 kilometres (562 miles) in length and some 1.7 metres (5.5 feet) deep.

    These are signs that the bay’s floor, protected by the mighty lid of ice, was swept by a mighty current many years ago but has been still ever since, they say.

    In the west of the bay, they found curious marks in the shape of parabolas twisting around to the northeast.

    The arcs were chiselled as much as three metres (10 feet) into the sea bed and found at depths of between 80 and 205 metres (260 and 666 feet).

    The duo believe that this part of the bay had icebergs that were swept by the massive current.

    The bergs’ jagged tips were trapped in the sea bed and acted like a pivot. As the icebergs swung around, other protruding tips ripped arc-like tracks on the bay floor.

    Also presented as evidence are deep submarine channels and deposits of red sediment that stretch from land west of Hudson Bay right across the northwestern floor of the bay itself — both point to a current that swept all before it.

    “Laurentide ice was lifted buoyantly, enabling the flood to traverse southern Hudson Bay under the ice sheet,” the study suggests.

    Previous work suggests the flood was so huge that it affected climate around the world.

    The influx of freshwater into the North Atlantic reduced ocean salinity so much that this braked the transport of heat flowing from the tropics to temperate regions.

    Temperatures dropped by more than three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in Western Europe for 200-400 years — a mini-Ice Age in itself.

    Just how ridiculous is the notion of a global flood again? It’s becoming a matter of degree.

  5. The difference between 14 meters and the height of Everest is half as many orders of magnitude as that between thousands and billions of years. This is still not a “global flood” as the literalists would have it. A 14 m difference in global ocean levels would not even submerge my house or yours, and we both live pretty close to a coast.

  6. The difference between 14 meters and the height of Everest is half as many orders of magnitude as that between thousands and billions of years. This is still not a “global flood” as the literalists would have it. A 14 m difference in global ocean levels would not even submerge my house or yours, and we both live pretty close to a coast.

    Whoa, I wasn’t suggesting that particular flood was the culprit. Of course 45 feet (the larger digit sounds more impressive than 14 meters!) doesn’t approach mountaintops. But what I see in this finding is what I see in other fields like biology and cosmology — hints of possibilities that once were considered laughably absurd. The 2004 tsunami had surges up to 100 feet high in places but was more localized, and here we have evidence of a similar flood with worldwide impact including climate change and reduced ocean salinity. All of that echoes young earth propositions, making the concept of a global flood more plausible. Again, my point is that I see a trend: logical absurdities reducing to empirical absurdities. How much farther will that trend take us?

    By the way, I think many young earth creationists don’t believe the Biblical flood needed to reach as high as Mount Everest — they leave room for the role of plate tectonics lifting mountain chains afterwards (perhaps immediately afterwards, giving all that water someplace deeper to go). That might shave off at least one order of magnitude.

  7. Rube,

    Are you now saying that the flood wasn’t global? What’s next bro? Were the plagues in Egypt just a coincidence of nature? The Red Sea parting was because of low tide plus the wind? Maybe the land they walked on wasn’t really dry. Was Jonah in the fish a fairy tale, but we should learn the lesson even though it really didn’t happen that way?

    Have a little faith, buddy.

    :)

    kazoo

  8. Are you now saying that the flood wasn’t global?

    Yes, and I was saying it “then” too.

    The Red Sea parting was because of low tide plus the wind?

    Isn’t that what the Bible says? Interestingly, I grew up thinking that the way the Red Sea parted was with an immediate WHOOSH. But what the Bible actually says, was that it took all night long for the Red Sea to part. From Exodus 14:

    Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

    This is way off topic, though. What did you think of the 4:35 .mp3 from Hugh Ross?

  9. This is way off topic, though.

    That’s my fault. Sorry for threadjacking.

    What did you think of the 4:35 .mp3 from Hugh Ross?

    Helps me understand why strict materialists accuse all creationists, old earth included, of using God to fill in the gaps.

    Raindrop formation more complex than star formation? Ipse dixit; I’d need more information before buying that — nuclear fusion seems pretty complex.

    augmentedfourth: I didn’t disagree with his three forms of miraculous intervention at all.

    What about that middle category — God “intervening” without changing the laws of physics? It’s oxymoronic. Materialistic determinism is simply that: determinism. Either the long chain of physical causes and effects brings an event to pass, or it doesn’t. If God “intervenes” then He circumvents that chain of causation. You could argue that He uses the long causal chain to bring about His purposes, but then He’s not “intervening” — we’re back to the first category of general governance. I suspect only two categories exist.

  10. I did listen to it but I don’t remember anything striking me.

    k

  11. the forester said:

    What about that middle category — God “intervening” without changing the laws of physics? It’s oxymoronic.

    What about when Jesus was present on Earth and he interacted with the material world? When he opened a door, when he put on his sandals, and when he did other mundane things of life, God was affecting the course of the world in countless infinitesimal ways without changing the laws of physics.

    Or what about when God urges someone to a particular action? In that case, the person is merely a conduit of God’s work, and they can enact God’s will without altering the nature of the Universe.

    I suppose I can see an argument that any intervention by God is inherently anti-deterministic, but I think Ross is trying to say that the difference between God’s operations within and without the laws of physics is one of grand degree; i.e. the former is a manipulation of wind currents while the latter is a rapid introduction of new species. It’s possible God sped up natural processes to effect the latter event rather than instituting special creation, but I don’t think it’s possible for us to know and therefore I think it’s best to allow for both.

  12. boingboing: Bioscientists photoshop their cultures to fake results

    Researchers often use Photoshop to clean up the images they produce in the laboratory. If the experiment didn’t go quite right, a bit of tampering can make a gel look like things did work. Editors at Science, Nature, and other journals are turning into detectives, using new tools to hunt for fraudulent images.

    And the level of tampering they find is alarming. “The magnitude of the fraud is phenomenal,” says Hany Farid, a computer-science professor at Dartmouth College who has been working with journal editors to help them detect image manipulation. Doctored images are troubling because they can mislead scientists and even derail a search for the causes and cures of disease.

    Ten to 20 of the articles accepted by The Journal of Clinical Investigation each year show some evidence of tampering, and about five to 10 of those papers warrant a thorough investigation, says Ms. Neill. (The journal publishes about 300 to 350 articles per year.)

    So much for transcendent science? Maybe it’s a human construct after all.

    (And that article wasn’t even about evolution!)

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