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Theist, Agnostic, Atheist: Will the Real Charles Darwin Please Stand Up?

When history imitates game show . . .

When history imitates game show . . .

Those old enough to remember TV in the late 1950s through the 60s will recall a delightful game show, “To Tell the Truth.” As a kid I fondly recall trying to figure out along with the celebrity panelists which of the three contestants was the “real” person to be identified. It was a challenging game; the three contestants would all introduce themselves as “I am Mr./Miss /Mrs. [the generic Ms. hadn't come along yet] X” and, after the announcer read a brief description of the featured guest, the panelists would begin their questioning. The idea was for the contestants to try and stump the panel as to the which of them was the real X, so the impostors had their ingenuity tested in how well they could manufacture deceptive but plausible lies.  At the end celebrities would cast their vote and then the telling question: “Will the real Mr./Miss/Mrs. X please stand up?” After some pregnant pausing and feinting, the truth would literally emerge.

Somtimes history imitates game show and no more so than when we try to guess at Charles Darwin’s religious beliefs, for surely there are more ideas on Darwin’s convictions (or lack thereof) in this regard than perhaps any figure of the modern era.  Darwin, in his various comments on religion and God, could have been a one-man “To Tell the Truth” stumper on the question of his own beliefs. A brief review of the many conclusions offered in this regard will serve to make the point.

Some , like Alberto Kornblihtt, rather naively claim, “Darwin believed in God and his body is buried in Westminster Abbey.”1  The standard rendering of Charles Darwin’s faith, however, is that it was a slow imperceptible slide into unbelief. On that we have Darwin’s own word. On religious matters he said, “I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convinced me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress.”2 And so it has come down to us to this very day. The standard view of Darwin is that he slowly, reluctantly abandoned Christianity first and later–much later–all belief.

This received canon notwithstanding, others are less convinced. Stanley Jaki has noted: “The publication in full of Darwin’s Early Notebooks forces one to conclude that in writing his Autobiography Darwin consciously lied when he claimed that he slowly, unconsciously slipped into agnosticism. He tried to protect his own family as well as the Victorian public from the shock of discovering that his Notebooks resounded with militant materialism. The chief target of the Notebooks is man’s mind, the ‘citadel,’ in Darwin’s words, which was to be conquered by his evolutionary theory if its materialism were to be victorious.”3

The radical deism of his grandfather Erasmus matured to a quiet atheism in his father Robert, and as a boy the Unitarian instruction of young Charles devolved to his sisters. Introduced to radical freethinkers as a teenager in the Plinian Society during his abortive attempt at pursuing a medical career at the University of Edinburgh, we find him taking almost naturally to the skepticism of David Hume (1711-1776) and the positivism of Auguste Comte (1798-1857).4 No wonder Janet Browne admits that “Darwin was profoundly conditioned to become the author of a doctrine inimical to religion.”5 Darwin claims to have started out as a theist when writing Origin of Species, but then asks rhetorically, “can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?” and concludes, “I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.”6

But can we really leave it at that? In the end, can we conclude that Darwin, in a hopeless theological muddle, simply settled on uncertainty in this question? Some who read his Origin would have accepted perhaps a different designation. Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873) blasted Darwin’s theory.  Accepting Darwin’s evolutionary ideas threatened, according to Sedgwick, to “sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.”7 Charles Hodge (1797-1878)  agreed. Whatever Darwin’s personal religious faith may or may not be, he insisted, Darwinism is  Atheism.8 So what are we to make of Darwin? Theist, Atheist, Agnostic: Will the real Charles Darwin please stand up?

On balance, the historical evidence suggests that Darwin’s religious views always tended toward some form of theistic nihilism.  Darwin was always careful to keep any teleological implications out of his theory even when couched in befuddlement:

With respect to the theological question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I wish to do so, evidence of design and benificence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. . . . I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. 9 

Again he wrote:

The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. . . . There seems to be no more design in the variablity of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows.10

And he was emphatic not to be misunderstood on the teleological question:

For brevity sake I sometimes speak of natural selection as an intelligent power; in the same way as astronomers speak of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets, or as agriculturalists speak of man making domestic races by his power of selection. In the one case, as in the other, selection does nothing without variability, and this depends in some manner on the action of the surrounding circumstances on the organism. I have, also, often personified the word Nature; but I mean by nature only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws–and by laws only the acertained sequence of events.11

It is clear that when Darwin viewed nature God was not there. In fact, for Darwin man was mere animal, different in degree certainly but not in kind.  As for the complex emotions often associated with reverence for God, Darwin saw parallels in the “deep love of a dog for his master” and “of a monkey to his beloved keeper.”12 “The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator,” he insisted, “does not seem to arise in the mind of man until he has been elevated by long-continued culture.” In short, God is the invention of man not man the creation of God. All this tends toward atheism. But to view Darwin simply as an atheist and leave it at that seems too simplistic. After all, he claimed to be an agnostic. Why not take his word for it?

The problem with simply calling Darwin an agnostic is that agnosticism means many things. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), in fact, coined the word to distance himself from charges of materialism and even atheism. But it became a failed strategy as agnosticism soon came to have a wide range of connotations in public discourse and common parlance. Even Lenin noticed the miscarriage stating that “in Huxley agnosticism serves as a  fig leaf for [his] materialism.” Indeed by the end of the 19th century agnosticism had come to mean different things to different people. Many simply regarded agnosticism as a kind of uncertainty about God’s existence; hypothetically any agnostic might be swayed into belief by reason and argument. At first blush one is inclined to associate Darwin with this brand of agnosticism. Darwin, after all, was always a minimalist in his negation of God. However, he never felt a direct attack was necessary because he, like Huxley, believed that all talk of God and deity was beyond human understanding.  Darwin adhered not to a weak form of agnosticism that says merely, “I don’t know if there’s a God because I’ve not seen sufficient evidence for Him,” his was a much stronger form of agnosticism that argued God was unknowable–all God-talk was ultimately, for Darwin, nonsense. It is this epistemological certainty that makes this a strong version of agnosticism. So here’s the problem: simply calling Darwin an agnostic is not specific enough because it leaves the two forms (the strong and the weak) ambiguous.

Well known historian of science Maurice Mandelbaum (1908-1987) understood this. In an interesting analysis of Darwin’s religious views, he noted, “In the end his Agnosticism was not one brought about by an equal balance of arguments too abstruse for the human mind; it was an Agnosticism based on an incapacity to deny what there was no good reason for affirming. Thus, those who, at the time, regarded Agnosticism as merely an undogmatic form of atheism would, in my opinion, be correct in so characterizing Darwin’s own personal opinion.”14 Darwin as “undogmatic atheist” came as close to the truth as anyone had been able to come in the century since Origin appeared.  

But perhaps another designation would be even more precise or at least equally useful in this regard. Scottish theologian Robert Flint (1838-1910) offered a term of his own that comports well with Darwin’s position. He wrote:

The atheist is not necessarily a man who says “There is no God.” What is called positive or dogmatic atheism, so far from being the only kind of atheism, is the rarest of all kinds. It has often been questioned whether there is any such thing. But every man is an atheist who does not believe that there is a God, although his want of belief may not be rested on any allegation of positive knowledge that there is no God, but simply on one of want of knowledge that there is a God. If a man have failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist, although he assume no superhuman knowledge, but merely the ordinary human power of judging evidence. If he go farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist, an agnostic-atheist–an atheist because an agnostic. There are unquestionably many such atheists. Agnosticism is among the commonest apologies for atheism. While, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other:  that they are combined is an unquestionable fact.15

Flint’s important study of Agnosticism offers an insightful and useful designation in the term agnostic atheist.  Nick Spencer’s recent article in  The Guardian (interestingly cited approvingly on Richard Dawkins’ blog May 21, 2009) noted a problem with the overly simplistic use of the term agnostic. “Attitudes are fine,” he suggests, “but they need to be about something. Adjectives need nouns. If Huxley was indeed an agnostic, he was an agnostic atheist, tending away from the divine but unwilling (so he claimed) to be too dogmatic about it.” And so too with Darwin.

Perhaps more importantly Darwinism is suffused with agnostic atheism. Edward Larson is right in concluding that, “For Darwin, differential death rates caused by purely natural factors created new species. God was superfluous to the process.”16 Darwin never argued against God in any of his works, including Descent of Man, only against the necessity of God. This minimalist formulation is powerful in its dismissiveness of deity and thus forms an essential (though not necessarily sufficient) foundational premise for secularism.  It was–and is–atheism but always of a distinctly undogmatic stripe. When the liberal Victorian clergy rushed to support Origin, Darwin was quick to respond. The Reverend Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) approved of a theistic brand of Darwinism, and sure enough it soon found its way into the very next edition  of Origin in January of 1860 (and every subsequent edition thereafter) as having the approbation of a “celebrated author and divine.” When Harvard botanist Asa Gray (1810-1888) supported his own theistic version of Origin Darwin compiled his warmly supportive reviews and published them as Natural Selection Not Inconsistent with Natural Theology. A Free Examination of Darwin’s Treatise on the Origin of Species, and of Its American Reviewers in 1861. Publication expenses were completely borne by Darwin. As Benjamin Wiker points out in his incisive The Darwin Myth, it’s not that Darwin actually agreed with Gray; his private correspondence is replete with his polite objections to Gray’s theistic additions. Nevertheless, “he had no qualms about using Gray’s argument if it would smooth the way for acceptance of his theory. Once the theory was accepted,” Wiker adds, “the theistic patina would be ground away by the hard, anti-theistic core of the argument.”17 The point is it would be wrong to interpret Darwin’s willing inclusion of Kingsley’s religious support in Origin or his eager approval of Gray’s theistic reviews of his work as evidence of his matching belief; Darwin was always more than willing to set his hard agnosticism aside in the interest of promoting his pet theory.

So what are we to make of Darwin’s religious beliefs? There are five possibilities:

  • Darwin was a religious believer. This is hardly supportable by any historical evidence whatsoever.
  • Darwin was an agnostic. This is true as far as it goes, but the term itself is too vague and diverse in meaning to be of much use and, in fact, may leave seriously misleading impressions.
  • Darwin was an atheist. This is also true insofar as his theory tended to support atheism but probably goes too far in relation to Darwin himself for it implies a dogmatism ill-suited to his subtler and more pragmatic nature. For all of Richard Dawkins’ effusions on behalf of the Down House patriarch, Darwin would likely have found Dawkins’ approach crude and unappealing if not downright appalling. 
  • Darwin was an undogmatic atheist. This apt phrase suggested by Mandelbaum is descriptive of Darwin’s belief and approach but must be reconciled with his own claims to being “an Agnostic.”
  • Darwin was an agnostic atheist. This comes closest to encompassing the range and character of his beliefs and it comports to his theory as well.

So, in the end, I’m willing to accept either Darwin as undogmatic atheist or agnostic atheist. The dual attribution of “atheism” shows the common ties that bind. But please let’s not wallow in codswallop about Darwin as a “sincere religious believer” whose eventual conversion to a more hardened agnosticism was late in life and reluctant.18 The notebooks demonstrate quite clearly Darwin’s religious skepticism and materialistic propensities as early as age 28, ideas he had been introduced to as early as age 17 as a Plinian. The Plinian Society was telling for Darwin. Despite his casual dismissal of them in his Autobiography, Darwin was exposed some of the most radical freethinking of day at those meetings. Darwin was always careful to conceal this fact because its revelation would have made plain the philosophical template through which he would make all his observations while voyaging on The Beagle. In short, the metaphysic preceded the science.

Is Darwinian evolution compatible with theism? It surley was never intended to be and certainly never intended to be compatible with Christianity, though Darwin was more than willing to enlist religious allies on its behalf. Darwin’s materialism would sharpen into the undogmatic atheism or agnostic atheism described earlier but materialism was the template upon which he developed his evolutionary theory to be sure. Whether Darwin was a full-blown materialist or, as Neal Gillespie believes, a positivist influenced by the ideas of Comte is for another posting at another time, but Darwin was most surely not a weak or soft agnostic who abandoned his faith slowly and reluctantly.

So Darwin’s cagey religious minimalism would almost surely have stumped everyone on “To Tell the Truth.” Depending on the question he could appear weakly agnostic or even theistic at times. It is only after looking carefully at his private notebooks and matching his early experiences with his later writings that a coherent pattern emerges. Once identified as an undogmatic atheist or an agnostic atheist the real Charles Darwin can then stand up.

References

1Alberto R. Kornblihtt, “On Intelligent Design, Cognitive Realism, Vitalism and the Mystery of the Reald World,” Life 4/5 (April-May 2007): 235-237.

2Charles Darwin, Autobiography, edited by Francis Darwin (1893; reprinted, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000),  p. 62.

3Stanley L. Jaki, The Savior of Science (Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1988), p. 126.

4For more on the these influences see William B. Huntley, “Charles Darwin and Daivd Hume,” Journal of the History of Ideas 33.3 (Jul.-Sept. 1972): 457-470; and Frank Burch Brown, “The Evolution of Darwin’s Theism,” Journal of the History of Biology 19.1 (Spring 1986): 1-45.

5Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002) ,  p. 177.

6Darwin, Autobiography, p. 66.

7Quoted in Browne, Charles Darwin, p. 94.

8Charles Hodge, What is Darwinism?(1874; reprinted, New York: Bibiobazaar, 2007), p. 110.

9The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, v. 2, 105. This problem of pain and suffering is often used by the nay-sayers of theism as a telling argument. Why, they ask, would a beneficent and all-powerful god create a world with so much misery? For a thorough response and a well-grounded theodicy see William A. Dembski’s The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World.

10Darwin, Autobiography, p. 63.

11Charles Darwin, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, 2 vols. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1897), 1: 6-7.

12Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871; reprinted, New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004), p. 79.

13Ibid., p. 556.

14Maurice Mandelbaum, “Darwin’s Religious Views,” Journal of the History of Ideas 19.3 (June 1958): 363-387,  376.

15Robert Flint, Agnosticism, The Croall Lecture for 1887-88 (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1903), pp. 50-51.

16Edward J. Larson, Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (New York: The Modern Library, 2004), p. 69.

17Benjamin Wiker, The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin(Washignton, DC: Regnery, 2009), p. 109.

18Karl W. Gioberson, Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York: HarperOne, 2008), pp.19-20.

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51 Responses to Theist, Agnostic, Atheist: Will the Real Charles Darwin Please Stand Up?

  1. “The problem with simply calling Darwin an agnostic is that agnosticism means many things. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), in fact, coined the word to distance himself from charges of materialism and even atheism. But it became a failed strategy as agnosticism soon came to have a wide range of connotations in public discourse and common parlance. Even Lenin noticed the miscarriage stating that “in Huxley agnosticism serves as a fig leaf for [his] materialism.”

    Well, if Lenin, surely one of history’s most ruthless calculators, noticed it, you can be pretty sure there was indeed a blip on the screen.

    Mike, your excellent post helps me (and maybe others) understand something: Many don’t follow a religion, but few claim to be atheists, when polled.

    The thing is, advancing a claim for atheism involves, uh, work. Trying to prove there is no God is as much trouble as trying to prove there is one, but with much poorer evidence.

    Then one might need to start attending religious services, giving to charity, and cleaning up one’s life.

    I watched the film where Antony Flew conceded that there is a God in the presence of Gerald Schroeder, a Jewish physicist, and it was clear that they had both done a lot of work all their lives thinking about their positions. (Note: Nothing in the paragraph above this one refers to Flew, who was, I gather, an exemplary gentleman all his life.)

    However, and this is my point, anyone can just sleep in on Sunday morning (or Friday or Saturday morning, depending on the faith one follows), then yawn, and say “Who knows?”

    But – here in Canada anyway – if you get the one-in-five B census form, you’ll be asked to voluntarily self-identify with a religious tradition. (At least, that’s what I recall from past years.)

    Few of those morning yawners will claim to be atheists.

    Their lack of knowledge is disinterest, not atheism.

    That’s what’s holding Richard Dawkins back.

  2. And some follow the precepts of a religion, but do not claim to be “believers” when asked. Indeed, I find asserting that I am a “believer” to be highly presumptuous, as it implies that I have incontrovertible proof of the existence of a deity, which would necessarily imply that my “belief” was a matter of inevitable logical conclusion, rather than an act of voluntary will.

    Following the precepts of a religion without claiming to be “believers” was (in my opinion) what Darwin and Huxley did (and what virtually all of the evolutionary biologists of my acquaintance do). No one who has read the biography of either of these people (or who knows any of my colleagues) would find anything in their personal histories to consistently violate any of the ethical prescriptions of the Judeo-Christian traditions. Darwin was a loving husband and father, a pillar of his community, and a life-long member of his local parish church. Huxley was also a loving husband and father, a classical victorian self-made man, scrupulously honest and generous to a fault, but fearless in defense of the science of evolutionary biology. We all try to do the best we can, and (being human) we often fail. We keep trying because we believe that the attempt (and the reasons that motivate it) are what matter.

    Personally, I do not sleep in on Sunday (i.e. First Day) mornings, but rather go to Friends meeting as often as I can, yet if asked I would have to admit that I am indeed an agnostic. I do not know that God either exists or does not exist. Rather, I believe (an act of will, not an act of empirical proof) that “That Which Is” does indeed exist.

    The phrase “That Which Is” is not a circumlocution, but rather the way I have come to refer to that which cannot be directly captured in words. I have also been told by people fluent in biblical Hebrew (including my wife) that this is a reasonably valid translation of the Hebrew phrase that is transliterated into English as “ehyeh asher ehyeh”. I am much more comfortable using the phrase “That Which Is” than in using a proper name or a “role” name (such as “God”) for the universal organizing principle revered at the heart of all religious traditions.

    To show the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for them, the [Hebrew] scribes of sacred texts took pause before copying them, and used terms of reverence so as to keep the true name of God concealed.
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....in_Judaism

    Once again, how is this entire post not a fairly blatant attempt at character assassination directed at evolutionary biologists and all others who do not believe precisely what O’Learly believes? As usual, her characterization of anyone who does not profess to adhere to her belief is lazy, disinterested, and does not “attend religious services, give to charity, and clean up [their] life (with the single exception of Anthony Flew, of course, who finally proved his worth by renouncing his atheism…but without changing his behavior or extending his belief beyond simple deism).

  3. Allen MacNeill at 2:

    “Once again, how is this entire post not a fairly blatant attempt at character assassination directed at evolutionary biologists and all others who do not believe precisely what O’Learly believes? As usual, her characterization of anyone who does not profess to adhere to her belief is lazy, disinterested, and does not “attend religious services, give to charity, and clean up [their] life (with the single exception of Anthony Flew, of course, who finally proved his worth by renouncing his atheism…but without changing his behavior or extending his belief beyond simple deism).”

    Okay first: Just for the record, Allan MacNeill at 2, it is unimportant but you can look it up -my name is O’Leary. Get that right and you are half way to the races.

    My target was NOT committed atheists, as any serious reader of the post would realize, but lazy people who do not get up early enough to attend religious services and become “agnostics” as a result.

    If you want ‘em, you can have ‘em.

    Please, please, take ‘em away.

    They won’t be any use to you and they sure have not been any use to me either.

  4. While this is a decent summation of the motives behind agnosticism, perhaps it would be relevant to note that ID itself attracts many agnostic-minded thinkers simply because of the fact that ID is not as religiously dogmatic as materialistic evolution; religion can be and is often injected into the frame of ID. To say that most agnostics are just “lazy people who do not get up early enough to attend religious services and become ‘agnostics’ as a result” is strong hyperbole and borderline stereotyping.

    One could even say that agnosticism fits better into an intelligent design mindset than (or vice versa) than theism.

  5. If Darwin was a true agnostic, then he would leave room for the possibility that God had acted in some way. But from what I understand he never entertained that in any serious way and quietly resisted it. The more intransigent he got against the possible intervention of an intelligence in life at some point in the history of the earth, the more he had moved himself away from an agnostic belief to one that is a hard core atheistic belief.

    And if he feigned possible acceptance in public but resisted it in private, what does that say about the character of the man. To argue that he outwardly conformed to the moral precepts of Victorian society does nothing to support a particular belief on anything. It is what he did in private that is telling.

    And then there is the issue that his theory was actually wrong in so many ways. So do we have here a dishonorable man promoting a bad theory with massive social implications? That is the two fold judgment the evolutionary biologist avoid and indeed much of society.

  6. What bearing do Darwin’s personal beliefs have on modern evolutionary biology?

    If Newton was a satanic child-murdering fiend, should we toss the Principia?

  7. Excellent article, thanks!

  8. Okay first: Just for the record, Allan MacNeill at 2, it is unimportant but you can look it up -my name is O’Leary. Get that right and you are half way to the races.

    Thiss is why I use a for letter naem.

    People rarely has difficulty wyth the spelling of for letter words.

  9. Jerry,

    “And then there is the issue that his theory was actually wrong in so many ways. So do we have here a dishonorable man promoting a bad theory with massive social implications? That is the two fold judgment the evolutionary biologist avoid and indeed much of society.”

    Can you go further into detail about how Darwin’s theory was wrong? True, there were many things Darwin got wrong in the beginning, but the modern theory of evolution has much to offer intelligent design. Although undoubtedly a large portion of it must be revised, the idea that evolution simply doesn’t happen is – I hope you would agree – foolish.

    I.E., evolution on a certain scale can fit very nicely withing the frame of the intelligent design mindset.

  10. Leviathan, Since all known adaptations fall under the principle of Genetic Entropy, evolution is of zero “gloss” value to ID. And will only detract from what is truly going on on the molecular level with adaptations from a parent stock.

  11. boreagain77,

    all known adaptations fall under the principle of Genetic Entropy

    Really? How come this major insight has escaped the attention of the scientific community?

  12. jitsak, The principle Didn’t escape this scientists attention

    Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome
    http://www.amazon.com/Genetic-.....1599190028
    Dr. John Sanford, a retired Cornell Professor, shows in Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome that the “Primary Axiom” is false. The Primary Axiom is the foundational evolutionary premise – that life is merely the result of mutations and natural selection. In addition to showing compelling theoretical evidence that whole genomes can not evolve upward, Dr. Sanford presents strong evidence that higher genomes must in fact degenerate over time. This book strongly refutes the Darwinian concept that man is just the result of a random and pointless natural process.

    And of course all you have to do to refute Genetic Entropy, as a foundational scientific principle, is falsify this following Null Hypothesis for information generation:

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009

    To focus the scientific communitys attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on wish-fulfillment, we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it:
    Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    So jitsak, Are you and the oh so highly regarded “scientific elite”, who you supposedly have such thorough and intimate knowledge of, up to the task?

  13. RobertC,

    If Newton was a satanic child-murdering fiend, should we toss the Principia?

    If his views were latent and blatant in the Principia, yes, we should.

  14. Sorry, 77, but I have a copy of Sanford’s book, and frankly it’s a load of nonsense.

    As for the never-cited Abel paper in a <1 impact journal, how is that relevant to Genetic Entropy?

  15. Clive,

    1) You willingly accept “views” as trumping truth. I wonder how you feel about the views of the inventors of al-jabr? Perhaps I better like Darwin’s view that “a scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections — a mere heart of stone.”
    2) Newton was essentially a radical heretic. His anti-trinitarian and Rosicrucian mystic views would lose a lot of friends on this site. His fervor influenced him, and he mentions religion much more openly than Darwin.
    3) Show me where in the Origin of Species Darwin espouses atheism.

  16. And let me phrase it this way:

    If Newtons views disagree with you, does it make the science “wrong?”

  17. jitsak, Please provide direct experimental proof for evolution occurring in the lab.

    i.e. falsify the fitness test:

    For a broad outline of the “Fitness test”, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – “The Fitness Test” – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BwWpRSYgOE

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    Frankly if you cannot provide this minimal, trivial level of proof,,,it is you and all other Darwinists that are full of it!!!

  18. I promised I would just lurk, but Ive been sucked in again.

    RobertC got it exactly: Why on earth do the ID people continue to obsess over Darwins personal details ? Surley they are irrelevant.

    Then Clive answered my question. We should ditch the Principia (apparantly) if it contained bad things. Do we then wait for a politically correct version before we can once again study gravity ?

  19. Darwin, at the end of his life, was certainly no theist, in even a weak sense. In this respect, his views were quite distinct from those of Dr. Allen MacNeill (#2), who writes:

    I do not know that God either exists or does not exist. Rather, I believe (an act of will, not an act of empirical proof) that “That Which Is” does indeed exist.

    The phrase “That Which Is” is not a circumlocution, but rather the way I have come to refer to that which cannot be directly captured in words…. the universal organizing principle revered at the heart of all religious traditions.

    Readers who are interested in seeing documented proof of Darwin’s lack of belief at the end of his life might wish to consult the Wikipedia article, Charles Darwin’s views on religion . I shall quote from the section entitled Aveling and Buchner , and as it is a rather lengthy quote, I shall refrain from indenting, and instead use the words START and FINISH in order to show where the quote begins and ends:

    START

    In Germany militant Darwinismus elevated Darwin to heroic status. When the eminent Freethinker Doctor Ludwig Buchner requested an audience he thought he was greeting a noble ally. To Darwin this was a grotesque misunderstanding, but he felt unable to refuse. Darwin’s wife Emma Darwin expressed her expectation that their guest “will refrain from airing his very strong religious opinions” and invited their old friend the Revd. Brodie Innes. On Thursday 28 September 1881 Buchner arrived with Edward Aveling. Darwin’s son Frank was also present. Darwin wittily explained that “[Brodie] & I have been fast friends for 30 years. We never thoroughly agreed on any subject but once and then we looked at each other and thought one of us must be very ill”.[71]

    In uncharacteristically bold discussions after dinner Darwin asked his guests “Why do you call yourselves Atheists?” When they responded that they “did not commit the folly of god-denial, [and] avoided with equal care the folly of god-assertion”, Darwin gave a thoughtful response, concluding that “I am with you in thought, but I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist.” Aveling replied that, “after all, ‘Agnostic’ was but ‘Atheist’ writ respectable, and ‘Atheist’ was only ‘Agnostic’ writ aggressive.” Darwin smiled and responded “Why should you be so aggressive? Is anything gained by trying to force these new ideas upon the mass of mankind? It is all very well for educated, cultured, thoughtful people; but are the masses yet ripe for it?” Aveling and Buchner questioned what would have happened if Darwin had been given that advice before publication of the Origin, and had confined “the revolutionary truths of Natural and Sexual Selection to the judicious few”, where would the world be? Many feared danger if new ideas were “proclaimed abroad on the house-tops, and discussed in market-place and home. But he, happily for humanity, had by the gentle, irresistible power of reason, forced his new ideas upon the mass of the people. And the masses had been found ripe for it. Had he kept silence, the tremendous strides taken by human thought during the last twenty-one years would have been shorn of their fair proportions, perhaps had hardly been made at all. His own illustrious example was encouragement, was for a command to every thinker to make known to all his fellows that which he believed to be the truth.”[71][72]

    Their talk turned to religion, and Darwin said “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age.” He agreed that Christianity was “not supported by the evidence”, but he had reached this conclusion only slowly. Aveling recorded this discussion, and published it in 1883 as a penny pamphlet.[71][72] Francis Darwin thought it gave “quite fairly his impressions of my father’s views, but took issue with any suggestion of similar religious views, saying “My father’s replies implied his preference for the unaggressive attitude of an Agnostic. Dr. Aveling seems to regard the absence of aggressiveness in my father’s views as distinguishing them in an unessential manner from his own. But, in my judgment, it is precisely differences of this kind which distinguish him so completely from the class of thinkers to which Dr. Aveling belongs.”[73]

    FINISH

    References

    71. Desmond, Adrian; Moore, James (1991), Darwin, London: Michael Joseph, Penguin Group, ISBN 0-7181-3430-3. Pages 656-658.

    72. Aveling, E. B. (1883), The religious views of Charles Darwin, London: Freethought Publishing Company. Pages 4-6.

    73. Darwin, Charles (1887), Darwin, Francis, ed., The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter, London: John Murray, http://darwin-online.org.uk/Ed.....raphy.html, retrieved 2008-11-04. Page 317. See http://darwin-online.org.uk/co.....ageseq=335 for the text of the letter. The full footnote by Francis Darwin reads:

    * Dr. Aveling has published an account of a conversation with my father. I think that the readers of this pamphlet (‘The Religious Views of Charles Darwin,’ Free Thought Publishing Company, 1883) may be misled into seeing more resemblance than really existed between the positions of my father and Dr. Aveling: and I say this in spite of my conviction that Dr. Aveling gives quite fairly his impressions of my father’s views. Dr. Aveling tried to show that the terms “Agnostic” and “Atheist” were practically equivalent – that an atheist is one who, without denying the existence of God, is without God, inasmuch as he is unconvinced of the existence of a Deity. My father’s replies implied his preference for the unaggressive attitude of an Agnostic. Dr. Aveling seems (p. 5) to regard the absence of aggressiveness in my father’s views as distinguishing them in an unessential manner from his own. But, in my judgment, it is precisely differences of this kind which distinguish him so completely from the class of thinkers to which Dr. Aveling belongs.

    I think Dr. Flannery is quite right when he concludes that Darwin was either an undogmatic atheist or agnostic atheist.

  20. “Can you go further into detail about how Darwin’s theory was wrong?”

    I made this comment this afternoon on another thread

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-339409

    “the idea that evolution simply doesn’t happen is – I hope you would agree – foolish.

    I.E., evolution on a certain scale can fit very nicely withing the frame of the intelligent design mindset.”

    Yes evolution has taken place all through the 3.8 billion years since life first appeared.

    Micro evolution is great design and accounts for nearly everything that evolutionary biology has evidence for. The rest is speculation. If you go to the Ken Miller thread you will see this point made more than once.

  21. “What bearing do Darwin’s personal beliefs have on modern evolutionary biology?”

    It has stymied getting at the truth for over a 150 years. It also prevented Darwin from getting at the truth. He is held up as an icon and as such this prevents a careful examination of his ideas. For most theories it would make little difference but because his ideas had rather extensive social implications, it made a huge difference. You can question Newton but you cannot question Darwin.

  22. Robert C writes:

    What bearing do Darwin’s personal beliefs have on modern evolutionary biology?

    If Newton was a satanic child-murdering fiend, should we toss the Principia?

    Let’s ask a fairer historical question. Although the claim that Newton believed in astrology is almost certainly false (see here ), it is a fact that he believed in alchemy (see here and here ). After purchasing and studying Newton’s alchemical works in 1942, the economist John Maynard Keynes famously remarked that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians.”

    Now, suppose (contrary to fact) that Newton was in fact an ardent believer in astrology, and suppose that his contemporaries had been alerted to this fact. Suppose also that Newton’s theory of gravity, outlined in his Principia, appeared to make belief in astrology more reasonable, by ascribing occult powers to the stars and planets. (In fact, you could make a case for this, if you wanted to. Students of the history of science will recall that since the nechanism of gravity was totally unknown when Newton put forward his theory, his notion of “action at a distance” seemed to many of his contemporaries to smack of magic – an occult belief which is intellectually conducive to astrology.)

    My question is: supposing all this to have been the case, would it not have been reasonable for Newton’s contemporaries to subject his Principia to the most skeptical scrutiny they could muster? Of course.

    And if belief in evolution by natural selection is intellectually conducive to belief in agnosticism/atheism, and if Darwin was well-acquainted with this fact, and if we discover that Darwin had given up religious belief before the Origin was published, are we not entitled to display a similar skepticism towards his bold claim that undirected processes alone were capable generating the vast diversity of life we see on Earth today, without any need for Divine assistance? Surely we are.

    As it turned out, Newton’s theory stood the test of time pretty well, even though it had to be later refined by Einstein.

    By the way, here’s an interesting historical aside concerning Newton’s theory of gravity:

    The key to Newton’s theory of gravity was the idea that one body could attract another across empty space. To Newton’s great contemporaries, Descartes and Leibniz, this notion was medieval and magical; they subscribed exclusively to “mechanical” explanations, in which bodies influenced one another only by a direct series of pushes and pulls. (Source: The Wall Street Journal Bookshelf, February 19, 1998 pg. A20.)

    Had Richard Dawkins been around in Newton’s time, I can imagine that h would have ridiculed Newton’s theory for invoking “skyhooks.” Scoffers at ID should take note. Today’s “unknown mechanism” may become known in a few centuries’ time. To refuse to recognize the occurrence of an activity because its mechanism is not at all understood may sound like a scientific virtue, but in reality it is a vice of the intellect, which amounts to putting blinkers on the human mind.

  23. jerry @ 18

    “What bearing do Darwin’s personal beliefs have on modern evolutionary biology?”

    It has stymied getting at the truth for over a 150 years.

    So Mendelian inheritance, genetics, neutral drift theory, punctuated equilibria were all part of Darwin’s original beliefs? He was a much cleverer man than we thought.

    It also prevented Darwin from getting at the truth.

    Which did, his early belief, his later unbelief or the transitional states in between?

    He is held up as an icon and as such this prevents a careful examination of his ideas.

    He is widely regarded as an exemplary scientist, most notably by those who make their living doing science.

    As for carefully examining his ideas, are you saying that Gould or Lewontin, to name just two, did not study his ideas closely?

    For most theories it would make little difference but because his ideas had rather extensive social implications, it made a huge difference.

    And we have evidence of his personal beliefs in his public opposition to slavery and his large donation to research into disease- resistant potatoes intended to prevent further famines in Ireland. There was survival of the fittest, let the weakest go to the wall and racist eugenics with a vengeance. Did the man have no shame?

    You can question Newton but you cannot question Darwin.

    Actually, you can’t question either. They’re both dead.

  24. Ironically enough, while reading the comments here, the sidebar ad was for something called rationalresponders.com, whose tagline is “Belief in God? We can fix that”.

  25. vjtorley @ 19

    My question is: supposing all this to have been the case, would it not have been reasonable for Newton’s contemporaries to subject his Principia to the most skeptical scrutiny they could muster? Of course.

    And if belief in evolution by natural selection is intellectually conducive to belief in agnosticism/atheism, and if Darwin was well-acquainted with this fact, and if we discover that Darwin had given up religious belief before the Origin was published, are we not entitled to display a similar skepticism towards his bold claim that undirected processes alone were capable generating the vast diversity of life we see on Earth today, without any need for Divine assistance? Surely we are.

    Of course we are. And while few of us welcome criticism, is there any doubt that Darwin, as a consummate scientist, would have expected his ideas to be subjected to searching scrutiny by his peers?

    However, that is still dodging the question.

    Darwin has been accused here and elsewhere of being an arrogant Imperialist, a racist bigot, a dishonest plagiarist and an incipient eugenicist and it has been argued that his theory is irredeemably tainted by those alleged flaws. Even if we allow that all the foregoing were true, how would it bear on whether or not his theory was an accurate description and explanation of what was observed?

    The answer, of course, is that it has no bearing on the accuracy of the theory, any more than Newton’s fascination with alchemy bore on whether his theory of how massive bodies interacted with one another worked or not.

  26. Clive,

    1) You willingly accept “views” as trumping truth. I wonder how you feel about the views of the inventors of al-jabr? Perhaps I better like Darwin’s view that “a scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections — a mere heart of stone.”
    2) Newton was essentially a radical heretic. His anti-trinitarian and Rosicrucian mystic views would lose a lot of friends on this site. His fervor influenced him, and he mentions religion much more openly than Darwin. Yet no reasonable person would suggest his equations are wrong as a result, any more than we might dispatch with the Declaration and Constitution because some of the authors were slave-owning deists (or less).
    3) Show me where in the Origin of Species Darwin espouses atheism.

    And again, what concrete harm on science could the beliefs of one individual cause after the test of time?

  27. Seversky at 22, you write “Darwin has been accused here and elsewhere of being an arrogant Imperialist, a racist bigot, a dishonest plagiarist and an incipient eugenicist and it has been argued that his theory is irredeemably tainted by those alleged flaws. Even if we allow that all the foregoing were true, how would it bear on whether or not his theory was an accurate description and explanation of what was observed?”

    Well, he was all those things.

    His theory is tainted for lack of consistent good evidence and for the fact that it is commonly enforced on people who don’t believe it for good reasons by court orders.

    If anyone thinks that is the way to teach science, I am glad if they are not a science teacher.

  28. Their talk turned to religion, and Darwin said “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age.”

    In his book (p.10) Michael calls this “a bold-faced lie.”

  29. BA77,

    Please provide direct experimental proof for evolution occurring in the lab.

    That’s been done. I am certain somebody may provide links. Let’s see some experimental proof of resurrection too.

    No, you would of course use monkeys or dogs, unless you got volunteers. Some people are more concerned with the physical Jesus than with the spirit Christ.

  30. I find the obsession with Darwin rather amusing. I am certain we may find many more unpleasant characters in the history of Christianity. Why not write more about them? A suitable starting point might be Emperor Constantine.

    I suppose we might find some ‘fine’ characters from the Inquisition too.

    My guess is that scales would tip unfavorably for Christianity if we followed up on that line.

    My point is that I find the smear campaign against Darwin very pathetic. I am certain we may find some rather unpleasant characters responsible for inventions and discoveries (in addition to ToE) of importance for everyday life too. Boycott, anyone?

  31. The question of when and how Darwin developed his theory is not an idle attempt to demonize the man or his theory but to point out four very important and germane things:

    1) Darwin developed his theory from a perspective of philosophical positivism that was developed from his very early exposure (at age 17) to radical materialism. In short, the philosophy preceded the science. The alleged “objective” and totally unbiased search for truth based upon his observations of the natural world is a fiction perpetrated in Darwin’s own autobiography.

    2) TEs should at least be alert to the fact that, whether or not they can shoehorn theism into Darwin’s theory, the theory itself was never intended to support it.

    3) The point isn’t that Darwin was a “bad” man, it’s that he was a bad scientist. Howard Gruber, who has probably studied Drawin’s notebooks more than any scholar, pointed out that “Darwin presented himself in ways that are not supoorted by the evidence of the notebooks.” As Gruber says, “his actual way of working . . . would never have passed muster in a methodological court of inquiry among Darwin’s scientific contemporaries.”

    4. Supporters and defenders of Darwinism need to be careful about applying a double standard, accusing ID of not being (in their view) “scientific” on the one hand and dismissing the rather shady methodological development of their own theory. On balance, ID is far more honest and indeed scientific in its approach.

    So let’s be clear: the point isn’t whether or not Darwin was a nice guy (Emma and their children would be better judges of that, and by all accounts he was [a bit of a neurotic perhaps] but nonetheless a kind and gentle man); it’s that the theory itself (then and now) has always carried significant metaphysical baggage and the source of that baggage is, of course, found in the man himself.

  32. The point isn’t that Darwin was a “bad” man, it’s that he was a bad scientist.

    Why should Darwin’s theological opinions have any influence on this?

  33. Cabal states in response to my request for falsification of the fitness test:

    That’s been done. I am certain somebody may provide links.

    And why not you? Should you not have hundreds of examples to cite since evolution is so obvious?

    Then Cabal asks/sneers:

    Let’s see some experimental proof of resurrection too.

    How about empirical evidence that it actually occurred?

    The Shroud of Turin is one of the most scientifically scrutinized artifacts in recorded history. Through a rigid process of elimination, through all materialistic possibilities, it becomes crystal clear; the way in which the photographic negative, and uniquely three dimensional, image of the man on the Shroud of Turin had to be imprinted was “supernatural” in its process.

    The Turin Shroud As A Photographic Negative – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iA2WCevbXQ

    Shroud Of Turin’s Unique 3 Dimensionality – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8RVPdHMUtc

    3D Shroud Of Turin Image & Summary Of Physical Evidence
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANtrtQ1j19w

    Attempts to reproduce the Shroud all fail:

    Experts Question Scientist’s Claim of Reproducing Shroud of Turin – Oct 6, 2009
    http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/gets.....ber=98037#

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJPrMGksUg

    etc…etc…

    But of course cabal you will just scoff at whatever evidence I produce for the resurrection, but at least I have evidence that you cannot refute whereas you have nothing to falsify the fitness test.

  34. “Darwin has been accused here and elsewhere of being an arrogant Imperialist, a racist bigot, a dishonest plagiarist and an incipient eugenicist and it has been argued that his theory is irredeemably tainted by those alleged flaws. Even if we allow that all the foregoing were true, how would it bear on whether or not his theory was an accurate description and explanation of what was observed?”

    It’s a case of ideology taking over where rational thinking should prevail. People who are racist bigots and who favor eugenics promote Darwin’s theory as agreeing with their worldviews.

    Science is objective; scientists, including Darwin, are not. Everyone has a bias for one thing or another; it’s when you allow those biases to cloud your research that you get into trouble.

  35. bornagain77,

    jitsak, Please provide direct experimental proof for evolution occurring in the lab.

    i.e. falsify the fitness test:

    Direct experimental evidence for evolution, inside and outside of the lab, has been published thousands of times. It’s not hard to find, so I’ll give you a little time to find it for yourself. Keep me posted!

  36. Can one believe in ETs and be a member of good standing in the scientific community?

  37. jitsak, well I have looked, but since you think that we are all IDiots anyway on UD, why don’t you just cite one single experiment? Since you probably have several experiments you can rattle off the top of your more highly evolved brain.

  38. “Direct experimental evidence for evolution, inside and outside of the lab, has been published thousands of times. It’s not hard to find, so I’ll give you a little time to find it for yourself. Keep me posted!”

    I am sure you will find that all is micro evolution and which is not under any type of dispute. These are stupid claims made by those who do not understand the debate or made in desperation by those who do understand it and know they have no evidence.

    If there were anything of substance it would have been heralded by thousands before this inane assertion was made. But their silence is deafening.

  39. Flannery,

    2) TEs should at least be alert to the fact that, whether or not they can shoehorn theism into Darwin’s theory, the theory itself was never intended to support it.

    Again, why is it even relevant that the theory of evolution was “no intended” to support intelligent design? Neither was the theory of gravity or relativity, but those fit quite nicely with an intelligent design mindset. I have no trouble reconciling these various ideas with one another.

    Saying that one cannot “shoehorn” one’s philosophical viewpoint into the theory of evolution is akin to saying one cannot “shoehorn” their views in to fit with gravity or relativity. I feel some of the commentators here are making a distinction that need not be made. Given that theism is infinitely more malleable than either agnosticism or atheism, it’s striking that you would view fitting TE with evolution as a gargantuan task. Ken Miller seems to get along fine.

    Bornagain77, would you mind posting scholarly articles regarding the hypothesis of Genetic Entropy? As an agnostic intelligent design advocate, I do not take seriously Youtube videos from WordOfLife and random nonsense from Answers In Genesis. Thanks in advance.

  40. Sorry, that should read “not intended” to support Intelligent Design.

  41. Leviathan,

    I didn’t say Darwinian evolution was not intended to support ID (though that is true), I said it wasn’t intended to support theism. Ken Miller tries, but his arguments either compromise theism, Darwinism, or (sometimes) both. I heard him speak last week and the man can’t even give a decent definition of ID! Miller’s efforts at fitting Darwinian mechanisms into a theistic framework wind up being an effort at jamming the square peg into the round hole. The reason is that Darwinian evolution (unlike other forms of evolution, for example, propounded by Mivart or Wallace that are not absolutely restricted to methodological naturalism) is hidebound to a highly restricted view of science, a uniformity of natural causes in a closed system). All major scientists prior to Darwin, from Newton and Kepler to Vesalius and Harvey, believed in the uniformity of natural causes; what they did NOT believe in and would have found utterly bizarre is the notion that science exhibits a uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. This addition was the product of Darwin’s committment to positivistic approaches and materialism. His philosophy dictated how he pursued his science. The are absolutely linked, and that’s why it matters.

    So the real issue isn’t evolution but DARWINIAN evolution because it is based upon flawed philosophical assumptions, which make for flawed scientific practice. For more on this read William Lane Craig’s “Naturalism and Intelligent Design,” in _Intelligent Design: William Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue_, edited by Robert B. Stewart, pp. 58-71.

  42. O’Leary @ 27

    Seversky at 22, you write “Darwin has been accused here and elsewhere of being an arrogant Imperialist, a racist bigot, a dishonest plagiarist and an incipient eugenicist and it has been argued that his theory is irredeemably tainted by those alleged flaws. Even if we allow that all the foregoing were true, how would it bear on whether or not his theory was an accurate description and explanation of what was observed?”

    Well, he was all those things.

    No, he was not.

    The worst that can be alleged against him is that he was a child of his times, as we all are, and could not help but absorb some of the prejudices of his culture.

    Against that, once again, he was a staunch opponent of slavery, for example, which is more than can be said for a substantial body of Christian thought at that time who, according to believers here, ought to have known better.

    There is no evidence of plagiarism outside the impregnable prejudices of the conspiracy theorists and even his critics concede he would have been horrified by the excesses of the subsequent eugenics movement.

    His theory is tainted for lack of consistent good evidence and for the fact that it is commonly enforced on people who don’t believe it for good reasons by court orders.

    There has been a mass of evidence accumulated in support of the theory of evolution in the years since Darwin published it. Simply refusing to look a it does not make it go away. And, even at its weakest, it is still vastly more than exists for Intelligent Design.

    As for science education, nobody is being forced by law to believe in the theory of evolution. What is required is that, if you study biology, you should learn about the theory, understand what it claims and the nature of the evidence by which it is supported. If you reject it on theological grounds, that is your choice, but it is a part of the science curriculum because it is a part of the science.

    If anyone thinks that is the way to teach science, I am glad if they are not a science teacher.

    There was survey of science teachers which found that around a third did not mention evolution in science classes for fear of being bullied by students, parents and even school administrators or because they had actually been bullied.

    Are you really arguing that only theologically-acceptable science should be taught in schools?

    Are you familiar with the name Trofim Lysenko?

  43. Flannery @ 31

    1) Darwin developed his theory from a perspective of philosophical positivism that was developed from his very early exposure (at age 17) to radical materialism. In short, the philosophy preceded the science. The alleged “objective” and totally unbiased search for truth based upon his observations of the natural world is a fiction perpetrated in Darwin’s own autobiography.

    Is it indeed? So you are saying that Darwin is lying?

    If that is the case then what shall we say of the theological, philosophical and political perspectives that inform the views of historians and do they render the implied objectivity of their critiques equally fictional?

    2) TEs should at least be alert to the fact that, whether or not they can shoehorn theism into Darwin’s theory, the theory itself was never intended to support it.

    Yes, it was proposed as a scientific theory. It was intended to explain how life on Earth had diversified and spread after it had appeared. It said nothing about theology or morality because that was not its purpose.

    As for whether it can be accommodated within Christian theology, that is for the Christian concerned. All that need be observed is that, if there is an all-powerful and all-knowing God, it would be presumptuous, to say the least, to tell Him what he can and cannot do.

    3) The point isn’t that Darwin was a “bad” man, it’s that he was a bad scientist. Howard Gruber, who has probably studied Drawin’s notebooks more than any scholar, pointed out that “Darwin presented himself in ways that are not supoorted by the evidence of the notebooks.” As Gruber says, “his actual way of working . . . would never have passed muster in a methodological court of inquiry among Darwin’s scientific contemporaries.”

    Gruber was a psychologist studying Darwin’s notebooks as part of his research into human creativity.

    As for the discrepancy between Darwin’s notebooks and his formal presentations, that is standard practice in science. Research papers and theories are written up in a carefully-organized and highly-stylized format which does not reflect the much more haphazard ways in which human beings actually do such work and is not intended to. In any event, what makes historians or psychologists any better qualified to decide good scientific practice than scientists themselves?

    4. Supporters and defenders of Darwinism need to be careful about applying a double standard, accusing ID of not being (in their view) “scientific” on the one hand and dismissing the rather shady methodological development of their own theory. On balance, ID is far more honest and indeed scientific in its approach.

    Indeed? May I refer you to the phrase “cdesign proponentsists”?

    No one denies that research into the detection of intelligent design, regardless of the nature of the designer, could be a good scientific program. But it is disingenuous, to say the least, to pretend that the religious and political roots of the movement do not exist.

    As for trying to spin Darwin’s working habits, probably quite common among scientists, into the “rather shady methodological development” of his theory, that is propaganda rather than history and unworthy.

  44. jerry at 38:

    I am sure you will find that all is micro evolution and which is not under any type of dispute. These are stupid claims made by those who do not understand the debate or made in desperation by those who do understand it and know they have no evidence.

    bornagain77′s claim was that no evolution had ever been demonstrated, period. You know better than that, so take it up with born.

    You make a more specific claim–that all demonstrated instances of evolution are cases of micro evolution, as opposed to macro evolution. May I ask where you draw the line between micro and macro?

  45. jitsak, states:

    bornagain77’s claim was that no evolution had ever been demonstrated, period. You know better than that, so take it up with born.

    Well Jistak since we are dealing with science and you have yet to show a single example that violates the fitness test, the question that should be asked is WHY are you insisting evolution is occurring when all examples fall under the principle of Genetic Entropy. Is it unreasonable of me to call a spade a spade? All I ask is that you clearly show me an increase in functional complexity of bacteria that passes the fitness test against the parent strain. I am being fair as can be and you think me an idiot? Why do you not question the ability of evolution to generate functional complexity the same way I do? You should be absolutely giddy with excitement to honestly seek this stuff out fully so that you may know with certainty if nature created you or if God created you! Why do you bluff your evidence instead?

  46. 46

    One word, BA^77: Nylonase

  47. WOW Doomsday, let me think about that for a minute,,, Jeopardy theme music in background:

    Some materialists also believe they have conclusive proof for evolution because bacteria can quickly adapt to detoxify new man-made materials, such as nylon, even though it is, once again, just a minor variation within kind, i.e. though the bacteria adapt they still do not demonstrate a gain in fitness over the parent strain once the nylon is consumed (Genetic Entropy). I’m not nearly as impressed with their “stunning” proof as they think I should be. In fact recent research has shown the correct explanation for the nylon-eating enzyme, produced on the plasmids, seems to be a special mechanism which recombines parts of the genes in the plasmids in a way that is non-random. This is shown by the absence of stop codons, which would be generated if the variation were truly random. The non-randomness and “clockwork” repeatability of the adaptation clearly indicates a designed mechanism that fits perfectly within the limited “variation within kind” model of Theism, and stays well within the principle of Genetic Entropy since the parent strain is still more fit for survival once the nylon is consumed from the environment. (Answers In Genesis)

    Why Scientists Should NOT Dismiss Intelligent Design – William Dembski
    Excerpt: “the nylonase enzyme seems “pre-designed” in the sense that the original DNA sequence was preadapted for frame-shift mutations to occur without destroying the protein-coding potential of the original gene. Indeed, this protein sequence seems designed to be specifically adaptable to novel functions.” http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nt-design/

    In fact almost all “changes” in the genome, which are deemed to be “beneficial”, are now found to be “designed” changes that still stay within the overriding principle of Genetic Entropy:

    Revisiting The Central Dogma (Of Evolution) In The 21st Century – James Shapiro – 2008
    Excerpt: Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome (not replication errors). (of interest – 12 methods of information transfer in the cell are noted in the paper) http://www.uncommondescent.com.....revisited/

    This overriding truth of never being able to violate the Genetic Entropy of poly-constrained information by natural means applies to the “non-living realm” of viruses, such as bird flu and HIV, as well:

    Ryan Lucas Kitner, Ph.D. 2006. – Bird Flu
    Excerpt: influenza viruses do possess a certain degree of variability; however, the amount of genetic information which a virus can carry is vastly limited, and so are the changes which can be made to its genome before it can no longer function.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....it-evolved

    The virus is far more complex than most people have ever imagined:

    Virus – Assembly Of A Nano-Machine – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofd_lgEymto

    For materialists to conclusively prove evolution they would have to violate the principle of Genetic Entropy by clearly demonstrating a non-teleological gain of “non-trivial” functional information bits (Fits) over the parent species (Abel – Null-Hypothesis) in a fitness test. Materialists have not done so, nor will they ever. The interrelated complexity for the integrated whole of a life-form simply will not allow the generation of complex functional information to happen in its genome by chance alone. (Sanford, Genetic Entropy 2005)

    “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” Werner Gitt, “In the Beginning was Information”, 1997, p. 106. (Dr. Gitt was the Director at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology) His challenge to scientifically falsify this statement has remained unanswered since first published.

    etc…etc…etc..

    So doomsday do you want to try two words instead of just one word?

  48. Are you really arguing that only theologically-acceptable science should be taught in schools?

    As in claims like, “an intelligent designer/creator would never have done it this way?”

  49. BA^77 @ 47:

    So doomsday do you want to try two words instead of just one word?

    No.

  50. Seversky @ 43

    Four points:

    1. “If that is the case [that Darwin lied] then what shall we say of the theological, philosophical and political perspectives that inform the views of historians and do they render the implied objectivity of their critiques equally fictional?”

    We shall say two things, Seversky: 1) in many (if not most) cases the theological, philosophical and political perspectives flowed from the science after the research not into it before the research. Darwin’s problem was that he attempted to craft an all-explanatory theory that would support his positivistic assumptions. In short, the “science” was a veneer to cover his metaphyical commitments (order is everything), most others, unlike Darwin, are willing to admit that their science has certain implications along these lines, some, like Wallace, take considerable time to explain precisely what aspects of their science suggest a grander metaphyic to them; and 2) the mere fact that Darwin was disingenuous in revealing the metaphyical underpinnings of his “science” should not impugn the objectivity of all inquiry as you imply, that’s simply a nonsequitur and a category mistake.

    2. “Yes, it [Darwin's theory] was proposed as a scientific theory. It was intended to explain how life on Earth had diversified and spread after it had appeared. It said nothing about theology or morality because that was not its purpose.”

    If you honestly think that Darwin’s Descent of Man (the second book covering his “one long argument”)has nothing to say on theology or morality, you really need to read it again!

    3. Your third comment implies that Gruber, a psychologist, is not himself a scientist; a curious claim indeed. As for “the discrepancy between Darwin’s notebooks and his formal presentations, that is standard practice in science.” Well, let’s hope not! Gruber wasn’t talking about a reordering or repackaging of data; yes that is INDEED done all the time, but he was saying the methods found in the notebooks didn’t support the methodology he publicly presented to his peers. THAT’S a serious problem. That’s not spin, that’s fact suggested by many others besides me (and not all ID proponents): Gertrude Himmelfarb (1959), Howard Gruber (1974), Stanley Jaki (1988), R. F. Baum (1988), David Stove (1994), Benjaim Wiker (2009).

    4. “No one denies that research into the detection of intelligent design, regardless of the nature of the designer, could be a good scientific program.”

    Really!? They deny it all the time! Just last week I heard-out of Ken Miller’s own mouth-that research into the detection or detectability of ID had no merit and was programtically illegitimate.

    What is quite clear to me is that no amount of evidence, no argument, nothing outlining the obvious discrepancies between Darwin as self-promoted and Darwin as evidenced in the primary resources and in his own actions will be sufficient to convince you that your emperor wears no clothes. And at that point, what more can be said?

  51. I have come across a new book entitled “Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Amazing New Insights from Qur’an…” It quotes extensively from Qur’an to prove in an extremely amazing and convincing idiom that biological evolution isn’t at all at variance with the true teachings of the Qur’an. The book is available online at HarperCollins’ website Authonomy: http://www.authonomy.com/ViewB.....okid=11309

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