Home » American Scientific Affiliation, Intelligent Design » American Scientific Affiliation: Some extinctions may be just as well

American Scientific Affiliation: Some extinctions may be just as well

 I remember seeing the cover of a book by Stephen Jay Gould, lamenting the decline of species of snails* somewhere, with the species illustrated. I couldn’t tell the difference between them for beans, and that’s quite different from not being able to tell the difference between a dog and a cat – though it is said that they have a common ancestor. One thing is certain: They cannot interbreed. They parted—unamicably, I suspect—a long time ago. Now to the point: I want to write about what I take to be the extinction of the American Scientific Affiliation, which exists to promote “theistic evolution,” so far as I can see., but is probably now best employed promoting grey hair formulas for shampoo. One columnist notes, here:

… it is with some astonishment that recently I received an email asking why attendance at ASA meetings has “grayed” so much, with one reporting that only 5 in a crowd of 80-100 were below the age of 40. A mail-in survey of 53% of the members found that less than 15% were below 40, (and apparently not desirous of attending meetings.) An anecdotal survey of other Christian affiliations of scientists found them with larger percentages of young scientists. So what ailment has afflicted the ASA?

Okay, why did ASA get started, post-World War II? To tell the world that there is no conflict between Christ (“take up your cross and follow me”) and Darwin (“survival of the fittest”). Because that would be bad for up-to-date religion. Darwin sure thought there was a conflict, which is why he was a materialist atheist from long before he wrote Origin of Species, let alone Descent of Man, which – so far as I can see – is one long racist tract, never properly denounced or renounced by Darwinists. But that does not matter any more. People can promote racism today, as long as they can cite the sainted name of Darwin. Otherwise, why has Jim Watson’s Nobel Prize not been revoked, the way David Ahenakew’s Order of Canada was revoked, and for the same reasons? We do not need these hassles. In my view, those are the sorts of issues that a “theistic evolution” group – right or wrong – should have been strenuously addressing. Not trying to convince Christians that Christ and Darwin would have been pals, when everyone knows it is not true. Well, the ASA got around to conducting a survey of its members’ beliefs, reported June 1, 2010, and here are some of the results, and here are my comments.

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73 Responses to American Scientific Affiliation: Some extinctions may be just as well

  1. I never fail to be impressed by the way the Christian virtues of temperance, patience, kindness, charity and humility are exemplified here, especially towards fellow believers.

  2. but seversky, temperance, patience, kindness, charity and humility are all transcendent qualities which you, as a materialist, hold to be but mere illusions, thus how can you you firmly say what is right or wrong with any of this. i.e. you have no foundation to make the judgment.

  3. You must have read a different post. There was no judgement about whether the virtues were right or wrong, only a comment about how they were displayed by self-proclaimed Christians who hold them up as ideals towards which they should strive.

  4. Ok Seversky and how do you know they, the virtues, were displayed or not if they are but mere illusions to you? Could not you just be imagining all this? I mean you, as a materialist, are adamant they are not real are you not?
    This whole thing with materialists has always fascinated me. They/You claim that objective transcendent truths do not exist, but then they/you claim to absolutely know that this one particular objective transcendent truth of there being no other objective transcendent truths to be true, even though they claim the truths don’t exist. The endless absurdity of materialists never ceases to fascinate me.

  5. bornagain77 @ 4,

    The endless absurdity of materialists never ceases to fascinate me.

    As one of those “materialists” I have two questions.

    1)Why would my disagreeing with you be absurd instead of just wrong?

    2)Why do my subjective truths not allow me to treat you with the disrespect your absolute transcendent truths allow you to treat me?

  6. –seversky:…”only a comment about how they were displayed by self-proclaimed Christians who hold them up as ideals towards which they should strive.”

    Please provide a specific example of how Denyse violated a Christian virtue.

  7. There still appears to be some misunderstanding here so let me clarify my position – again.

    My view is that there is an objective, material/physical reality outside me.

    What we know of that reality is acquired through our senses augmented more recently by our instrumentalities. For example, telescopes can see much further and microscopes objects much smaller than the unaided eye; radio, infrared and X-ray detectors can ‘see’ at wavelengths that are invisible to us. We can see almost to the edge of the observable Universe and have imaged individual atoms.

    Even so, the data we have, while vast and growing, is still partial, often fragmentary, confusing and contradictory. To try and make sense of it we do what we have probably always done, we tell stories. We construct explanations or weave narratives around the data we have, not all of which are the same.

    On the assumption that one amongst all the different explanations is better than the others, in that it corresponds more closely to what it is trying to explain, we formulate some these explanations so that they offer ways of testing them for accuracy. In other words, we construct hypotheses and theories as part of the methodology of science.

    On this view, truth is neither a thing nor an entity nor a property but a judgement or measurement of the degree to which our explanations correspond to our observations of what is to be explained.

    The difference between the approach of the scientist and that of the ideologue or theologue is that, for the former, truth is determined solely by the extent to which the theory agrees with observation while, for the latter, it must also conform to their preferred ideology or theology.

    Returning to the Christian virtues, they are neither true nor false, transcendent or otherwise, because they are not propositions or statements of fact or explanations of the world. Instead, they are more like rules of behavior by which Christians hold themselves bound as part of their witness to their faith.

    The virtues have no objective existence in the sense that, say, gravity does. Gravity affects all things, whether living or not, whether there is awareness of it or not. Virtues exist and have influence only in the minds of those who are aware of them. A rock, for example, cannot behave charitably, neither can a bacterium nor even a human being in a coma. On the other hand, fully-conscious human beings can be aware both of the concept and moral imperative of charity although others can only know that when they observe such people behaving charitably towards their fellows.

    Which brings me back to my original observation.

  8. Off topic music video:

    Scrubs ‘Waiting For My Real Life To Begin’
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcsrnT7Tv1o

  9. 9

    The Order of Canada is for:

    “The highest degree of merit, an outstanding level of talent and service, or an exceptional contribution to Canada and humanity.”

    obviously something David Ahenakew did not show, and therefore it was rightly taken away.

    The Nobel Prize is for (in this case):
    “Outstanding contributions in Physiology or Medicine”

    obviously something James Watson did show, and therefore rightly won and kept.

    Seems simple enough.

  10. Well Seversky to put all what you said in one short sentence.

    The primary objective of science is to relentlessly pursue a more complete understanding of the truth whatever that truth may be.

    But just what is truth seversky?

    What is Truth?
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc8z67wz_3g3vnsmcn

    Can you stub your toe on information seversky?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-355516

  11. bornagain-

    In regards to your “What is Truth?” document, what DON’T genes code for? lol

  12. bornagain77 @ 8

    But just what is truth seversky?

    I thought I just explained that.

    Can you stub your toe on information seversky?

    No.

    I can study a rock and gather information about its size, color, weight, position, etc. That won’t hurt my toe. The rock will, though.

    That said, Wheeler’s notion of everything being information does have one advantage: it neatly solves the problem of where all the new information in living things comes from.

    Even before life appeared the Universe must have been hip-deep in information so there was plenty lying around just waiting to become alive.

    And it’s the same today. The air we breathe is information, the water we drink is information, the food we eat is information. We’re inhaling it and pouring it down our throats 24/7.

    Where does new information com from? No problem!

  13. Seversky:

    Stating a desired belief as you have done in your post, without even a gesture towards any empirical evidence so as to verify your claim that “information” is “just there” free for the taking, is about as divorced from reality as a person can be. In fact I would say it is a world of,,,,

    ,,,,Pure Imagination
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ-uV72pQKI

  14. Seversky, Though information forms the basis of reality, or more precisely the basis to how we interact with “reality” in our space-time dimension, as Wheeler and Zeilinger have pointed out,,,,

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    ,,, and even though those “bits of its” themselves arise from the primary infinite transcendent information framework,,,,,,,,

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    ,,,,,,, the Information, specifically coded functional information, as is continually stressed by many on this blog, especially by Dr Dembski, and as you already well know, is certainly not free for the taking and certainly was not “lying around just waiting to become alive.” In fact it can be inferred that the primary transcendent information framework which created this universe, and all life in it, has always been alive. How can we know this? Well As Dr. William Lane Craig does a very good job of explaining in this video,,,,

    7 Reasons God Exists and 3 Reasons It Makes A Difference
    http://www.vimeo.com/12208081

    ,,, it is impossible for the cause of the universe, which is completely transcendent of time and space, to not always give rise to an effect within time and space unless that cause in fact exercised a free will decision to create and is in fact Alive”.. i.e.

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

    But the greatest thing of all Seversky, far greater than you, or I, can possibly imagine right now, is that it is possible for us mere, speck of nothing, humans to have a eternal relationship with “The Living Word” that created this universe, and indeed created all humanity.

    Kutless- Take Me In Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfua4nRKDEU

  15. Seversky “My view is that there is an objective, material/physical reality outside me…

    …Even so, the data we have, while vast and growing, is still partial, often fragmentary, confusing and contradictory. To try and make sense of it we do what we have probably always done, we tell stories.”

    likely story… I am beyond weary of such Witches brews.

    Seversky, when you or anyone else can tell me and demonstrate for me what/who energy is (and therefore what the foundation of material and physicality is), then you will be telling me something other than a story.

    On the other hand (whether you believe it or not is irrelevant) Jesus has done and is doing just that and demonstrated these truths (as opposed to merely philosophizing about them)in the lives of untold millions.

    Until then, you really should consider praising God for the inhuman virtues of temperance, patience, kindness, charity and humility that I witness being shown to you and so many others here and elsewhere regularly and repeatedly.

    You think Denyse is rash and intemperate in some form? LOLOLOL

    When I see these people here at UD, I am astounded at how disciplined they carry on in the face of utter obstinance and incompetence.

    The Lord rebuke you for your cheap taunts. Jesus reserved ‘special words’ for you and yours.

    When you see His eyes, as they are ‘like blazing fire’. You, as illustrated superbly by the White Witch having been pinned under the claws of Aslan, will have a look of understanding at last. And your mouth will be stopped.

    Then you be able to put such virtues into actual objective context.

    In the mean time, it is clear you have not the slightest idea what you are taling about.

  16. bornagain77, you are a man after my own heart. I probably don’t even need to tell you… but those such as Seversky are not here to debate IMO. They are here for attention. Worse yet, they in effect (intended or not) wear down, taunt, and frustrate.

    I have seen it many times elsewhere. They get tremendous satisfaction from the attention we give them. And if we are busy arguing with them, then we are not spending our time in fruitful pastures with those who genuinely want to learn, think, and debate objectively.

    I am sometims compelled to think that they are jealous! And that creates within me a sympathy for their sad souls. But that would be to give them qualities reserved for human beings ;)

    I suppose it all serves a larger purpose, so do what you think is right. I am just sick to death of such personalities. The term rebellion does not quite cover it, descriptions such as ‘The Mystery of Babylon’, or ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ come close.

  17. It’s just the last 2 minutes of this 7 minute clip that I wanted to ‘share’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

  18. Bornagain77 @4 writes, “The endless absurdity of materialists never ceases to fascinate me.”

    Toronto @5 “As one of those “materialists” I have two questions.

    1)Why would my disagreeing with you be absurd instead of just wrong?

    2)Why do my subjective truths not allow me to treat you with the disrespect your absolute transcendent truths allow you to treat me?

    Allow me to answer Toronto…

    1> The absurdity he is talking about is the illogical and self contradicting nature of many your’s and Seversky’s propositions and deductions. They are also wrong, but not based on opinion or subjection but logic.

    Saying they are absurd is actually putting it midly and quite ammicably.

    Some (even I) would regard them as evil spells; or as serpents and poison whose home is rightly in the abyss of hell rather than your mind. In some cases (but not necessarily yours) that is the same difference.

    2> First off the premise does not follow. If I tell my children that they are being foolish or absurd, it does not follow logically that it is disrespectful just because they refuse correction.

    That being said, let me answer your question in spite of its faulty premise:

    Since you yourself don’t really believe that your own position is true, there is no sense in defending it with any conviction. In other words, since you don’t believe even what you are talking about, why correct or contradict at all?

    And what is ‘disrespect’ except some subjective individual or collective convention (according to you)?

    Is your ‘subjective truth’ truely subjective, or is it only subjectively subjective? Bear in mind, I ask those questions rhetorically, please do not respond.

  19. Lock, if you are interested I reworked this video so that is has better quality:

    Take Me In (Holy Of Holies) – Kutless
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4716801

    Thanks for answering toronto, I didn’t even see his post.

  20. Lock @ 18,

    Bear in mind, I ask those questions rhetorically, please do not respond.

    You are building a wall.

    If that’s what you want, then our answer has to be to keep you out of the schools with the courts, since it is your position that reasoned debate with our side, is impossible.

  21. His post popped up today sometime. They moderate him for whatever reason, so it was delayed…

  22. Very good video btw…

  23. Toronto#20 LOL

    Over the years I have heard many people forward subjective beliefs on different subjects. Not one of them threatens let alone takes such absolute action. If they are truely subjective in their beliefs, they just don’t know what to say or do.

    Such is not the case with those who hide behind philosophical spells of postmodern drivel to charm the masses while they deconstruct a society.

    Do whatever you want Toronto. You were always going to do it anyway.

  24. Lock @ 23,

    Do whatever you want Toronto. You were always going to do it anyway.

    You of all people here should know better than to accuse me of that.

    As far as the courts go, that’s all I or anyone who cares about the ID/Evolution debate has left.

    You, StephenB and others have decided not only that we’re wrong about our position in this, but also that there is something wrong with us.

    As soon as you tell us that we cannot be reasoned with, you’re also telling us that there is no point in trying to reason with you.

    Our side is not building a wall, yours is.

    How can anyone reason with someone who says this?

    Since you yourself don’t really believe that your own position is true, there is no sense in defending it with any conviction. In other words, since you don’t believe even what you are talking about, why correct or contradict at all?

  25. Toronto speaks of us (IDers) building a wall, which of course another absurdity from materialists, since the only wall that exists is the current one that prevents, and even persecutes, reasoned discourse of these matters in the classroom: Shoot a the “wall” of Darwinism is so obvious that a whole documentary was based on it:

    EXPELLED – No Intelligence Allowed
    http://video.google.com/videop.....896741579#

    A wall to freedom of inquiry that is so obvious that it also brings to mind this fairly bold prediction:

    In 2013, the Berlin Wall of Darwinism Will Fall. Here’s Why.
    http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/2013/

    Myself, though I surely hope it is true, I find the prediction too optimistic. My own personal prediction falls in line with this famous quote by Max Planck:

    “A new scientific truth does not establish itself by its enemies being convinced and expressing their change of opinion, but rather by its enemies gradually dying out and the younger generation being taught the truth from the beginning.”

  26. 26

    The atheistic-materialist worldview establishes as a first principle that “there is no ultimate purpose”. It’s from that starting point that we have to evalutate things. All actions are reduced to an ultimate value of purposeless, nothingness. Thus, the meaning of those actions cannot ultimately be assessed or judged. Whatever truths or temporal meanings one establishes are “attached” to the first principle that they are ultimately purposeless and meaningless.
    Mathematically we have:

    a(x)=y

    a = the total of temporal meanings we create
    x = ultimate purpose
    y = value (success, goal-acheivement, worth)

    So, we’re trying to solve for y. What is the ultimate moral worth or value of the proposed action?

    Let’s say that we have 1,000 temporal meanings, truths, values. We “make our own purpose” to that degree. To determine the ultimate value, we fill in the variable:

    In the atheistic model, x=0

    So, 1,000(0) = 0

    The value will always be zero.

    A thousand clusters of zero is zero.

    We can say that “we had 1,000 temporal values and truths, though”. But these encounter a great equalizer which is the multiplication by zero.

    So, this first princple, affects every proposed meaning or value given later. We have to measure the meaning of the thing from the end-state. With materialism, we know from the beginning that the final value is nothing. Thus, everything is reduced to that value ultimately.

    To ignore this and proclaim some temporal values in place of an ultimate value is to dismiss the most important aspect of the atheistic worldview, which is that there is nothing of ultimate importance, meaning, purpose or value.

    So, we’d have an amoral worldview expressing ironic concern about the supposed lack of morality found in worldview that does find purpose and meaning.

  27. Proponentist

    “The atheistic-materialist worldview establishes as a first principle that “there is no ultimate purpose”. It’s from that starting point that we have to evalutate things. All actions are reduced to an ultimate value of purposeless, nothingness. Thus, the meaning of those actions cannot ultimately be assessed or judged.”

    Can you explain why having no ultimate purpose means that individual lives and actions don’t have purpose or meaning? I really don’t get this argument. It’s self-evidently untrue anyway.

  28. There once was a little boy who loved to explore the world around him. His father celebrated his son’s passion for truth and encouraged him to continue his search even in the face of numerous setbacks. Each day he fortified his son with these words: “Just sit at the feet of nature and she will ultimately reveal her secrets.” Inspired and motivated, the young lad pressed on, overcoming every obstacle and deepening his knowledge of the world around him.

    One day a stranger wandered by and noticed the young lad working on an experiment. Partly amused and partly irked, he asked, “What exactly do you think you are doing?” Without hesitation, the boy answered, “I am reverse engineering creation so I can discover the secrets of the universe?” Unable to contain his laughter, the stranger unloaded his cynical assessment: “You young little fool! Is that what your father told you? The universe has no secrets, no meaning, or no rationality. It just is. Not only was it not created, it has no purpose at all and neither do you. Come to my house of learning where we have eliminated all such nonsensical notions and have “expelled” religious fundamentalists like your father who offer false hopes and dreams to young skulls full of mush such as yours. We do real science at our house.

    Demoralized and weeping, the boy ran into his father’s arms. Perplexed and disturbed, the father confronted the stranger. “What is all this talk about doing “real” science? Do you not understand that it makes no sense to investigate a purposeless nature, or to reverse engineer a universe that which was not first engineered, or to probe for secrets that are mere illusions? In effect, you are trying to mislead my child with your cynicism and illogical philosophy?”

    The stranger would have none of it. “You are building walls between us. Why can’t we all just get along?” Exasperated that father responded, “At the moment, I am less concerned about the wall between us and more concerned about your aggressive attempts to render my son uneducable. And so it was in those days that the stranger sued the father for a hate crime. Because the adjudicator of the court case had been steeped in the stranger’s philosophy, the father was convicted and sent to jail. His son, disillusioned and confused, abandoned his search for nature’s secrets and set up a pornographic website.

  29. Here is a very interesting exchange between Stephen Meyer and Steve Matheson at Biola University:

    Stephen Meyer Has Even His Critics Agreeing: Intelligent Design Makes Sense
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....s_cri.html

    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....8_39-07_00

  30. StephenB @27

    That was marvelous… simply marvelous.

  31. StephenB @ 27,

    “At the moment, I am less concerned about the wall between us and more concerned about your aggressive attempts to render my son uneducable.

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    All the Evos who come here do so for a very serious reason.

    We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference from those who would insist that knowledge has an absolute end which can only be reached if you are guided by an absolute truth.

  32. In general, I only quoted what ASA people said about their own beliefs. I did not attribute to them beliefs they do not have.

    In a number of cases, these beliefs simply do not do not coincide with any reasonable interpretation of Christianity.

    I agree that the Order of Canada and the Nobel Prize are separate issues, but my real concern is why the promotion of Darwinism is so important and the opposition to racism not so important.

    While I would not agree, I would be comfortable with the existence of a lobby of Christian scientists asking that the Nobel be revoked in such cases. It stands as a reminder of our real values, even if it doesn’t quite work out in a given case, so we must say no in the end.

  33. 33

    Toronto,

    All the Evos who come here do so for a very serious reason.

    No they don’t, I’ve been moderator here long enough to know that this statement, as an absolute truth, is absolutely wrong. Plenty come here to be snide and try to get laughs from their cohorts at the “after the bar closes” asylum.

    We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference from those who would insist that knowledge has an absolute end which can only be reached if you are guided by an absolute truth.

    Good luck exploring when the map changes depending on who you ask, they will never know where they are if there is not really such a thing as “knowing”. And you say this is something that is recognized? “Recognized” as if it were true? and should be a guiding principle in how future generations explore the world? and yet unaided by truth? Are you being serious? Do you sincerely not see all of your intertwined absolute truth statements in your assertions? Do you not see the contradiction?

  34. —Toronto: “We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference…”

    Is it an absolute moral truth that future generations ought to be free? Or, is it just a feeling that you have?

    —”from those who would insist that knowledge has an absolute end.”

    What is the end of knowledge if not truth?

    —”which can only be reached if you are guided by an absolute truth.”

    When you are trying to defend against the charge that Darwinists are irrational, you claim that you are just as aligned with reason’s principles as anyone else. At all other times, such as now, you sneer at those very same principles.

    Thus, we have our summary of Darwinism:

    It is absolutely true that no absolute truths exist.

    All the principles of right reason are negotiable except for the non-negotiable principle which states that there are no non-negotiable principles of right reason.

  35. Lock @30: Thanks for the kind words.

  36. Toronto:

    For some reason I cannot get access to post a comment on the Ayala thread (maybe because the thread is too long), so I am profiting of your presence here to answer your last post there (after all, our discussion is OT on both threads :) ).

    What are the odds of getting from DNA_1 to DNA_2 with a population of 1 million?

    I say it is likely that you will hit your target with the very next generation.

    Notice that there is no lower-level detail involving real-world chemistry required at all since the example works on the same level as the Dembski-Marks papers.

    I perfectly agree with you on your example. A single bit transition is relatively easy to attain. And there is no detail required involving chemistry here. Anyway, I am not sure I understand the reference to Dembski and Marks. But let’s go on.

    This comment addresses only the one single ID point, that evolution cannot generate information without intelligent intervention.

    I am afraid there is some misunderstanding on your part. That is not an ID point at all. The ID point is that random variation cannot generate complex specified information without intelligent intervention.

    Can we agree at least on that? I am rather tired of having to answer about things that ID has never said, so please follow me in the following explanation. We consider two different scenarios:

    1)First of all, let’s consider the generation from scratch of a digital string. In that case, the search space is easily calculated (alphabet^length). If there is compressibility, we must take that into account. Then we must evaluate if we can find a functional specification in the string. If yes, we must define the function, setg up a text to assess its presence, and evaluate, directly or by approximation, the functional target space. Then we consider the ratio (target space/search space). That is the functional complexity, which can be expressed in bits (or fits, if you want), exactly as in Shannon’s H. Starting form that number, we can calculate the median numer of trials to reach the target space by an unassisted search.

    2) Now, let’s consider the transition, by unassisted random search, form an existin sequence to a new one. In this case, the search space is the search space of the transition, if we assume (and we certainly can) that the remaining positions will be fixed by negative selection. The calculation of dFSCI is the same as in 1), but it is made only on the part which is subject to change.

    In other words, let’s say we have to go from A to B, which are two binary strings of length 100 bits. Let’s say that there is a 50% homology. So, if we assume that the 50 homologue bits can be fixed by some process of negative selection, we can say that we have to search for a new 50 bits string. And we can go ob with our calculations from there like in point 1). Two important points about that:

    a) the functional complexity will be referred only to the transition, and it must satisfy our conventional threshold.

    b) the transition must generate a new function, otherwise there is no functional specification.

    In both our scenarios we are assuming that the variation is completely random, and that NS cannot intervene (in other words, there are no selectable intermediates).

    As you can see, in your example there is no generation of dFSCI. Only one bit has to change, which is certainly below any conventional threshold of complexity, and we have no information about functions, both old and new. Your example is perfectly in the range of what RV can perfectly attain. Indeed, it is a good model of microevolution, like in antibody resistance by target mutation, which usually implies a single mutation, and which has always been completely accepted by ID.

    Here we see that the Evo position, that environmental feedback and random mutation are quite capable of modifying “information”, is viable.

    In this form, it is perfectly viable. Single point mutations modify biological information all the time. What do you think monogenic diseases are? Or do you believe that in ID we deny genetic diseases?

    Single point mutations are perfectly in the range of random variation, both in biology and in binary strings. We all agree about that. Behe has also argued that the empirical limit of what RV can do is about 2 coordinated mutations.

    Any argument refuting the sudden appearance of a one million bit string of data from a “random starting point” is not refuting evolution, since it is addressing the random mutation component only.

    Evolution is not random at all, only mutation can be considered in some way, random.

    That is another point you misunderstand. The ID analysis is applied to random searches. Algorithmic procedures can certainly attain different results, provided they have enough information to do that. We are at the Weasel again! If you input enough information in an algorithmic procedure, you can find what you want. If you input a phrase, it’s easy to “find” it by some algorithmic process (the simplest I can think of: take the first letter and copy it; take the second letter and copy it; and so on).

    Now, the neo-darwinian model (yes, it is a model!) is made of two parts: RV and NS. They do different things. The role of NS is not in discussion, provided we interpret it for what it really can do: fix existing information by negative selection, and expand new functional information by positive selection. But, in both cases, negative or positive variation must have the property to significantly affect reproduction, otherwise the effect is not visible to NS.

    Now, let’s go to RV. RV can do 3 things: deteriorate information (and, if the effect is big enough, it will be counteracted by NS). Or be neutral (it will probably remain, but not expand). Or create new function (or at least a refinement of existing function).

    Now, let’s put aside the second case (refinement) which is more in the range of mijcroevolution, and let’s speak of the generation of a new function. And I mean a new function, such as a new fold, a new enzymatic activity, and so on.

    This is exactly the case where we can calculate the dFSCI of a transition which has to go on exclusively by RV. NS cannot act. Or, if we can demonstrate the existence of selectable intermediates, again we shift the analysis to the smaller transition to the first intermediate, and then to the second, and so on.

    That’s why I argue that the best model scenario for ID, at present, is the generation of a new protein domain. You mat remember that in one of my posts I reported that in the proteome as we know it at present there are at least 6258 domains with less than 10% homology. That means that, if a new domain appears at some point of evolution, either it is generated form scratch (which is not tghe usual model), or it comes out by RV from something which already exists (that is, another domain). So, let’s say that one of the 6258 domain appears first in metazoa. It can only derive form some sequence which has less than 10% homology with the new result. So, if the domain is 150 AAs long (a perfectly average length), and it comes form a previous domain which is 150 AAs long (for simplicity of calculation), and just to be on the safe side we assume that there is a 10% homology, we can conclude that the transition fron one function to the other will require a change of about 135 AAs. Which brings us in the full range of dFSCI, and of ID.

    Regarding your last statement, I would say thjat evolution (I suppose you mean: the model of neo-darwinian evolution) is not completely random: RV is random, while NS is a mechanism based on necessity. I hope we can agree on that.

    But what do you mean when you say that “only mutation can be considered in some way, random”?
    Why “in some way”? In the neo-darwinian model, mutation is always random. Or are you thinking that there can be some form of guided mutation? I agree, but that would be an ID scenario!

  37. StephenB @ 34,
    You are trying to claim that my refusal to believe in an absolute truth is somehow an assertion that my beliefs are infallible.

    I’ve told you before, that I might be wrong, and the important point in that, is that “I” might be wrong, not an outside provider of an “absolute truth”.

    You are having a conversation with me while I am talking to the group that provides you with your absolute truth.

    If we were playing poker, I’d be the guy who goes all in, and you’d be the guy who folds instead of risking his chips.

  38. gpuccio @ 36,

    I stated in another post that I cannot justify making lengthy replies from the moderation queue but I do appreciate the work you put into your responses.

    If you keep them short, we can interact on a single point basis.

    Or are you thinking that there can be some form of guided mutation? I agree, but that would be an ID scenario!

    This is something we could agree on.

    If there was an intelligent designer, why not design something that can adapt to whatever nature throws at it?

    What we are talking about in evolution is simply biological feedback.

    If a mutation results in a body plan that reproduces more often than another, that body plan becomes more prevalent in the environment.

    As a designer, that’s what I would consider good design, something that doesn’t require attention from me constantly.

    Good software is designed that way with components that can to a large degree change without requiring the architect to be there after the system is already designed.

    [Toronto:]Here we see that the Evo position, that environmental feedback and random mutation are quite capable of modifying “information”, is viable.

    [gpuccio:]In this form, it is perfectly viable. Single point mutations modify biological information all the time. What do you think monogenic diseases are? Or do you believe that in ID we deny genetic diseases?

    So in a million generations, a million bits have changed in the life-form.

    At 20 years per generation, that’s only 20 million years.

  39. 39

    StephenB,

    Pertaining to your discussion with Toronto.

    “There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped. That is the ultimate evil against which all religious authority was aimed. It only appears at the end of decadent ages like our own: and already Mr. H.G.Wells has raised its ruinous banner; he has written a delicate piece of scepticism called “Doubts of the Instrument.” In this he questions the brain itself, and endeavours to remove all reality from all his own assertions, past, present, and to come. But it was against this remote ruin that all the military systems in religion were originally ranked and ruled. The creeds and the crusades, the hierarchies and the horrible persecutions were not organized, as is ignorantly said, for the suppression of reason. They were organized for the difficult defence of reason. Man, by a blind instinct, knew that if once things were wildly questioned, reason could be questioned first. The authority of priests to absolve, the authority of popes to define the authority, even of inquisitors to terrify: these were all only dark defences erected round one central authority, more undemonstrable, more supernatural than all–the authority of a man to think. We know now that this is so; we have no excuse for not knowing it. For we can hear scepticism crashing through the old ring of authorities, and at the same moment we can see reason swaying upon her throne. In so far as religion is gone, reason is going. For they are both of the same primary and authoritative kind. They are both methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved. And in the act of destroying the idea of Divine authority we have largely destroyed the idea of that human authority by which we do a long-division sum. With a long and sustained tug we have attempted to pull the mitre off pontifical man; and his head has come off with it.

    Lest this should be called loose assertion, it is perhaps desirable, though dull, to run rapidly through the chief modern fashions of thought which have this effect of stopping thought itself. Materialism and the view of everything as a personal illusion have some such effect; for if the mind is mechanical, thought cannot be very exciting, and if the cosmos is unreal, there is nothing to think about. But in these cases the effect is indirect and doubtful. In some cases it is direct and clear; notably in the case of what is generally called evolution.”

    G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  40. —Toronto: “You are trying to claim that my refusal to believe in an absolute truth is somehow an assertion that my beliefs are infallible.”

    No, I am saying that you are inconsistent. Either you believe your earlier comment that [a] future generations ought to be (need to be) free [agreeing with me that liberty is an absolute moral imperative, or [b] you aren’t sure [disagreeing with your earlier statement]. Please make your choice.

    —“I’ve told you before, that I might be wrong, and the important point in that, is that “I” might be wrong, not an outside provider of an “absolute truth”.

    If you only think that future generations ought to be free, but are not really sure, then how do you explain your earlier comments, where you wrote:

    —“We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference..”

    So, do you “recognize” that future generations ought to be free or do you think you “might be wrong about that?” Please make your choice.

    —“If we were playing poker, I’d be the guy who goes all in, and you’d be the guy who folds instead of risking his chips”

    On the contrary, I am all in for the first principles of right reason and the existence of the objective moral law. You say you don’t know whether moral truth exists–except that you “recognize” that future generations ought to be free,–yet, you aren’t sure. Clearly, you are the one who is hedging your bets, not to mention the fact that you are all over the map.

  41. –Clive quoting Chesterton:

    …”for if the mind is mechanical, thought cannot be very exciting, and if the cosmos is unreal, there is nothing to think about.”

    I once asked Alan Fox why he supports scientific research if nothing meaningful can be discovered. He had no answer.

  42. StephenB @ 40,
    Here’s an example that may clarify things.

    (1) I believe I am typing an English sentence.

    (2) I may be having a stroke and instead be typing complete garbage.

    (3) My 100% “belief” in number (1) has nothing at all to do with whether I am “right or wrong” about (1).

    I “believe” the following to be true.

    – We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference from those who would insist that knowledge has an absolute end which can only be reached if you are guided by an absolute truth.–

    In order for me to be “certain” it was true, I would have to be infallible.

    Do you personally know any human being who claims to be?

  43. –”Toronto: “I believe the following to be true.”

    –”We recognize that our future generations need to be free to explore the world and universe around them without interference from those who would insist that knowledge has an absolute end which can only be reached if you are guided by an absolute truth.”

    Plenty of people, namely Stalin and Hitler, have “believed” the opposite–that you should have no freedom at all. So, what’s the problem? If you happen to be a victim of their tyranny, just remember not to judge them. They are, after all, entitled to their beliefs about the truth just as you are entitled to yours. Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell them with any moral authority that they are wrong. If you had been at the Nuremburg trials, I gather that you would have stood with Hitler and demanded that all charges against him be dropped on the grounds that his beliefs about truth and morality were no better or worse than those of his accusers.

  44. StephenB @ 43,

    Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell them with any moral authority that they are wrong.

    Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell me with any authority whatsoever, that your views on absolute truth are right.

    If your are infallible however, tell me so, and you get yourself an easy win.

    If you had been at the Nuremburg trials, I gather that you would have stood with Hitler and demanded that all charges against him be dropped on the grounds that his beliefs about truth and morality were no better or worse than those of his accusers.

    A statement like this, means your gas tank is close to empty.

  45. Toronto (#38):

    OK, you can discuss a bit at a time, that’s fine for me.

    I agree with much that you say in this post, but I need to clarify some points:

    If there was an intelligent designer, why not design something that can adapt to whatever nature throws at it?

    What we are talking about in evolution is simply biological feedback.

    Here it seems that you are talking in neo-Lamarckian perspective. I agree that adaptation may have some role in evolution, but only a minor role (see after).

    But the neo-darwinian model does not include active adaptation.

    If a mutation results in a body plan that reproduces more often than another, that body plan becomes more prevalent in the environment.

    Yes. If.

    As a designer, that’s what I would consider good design, something that doesn’t require attention from me constantly.

    I don’t agree. Good design is something that doesn’t require attention from me constantly to work in the way I have designed it. A software which iomproves itself in a random, unexpected way, juist because it cannot be otherwise, and not because I have designed that, is neither good nor bad design. It’s no design at all. Just mere accident. As a designer, I could only be proud of my great luck.

    Good software is designed that way with components that can to a large degree change without requiring the architect to be there after the system is already designed.

    That’s true, it is called error handling. And it is intended to make the software constantly work in the way it was designed. In biology, we have many examples of complex and efficient algorithms which implement error handling: DNA repair, apoptosis, etc. Their purpose is not to implement change, but to prevent change.

    So in a million generations, a million bits have changed in the life-form.

    At 20 years per generation, that’s only 20 million years.

    I suppose you are referring to your previous example. And I suppose you are right (I don’t remember the details of your example). And so?

  46. 46

    Toronto,

    Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell me with any authority whatsoever, that your views on absolute truth are right.

    Do you take this assertion to be “true” and infallible? You’ll realize that, in the end, your position cannot be maintained. Even the singular phrase, all truth is relative, is not relative. The assertion that “we all could be wrong”, is taken to be right, and if it were wrong, then someone would still be right. In the end, there is what is right, and you can run in a circle all you want, but you cannot escape this truth.

  47. gpuccio @ 45,

    [Toronto:]Good software is designed that way with components that can to a large degree change without requiring the architect to be there after the system is already designed.

    [gpuccio:]That’s true, it is called error handling.

    No, here we are talking about the actual design of the software such as protocol stacks, device drivers, programmer interfaces, etc.

    For instance, I could replace the terminal driver with one that can re-direct it’s input and output to a terminal in another city. The application software would not know whether the user was in the room or half-way across the country.

    By dealing with components, changes are localized.

    I would do the same with biology, and design the system so that changes can be made to adapt to environmental pressures without having to hands-on design a new system.

    DNA seems to be something that’s used by life-forms in the same way across different species.

  48. Clive Hayden @ 46,

    Do you take this assertion to be “true” and infallible?

    I think we have something to work with here.

    1) Are either of us infallible?

    2) If neither of us are infallible, how do you and I decide who is right?

    3) Do we base it on who has obviously reached the right conclusion?

  49. —Toronto: “Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell me with any authority whatsoever, that your views on absolute truth are right.”‘

    Nice try, but we are not discussing my views at the moment, we are discussing your views. So, is this your way of admitting that Hitler’s views of freedom are just as valid as yours without saying so explictly, or were you hoping that I would simply let the matter drop?

    —If your are infallible however, tell me so, and you get yourself an easy win.”

    I don’t need to be infallible to present your own views to you. Indeed, your views keep morphing to keep pace with my refutations. You began by stating that you “recognize” [as in picking up on a self evident truth] that humans should be free to express themselves. Following that, I asked you if you did, indeed, “recognize” that fact or if you only “believed” it. You clarified [strategically adjusted] your meaning by abandoning the word “recognize” and changing it to “believe.” Thus, you conclude that you could be wrong about the point that people should be free to express themselves. If someone else “believes” differently then, that is their legitimate privilege (given your philosophy).

    [If you had been at the Nuremburg trials, I gather that you would have stood with Hitler and demanded that all charges against him be dropped on the grounds that his beliefs about truth and morality were no better or worse than those of his accusers.]

    —”A statement like this, means your gas tank is close to empty.”

    Quite the contrary, I have placed your own views in your lap and you cannot respond. If you tell me that Hitler’s views on freedom were inferior to yours, you refute your own philosophy by acknowledging the objective moral standard on which both can be judged. If you tell me that Hitler’s views were on the same moral plane as yours, you expose the emptiness and irrationality of your philosophy. So, you simply evade the issue.

    You cannot condemn Hitler’s views on freedom of expression because you have no standard except your own beliefs, which allow for equal tolerance of all other beliefs–including those of Hitler. Given that fact, you could not have stood up at Nuremburg to declare that Hitler’s views violated the the natural moral law. How could you say that he violated a code that you also claim doesn’t exist?

  50. StephenB @ 49,

    Nice try, but we are not discussing my views at the moment, we are discussing your views.

    We have taken opposing positions on one topic, that of an existence of an absolute truth, so it is both our views that must be discussed, since if one is true, the other isn’t.

    Can we agree, that on this topic, if you are right, I am wrong?

    I don’t need to be infallible to present your own views to you.

    You need to be infallible on the single point that an absolute truth exists.

    If it doesn’t, then you simply have a belief that is no more relevant than mine.

  51. Wow, as much as I would like to believe that that is checkmate, I am far too conscious of Job chapter 40 and 41. Let the morphing begin…

  52. StephenB @ 50,

    You cannot condemn Hitler’s views on freedom of expression because you have no standard except your own beliefs, which allow for equal tolerance of all other beliefs–including those of Hitler.

    I can condemn Hitler’s beliefs just as I can condemn your choice of car colour.

    The fact that I don’t believe in an absolute transcendent colour code which defines the colours acceptable for use in the painting of motor vehicles does not mean that I accept anyone should paint their car green, since in my opinion, that is an ugly colour.

  53. StephenB @ 49,

    —Thus, you conclude that you could be wrong about the point that people should be free to express themselves.

    I could be wrong about anything because I am fallible.

    Are you?

    If you are fallible, then your belief in an absolute truth is no more valid than mine, that there is no absolute truth.

    If someone else “believes” differently then, that is their legitimate privilege (given your philosophy).

    Of course. That is what freedom is all about and why people die for it.

  54. StephenB @ 49,

    If you tell me that Hitler’s views on freedom were inferior to yours, you refute your own philosophy by acknowledging the objective moral standard on which both can be judged.

    I acknowledge no absolute standard when I judge Hitler. I judge him and everyone else according to my own standards.

    It is my belief as a fallible human being, that Hitler should have been hit in the face with a shovel.

    While I may be wrong about that, I believe there is no absolute truth anyone could try to convince me of that would prevent me from hitting Hitler in the face with a shovel.

  55. StephenB @ 49,

    You cannot condemn Hitler’s views on freedom of expression because you have no standard except your own beliefs,..

    Why can’t I condemn him based on my own standards.

    I believe he was bad and don’t need anyone else’s values to validate my condemning him.

    ..which allow for equal tolerance of all other beliefs–including those of Hitler.

    My standards don’t force me to tolerate anyone or their beliefs.

    Given that fact, you could not have stood up at Nuremburg to declare that Hitler’s views violated the the natural moral law. How could you say that he violated a code that you also claim doesn’t exist?

    I don’t say that he violated a code I claim doesn’t exist.

    I claim that he violated a standard of behaviour expected of him, and any other leader, by me.

    That is the important point, that I have a responsibility to judge those that come to me with pre-authorized absolute values and determine whether or not I should accept them, whether it is StephenB or Hitler who brings them.

  56. 56

    Toronto,

    If you are fallible, then your belief in an absolute truth is no more valid than mine, that there is no absolute truth.

    You actually said it….there is no absolute truth……I think you’re wasting StephenB’s time, my time, and this blogs time if you cannot see this obvious contradiction.

  57. 57

    Toronto,

    Clive Hayden @ 46,

    Do you take this assertion to be “true” and infallible?

    I think we have something to work with here.

    1) Are either of us infallible?

    2) If neither of us are infallible, how do you and I decide who is right?

    3) Do we base it on who has obviously reached the right conclusion?

    Answer my question with an actual answer, not with more questions.

  58. Clive Hayden @ 57,

    Answer my question with an actual answer, not with more questions.

    Okay.

    [Toronto:]Since you are not infallible, you cannot tell me with any authority whatsoever, that your views on absolute truth are right.

    [Clive Hayden:]Do you take this assertion to be “true” and infallible?

    I believe that previous statement of mine and any other statements I or anyone else asserts can be considered absolutely “true”, because I do not believe I or anyone else, is infallible.

    Now please return the favour and answer a question of mine.

    Are you infallible?

  59. 59

    Toronto,

    I believe that previous statement of mine and any other statements I or anyone else asserts can be considered absolutely “true”, because I do not believe I or anyone else, is infallible.

    It doesn’t follow that since man can make mistakes that he always does. Man being fallible doesn’t mean that he always is fallible by necessity, does it? So you’re telling me that since you do not believe in truth, then you do not really believe in your assertion that man is absolutely fallible. That means that man could be, in principle, infallible, correct?

  60. Clive Hayden @ 56,

    If you are fallible, then your belief in an absolute truth is no more valid than mine, that there is no absolute truth.

    “If you are fallible..”, means to me, “if it is possible you are wrong”.

    If you are fallible, then any opinion you present has a possibility of being “untrue”, just as any opinion I present has the possibility of being “untrue”.

    You believe in an absolute truth and I don’t.

    One of us two imperfect beings are right and yet you claim it is illogical for me to claim your are the one that is wrong while you claim to be justified in saying I am wrong.

    Please explain to me “why” it is “illogical” to believe a fallible person may be wrong.

  61. Clive Hayden @ 59,

    So you’re telling me that since you do not believe in truth,..

    I did not say I don’t believe in truth, I said any assertion of mine cannot be considered “true” in a logical, i.e., an input into a “truth table”, sense.

    That means that man could be, in principle, infallible, correct?

    Absolutely 100% agreed!!!!!!!

    As odd as that sounds, it would give validity to the whole idea of prophecy.

    It could be quite possible that man’s role is that of an error correction mechanism that smooths out the randomness of nature such that certain events, but not all, are guaranteed to happen.

    I don’t think that means that everyone needs to be infallible for that to be the case.

  62. Clive Hayden @ 59,
    Please return the favour and answer my question.

    Are you infallible?

  63. TYPO:I missed a few letters in a previous comment.

    –I believe that previous statement of mine and any other statements I or anyone else asserts –cannot– be considered absolutely “true”, because I do not believe I or anyone else, is infallible.–

  64. 64

    Toronto,

    Are you infallible?

    You might as well ask me if I like to eat fried chicken, because being occasionally fallible has nothing to do with whether or not absolute truth exists. Fallibility has nothing to do with truth. The trivial and boring point that man is sometimes wrong, doesn’t mean that man is always wrong. Your assertion, however, demands that man is always wrong. I’ll try to make it easy for you. The assertion that man is fallible is not itself a fallible argument, it has to be necessarily true in order to make the argument you are making. Therefore, at least one thing is not considered untrue because man is fallible, and that is the assertion that man is fallible. Now, if you maintain that you cannot ever know that man is fallible, then you are still making a true statement about what you cannot know, which must……this is boring me, to be honest. I think you’re a troll that is amusing him or herself with this nonsensical argument. Surely you cannot be serious with this argument that there is no such thing as real argument. This ultimate truth of yours that there is no such thing as ultimate truth. I think you’re doing this for sport, because it surely cannot be for real.

    I’ll ask you two questions to discern your integrity and commitment to this argument.

    Are you an infallible human being? Do you know this to be true? If you say yes, you contradict yourself. If you say no, you contradict yourself. Either way, you’re making a truth statement.

  65. —Toronto: Why can’t I condemn him [Hitler] based on my own standards.

    The reason for that should be clear. If you can condemn Hitler based only on your own standards, and Hitler can condemn your condemnation based on his standards, we are all at war with one another with no possibility for peace and order because there is no objective standard to adjudicate the differences of opinion. It is not possible to establish a well-ordered society when each person is a law unto himself.

    —“I believe he was bad and don’t need anyone else’s values to validate my condemning him.”

    Hitler believes he was NOT bad. If your opinion is no better than his, why should he be stopped?

    —“That is the important point, that I have a responsibility to judge those that come to me with pre-authorized absolute values and determine whether or not I should accept them, whether it is StephenB or Hitler who brings them.”

    Do you mean to say that you “have” such a responsibility, or do you mean to say that you “believe” you have such a responsibility and could be wrong, which would be consistent with your earlier views?

    Notice that when others are doing the judging, you are a relativist, but when you are doing the judging, you become an absolutist, except when called on it, at which time, you promptly return to being a relativist.

  66. Have you seen this video toronto?:

    Cruel Logic
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

  67. Clive @64 ‘I think you’re doing this for sport, because it surely cannot be for real.’

    Prescisely! But not necessarily consciously…

    Jesus’ rebuke of Peter comes to mind. ‘Get thee behind me…’

  68. Toronto @24 ‘You of all people here should know better than to accuse me of that.’

    Really??? That’s funny, I don’t say much here, and only a fraction of what I have said was in conversation with you. What a distinctly personal thing to say…

    What exactly could have prompted such an odd comment, except that you and I have already spent years arguing in these endless circles and your screen name at EVC and Dreamcatcher is Ringo?

    I expect no concession. That much I have learned.

    Gentlemen, I refer you to my comments @16. And forgive me. If I were not half troll myself, I would not carry such parasites with me.

  69. There is one other thing I wish to mention in this thread…

    Toronto, as for your taunt concerning infallibility and truth:

    It is clear that no one here (including yourself) will lay claim to infallibiity. None of us can legitimately ‘open that scroll’ as it were. We are not qualified to lay claim to truth, the earth, or the heavens. Nor can we define origins, meaning, purpose, and destiny with presumed authority.

    We are in a terribly sad position…

    4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. (Revelation 5)

    So Toronto, regarding infallibility, you asked @42, ‘Do you personally know any human being who claims to be?

    Yes Toronto I do.

    John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” 41 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.

    So I had a choice Toronto…

    I could choose to believe a deconstructionist like yourself who questions everything. And btw, it seems to me that the first incarnation of your ‘mode of thinking’ came in the Garden of Eden when Satan ask the woman, ‘Has God really said’? Postmodernism is in that sense, the oldest of all religions; and when religion replaced truth, and walking with God personally.

    Or…

    I could choose to believe someone who at least has the consistent and proper credentials to be able to legitimately claim such a title and worthiness. And His word is never inconsistent or divided.

    It’s a no brainer. For years I labored, and all the while it was the simplest of all equations. A child could grasp it.

    And the most ironic of all in my mind (as Clive eluded to in his questions @64), is that such authority must be implied in order to question and judge as well. But that has not stopped you and yours from doing so since the beginning.

    That’s it! That is all I have to say at this time. Get thee behind me… I only worship the Living God and I will have no others before him.

    As for your questions and implied assertions?

    Job 13:12
    Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.

  70. 70
    San Antonio Rose

    If you can condemn Hitler based only on your own standards, and Hitler can condemn your condemnation based on his standards, we are all at war with one another with no possibility for peace and order because there is no objective standard to adjudicate the differences of opinion

    Alas, and sadly, that seems to describe pretty much the entirety of human history, regardless of the lack or prevalence of religious belief.

  71. StephenB (65),

    “If you can condemn Hitler based only on your own standards, and Hitler can condemn your condemnation based on his standards, we are all at war with one another”

    Yes indeed. That is why we had World War II. But it’s not quite that simple, because it’s not just all of us against each other – in WWII, the situation was that Hitler’s standards were directly contrary to the standards of pretty much everybody else (Japan and Musslini excepted).

    “with no possibility for peace and order because there is no objective standard to adjudicate the differences of opinion.”

    Indeed, which is why Hitler had to be defeated. Once he was defeated, of course, peace reigned – at least until the victorious allies realised they had their own non-objective differences to sort out….

    “It is not possible to establish a well-ordered society when each person is a law unto himself.”

    But most societies DON’T let individuals be laws unto themselves. Societies establish laws precisely because they don’t want each individual to determine their own laws – it just wouldn’t work. Democracies, for example, establish their laws roughly on a kind of consensus basis whereby the laws are determined by a majority view. Note that even matters you would tend to consider were “objective” laws – the “thou shalt not kill” type of thing – aren’t left to natural law alone, they are legislated for.

    Societies can be, and are, well ordered on that basis, without just relying on natural law.

  72. —”Democracies, for example, establish their laws roughly on a kind of consensus basis whereby the laws are determined by a majority view.”

    What you are describing is what the founders described as a “tyranny of the majority” or mob rule and something to be avoided. The difference between the American Revolution, which was a success, and the French Revolution, which was a disaster, is the difference between mob rule and rule by law based on the natural moral law. When the latter standard is calling the shots, everyone’s rights can be protected, even those who disagree with the majority. No one, kings, presidents, congressmen, or even the mobs, are above this law; they are all subject to it.

    Unfortunately, a group of anti-intellectual bigots in black robes rewrote the rules and dispensed with the natural moral law as the standard on which the civil law would stand. That is why the United States is now ruled by judges, magnates, and mobs, a formula that cannot sustain any society for very long, as is evident in the way the United States is beginning to come apart at the seams.

  73. Exodus 18:21-

    21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.

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