Home » Intelligent Design » [quote mine] Richard Dawkins : ” the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis”

[quote mine] Richard Dawkins : ” the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis”

the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science….the God Hypothesis is a proper scientific hypothesis

Richard Dawkins


Well, sort of. Dawkins’ essay from which this quote originated was quickly withdrawn after Mike Gene posed the question, Dawkins on the DI Payroll?

Will Richard maintain that position now that he was caught saying it? This will be a juicy quote for months to come!

I have said argued several times I think science can legitimately hypothesize God being a causal agent of nature. See Peer Reviewed Stealth ID Classic: The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1987) for a discussion of the God hypothesis based purely on physics with no appeal to philosophy or theology whatsoever.

Questions of God being the Intelligent Designer of all life are outside ID proper, but the question can still be posed, albeit outside of ID proper. His existence and action in the creation of the known universe is a compelling scientific hypothesis, and if He exists, it makes the case for a ID more plausible because we are guaranteed there will always exist a Designer with a sufficient skill set.

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48 Responses to [quote mine] Richard Dawkins : ” the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis”

  1. I believe Dawkins does believe that the question of God’s existence as a legitimate scientific question. Not only does the quote above describe that, but he also appeared on a Canadian TV show ‘the Big Picture’, on CBC. They played ‘The Root of All Evil’ to an audience and Richard Dawkins had a live video feed to be asked questions by various sorts of different people. And he said that he does believe the question is a legitimately scientific question and that his new book tries to answer that question.

    More info see

    You can actually watch the debate after the showing of ‘The Root of all Evil’, on one of the links at the side.

  2. Yes, I’d surely agree. I think sometimes we get over enthusiastic and assert that God is forever beyond “science” when in fact that is something we cannot know. What is the case is that detecting design—which is what ID is all about—is a separate issue from further questions in regard to the designer. Is there a designer? OK, we’ve settled that. Then what …what might the creation say about the Creator? That’s a valid question too, though various of us will go our separate ways at this point. But the question of God will marshal all our disciplines—that is, after this deadening epistemological materialism is discredited—physics, the mind sciences, history, biblical studies, philosophy, theology, whatever—God is the biggest and most important question of all—that is, if He really is out there.

    Yes, I keep saying it, I’d rather have an enemy any day like Dawkins than the post-modernist who does not know what language is for or the slippery, mugwump “theistic evolutionist” who just wants to be appreciated by all sides. How can you argue with someone who cannot tell you clearly and succinctly what he thinks?

  3. Peer reviewed articles and books can now explore the God hypothesis since Dawkins has now given his blessing. The God hypotheis is about science, not just religion. :-)

    Barrow and Tipler’s book were among the first. Actually recently, K Svozil explored the God hypothesis in a physics peer-reviewed article:

    Suspicions that the world might be some sort of a machine or algorithm existing “in the mind” of some symbolic number cruncher have lingered from antiquity. Although popular at times, the most radical forms of this idea never reached mainstream. Modern developments in physics and computer science have lent support to the thesis, but empirical evidence is needed before it can begin to replace our contemporary world view.

    Svozil K. Computational universes, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 2005, 25(4): 845-859.

  4. From TABT crowd Review of Kansas Science Standards:

    The National Academy of Science and the National Association of Biology Teachers, to name just two of many such organizations, have clearly defined science as a process which can only consider natural explanations for natural phenomena.

    Dawkins just spanked TABT, KCFS, NAS, NABT. Go Richard go!

  5. Dawkins very cleverly uses the present tense with respect to God, knowing full well that such a presence cannot be established experimentally.

    My position, as scordova well knows, is simply that the existence of one or more Gods cannot be denied in the distant past. I regard that as very definitely a scientific hypothesis for which an enormous body of evidence exists.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  6. Can we ask Richard Dawkins to appear as an expert witness on behalf of Creationism in the next court battle? :-)

    Richard also said some time ago THE “ALABAMA INSERT”: A STUDY IN IGNORANCE AND DISHONESTY:

    I really have less trouble than some of my colleagues with so-called creation science being taught in the public schools as long as evolution is taught as well. By all means let creation science be taught in the schools.

  7. 7

    Is there a copy of Dawkins’ full comments archived anywhere? What site had the original post?

  8. The copy is gone. There is speculation his comments played into IDers hands, and that’s why it was withdrawn.

    However, even if so, news reporters from now on can still ask him about those comments. Also, there is a chance it is in his book since his essay was a summary of that book. We will see.

    See the Link I provided to Telic Thoughts to see the trail of discussion as well as: Found the Dawkins Essay.

    I think some damage control might be in the works because this quote let the cat out of the bag…..

  9. Why should we accept the assertion that science cannot formulate current tests for the existance of an Intelligent Designer?

    If we posit reproducible capabilities for current transcendent intervention, why cannot they be tested?

    e.g., See Mark Herringshaw. “Effects of long distance intercessory prayer and anti-tobacco communication on teenager intention to smoke cigarettes.” May 2001 PhD Thesis Regent University, Virginia Beach.

    He formulated a double blind (actually triple blind) test of the effects of remote intercessory prayer on the testable intentions of students to stop smoking. He found statistically significant correlations.

  10. I don’t get it. If you don’t know what the original context is, what’s the point of offering a partial quote?

    Also, the new preview format is way mass boss.

  11. Here’s a fuller context of what Scordova quoted above. Seeing it like this it has quite a different ring to it:

    “Well, at last we have found something we can agree with. This seems to me to be an admirable sentiment. I really have less trouble than some of my colleagues with so-called creation science being taught in the public schools as long as evolution is taught as well. By all means let creation science be taught in the schools. It should take all of about 10 minutes to teach it and then children can be allowed to make up their own minds in the face of evidence. For children who study hard and keep an open mind, it seems to me utterly inconceivable that they could conclude anything other than that evolution is true.”

  12. Dawkins has said on numerous occasions that he considers the assertion that there is a God to be a factual assertion, and one whose truth value makes a good deal of difference in how Life, The Universe, and Everything must be considered.

    That doesn’t mean that reliable evidence in support of the assertion has been provided, or indeed that most people define God in such a way that such evidence could ever be provided.

    He takes the same approach to the question of proving the non-existence of God.

    As Godel proved in formal systems, not all well-formed assertions are provable or disprovable in domains of sufficient representative power.

    That doesn’t mean that the assertions are true or not true, just that they cannot be shown to be so.

    If you want evidence of Dawkins’ opinion that the existence or non-existence of God is a fact claim, see


    Impressive improvements to the site, by the way. Compliments to the chefs.

  13. Just speculating, but wouldn’t it be funny if Dawkins was the second Flew? I know it’s almost as likely as life arising by itself but then that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

    Yea ID!!!

  14. jonabbey,

    You wrote, “Dawkins has said on numerous occasions that he considers the assertion that there is a God to be a factual assertion …
    That doesn’t mean that reliable evidence in support of the assertion has been provided, or indeed that most people define God in such a way that such evidence could ever be provided.”

    We all know Dawkins’ motive for admitting that the God hypothesis was valid was not to say he believes there is evidence for God. That is totally irrelevant. The fact is that Dawkins’ statement is an admission by a party opponent which is highly dispositive on the issue of whether challenges to naturalistic materialism can be scientific. Why do you think he had the essay yanked so quick?

  15. Richard Dawkins Interview (seems very recent):


  16. Tally ho! Thanks to Analyysi at Telic Thoughts for finding the text of Dawkins’ admission that the God hypotheis is a proper scientific hypothesis.

    It was captured at a site known as id-idea. blogspot.com

    See: Richard Dawkins Explains His Latest

  17. John Singleton stated:

    “For children who study hard and keep an open mind, it seems to me utterly inconceivable that they could conclude anything other than that evolution is true.”

    I’ll agree with your blanket statement, only to the extent that they study ‘hard’ that which is presented to them in the classroom. If they study hard the world around them, however, they may form a different opinion.

    Academia that is diverse succeeds. Academia that is restricted to one philosophy, albeit the prevailing one, fails. It fails, that is, to encourage original thinking and exploration, even though it may succeed in bringing one into the fold of the established dogma.

    I notice that more scientists are leaning toward a more open pursuit of the study of origins. Not that they will admit to embracing the concept of design, but more for the reason that they see the stifling of alternate viewpoints as casting doubt on evolutionary thought, by painting it as being threatened by the concept of Intelligent Design.

    Presenting the idea that life, and the universe for that matter, may be designed, poses no threat whatsoever to evolution, if naturalistic macroevolution is all there is. Desperate attempts to legitimize it by postulating infinite universes, punctuated equilibrium, co-opted functions from chance mutations, (ad nauseum), will have to stand up to the scrutiny of our upcoming scientists, and like it or not, barring the hammering of evolution into them, they will see what you and certain others cannot see; that of a purposeful and harmonious world.

  18. 18

    Evolution DID occur but no longer does. The only issue has always been the MECHANISM, a mechanism no longer in operation. I, with the help of my many sources, have provided that potential mechanism in the form of the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. It remains in accord with everything we REALLY know from both the fossil record and the experimental laboratory, none of which can ever be reconciled with the Darwinian pipe dream.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  19. Just listened to the interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfnDdMRxMHY)–has to have been since Saturday (which was Rosh Hashana). I’m impressed. The man is forthright–unlike so many intellectuals he unblushingly contrasts himself with “ordinary people”–and he’s not post-modern (he wants the truth). He understands the truth claims of both theism and Darwinism and he doesn’t kid himself that the two are reconcilable. He also understands the moral and social implications which proper people prefer to obfuscate. Maybe the man is afraid to talk directly to ID experts but the talk will go on nevertheless. We should be thankful that at least one opponent comprehends the argument and what’s at stake.

    Another interesting atheist is Martin Rees. In “Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe” he grants that there are only two solutions to the fine-tuning he describes: Design or Many Worlds. He prefers the latter but conceeds that others will logically conclude the former.

  20. Rude,

    The many worlds argument depends upon life originating naturally or else that argument is also worthless. That is why OOL is the essential part of the fight.

  21. Just saw that youtube interview with Dawkins. Boy, that fellow is a kook. It’s becoming clearer every day.

  22. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that it comes down to design or many worlds — is there any scientific approach that could help us decide between these options?

    Or is this where science, or rather anything that we today could recognize as science, must come to an end?

  23. Jerry, yes, what it comes down to according to the atheist Martin Rees is faith that an infinity of “pure dumb luck” can do anything. Of course some will dispute Rees because they are not ready to conceed that the physical constants are contingent. If they are then they were designed for life, but if they are not then the atheist needs to show logically/mathematically that the constants are necessary. David Berlinski, I believe, takes an agnostic position here. As for Carl’s question, my uninformed take is twofold: we cannot know a priori what we cannot know, and knowledge is provisional. It is in the heart of the scientist to dream and seek evidence and hopefully this will never end. But you’ve got a point. Materialism will be discredited at the Darwinian and origin of life and consciousness levels, otherwise we can dispense with the Creator moments after the Big Bang and let materialism reign after that.

  24. Regarding many worlds and multiverses:

    1. Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) comes from Quantum Mechanics. It is understandable the interpretation emerges. A quantum computer can be thought of being a massive parallell processor in “multiple worlds”. Quantum computers are real and have been built. Whether Quantum Computers work because the multiple worlds are real is a curious question, and there are alternative explanations other than MWI for why a Quantum Computer can compute in parallel.

    Nevertheless the Quantum Computer still gives a beautiful picture of what would happen even if MWI is true. The computer reaches a final and single teleologically defined state. All the parallel lines of computation (worlds if you will) converge into one. Thus teleology toward a single goal is still implicated. It was because Barrow and Tipler argued MWI that some of their ideas were rejected (one will see references in Design Inference somewhat critical of MWI). But if one studies their ultimate thesis, it is still a Design hypothesis with God using many worlds. However, some work by John Cramer and Afshar may have refuted MWI. Barrow and Tipler fundamental thesis of ID is still intact independent of MWI. They offer how ID would be true either in MWI or SWI (Single-World Interpretation).

    2. Multiverse comes out of a different body of theoretical knowledge MWI. That’s about all I could say. But as Paul Davies observed, what Tipler and Barrow assert for MWI also applies to Multiverse, there still may be an ultimate teleology at play. Multiverse does NOT negate an Ultimate Design argument!!!

  25. The thought that there are different logically possible worlds comes from Leibniz, and it has been beatifully and extensively developed by David Lewis. More recently, Lee Smolin has argued that, according to the standard model of particle physics and the best cosmological theory we know have, there are infinitely many possible universes which vary with respect to basic mathematical values. Only a minute fraction of these universes would have enough elements and long-lived stars, both of which are necessary for life and for intelligence, so far as we know. (There could be intelligence clouds of hydrogen gas, for all we know.)

    In any event, it’s true that the multiverse doesn’t rule out ultimate teleology — perhaps God, or the gods, experimentally create different universes to see what happens.

    My question above was simply to raise the question as to what might count as a reason for preferring design over multiverse, or one version of multiversal generation over another — and if that reason could be a scientific reason.

  26. Scordova and Carl Sachs,

    Would the following be true:

    1. With a MWI where all worlds have the same laws of physics metrics, we could then experience the improbable since every possible scenario will occur, but the fine tuning of the laws of physicis remains inexplicable without intelligent design, and

    2. With a MWI where the worlds also have varying laws of physics metrics, both the improbable will happen and the fine tuning of the laws of physics are explicible.

    I am not suggesting whether either of these are sufficiently supported, just whether I understand the concepts.


  27. Scordova, very interesting . . . so much to learn! If I understand correctly—which is asking a lot—Many Worlds emerged in quantum theory as a way out of the problem for materialism caused by the collapse of the wave function. And for atheists like Martin Rees it’s also valuable as a way around the current problem posed by anthropic phenomena. As it applies to physics, Many Worlds presupposes—among other things—that 1) the laws and constants of physics are contingent, and that 2) logic/mathematics is not contingent. Without the former there could be no other kind of world and without the latter theorists could not imagine or “study” other possible worlds.

    One can argue against Many Worlds on the basis of Ockham’s razor. Invoking agency as elemental is less a “sky-hook” (a la Dennett) if we already need it for human agency—remember there is out there no theory of consciousness/agency, just denial or wild speculation that it somehow “emerges” from computational or stimulus-response complexity—how we haven’t the foggiest.


    Watch the video clip I posted above (post# 15). Dawkins says that those saying that God created the universe are making a scientific claim. I don’t know if that is as significant as the quote you were looking for, but it was bordering on it.

  29. Since there was so much interest in the topic, I started another thread to continue the discussion. Feel free to cut and paste some of your questions, answers, and comments over there as I think they were good discussion points:

    Many Worlds, One God? Shift Happens

  30. If he writes that after he spends some time thinking about what he’s going to write, I think we know why he doesn’t do live debates.

  31. For anyone interested, the first chapter of Dawkins’ book is available to read at The Guardian here:


    I’ll pester John Davison again. John, suppose the mathematics on real-time interconnection is correct, as astronomer Tom Van Flandern postulates. What do you think of the “universe” learning, or the mind(-s) that “generate”, for the sake of argument, the immense electric field?

    Sorry, I still don’t know how to | before quotes:


    # # #

    The implications for biological systems in this electrical model of matter are profound. A method of near-instantaneous signalling between resonant molecular structures within cells and on cell walls seems plausible and may provide a way of looking at the mind-body connection and other communications external to the body.

    Also, the work of the outstanding French biologist, Louis Kervran, may gain a working physical model to explain how biological enzymes are capable of transmuting chemical elements at body temperatures. It seems that by exquisite tuning, one resonant system of nuclear charges may be transformed into another. And like the decay of the neutron, ubiquitous neutrinos are implicated as a catalyst. It may be that the answer to our future power needs will be answered when we understand how to extract nuclear energy resonantly instead of by using brute force as we do now. The New Jersey based company, Black Light Power, seems to have stumbled upon a similar process using a resonance between hydrogen and the iron atom. It is interesting that biological systems also use heavy elements like iron and magnesium to perform their minor miracles of transmutation of elements.

  32. 32

    P. Phillips

    You are hardly pestering me as I haven’t the foggiest idea of what you are talkng about nor do I think it has anything to do with evolution.

    I was also unaware that biological systems are transmuting elements. Which elements did you have in mind. I always thought that was alchemy.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  33. John, if you were to read the entire essay — and this is why I think humans must be more humble, because to “understand” the Universe, i.e., have a Theory of Everything, is improbable at best.

    I think it relates to Darwin in that the Electrical Theorist Wal Thornhill believes

    My view on Darwinism is that it explains very little and certainly not speciation. My views on the interconnectedness of the universe in real time allows me to propose that the work of Rupert Sheldrake on “morphic resonance” has a sound physics basis.

    If so, then the universe continually “learns” and what works in one environment may be applied in another similar environment.

    For example, the dinosaurs could not exist in the present Earth gravity and atmosphere, but there may be other worlds where they thrive. It is in a limited sense that I consider the interactions of matter via the electric force as the result of some initial “intelligent design.”

    Therefore, if the “universe” is interconnected in “real time”, perhaps there is your “intelligence” in I.D. after all?

    John, I’m not sure I understand your concepts either!

    Take care!

  34. Oh, John, if you’re reading this thread, your thoughts on this are of interest. You’re an interesting guy!

    “No creation ex nihilo” is the principle that something cannot come into existence out of nothing. In a sense, it is another manifestation of the causality principle because such creation would represent an effect without a cause. However, this is a particular case worth considering on its own merits because our primary cosmology today, the Big Bang, begins with the ultimate creation-from-nothing scenario – the mass, space, and time of the entire universe from nothing – as its first step.

    Creation ex nihilo is forbidden in physics because it requires a miracle. Everything that exists comes from something that existed before, that has grown, or fragmented, or changed form. Growth requires accretion, nourishment, or energy input. Fragmentation ranges from chipping to evaporation to explosion into bits so tiny that we can no longer see or detect them. Changing form includes changes of state, such as solids, liquids, gases, or plasmas.

    “Matter” and “energy” may be regarded as simply different forms of the same substance, convertible back and forth. It is easy to visualize matter as exploding into ultra-tiny bits that we might call “energy”. But part of that energy consists of the high speeds of bodies. Where does that energy come from? Bodies have small constituents inside atoms that already have high speeds. These constituents may be liberated by an explosion, just as high relative speeds of bodies can be converted into fast constituent motion (heat) during a head-on collision. Even if we could not be specific about how this happened, we could still be certain that energy is not created on the spot from nothing.

    So-called spontaneous particle creation from vacuum need not violate this principle because the vacuum is not empty. So called “zero-point energy” is energy of the vacuum, implying that the vacuum is occupied by substance on a scale too small for us to yet detect in any form other than in Casimir-type experiments. The principle only requires that the ingredients from which something is made pre-exist, but not that we can discover them yet.

    Religious people might wonder why physics does not admit creation ex nihilo as an “act of God”, and therefore a valid cause. However, this is a non-economical, and non-testable hypothesis, thereby violating two of the criteria of Scientific Method. Moreover, “acts of God” are a potential explanation for everything, ending the need to investigate further and discover predictable causes. As long as all observations and experiments can be explained without need of miracles – something that has so far remained true – this principle must remain an inviolate guideline. Even if an apparent exception arose, it is difficult to imagine circumstances where a more economical, and therefore more scientific, hypothesis than an act of a Supreme Being would not exist. See also the later section of this paper about “repealing physical principles”.


    [I can't do fancy hyperlinks -- yet!]

  35. John, here was my question that I hoped you would address in another thread, unless you’re still cogitating the essay on Creation Ex Nihilo:

    Hi, John Davison – I have a question for you, although I am uncertain about whether you are a “molecular biologist” or not.

    My question: since neo-Darwinism states that changes to living things are due to random processes, have any observations at the molecular level contradicted that concept?

    I always thought, although not working out the mathematics, that it seems improbable that all the variety within life, from microbes to mammals, is due to “blundering” over time.

    To those who support Einstein’s concept of time: acceleration “slows time”; thus the converse “speeds” it? Thus, in a lab setting, one could theoretically deccelerate “time” and see evolution in action.

    Anyway, I.D. notwithstanding, I don’t think that randomness leads to complexity, and I am interested in thoughts and possible experiments. I look forward to Dr. Behe’s book.

  36. “Moreover, such hostility as I have is limited to words. I am not going to bomb anybody, behead them, stone them, burn them at the stake, crucify them, or fly planes into their skyscrapers, just because of a theological disagreement”

    Of course not. You’re just paving the way for those who will.

  37. 37

    P. Phillips

    Since no one pays any attention to me anyway, I will let Bertrand Russell comment on Darwinism for me.

    “It is unadvisable to believe a proposition when there is nor reason whatsoever for believing it to be true.”

    and Albert Einstein as well.

    “Something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”

    Please note Einstein’s use of the past tense. I repeat that God is apparently dead. Of course I cannot know for certain and it wouldn’t matter if I did.

    And just for fun let me revive this old chestnut.

    “There cannot be design without a designer, order without choice…Arrangement, disposition of parts and subservience of means to an end imply the presence of intelligence and mind.”
    William Paley 1743-1805

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  38. Hello, John, thank you for your reply, although it doesn’ t address, as I hoped, experimental evidence or observations. My prior remarks encompass other disciplines than biology; to borrow a phrase from the late Poul Anderson it is “all one universe”.

    I don’t agree with your self-assessment; I think you are perhaps, if you pardon the term, the “Grand Old Man” of the Uncommon Descent forum, and curious laymen, like myself, defer to your expertise, but reserve the right to ponder and question.

    While human beings are limited in their understanding and capabilities, I believe, thus biology is split into many disciplines, for instance, whatever the universe is must encompass what we call physics, chemistry, all knowledge.

    Therefore, are you indicating that it is impractic al to devise an observational method to determine if changes in the environment cause a “feedback” response in an organism?

    Your point:

    Please note Einstein’s use of the past tense. I repeat that God is apparently dead. Of course I cannot know for certain and it wouldn’t matter if I did.

    You are citing Nietzche, that rather tragic person, I trust? Have you read a prior post, and I can’t find it now, on the “Numinous”, to borrow from C.S. Lewis?

    From this essay by Jesse Thomas:

    Religious experience is what Otto calls the mysterium trenmendum, the awesome mystery experienced in the presence of the Wholly Other. He rejects Schleiermacher’s definition of religious experience as a “feeling of dependence” (and with it by implication Sigmund Freud’s idea of religious experience as an infantile dependency kind of neurosis) because such definitions read too much into religious experience, distorting it into something far too “subjective”. Religious experience is no mere feeling, no mere psychological “projection”.

    Otto coins a variety of terms in describing religious experience. The favorite of C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) is the numinous. Like mysterium tremendum, the numinous suggests the supernatural presence that is frequently described by those who have had such experiences with words like: amazing, astonishing, exciting, fascinating, uncanny, ravishing, surprising, forceful, majestic, miraculous, awesome, powerful, mysterious, and supernatural. The numinous is not a projection of something inside the personality; it comes from a radically different beyond.


    I am a theist; I believe that “God” and/or “gods” or angels, Eldil to borrow from Lewis, exist. I cannot verify this belief using “science”, which I define as observation and experiment. I also believe that “science” is a human endeavor, a human interpretation. Thus, I am not disturbed by the knowledge that this experience may not be measured, reproduced, evaluted, etc.

    As always, I appreciate your thoughts. Whatever this “unembodied” intellect is, it is not “life as we know it”, other than endowed with sentience. He/she/it/there are not living, would you agree and hence cannot die.

    If you are questioning why human suffering continues in this world, have you read this essay by a Catholic, which I understand is/was your faith, (Charles Moore)?

    The point has been well made that such huge, disruptive natural violence as that of the tsunami does not really alter the moral question about natural evil. For a loving God, there cannot, presumably, be an “acceptable level of violence”, a cold calculation that it is all right for a few children to be blown off mountains or a few hundred peasants in Bangladesh to die in floods, but not for more than 150,000 to perish all at once, especially when many of them were on holiday.

    It is true, too, that the human understanding of things, indeed the very condition of being human, depends absolutely upon contrast – what is food without hunger, good without evil, life without death? No one can satisfactorily imagine a world in which things really are perfect, the New-Labourish utopia conjured up in a Michael Frayn novel of “a people’s world for a people’s people”.

    But while it seems quite easy to refute those criticisms of God that treat Him like an incompetent and unpleasant political administration (“Too little! Too late!”), it is not very comforting. Hunger, after all, is still hunger, evil is still evil, death is still death, even if all of them are somehow necessary. A faith which teaches that every person has equal dignity and value cannot be happy with a world in which dignity and value seem to be destroyed every day. Are there better things to be said?

    Talk about God can only be by analogy. The most familiar is of the father. The father helps bring his child into the world. By doing so, he gives it the chance of everything good it will ever receive. But at the same time, he also condemns his child to life, with everything horrible that will happen to it, and, eventually, to death. Is he therefore wrong to do so?

    A less common analogy is with a creative artist. In his creation, the artist includes cruelty and suffering. Shakespeare has the innocent Desdemona killed unjustly; he bumps off the loving Cordelia; he sends Hamlet off the rails. This does not lead the reader to think that Shakespeare himself is cruel, only that the cruelty is necessary to the art. If God is the artist of the world, of everything that is, the suffering of the people He has created is no more to be criticised than that created by the playwright. It is tragic, yes, but tragedy is a word for a form of art, the highest form of art. In the Christian account, God did not absent Himself from the tragedy of His own creation, but, through becoming man, became part of it. So even if the whole thing is a ghastly mistake, it is one for which the author has paid the highest price.

    Yet even these ways of speaking come out too pat. They may be right, but they do not answer the question of what human suffering feels like. The near-universal experience of people who have come close to death – in war, through illness, in accidents or natural disaster – is that they have contemplated something that is true. The truth has been so terrible – by which I mean not bad, but inspiring of terror – that the experience of it proves almost incommunicable. People often emerge feeling that they now understand more about life, with the paradoxical result that they have less to say about it.


    Best wishes,

    P. Phillips

  39. 39

    P. Phillps

    I most certainly did not cite Nietzche. Quite the contrary, I independently reached the same conclusion. It is not my fault that he said “God is dead” before I did. He had his reasons and I have mine. I have admitted that I don’t KNOW that God is dead but that is not sufficient explanation for an ideologue. Oh no, it never is.

    Many of the comments here and on other blogs remind me of one made by a student of Paul Weiss, the distinguished experimental embryologist.

    “If you are a student of Paul Weiss, you not only always have to agree with him, you have to agree with him in his own words.”

    So it is with internet forums. They are mostly games of “can you top this” and “choose up sides.” The truth is not subject to debate, only to discovery followed by publication. And yes, I believe in absolute truth too. Sorry about that. So did Galileo, the father of experimental science -

    “Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.”

    “Every man is an expert when little is known for certain.”
    John A. Davison

    Long before me, Montaigne said the same thing.

    “Men are most apt to believe what they least understand.”

    He also said -

    ‘We seek and offer ourselves to be gulled.”

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  40. John Davison — on what science may discover–

    If you mean that posting to “blogs” does not convince anyone or that the purpose is to reinforce one’s preconceptions — yes, it’s a time waster like television.

    I don’t really understand what you are trying to say; if there is any value for me in what you have created it would be in reviewing your work posted elsewhere on this forum.

    Trying to be respectful, I replied to what appears to be a nonsense statement: “God is dead”.

    I have submitted that as Rosen wrote the “Big Bang” is not science because it cannot be repeated, measured, or observed.

    Consequently, since we cannot measure, observer, or conduct repeatable “experiments” with any “Unembodied Intelligence”, any thoughts that one has are opinion.

    Perhaps such personal and private thoughts should not be exposed in a public forum.

    However, I do believe that using conventional science one can somehow measure, test, observe and conduct repeatable experiments on what happens at the molecular level when an organism interacts with the environment, and whether that response is “random” and passive — I think that is possible, but of course, the scientists have to make that decision.

    My own interest in not “can you top this” or “you’re a jerk if you don’t agree”, but to spark inquiry. I hope like Socrates I am wise in admitting my ignorance; I do not condone arrogance, whether it comes from the atheists or believers.

    In the event, since I suspect you could have viewed the first Star Trek episode aired, let me conclude with “Live Long and Prosper”.

  41. 41


    I am just an old retired general and developmental physiologist who decided about twenty years ago to tackle the biggest unsolved problem in all of biological science, organic evolution. Like Einstein I am unable to deal with philosophical matters. Everything I have ever published is based on well established facts. It is very possible that my interpretation of those facts is in error but the truth of the matter is that my work, like that of the sources on which it is largely based, continues to be ignored by an evolutionary “establishment” for which I have now lost all respect.

    I do not believe in Sheldrake’s “morphic resonance” nor do I believe the experiments that Steele has reported. I am not a mystic. I feel that the truth about the MECHANISM of organic evolution has been before us for a very long time, certainly since 1922 with the publication of Berg’s Nomogenesis. It is only the MECHANISM that has ever been in question as far as I am concerned. As an experimental physiologist it is only the MECHANISM that matters to me. I am afraid you will find me a rather boring conversationalist. It is n0t meant to be personal. It is just one of my many “prescribed” defects.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  42. Contrary to Huxley, I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hyposthesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions. God’s existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice. The God Hypothesis (2006) p.50

    Whatever else they may say, those scientists who subscibe to the ‘separate magesteria’ school of thought should concede that the universe with a supernaturally intelligent creator is a very different kind of universe from one without. The difference between the two hypothetical universes could hardly be more fundamental in principle, even if it is not easy to test in practice. And it undermines the dictum that science must be completely silent about religion’s central existence claim. The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if not in practice — or not yet — a decided one. The God Hypothesis (2006) p.58-9

  43. John Davison, in case you’re out there, Wal Thornhill, of The Electric Universe, was kind enough to reply to me about Keravan; you may reply “I do not Love it so, Sam I am!”, but it’s worthy of consideration.

    Again, perhaps the Electrical Theorists in postulating a form of a Theory of Everything, which to me is more corherent and less scatter brained than String Theory and bubble universes, took on a little too much. Nevertheless, Dr. Thornhill is not full of hubris! He realizes that we do not know the full extent and nature of the univere, nor perhaps do we truly comprehend the nature of “matter” and “energy”.

    He wrote me (and be polite, John, and not cantankerous for a change!):

    > John A. Davison wrote:

    “I was also unaware that biological systems are transmuting elements. Which elements did you have in mind. I always thought that was alchemy.”

    Wallace Thornhill replied:

    [His website]


    Hi P.S., interesting debate.

    The outstanding French scientist, Louis Kervran, demonstrated in simple experiments that the important elements in biology can be produced by biological enzymes. That is why crop rotation works so well.

    He outlines simple experiments that can be performed by high school students. Just one example – taking a batch of fertilized and unfertilized chicken’s eggs and allowing the fertilized eggs to develop almost to hatching stage, it is found that the chicken’s skeleton has four times more calcium than the egg yolk and white. And calcium cannot migrate from the shell because the calcium increase doesn’t occur until the membrane under the shell detaches from the shell. That membrane has a high concentration of organic silica, known to traditional medicine since time immemorial as a source of usable calcium in the body.

    The reaction is Si28 + C12 = Ca40.

    Since the calcium difference is measured in sizeable fractions of a gram, it is an experiment that is easy to perform.

    A similar experiment involves the production of sulfur from an oxygen molecule by the thiobacillus.

    Look for LK on Google.

    From Google results:





    Reluctant Alchemist

    His use of the word transmutation led his scientific work to be associated with alchemy and thus to be misunderstood by many who did not care to read him in his texts. Nevertheless a readable introduction to his work remains “Alchemists in the garden”, chapter 16 of “The Secret Life of Plants” (Tompkins & Bird, 1975). There his work is presented in its context:

    * the observations of Vauquelin, Vogel, Lawes and Gilbert ( Rothamsted ) on the “transmutation” of biological “matter”
    * the reproduction of the relevant experiments by Kervran’s contemporaries Henri Spindler and Pierre Baranger
    * Spindler, a chemical engineer, chair of nuclear physics at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers working out control experiment for Freundler’s observations on the production of iodine from tin in Laminaria;
    * Baranger professor and director of the laboratory of organic chemistry at the École Polytechnique working on observations by Albrecht Von Herzeele ( The Origin of Inorganic Substances, 1873) on seeds sprouting in distilled water whereby the original content of potash, phosporus, magnesium, calcium and sulphur inexplicably increased.(Tompkins & Bird, 1975) (note that other researchers have been unable to replicate Kervran’s results [2],on status of failure see [3]).

    Pierre Baranger best phrased the reply to the Mandarins of science -as Kervran called them :

    “…I have been teaching chemistry at the École Polytechnique for twenty years, and believe me, the laboratory which I direct is no den of false science. But I have never confused respect for science with the taboos imposed by intellectual conformism.” (Tompkins & Bird, 1975)

  44. John A. Davision, I’m pretty sure I posted a response to your remarks on “alchemy”, and once again, the spam filter got me. Then again, I recall posting excerpts from an article with interviews with Dawkins and Paul Davies, the latter important as it shows “big bang” cosmology may lead to atheisim as Darwin did.

    I added links from Google search on Keravan, and perhaps the Spam filter or a “Taliban” member of U.D. vetoed the post? Or am I losing my memory and replied elsewhere on this forum?

    Wallace Thornhill replied regarding Keravan:


    Hi P.S.,

    Interesting debate. The outstanding French scientists, Louis Kervran, demonstrated in simple experiments that the important elements in biology can be produced by biological enzymes. That is why crop rotation works so well.

    He outlines simple experiments that can be performed by high school students. Just one example – taking a batch of fertilized and unfertilized chicken’s eggs and allowing the fertilized eggs to develop almost to hatching stage, it is found that the chicken’s skeleton has four times more calcium than the egg yolk and white. And calcium cannot migrate from the shell because the calcium increase doesn’t occur until the membrane under the shell detaches from the shell. That membrane has a high concentration of organic silica, known to traditional medicine since time immemorial as a source of usable calcium in the body. The reaction is Si28 + C12 = Ca40.

    Since the calcium difference is measured in sizeable fractions of a gram, it is an experiment that is easy to perform.

    A similar experiment involves the production of sulfur from an oxygen molecule by the thiobacillus.

    Look for LK on Google.


  45. 45

    P. Phillips

    I don’t believe a word of it so please understand why I will no longer respond to claims of the biological transmutation of the elements of Mendeleef’s Periodic table. Make of that what you will but you may expect nothing further from me until such claims are verified by more than one laboratory, preferably two. It used to be known as the triple test. Don’t believe everything you read is my advice to you, advice I doubt you will follow.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  46. Well, John, since you’ve nothing better to do, I guess I can join you for a bit. Kervran was nominated for the Nobel prize, but then again…

    Experiments did verify his theory. Look here.


    Kervran’s Proof of Biological Transmutation

    In orthodox chemistry, one of the strongest dogmas is the stubborn insistence that it is impossible to create another element by chemical reaction. Most chemists also insist that all reactions occurring in living systems are chemical in nature. They believe fervently that chemistry can and must explain life itself.

    In the early 1960′s, a French researcher named Louis Kervran published work which flew directly in the face of the accepted chemistry dogma. Kervran reported the astounding results of his research showing that living plants were able to accomplish limited transmutation of elements. Kervran was then the Conferences Director at the University of Paris, and his first paper was published in La Revue Generale Des Sciences, July 1960.

    What was so revolutionary was that, according to the prevailing wisdom of science, you can’t transmute elements (permanently change the nucleus) except with enormous energy – certainly not with the microvolts and millivolts (and microwatts and milliwatts) that living systems can muster electromagnetically.*

    Rutherford, the British physicist who discovered the nucleus of the atom, had shown in 1919 that you can bombard elements with alpha particles and transmute them. The accepted wisdom of today is exactly the same, except that the physicists have used heavier and heavier “bullets” in their artillery approach. No one has tried a controlled approach, for the catechism is that you have to use the wham it harder! approach.

    In other words, to most scientists the whole thing had to be preposterous, and Kervran had to be deluded.

    Kervran published further details of his work in a book, Transmutations Biologiques, Maloine, Paris 1962. But the initial reaction of most scientists was was disbelief and skepticism. Few scientists would stoop to repeating Kervran’s experiments, which of course they knew could not work anyway.

    Actually the effect is widespread amongst living systems. As Kervran pointed out, the ground in Brittany contained no calcium; however, every day a hen would lay a perfectly normal egg, with a perfectly normal shell containing calcium. The hens do eagerly peck mica from the soil, and mica contains potassium – a single step below calcium in the standard table of elements. It appears that the hens may transmute some of the potassium to calcium.

    Further, if one tests this assumption, it is quickly shown to be true. Hens denied calcium but not potassium, stay perfectly healthy and lay perfectly normal eggs. Hens denied both potassium and calcium will be sickly and lay only soft-shelled eggs. If these sick chickens are allowed to peck only mica – which they will frantically do – everything returns to normal again.

    Most orthodox scientists nevertheless remained skeptical or downright hostile.

    However, a few other scientists began to repeat Kervran’s experiments and

    Figure 72. The Kervan effect.
    A biosystem can accomplish limited transmutation ofelements replicate his results.

    Several of these corroborating scientists were (1) Professor Hisatoki Komaki, Chief of the Laboratory of Applied Microbiology at a leading Japanese university, (2) Professor Pierre Baranger, Head of the Laboratory of Chemi-
    cal Biology of the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, and (3) J.E. Zundel, then head of a paper company with a chemical analysis laboratory, and later a chemical engineer of the Polytechicum School of Zurich, Switzerland.

    Later work by Zundel was particularly decisive: he utilized the mass spectrometer at the Microanalysis Laboratory of the French National Scientific Research Center, and neutron activation mass analysis at the Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research in Villigen to positively confirm an increase in calcium of 61% to an accuracy of 2%. Such results and instrumentation, of course, removed any doubt that the effect could be due to statistical variation. In the same experiments, the plants increased their phosphorus 29% and their sulphur 36%.

    Komaki became head of a research laboratory at Matsushita Electric Company. There he conducted research conclusively proving that microorganisms (including some bacteria and two kinds each of molds and yeast) could transmute sodium into potassium. In fact, he placed a brewer’s yeast product on the market that, when applied to composts, increases their potassium content.

    Extensive work in the area has been done in the Soviet Union, where results similar to Kervran’s have been substantiated.

    Thus all doubt (to an open-minded scientist) was removed: living systems are able to change one element into another by some unknown means, using very feeble energy.

    A noted French physicist, O Costa De Beauregard, suggested a mechanism for the transmutations, using weak force interactions and advanced waves.

    No one – even Kervran himself – thought of negative energy/ negative time interactions. The jury is still out on the actual mechanism, but it is absolutely clear that the transmutation does indeed occur .

    The Japanese researchers, having replicated Kervran’s astounding results to their complete satisfaction, recommended him to the Nobel Committee for a Nobel Prize for such epochal work. Thus Kervran became a Nobel nominee , though he was not granted the prize.

    Kervran has since passed away, leaving behind his books and papers that point to a revolution in chemistry and physics – transmutation of elements at very weak energy.

    Science is not based on what one believes ; at least, not science as I understand it.

  47. 47

    No furter comment.

  48. Check out Dawkins’ interview with D.J. Grothe on Point of Inquiry. It was just posted on his website. In the beginning of this interview he makes the same remarks he made in his now-deleted essay about the scientific nature of creationist claims.


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