Tuesday, April 07, 2009

AFFIRMED. THEISTIC EVOLUTION FAILED THE TEST OF SCRUTINY IN CORVALLIS

Hey y'all.

Yup, I'm back.

Probably in part because tax returns are due in a week and a day and I dislike doing taxes even more than I dislike blogging on a rare sunny April day in Oregon.

But I'm really back today because I attended the Oregon State University Socratic Club meeting last night in Corvallis.
http://www.oregonstate.edu/groups/socratic

They had a debate-dialogue kind of thing going on to allow two Christian presenters to give different views of creation. Dr. Andrew Karplus, an OSU professor, came to explain why evolution is compatible with Christian belief. Dr. Kevin Anderson, director of the Van Andel Creation Research Center in Arizona, came to offer his view that evolution corrupts the creation story.

Bottom line:

Going in .... I went to the event pretty well convinced that scientific evidence in no way offers compelling evidence to accept the notion that evolution was "the way God did it". But I was curious to see if anything new might be injected into the debate.

Coming out ... Yes, I'm even more firmly outside the theistic evolutionist camp. The arguments offered for theistic evolution were limp, arbitrary, and poorly supported.

I am going to abbreviate this because there is much to do here on the home front and I should get this thing finished before the boss comes home and pulls the plug on the computer and starts the lawn mower and runs it into my office..

*******
I will touch on only a few of the items presented by Dr. Karplus as he favored theistic evolution:

(1) Dr. Karplus stated that we must not say "God did it - it's a miracle" simply because we don't understand how something works.
. I was insulted, and good honest Christian scientists involved in research should be insulted as well. Why? Because I know very well that Dr. Karplus was attempting to paint non-evolutionary creationists (including me) with a broad brush that says Biblical literalism is a disincentive to good scientific inquiry - that we just throw up our hands and say "God did it. Yessss!" and blissfully walk away from scientific challenges. This is the tragically flawed "God of the gaps" accusation often made against creationists.


But nothing is farther from the truth ! ! ! ! !

A fair reading of the history of science makes it abundantly clear that, to most of the great giants of the scientific revolution, scientific inquiry was a way to honor God by understanding His work - for His glory. And the more difficult the problem and exquisite the discovery, the greater God's glory is understood to be. "Thinking God's thoughts after Him" is the way it was most commonly expressed. If you wish to Google that quote, you will get a semester's worth of reading I'm sure. And go read The Soul of Science by Pearcey and Thaxton. Dr. Karplus should have done so before walking onto the stage.

Take home message from this point: a disingenuous straw man, insulting, inaccurate, and contrary to the history of science.

(2) In identifying four "pillars" of his presentation, Dr. Karplus listed the fourth as "The Bible", which he said "is an inspired and inspiring gift from God, a reliable revelation about spiritual truths."
. If you read this carefully, what Dr. Karplus omits is more critical than what he says. He clearly wishes to imply that the Bible is OK for spiritual truths, but physical truths are not within the scope of holy writ. I approached Dr. Karplus after the event and told him that seemed very arbitrary. Since we would both agree that God is creator/author of the spiritual world which we share, and also creator/author of the physical world in which we live, why would he choose to take scripture as authoritative in one area and not in the other. His answer was basically that he chooses to believe that is the way it is, and mentioned something about poetic language in Genesis chapters 1-3. First, his answer did not give me a reason why he chooses, he just stated that he does choose. His answer also ignored the last figure in Dr. Anderson's presentation, a Biblical text analysis giving powerful evidence that Genesis 1-3 is historical narrative, NOT poetic text.

Take home message from this point: absolutely arbitrary, and his weak reason given is powerfully contradicted by recent text analysis.

(3) After Dr. Anderson gave some figures and recent references on the seriousness of mutational loading and decline in fitness for each generation, Dr. Karplus (surprisingly) said that he would be surprised if the genome is degrading.
. I was disappointed because I came to Corvallis to see if I could hear something new injected into the debate, but this statement by Dr. Karplus clearly showed he is not up-to-date on much of the genetic research of the last decade or more relating to genomic degradation. A good book to read is Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome by Dr. John Sanford, a Cornell University career plant breeder and geneticist. The book has been out for at least two years and some of the figures and references presented by Dr. Anderson yesterday are also in Sanford's book.

Take home message here: theistic evolutionists would be well advised to read some good creationist literature occasionally. Especially before public debate.

(4) Dr. Karplus failed to make any distinction between operational/empirical science (scientific method with data observable and repeatable, hypotheses falsifiable) versus historical-forensic science which addresses the occurrence of a one-time event.
. Empirical science is primary in operational processes, but is incapable of FULLY evaluating events in which intelligence and purpose and creativity are interjected and superimposed upon structures and functioning in the physical world. The teleology inherent in structures and processes throughout nature can never be subjected to investigation by the (empirical-operational) scientific method. Even after being questioned, Dr. Karplus failed to recognize or to admit the limitations of empirical science looking at one-time historical events.
See:

http://darwin-is-dead.blogspot.com/2005/12/forensic-science-vs-empirical-science or
http://darwin-is-dead.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html

The take-home message here: If you are going to talk as an authority about science, you'd best be clear precisely which science you mean, and what are the limitations of each.

*******
Now about a few things Dr. Anderson said.

(1) I was surprised and pleased when Dr. Anderson began his questioning session of Dr. Karplus by asking about his view of sin and death.
. The newcomer may greet this question with "Huhhh???? What does that have to do with evolution and creation?"

The answer is - MUCH.
The Biblical literalist would claim (as I do) that as animals and man were created, neither animals nor man were suffering and dying until the fall of man, and only experienced suffering and death AFTER the fall of man. The theistic evolutionary model would have animals experiencing suffering and death for millions of years BEFORE the fall of man arrives in Genesis chapter 3. Biblical literalists expect that the mercy of God, whose care extends also to the animal world, would not ordain, approve, and uncaringly watch over such cruelty and call it "good." Literalists would believe God is author of :

"A good man takes care of his animals, but wicked men are cruel to theirs."

Proverbs 12:10.

It is interesting that atheists and agnostics understand this far better than theistic evolutionists. Recall the complaint raised against God by Alfred Lord Tennyson:
"Man...Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law --
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shrieked against his creed."

If theistic evolutionists such as Dr. Karplus are correct, then Tennyson's railing against God is accurate. But if there was no death in either man or animals until the fall of man, then "nature red in tooth and claw" has only man's sin to blame.

And for myself, I stood aloof from the theistic vs. literalist debate a few decades ago until one day the light came on and I finally understood this very precise argument. That was the definitive moment in my conviction that theistic evolution is seriously flawed and facilitates faulty but loud accusations against God's merciful nature. I encourage you, don't go there.

See my post:
http://darwin-is-dead.blogspot.com/2007/06/death-and-hope-versus-tennysons-nature
or
httpp://darwin-is-dead.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html

And Professor Karplus had no satisfactory answer to the question either.

(2) I just have to stop now. You can purchase a video of the event through the OSU Socratic Club (web site given above).


Thanks to the OSU Socratic Club for their effort to host the event.

Respectfully submitted,

D.U.

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