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January 5, 2014 - 7:00 am
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Charles Blow over at the New York Times editorial page has his knickers all in a twist over a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project that found many Americans still reject the atheistic view of evolution. Blow called the results of the survey “sad” and said “it’s embarrassing.” The December 30th survey found that  ”six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

Rejecting out of hand the notion that 33% of Americans might actually be able to think for themselves, Blow resurrects the vast right-wing conspiracy to account for the fact that Americans still reject evolution, despite the fact that virtually every public school child and every student attending college is taught as fact that they evolved from a common ancestor and that life on earth came about as a result of some sort of “highly energetic chemistry” that produced a self-replicating molecule rather than by the design of an intelligent Creator. Blow says,

But I believe that something else is also at play here, something more cynical. I believe this is a natural result of a long-running ploy by Republican party leaders to play on the most base convictions of conservative voters in order to solidify their support. Convince people that they’re fighting a religious war for religious freedom, a war in which passion and devotion are one’s weapons against doubt and confusion, and you make loyal soldiers.

So it’s those scheming Republicans who are to blame for this embarrassing display of ignorance, as Blow sees it. Probably Karl Rove, too. And the Koch brothers along with George Bush.

Charles Blow calls the views of a third of Americans — the 33% —  ”extreme religiosity” and “a form of dysfunction” and then turns around and mocks those who claim there is hostility toward religion in this country. He writes,  ”This is a tactic to keep the Republican rank-and-file riled up.”

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I posted this as a response to a comment, but let me put it here as well:

The problem is with how the word 'evolution' is defined and used. Evolution can just mean change over time. That does not in any way conflict with a belief in a Creator and the biblical worldview.

What is usually meant, however, is that life came to be simply by time and a random and undirected process. This use IS in direct conflict with the biblical worldview.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for using the word random. Here is something new:

What is supernatural? Obviously whatever would characterize the supernatural would be different from what would characterize the natural. So what is natural. Can I say that nature is that part of reality which scientists can study and find some order for. If scientists study a phenomenon and determine order in it, then it is part of nature. What that would leave for the supernatural is that which has no determinable order. A process which is random has an element with no determinable order. Since the theory of evolution postulates *random* mutation, far from being an anti-God theory, it is made to order (no pun intended) for supernatural direction. If some scientific rules were being followed which determined which mutations occurred, then the process would be entirely natural, and Dawkins et al would be right about God having no role to play.

According to the theory of evolution with its built in randomness, and the laws of quantum mechanics, the evolution of life to date could have resulted in an unimaginably large number of results (in terms of the set of species arrived at) today. Only a small fraction of them would have included man.

What picked the endpoint, which includes man? The theory of evolution does not give the answer. Science does not give the answer. Quantum mechanics guarantees that science cannot predict how evolution will proceed.

Remember Dawkins' blind watchmaker metaphor? I am going to show you how stupid that metaphor is.

Here is another metaphor - the deer and the hunter metaphor. The deer knows that the hunter is determined to bag it. It tries to determine an order in the hunter's routes and times of passage through the woods. If it can predict them, it can ensure that the hunter never gets near it. But it cannot, so the hunter is sure to bag the deer eventually. The unpredictable disorder in the hunter's movements do not limit the hunter's ability to hunt the deer. Rather, the disorder gives the hunter great power. Unpredictability is power. Unpredictability, disorder, randomness - is great power.

Now consider Dawkins metaphor, the blind watchmaker. Translated to the deer and the hunter, this metaphor would be "the blind hunter". Is that not stupid? The "great" Dawkins would have the ability of the hunter to fool the deer be the hunter's blindness. It is not the hunter who is blind - it is the deer. It is not the watchmaker that is blind - it is us.

The theory of evolution cannot predict where evolution will go. It only describes a probabilistic process. Since, in the process to date, an astronomical number of probablistic decisions have been made, the number of possible results was also astronomical. God's choice was not "blind". It was just unpredictable.

What kind of a God would be predictable? Supernatural power *must* be unpredictable. If it is predictable, it is not supernatural. The theory of evolution fits the need of supernaturally guided evolution as a well chosen glove fits the hand for which it was chosen.

The theory of evolution *is not* a left wing theory. It is not an atheist theory. It is a very good scientific theory. It is not the theory of evolution that gives atheists and left wingers ammunition against Christianity. What gives them ammunition is the stupid fight against science by the hordes and hordes of poor thinkers who are afraid that a theory *cut out* for God's supernatural intervention is a theory that cuts God out.

If you are offended by my use of the word "stupid", before you blow me off, just answer me this question: What, in the googleplex of sets of species that could be on Earth today in complete consistency with the theory of evolution, chose the set that we have? Are you afraid to say "God"? Do you love the fight so much and hate the sincere people who find the theory of evolution a terrific theory, so good that really, if it is not true, there would be a great need to discover what scientific principle prohibits it?

You are doing great harm to Christianity by insisting on this foolish fight.

Finally, what about the time needed for evolution to work. Would the time needed not contradict Genesis?

This moment is not the time (no pun intended) for resolving this question, but here is a hint: There is God's time, and there is our time. Peter talks about it in the New Testament.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"many Americans still reject the atheistic view of evolution."

So a belief in evolution is an atheistic view? Should Catholics who believe in evolution be excommunicated from the Catholic Church then? Should Pope John Paul II have been excommunicated?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (101)
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Mr. Blow: To quote one of the queens of the left "What difference does it make?" Why do you care? Embarrassed? Sad?? That says a whole lot more about you than anyone who holds a different opinion/belief than you do. Go get a life!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
How much more embarrassed and sad he must be about the people who likewise reject Anthropogenic Global Warming, True Communism's Inevitability, and the Tooth Fairy.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charles Blow. Was there ever a more apt surname? I'll believe when Blow evolves.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm posting this comment for Paula, who had a worthwhile article on the wretch Charles Puff-sneeze. A great many took her column as a point to go off on Evolution, the Theory of, so I want Paula to have the following for her files, and of course anyone else interested.

We too easily use “science” to mean “knowledge” gained in some sort of super-sacred way that cannot be questioned (as with Global Warming), and that this knowledge is the only true knowledge worth knowing.

This philosophy (for that is what it is) is sometimes called Naturalism, sometimes Scientism, and in philosophy: metaphysical materialism. But it isn’t science. It's a puff-sneeze passing itself off as science.

Biology IS a science, however, like chemistry, geology, (most of the) physics, and medicine. These study the studiable, i.e., our planet, its life forms, as well as whatever areas of outer space we can access by various means. All of them study the here and now, or in the case of paleo-biology, the there and then: but that too is based on the observable (fossils) and has all the proofs of the rest of the hard sciences. Geology and Astrophysics are also great at studying the past; astrophysics is why we know about the Big Bang, even if we can’t say anything as to the hows and whys of it because we can’t observe it, obviously.

What, then, is the Theory of Evolution? Most of you would say it is a scientific theory, and that puts it on a level of James Clerk Maxwell's Theory of the Electromagnetic Field or Newton's Mechanics or Quantum Mechanics. And THAT made it a force to be reckoned with, indeed. Its high status encouraged various madmen and mass murderers tried to apply it to humanity in the 20th century, via eugenics and Social Darwinism and whatever else they called it, and the results are known to all of us. But how many of us here remember that by the time the “Monkey Trial” was going on in Dayton, Tennessee, 16 states had passed eugenics laws and by the 1930s, 3,000 people a year were being sterilized? (The Supreme Court had upheld these laws in 1927. Just think of that.)

But here's the kicker, the Theory of Evolution is a theory of Natural History rather than Biology per se; i.e., it cannot observe and test species changing into other species, but it can provide (and does provide the only) non-supernatural narrative that CAN explain it.

And just like with human history, of which we know a lot of the things that happened but can only try to infer the hows and whys of their happening, basing our arguments on what evidence we can garner, thus increasing our probability of being right, so the Theory of Evolution, as a theory of Natural History, tries to make sense of what we know happened (via the fossil record, our Natural History source books) and to explain how it happened. Yet it cannot actually observe it all happening any more than some historian can actually view an historical event occurring.

Now, obviously, on that last point, biologists howl. So, yes, yes, yes, we can observe what is sometimes called “micro-evolution”, something like the minor changes Darwin noted in finch beak size (which we now know come and go depending on yearly environmental changes) or more significantly, bacteria developing immunity from antibiotics. So what? The big evolution question is how “macro-evolution” happened. For example, just what motivated Eohippus / Hyracotherium from 50 million years ago to evolve into Mesohippus and finally, 5 million years ago, Equus?

The theory of evolution therefore works within the constraints of the classic science to which it is closely related, yet it is not fully a part of Biology because science works with the actual, the studiable. So while the Theory of Evolution quite often produces a scientifically plausible description, that’s all it can do. We have no way to know whether it is factual. We assume it is, please note, but that is because we’ve left out any supernatural explanation (as science cannot measure, weigh, or study the supernatural) and since no one else has ever found any other naturalistic explanation.

(Perhaps the supernatural DOES play a central role somehow? If so, we can’t know about it. It’s not the job of science to deal with that. So, let’s chill out. Perhaps, if you follow the work of Pim van Lommel or Eben Alexander, medical science will someday soon claim that the supernatural world exists and people experiencing “Near-Death” or “After-Death” encounters with it have PROVEN that. Well, great. Were something like that ever admitted, then all bets are off. But in the meantime, we stick with what we can know via tried and true old-fashioned science methods.)

Now imagine if the Theory of Evolution had been presented this way from the first. Would it have ever achieved the huge Bugaboo that it has? Darwin wouldn't have sold as many books, perhaps. Darwin supporter Herbert Spencer might not have coined "survival of the fittest" and Darwin cousin Francis Galton, the "
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
" or more significantly, bacteria developing immunity from antibiotics. "

Well, there's small problem with touting this as evidence of evolution.

It's not.

It's simply a mutation which happens to confer a survival advantage to an organism which exists in a particular environment.

"But that's exactly how evolution works, you religious whacko! You are showing your own ignorance!"

Not so fast.

The immunity is the result of the loss of a cell receptor. In the absence of the receptor, the antibiotics can't get in to the cell to kill it.

The genetic change that causes the loss of the receptor is the result of the LOSS OF GENETIC INFORMATION.

You cannot multiply losses and wind up with gains. It doesn't work that way in mathematics or biology.

Nobody has EVER observed an increase in information due to mutation, nor will they.

If there is no increase in information, there can be no new structures, functions, organs, or anything else.

There can't even be the first DNA molecule, let alone a living cell.

This is the point on which Darwinism (or Neo-Darwinism, if you prefer) can be shown to be utterly anti-scientific.

Darwinism requires that random events produce an increase in information.

This is as mathematically impossible as 2 + 2 = 179.

Information cannot be created from random events. This has been proven with more certainty than E=MC2.

It's not even a matter of improbability*.

It's IMPOSSIBLE.

Darwinism is a religion that flies in the face of science.



*Though that is a solid argument for anyone not blinded by ideology. The probabilities of getting DNA molecules to happen by chance are simply ludicrous. The structure is known and the calculations, while complex, are conceptually straightforward. DNA has a 1 in 10^287 (IIRC) probability of happening by chance, and RNA is something similar. Since you need both, you multiply the two factors. Round it down (very aggressively) and you get something like 10^500.

But that's trivial. Sir Fred Hoyle, an atheist, spent several years and a lot of Cray supercomputer time calculating that getting one living cell by chance would be on the order of 1 in 10^40,000.

To put that number in perspective, floating around YouTube is a video of Carl Sagan mentioning that the number of atoms in the universe is on the order of 10^80. Multiply that by the number of seconds there have been in a 15 billion year old universe (10^17), and you get 10^97.

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45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
...Francis Galton, the "father of eugenics", might not have pushed his obscene offspring so hard that 16 American states passed it whereas it really never got off the ground in Galton’s homeland, England. In other words, take the Theory of Evolution down a peg or two from being the equal of the great scientific theories mentioned above, and you take the boiling kettle off the burner.

Everybody wins. Science can still use it when it needs it, but it isn't marching Godzilla-like across the mental landscape of all the religious people who today consider it pure falsehood and evil lie.

But of course you WON'T see it dethroned because "the powers that be" in science and in the world have always used it as a weapon precisely TO battle religion–that was its purpose to begin with. Immanuel Kant, of all people, came up with a similar theory in the 18th century. It was widely sought after among all the Enlightenment "philosophes". Various of them had similar theories. Charles Darwin, the grandson of old 18th century moonbat Erasmus Darwin (who published his own version of the idea in "Zoonomia; or the Law of Organic Life" in 1794), was the last in a long line of Enlightenment gentlemen who sought a purely naturalistic explanation for life. Whatever Charles Darwin’s personal goal, it collectively by sought by “The Enlightened” purely as a weapon, because for all of them, right down to the NYT and this Charles Blow fool today, to be enlightened meant to know that God didn't exist.

Seen in this light, the whole thing is an Ouroboros, a snake swallowing its tail, a cyclical searching for a non-supernatural explanation for life to fight religion, that great bogey of the Enlightenment, and that battle still goes on, round and round, a perpetual motion machine.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Paula Bolyard's blogs here are becoming an embarrassment to PJMedia. The problem with this latest column can be summed up with her 5-word phrase 'the atheistic view of evolution'.
What a silly and stupid thing to say. It's the scientific view, and it's a view held by many people of faith, including Christians.
If she chooses to hold to the fundamentalist Christian view that rejects evolution, that's her prerogative, but her comments are insulting to other believers who are trained in science and understand the power of the theory of evolution to explain the changes that have occurred throughout the Earth's past.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
This issue always seemed manufactured to attack people out of anti-religious hatred.

Do people who reject evolution commit more crimes? Do they use more
drugs? Are they worse at math, writing, history, geography? Do they riot in the streets and destroy property? Are they mean and brutal to others? In other words, does it make them worse citizens? I've seen no evidence of such things.

How often does the theory of evolution factor in to the decisions of anyone's daily life?

Wouldn't Blow's energies be better applied to more critical lagging areas of the curriculum?

Scientific theories should be taught and tested in schools. Everyone should be familiar with them. What people choose to believe in earnest is their own decision.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fish to Amphibian
http://chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/fish-amphibian-transition.htm

Limnoscelis is a transitional animal between Amphibian and reptile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils#Amphibians_to_amniotes_.28early_reptiles.29

A whole list of transitional fossils.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's easy to see an interesting creature and claim it is transitional. It's done all the time.

Showing the transition is another matter.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
DNA took the 'theory' of macro Evolution off the books for anybody smart enough to look at it. Believing everything came from nowhere into nothing and produced all life via evolution in the time earth has been inhabitable is a true 'faith' system. Oh, and then there is that little problem of no intermediate fossil evidence and the Cambrian Explosion.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fish to Amphibian
http://chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/fish-amphibian-transition.htm

Limnoscelis is a transitional animal between Amphibian and reptile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils#Amphibians_to_amniotes_.28early_reptiles.29

A whole list of transitional fossils.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
DNA took the 'theory' of macro Evolution off the books for anybody smart enough to look at it.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Last time I checked Catholics believe in evolution. Maybe this author could do some basic research before calling it an Atheist idea.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's amazing that Charles Blow is disappointed that intelligent people can reconcile the Origin of Species with a loving and compassionate Creator G_d. Sorta like they can ride a bike and chew gum at the same time. I fancy he's still picking the gravel out of his knees from that last time....'>>.....
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I posted this as a response to a comment, but let me put it here as well:

The problem is with how the word 'evolution' is defined and used. Evolution can just mean change over time. That does not in any way conflict with a belief in a Creator and the biblical worldview.

What is usually meant, however, is that life came to be simply by time and a random and undirected process. This use IS in direct conflict with the biblical worldview.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Random process" and "undirected process" are not mutually exclusive in a reality which includes the supernatural. A process is random if there is no rule allowing it to be predicted from its past. Do you think God is predictable? A predictable God, one for which you can write down a rule so that you can correctly say "and now God will do this, and now God will do that" would be a pathetic God more like a performing circus animal than God.

OK, so now imagine a gene and suddenly an X-ray photon strikes it and randomly changes the 312th nucleotide. By "randomly" is meant following the rules of quantum mechanics, which specify a probability only. Now imagine that God chose it. Does it now become a contradiction with science? How? (Hint: it doesn't).

Now imagine evolution happening according to Darwin's theory up to the point where the first human came into existence. Would this human's birth correspond with God's intent?

What is the probability that humans would have evolved according to the Darwin's theory? Since it required billions of mutations, the probability is extremely tiny. Life could have evolved many, many different ways, most of which would not have ended up today with humans walking the Earth. No evolutionary biologist would disagree with that. OTOH, if God made the choices as to what mutations would occur, all He needed to do to make it fit Darwin's theory was to make the mutations fit with the appropriate probability distributions given by quantum mechanics.

There is no conflict between Darwin's theory and God's intentional creation of humanity. None. All that was required was for God to have designed the universe so that of the astronomical number of end results today consistent with Darwinian theory, one of them was a world of life which included humans, fit seats for the soul.

There is no scientific proof for what I have just postulated. It would require faith to accept that God made the choices. That's the way it's supposed to be. We are not supposed to put God to the test - and I suppose God is powerful enough to ensure that we can't.

"Irreducible complexity" would supposedly demonstrate God's existence through scientific investigation. Sorry, God is not that crude. Do you think He is?

A lot of people just can't figure out what "random" means. They seem to think that "random" means the same thing as "mindless". It doesn't. Suppose I ask you to consider every sequence possible of 100 binary digits. Would you be able to say that any of them were random? Well, for every single one of them, there is an appropriate key that converts it into a meaningful ASCII sequence. This means that there is no test that can determine whether or not a mind produced a finite sequence that seems to satisfy every test of randomness. The whole point in sending information that is supposed to be kept secret in coded form is to make it seem as random as possible. I suppose God could code as well as any human cryptographer, could He not? Well, the "random" mutations of evolution are a cipher which keeps God's intentional creation of human beings a matter of faith.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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