Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Ron.
Ok, In the first article, it was ribose sugar that was found in the nebulae, not deoxy-ribose, the DNA references as so often happens in these kinds of articles was speculation of potential future findings, I admit to sloppy reading. (Nobody ever accused me of being a good reader.) I stand corrected.
The second article, I can’t get access to because it is on a protected site, but the abstract strongly implies that there were genomically distinct population groups within the organism. But really you are only arguing over the degree of specialization, not the fact of specialization itself. All that is really beside the point. I think there is a bigger issue here.
The issue is, that in every scientific discipline, there appears to be a natural progression from simple to complex and random variation with natural selection seems to describe attributes of the process.
For example: In high energy particle physics we see that out of energy, emerges a myriad of complex sub nuclear particles.
Out of sub nuclear particles emerge the larger atomic nuclear particles.
Out of nuclear particles emerges the periodic table of elements. (All those above iron require the explosion of a star)
Out of the table of elements emerges chemistry, inorganic, then organic.
Out of organic chemistry emerges a whole host of complex molecules.
Out of the molecules emerges cellular systems and life forms.
Out of life forms emerges intelligence.
Out of higher levels of intelligence emerges social structure and spirituality.
And most of human history is a description of the development of more complex social structures and more complex spirituality.
At each emergent stage there is a vast increase in informational complexity. Each stage emerges out of and is dependent on the previous stage. As each stage develops, there is a huge increase in variety which is subsequently decreased as the emergence of the next level uses up resources from the previous level and exerts a selection bias.
This emergent quality seems to be a pervasive feature of our universe. And aside from his work in biology, Darwin deserves to be recognized as the first to give a scientific description of this feature of the universe. It is probably unfortunate that he happened to be a biologist because his discovery got tangled up in the creation debate. If he had made his description as a nuclear physicist we probably wouldn’t be having this debate.
So, part of the problem with the debate on evolution in biology is that we haven’t created the intellectual and theological foundation yet for the debate.
Before you can address the question of evolution in biology, you have to define your terms within the larger context. For example, it makes no sense to use the beauty and complexity of the basic physical laws to show evidence of God, and then, when you are talking in biology to refer to those same physical laws as “natural”. The laws can’t be evidence of intelligent design in physics, and the somehow be a natural cause in biology. Which is it?
I take the term “creation” to define an activity of God. Where specifically within the process of emergence is God’s creative act? When the Large Hadron Collider creates a new, never before seen particle, was that a creative act of God, or was that a “natural event”?
At each stage of emergence there is higher, more complex informational coding. You argue that information complexity beyond 1000aa (I am not sure what that means) requires intelligent design. The trouble is that, while I am not sure how you measure informational complexity, I suspect that if you could add up all the informational complexity required to get from pure energy to even the beginning of genetic encoding, that it would require more than the 1000aa worth of information which you use to define the boundary between “natural” and “intelligent” design.
So when you say that biology can evolve “naturally” with informational encoding of less that 1000aa but that God has to intelligently intervene at anything above 1000aa, what does that mean? How do you account for all the intelligence required even to get to your starting point? Why is it that you have this narrow window from 0-1000aa that doesn’t require God and can happen naturally, but everything before and after does?
And then again, there seems to be another God gap when it comes to human intelligence. How is it that the product of human intelligence is suddenly outside the pervue of God’s creation? I am sure that the accumulation of all human intelligence developed since the fall requires an informational complexity greater that that of 1000aa. So biochemical information density greater than 1000aa requires a creative act of God, but all of the human intellectual development that has occurred since the fall of Adam somehow doesn’t require God? That doesn’t make sense.
So, you see, before we can even start an intelligent conversation about evolutionary biology, our theologians have to get busy and help us develop basic scientific definitions of theological terms.
What exactly do you mean when you say “God created”? Where in this process is his creation required and where is it not?
What is the difference between natural and supernatural? When a new particle is created, is that the result of God’s creative act, or is that the result of “natural” law? How do you tell the difference?
When a human creates something that never previously existed in nature. Was the activity of God somehow excluded from that creation event?
If something happens “naturally”, how do you know God didn’t do it?
If something happens “supernaturally”, i.e. a miracle, how do you know it is a miracle, and not just a natural event that we don’t understand?
So see, until we get some basic scientific/theological definitions, we can’t talk intelligently about evolution. When you say that anything below 1000aa is “random genetic variation” how do you know it is really random, maybe it is really directed by God.
When you say that anything above 1000aa requires direct intelligent creation by God, how do you know that? Maybe God has previously created “natural” mechanisms that we just haven’t discovered yet.
When someone says, “I prayed and God told me ????” What does that mean? Was that God creating human intelligence? Was that low grade schizophrenia? Is it someone not wanting to take responsibility for their own desires and actions? I don’t know, but the answer to these questions has a direct impact on where and how you see God’s hand in creation, particularly when it comes to what ever might be happening since the special creation event.
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. And I will be surprised if anyone does. But I have to think that every biology teacher in the SDA church struggles with these issues everyday, and it is NOT THEIR FAULT. Until the theologians do their work and give us definitions it is impossible. It is morally wrong for theologians to hold biology teachers accountable for explaining science in theological terms when the theologians haven’t provided the relevant theological definitions. I am sure there is plenty of blame to go around if you are looking to blame, but the primary reason for failure at LSU does not lie in the Biology department. It lies in the theology department. This is primarily a failure in theology. You would be on stronger moral ground to fire the theology departments.
Ron Also Commented
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
I think what you say could only be true if God were not a loving God.
Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
Can you think of any metafore for God in the Bible where God would not in some way be responsible for our actions? The ones that come to mind for me are: sovereign, Lord, father, shepherd, a male lover. In all of these metafores God is responsible for either instigating the relationship as in the Song of Songs, or being an advocate, protector, or supervisor. I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible where God denies responsibility. I can think of lots of places where he claims responsibility and oundard explanation is, “Oh, he didn’t really mean that, He really just allowed some one else to do it,” Satan, Pharaoh, evil king etc.
“I’m not sure how many more times I have to explain this concept to you? Natural laws, created by God, work independent of God’s need for direct deliberate action.”
Sean, where do you get this idea that there is a natural law apart from God’s action? I don’t see that being taught in the Bible anywhere.
Recent Comments by Ron
La Sierra University Looking for New Biology Professor
Wesley, Please forgive me if I don’t follow what seems to me to be very tortured logic.
Truth is truth regardless of whether you believe it or not. In fact I once heard someone define reality as that which remains after you no longer believe in it.
I think you go astray in your logic when you assert that coercing belief in truth makes it no longer true. Coercion does not alter what is true, it just makes it impossible to independently verify truth. That in turn leaves us very vulnerable to the risk of deception.
For me, I would much rather take the risk of questioning and doubting truth, than the risk of believing in presumably true dogma because I believe truth will stand the test, whereas if I fail to question the truth because it has become dogma, I run the risk of unwittingly believing in the error of a well meaning clergy with no mechanism to identify the error. It is the intellectual equivalent of committing the unpardonable sin because there is no remedy.
Questioning truth has a remedy. Believing in a false dogma doesn’t. Turning truth into a true dogma doesn’t accomplish anything other than to increase the risk.
To quote Christ, “You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life”. It is possible that the Bible isn’t saying exactly what you think it is. The only way to know the truth of it is through questioning. Coercion prevents the questioning.
Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation
Bill, Science is only a formalized extension of your own logic and senses. If your own senses and logic are not at least equal to the Bible, then ultimately you have no way of knowing what is truth. See my comment to Kent below.
“they will see that their scientific reasoning can never bring them to a correct understanding of origins.” — This seems to me to be an unfounded assertion. Why do you believe such a thing? If this were true, your proverbial rocket would never be able to find it’s way back to earth.
Bill Sorensen: Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan
Bill, It is Satan who is the “accuser of the brethren”. You might want to re-read your post with that in mind.
Bill Sorensen: And so they point out how “loving and tolerant” Jesus was, and refuse to acknowledge His direct challenge to the false doctrine and theology the religious leaders taught in His day.
Hmm . . . The only time I recall Jesus challenging doctrine, is when he explicitly contradicted the clear teaching of the Bible on how to observe the Sabbath. (Something to think about.)
The only time he really got angry was when the people were being robbed in the temple, when they were plotting his murder, and when they were condemning sinners.
I see the spirit of Jesus as being in direct opposition to the spirit of conservativism.
An apology to PUC
“If the goal of the course is “to prepare future pastors for dilemmas they may face in ministry while strengthening the students’ faith in the Adventist Church and its core beliefs,” we would think that there would be evidence within the lecture to demonstrate this was actually happening.”
The course did exactly what it was advertised to do. The fact is that the pastors are going to have to meet the scientific evidence as it stands. Dr. Ness nor any other biology professor can give evidence for our belief in a short creation and a world wide flood because there is no evidence.
If there is evidence we could stop with the polemics and discuss the evidence.
BobRyan: Is it your claim that if we reject atheism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormonism, etc and insist that our own voted body of doctrines be promoted “instead” that we have a “creed”?
Bob, The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that we should not reject Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormonism or any other “ism” out right. Certainly not on the basis of an extra-Biblical creed, but we should always listen to everyone with courtesy and respect remembering that Jesus was the light that lights “every man” who comes into the world, and Jesus has sheep who are “not of this fold”. So we should approach every “ism” with an open mind to find the truth that Jesus has especially revealed to the that community. We don’t have to accept everything they say, and we certainly don’t have to give up what we believe without reason, but we need to be open to what God might be trying to teach us through his other children. Light shines in both directions.