The Creative Potential of Randomness and Chaos?

by: Sean Pitman
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The following discussion is from a Spectrum article by Dr. Mailen Kootsey.  Dr. Kootsey is a physicist who has “multidisciplinary expertise”, to include appointments in departments of Physics, Physiology, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Biology.

His article is entitled, “Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Randomness and Chaos“.  In this article he tries to explain how complex biosystems can be produced by both random and chaotic interactions within complex biological systems.  Kootsey argues that it is simply irrational to believe that the millions of animal species that exist today could have been preserved on a small little Ark just a few thousand years ago.  Such diversity as exists around us can only be explained by vast ages of randomness and chaos acting in fantastically creative ways.

 

A system does not have to be complex in order to demonstrate chaos. Chaos is simply a behavioral characteristic of some systems of mathematical equations (as well as the real physical systems the equations represent). The classic example is the set of three relatively simple ordinary differential equations in three variables named for discoverer Edward Lorenz [3]. Complex systems can also exhibit chaos, of course, as illustrated by the recent models of weather that have hundreds of thousands of variables. While chaos may produce some apparently random results, chaos is completely unrelated to randomness in its origins, i.e. a system does not have to contain any random mechanisms in order to demonstrate chaos.

In biology, the mechanism of chaos can produce behavioral differences between individuals of a single generation or in a single individual at different times. However, chaos does not necessarily produce any inherited changes in following generations. So, if chaos is invoked to account for the development of new species, it would also be necessary to hypothesize a link between changes due to chaos in the system and genetic change.

I fail to see how randomness or chaos theories (both concepts are based on information that is too limited to precisely predict the future, which makes the future significantly less and less knowable over time) can explain the origin of qualitatively novel biological systems beyond very low levels of functional complexity – systems that require a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid parts.

Certainly randomness and chaos can produce unpredictable events – such as an unexpected “tornado in Texas” that resulted from a butterfly flapping its wings in the Bahamas ten years ago.  However, neither randomness nor chaos, acting alone in an undirected manner, can explain how a Boeing 747 can be produced by a tornado in a junkyard – regardless of how many butterflies were flapping their wings in the Bahamas over trillions of years.

This is where natural selection is supposed to come to the rescue.  Natural selection is supposed to add some guidance to the randomness and the chaos in order to allow for the development or evolution of higher levels of functional complexity.  However, while natural selection is pretty good at preserving functional elements, it isn’t the creative force that Darwinists have made it out to be.  While it does work at very low levels of functional complexity, it just doesn’t work beyond the level of systems that require more than a few hundred specifically arranged amino acid residues working together at the same time.

The fact is, there simply are no real-time examples, documented in scientific literature, of random mutations or chaotic interactions, combined with any kind of function-based selection or guidance mechanism, producing a qualitatively novel system of function that requires more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues (or any other type of functional sequence comprise of a specific set of characters in any type of language system – English, French, Latin, computer code, etc.).  Why not?  Because, at this level of functional complexity, the odds of successfully modifying and concatenating pre-existing subsystems, randomly, to work together in  new ways to produce qualitatively novel interactions at this level of functional complexity or beyond are extremely unlikely this side of trillions of years of time.

Consider also that functional complexity isn’t the same thing as chaotic complexity or random complexity.  Not at all.  Randomness and chaos are more closely related to Shannon information – not functional or meaningful information.

For further discussion of this topic see:

http://www.detectingdesign.com/meaningfulinformation.html

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42 thoughts on “The Creative Potential of Randomness and Chaos?

  1. “I fail to see how randomness or chaos theories (both concepts are based on information that is too limited to precisely predict the future, which makes the future significantly less and less knowable over time) can explain the origin of qualitatively novel biological systems beyond very low levels of functional complexity – systems that require a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid parts.”

    But Pard you do concede that randomness in nature can explain the appearance of biological change. In fact you would argue that all the biodiversity that occurred after the Ark landed was due to such change, but such change is not functionally complex! That’s a lot of non novel critters that mutated from a boat ride in about 4000 years.

    Compare that to the odds of a bacterial flagellum evolving slowly over millions or billions of years from simpler component parts such as the TTSS.

    Now how about the rest of you rational, fine folks weighing in a bit and tell us which one seems more like the fairy tale?




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    • But Pard you do concede that randomness in nature can explain the appearance of biological change. In fact you would argue that all the biodiversity that occurred after the Ark landed was due to such change, but such change is not functionally complex! That’s a lot of non novel critters that mutated from a boat ride in about 4000 years.

      Not really. Consider that practically all of the hundreds of modern breeds of dogs were produced within the past 300 years or so – from the chihuahua to the Great Dane. How is that possible? Because of something known as Mendelian genetics where rapid changes or variations in phenotypes can be produced without any change in the underlying gene pool of options. No new alleles need to be evolved at all. It’s all based on the pre-programmed potential for phenotypic variability that was originally pre-programmed into the gene pools of such animals. The problem is, Mendelian genetics has specific limitations to the changes that can be realized – limitations that cannot be transgressed. In other words, using Mendelian genetics alone, you’re not going to turn a dog into a cat or a lizard into a bird. This kind of variation would require the evolution of novel alleles within the ancestral gene pool.

      Compare that to the odds of a bacterial flagellum evolving slowly over millions or billions of years from simpler component parts such as the TTSS.

      Have you actually sat down and calculated the odds? If you have, please do explain to me how the odds remotely compare?

      Mendelian variation can happen very very quickly because of the pre-programmed potential for variation within gene pools. This is not true when you’re talking about the evolution of qualitatively unique alleles and biological machines that never before existed within the ancestral gene pool of an organism. The odds of this kind of evolution happening are statistically impossible this side of trillions of years of time. That is why the TTSS system is only known to devolve from the fully formed flagellum – not the other way around. There are no demonstrations going the other direction from a TTSS-type system to a flagellar motility system. In fact, none of the proposed steppingstones for flagellar evolution from more simple subsystems have been demonstrated in real life or under laboratory conditions. It just doesn’t happen at this level of complexity. Why do you think that is? Why do you think downhill evolution is easy to demonstrate while uphill evolution has never been demonstrated beyond the 1000 saaar level of complexity? – Do you have any statistical arguments for why this might be?

      So, please do the math. Don’t just use your imagination and dream up stories that seem plausible to you. Sit down test your stories by actually calculating the odds of your stories working like you imagine they would in real life.

      Now how about the rest of you rational, fine folks weighing in a bit and tell us which one seems more like the fairy tale?

      How about anybody doing a little math to see which story is most likely true when it comes to the actual empirical world of cold hard facts?

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/flagellum.html#Calculation

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. It says in 1Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith, so do. Ray F. Renk




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  3. A part of the problem for a Christian is this, even if we can convince people of ID, it is still not “proof” that the God of the bible is the creator. ID does not prove the bible. The bible could still be just one option of how this intelligent being created this world and who that being is.

    We must be able to affirm the validity of scripture before we can affirm who the God is who created all things. And scripture is affirmed more by prophecy than by history and/or science. History, science, and prophecy all work together to affirm the bible. But prophecy is the strongest evidence and trumps all other points of affirmation.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Anything can be called “science” if you use the word in a generic sense. Even salvation is termed “The science of salvation” by EGW.

        The way you use the word “science”, Sean, is somewhat “iffy” and creates more confusion than clarification.




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        • Science is defined by methodologies that following simple rules of forming and testing hypotheses in a potentially falsifiable manner. That’s science. Arguing otherwise, that the Bible and its prophecies doesn’t need the support of empirical evidence and historical science, is what’s confusing.




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          The issue is whether we start with science and look for biblical affirmation with science as the ultimate authority, or, if we start with scripture and look at science to see some affirmation of the biblical revelation.

          If there are irreconcilable differences, and there are, then we accept one or the other as the ultimate authority. They can not be totally harmonized, as is obvious in the many comments about this issue.

          We see parallel and contrast. Not simply a clear parallel. How we deal with the contrast is the real issue.




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        • Bill,

          A scientist starts with data, the proposes a hypothesis to explain that data. A creation scientists uses the scientific method to test the validity of the Bible.

          So far the Bible is way ahead of secular scientist attempts to explain the universe.

          Neo-Darwinism is dead.

          Here are some of the attemps to replace it.

          They too will fail

          In Search of “Evolution 3.0”
          There are eight contenders for the next incarnation of the theory of evolution.
          I have heard and read that the theory of evolution is a “theory in crisis.” But the research path I’ve been on has led me to flip-flop on that notion depending on what I was reading at the time. However, very recently, I think I have come to settle on the “theory in crisis” side of the fence. It has always been my contention that, by far, the best refutations against the theory come from evolutionists themselves. By “best” I mean ones likely to be taken seriously by those who adhere to the tenets of evolutionary theory. This is because no matter how scientifically sound an argument is, if it comes from a source with the slightest religious or Intelligent Design affiliation, it is automatically discredited on that basis.
          That being said, the ongoing search for the theory’s replacement, in my opinion, offers some of the most powerful evidence against the theory. It appears that the recent developments in microbiology and genetics have been at work silently in the background (i.e. with limited public exposure). I’ve just read through Stephen Meyer’s refutation of evolution in Darwin’s Doubt. It is very compelling scientific evidence. The result of this silent work is now manifesting itself in a search for a replacement for neo-Darwinian evolution.
          The surfacing theories that I am currently aware of are:
          1. Context-driven Actualization of Potential (CAP)
          2. Self-organization
          3. Natural Genetic Engineering
          4. Neo-Lamarckism
          5. Symbiogenesis
          6. Evolutionary Developmental Biology
          7. Neutral Evolution
          8. Facilitated Variation
          The fact that all of these new theories are surfacing

          http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v17i11f.htm

          http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v17i12f.htm

          .

          @Bill Sorensen:




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        • Bill,

          It is impossible for us to reason and be rational beyond the reasoning capabilities that God has given us. And, if God has given us the powers of reason, the ability to consider cause and effect and predictive power, I do not think He then expects us to turn off these God-given abilities when considering the claims of the Bible.

          To argue that we should discard our reasoning abilities to blindly follow the claims of any person or collection of writings is not in line with what God has given me. The Bible does not appeal to blind faith or a form of fideism to support itself, but to a basis in rational thought founded on empirical evidence. There are good reasons, scientific reasons, to conclude that the Bible is of Divine origin.

          Again, you yourself cannot help but appeal to the historical sciences as a basis to support your claims for Biblical prophecies as the best evidence for the Divine origin of the Bible. Therefore, I suggest that you resist claiming that the Bible trumps science and rational thought when the Bible itself appeals to various forms of scientific investigation and rational thought to support its own credibility.




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          “Therefore, I suggest that you resist claiming that the Bible trumps science and rational thought when the Bible itself appeals to various forms of scientific investigation and rational thought to support its own credibility.”

          Sure, Sean, you when the bible makes prophectic declarations, and then they come true, you call this “scientific” affirmation by way of the historical process.

          This is a far cry from the natural law science that you seem to want to claim will affirm a clear harmony with ID. It won’t. And even if it did, it could not affirm who the “god” is that “created” and organized the world and/or universe.

          So, the affirmation of prophecy by way of the historical process is not the “natural law” science you discuss on your forum. We can surely and rationally examine the historical process to see and affirm prophetic declarations. This affirms scripture. And then we see the God who declares the future, claims to be the creator and gives us massive information about Himself, ourselves, and all the issues of life and death from a moral perspective.

          So, I agree, God does not by-pass our reasoning abilities and demand a “blind faith” with no rational evidence. But the evidence is not natural law science as the final “evidence”. Rather, it is historical process unfolding as biblical predictions have come to pass and continue to do so.

          This is “infallible” evidence. While natural law evidence is not conclusive nor consistent in a proveable way to affirm in an infallible way, that God created, and who the “god” is that created. Only bible prophecy can do this.




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        • We obviously disagree. I still believe you are being inconsistent in your claims. The historical sciences are not “infallible”. They are testable and potentially falsifiable just as is any other scientific methodology.




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        • If we can not trust the record of history to affirm bible prophecy, as you state below, then we simply can not trust the bible, period. And so we must look to natural science to draw final conclusions. And as you stated below, we obviously disagree on how we can determine with any certainty that the bible is true.

          On another note, the issues facing Adventism that include evolution vs. creation, and much more, we must determine the cause of the confusion and lack of discipline.

          When authority in any government setting is unqualifed for various reasons, the results will be seen in decision making and actions taken.

          Simply put, any authority that can not discipline itself, is disqualified to discipline anyone under that authority. If a parent in the home is undisciplined in self government, they can not and will not effectively raise their children.

          A civil government that is undisciplined in administration can not fairly discipline people under them. As is clearly demonstrated in the USA of today.

          And a church that reflects this same problem will reflect the same outcome. Liberals can not discipline evil, because they are evil and know it. So, they refuse to act against evil in the hopes that they themselves will avoid final judgment as well. And this is how a false gospel is defined and applied.

          In the end, such types of evil administration will eventually discipline righteousness for pointing out the evil as has been demonstrated again and again down through history. Every situation from Cain and Abel and all the prophets and finally Christ experienced this conclusion as evil will always eventually discipline righteousness.

          Luther and the reformers and eventually Miller and Adventism came under this scenerio. Today, Adventism has fallen into a low spirituality that reflects this same evil from the top down in administration to church pastors and elders in the local church. Unless we recognize where we are and what has happened, any possibility of any real reform in Adventism is non-existent. And we will soon see more clearly how “the church” can and will discipline truth and righteousness to maintain the statis quo. Believe it or not, you will see it in the near future.




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        • If we can not trust the record of history to affirm bible prophecy, as you state below, then we simply can not trust the bible, period.

          You seem to want absolute proof. This is not possible from our perspective. We are not God. Therefore, what we have been given is the “weight of evidence”, not demonstration or any kind of absolute for anything. Yet, the Bible can be trusted based on the significant weight of evidence in hand. Does this equate to absolute proof? No. It doesn’t. But, it is enough for the rational personal to trust the claims of the Bible.

          As Mrs. White explains:

          “Perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • ““Perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

          Perfect assurance as to whether we are saved or not, is not possible because of the human factor.

          None the less, we can have perfect assurance that the bible is true based on prophecy and its fulfillment. Only if history is unreliable can we doubt the validity of prophecy.

          So, Peter says, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy…….” This he declares after he states his own personal affirmation of the Christ event and its meaning and application.

          Prophecy is infallible as evidence of the truth of the bible. The clear declarations are beyond challenge. So much so, that some would try to claim Daniel wrote his prophecies after the fact.

          Of course, it is still possible to doubt the meaning of the atonement and its validity. It is possible to doubt forgiveness since our sin often seems insurmountable. So anyone can doubt whether they are forgiven or even whether they have repented in an adequate way to qualify for forgiveness. But EGW also says this….

          ” As the sinner sees Jesus as He is, an all compassionate Saviour, hope and assurance take possession of his soul. The helpless soul is cast without any reservation upon Jesus. None can bear away from the vision of Christ Jesus crucified a lingering doubt. Unbelief is gone” (MS 49, 1898). {6BC 1113.2}

          Faith, assurance, unbelief, doubt and skepticism are all relative in this life and not final. At least not for a believer. If faith fluctuates, and it does, it is because of the human factor, not because the evidence of prophecy fulfilled is not absolute.

          None the less, natural law science is not absolute in the affirmation of scripture. The variable undeterminable factors can never show in any absolute way the scriptural declarations of creation, or how it happened.




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        • Faith, assurance, unbelief, doubt and skepticism are all relative in this life and not final. At least not for a believer. If faith fluctuates, and it does, it is because of the human factor, not because the evidence of prophecy fulfilled is not absolute.

          Do you actually believe that your understanding of history is “perfect” or “absolute”? Really? Why do you think its called historical “science”? Were you personally there throughout all of history in all of time and place?

          Consider, yet again, that while God is absolute, you are not. Again, you are just a human being – subject and even prone to error in understanding and interpretation. You cannot therefore avoid the “human factor”. The best we humans can possibly have is the “weight of evidence” – not absolute certainty. Our understanding and interpretation of prophecy and historical evidence/events is also not absolutely certain, but is also based on the weight of evidence – as are all forms of science and human understanding (to include all forms of rational faith and belief systems).

          None the less, natural law science is not absolute in the affirmation of scripture. The variable undeterminable factors can never show in any absolute way the scriptural declarations of creation, or how it happened.

          What you call “natural law science” is no different from the historical sciences in that our understanding of history is just as potentially falsifiable as any other scientifically based position. Nothing that you think you know about the world in which you live, to include your understanding and interpretation of the Bible, is “absolute”. Only God can claim such absolute or otherwise perfect knowledge. You cannot. All of your efforts to claim absolute knowledge only make you look ignorant of your own limitations.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • Sean, you are challenging the bible concerning historical declarations, not me. The bible declares plainly certain historical realities that are non-negotiable. Are you claiming these declarations are only “possiblities” concerning history?

          Your “natural law” science is not so absolute and discernable as the clear bible declarations. Your endeavor to draw an exact parallel between bible prophecy and the clear declarations of scripture concerning the historical process with the ambiguity of natural law science is not acceptable to any bible believing Christian.




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        • Sean, you are challenging the bible concerning historical declarations, not me. The bible declares plainly certain historical realities that are non-negotiable. Are you claiming these declarations are only “possiblities” concerning history?

          You’re claiming that fulfilled Biblical prophecies are evidence of its Divine authority. I agree. However, you go on to claim that these prophecies are internally-derived evidence, independent of the need for external verification. That’s simply not true. Prophetic credibility is dependent upon historical science – a science that cannot be absolutely known or directly determined. The historical sciences are just like all other sciences in this regard – i.e., there are testable and potentially falsifiable elements that are not absolutely known or knowable. They are not absolutely certain, but are to be trusted based upon the “weight of evidence”.

          It is one thing to make a claim, as does the Bible, regarding what happened in history. It is quite another thing to back up these claims with the weight of empirical evidence – something I believe the Bible does better than any other. Is this evidence definitive proof that is absolutely certain without even the possibility of being wrong? No. It isn’t absolute evidence or direct demonstration. It is, however, reasonable evidence in that the weight of available evidence seems to me to be clearly supportive.

          Again, your problem is that you seem to be claiming perfection with regard to your own understanding of history and how history confirms the predictions of the Bible. Do you not realize that perfection and absolute certainty is simply impossible to achieve from a human perspective? The very best you can do is to claim that as far as you can tell the evidence that you personally understand strongly supports the claims of the Bible. That’s the very best you can do…

          “God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration.” – Ellen White, Sc, p. 105

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • Sean, you now claim the bible is not reliable because of the human factor in discerning what it teaches. This undermines scriptural authority by suggesting we don’t know what it is saying for sure. In which case, it may mean any number of things.

          You have taken a dangerous position that leaves you open to abandoning the bible if and when you think you have a more mature and reliable source of information. Then you must “force” the bible to fit your “enlightenment” or simply admit the bible is wrong.

          If and when we trust the bible, we simply look for the clear and flowing continuity of all scripture to affirm our conclusions. If our conclusions are consistent with the whole of scripture, we can be satisfied we have the truth on any matter. And if we see the historical record agrees, we have affirmation both by scripture and the historical process.

          Neither do we need to say, “Well, I am not certain if my conclusion is true or not.”

          Is this how you present the Sabbath to those who either don’t know or oppose your position? Do you say, “Well, I am not sure if I have a clear and true position or not since I am a fallible human being?”

          Are you sure Jesus is the Messiah both by bible prophecy and historical affirmation? Or, do you say, “Well, I am not sure, but this is how it may be?”

          You are right in this point, Sean. We don’t agree on how to understand and affirm the bible and its declarations. Science is a good thing. But not when it is used to create possible doubt and skepticism on the authority of scripture. So, in my opinion, you are on shakey ground at best.




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        • Sean, you now claim the bible is not reliable because of the human factor in discerning what it teaches.

          That’s not at all what I said. I never even came close to saying that the Bible isn’t reliable. I believe that the Bible is very very reliable and that it was Divinely inspired by God. What I said is that in determining the reliability of the Bible one can only use the human perspective with limited abilities that always fall short of perfection. The imperfection is on the human side of the equation. The Bible itself may be perfect in everything it says. However, the human ability to determine this is never perfect.

          You see, there’s a difference between the concept that God is perfect and the concept that a human being can perfectly determine this reality. Humans can only approach Truth. Humans can never fully realize Truth with absolute perfect assurance. Only God can do that…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • “You see, there’s a difference between the concept that God is perfect and the concept that a human being can perfectly determine this reality. Humans can only approach Truth. Humans can never fully realize Truth with absolute perfect assurance. Only God can do that…”

          And the only conclusion to your idea is this, Sean. God can not communicate what He means in such a way that we know what it is. It does not matter if the problem is that God does not communicate it clearly, or, we can not discern it clearly. The final end is still the same.

          It means we can not know if what we are learning is really what the bible is teaching us. Whether it is God’s fault, or our own makes no difference. The result is the same. We don’t know.

          I reject this position and believe God is able to clearly communicate His message and will to fallen and sinful beings if and when the Holy Spirit is present in the communication. And no one can use the excuse, “I am not sure I understand it.”

          If and when they are lost and standing around the New Jerusalem and see their life experience and every rejection of truth, then they will admit “Yes, I clearly understood it, but did not want to accept it and chose not to believe it.”

          And thus, Paul says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked……” He knows every lost soul understood the truth, but refused to admit it and do it. There will be no excuses, such as “Well, I didn’t understand it.” In the end, they lied to no one but themselves.




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        • I reject this position and believe God is able to clearly communicate His message and will to fallen and sinful beings if and when the Holy Spirit is present in the communication. And no one can use the excuse, “I am not sure I understand it.”

          You confuse internally-derived truths from empirically-derived truths. Salvation isn’t based on a perfect understanding of the Bible or of the nature or even the existence of God. Salvation is based on living according to the Royal Law that is written directly on the hearts (minds) of all humans. This moral Truth is therefore an internally-derived truth that is perfectly known by all because it does not require external empirical verification or discovery or the “weight of evidence”. It is known from birth as an internally-derived God-given compass.

          This is not true, however, regarding the question as to if the Bible is or isn’t the Word of God or exactly what it means in perfect detail. Such knowledge is not internally derived and is therefore dependent upon the “weight of evidence” that can only be gained by a form of scientific investigation over a period of time. As the weight of evidence grows, so does our confidence or faith in certain realities grow. That is why our understanding of the Bible is always limited. It is never perfect or definitively known or knowable. There is always room to learn more and understand more and more over time.

          Is God capable of definitively revealing to us all truth without our need to study, learn, and grow? Yes, but He simply doesn’t operate like this. He expects us to exercise effort to gain knowledge over time. He does not expect perfection from us in this regard. He expects us to do our best with our God-given abilities to think and reason in a rational way – a process that is useful in helping us approach truth more and more closely over time, but a process that is incapable of providing us with absolute Truth.

          If and when they are lost and standing around the New Jerusalem and see their life experience and every rejection of truth, then they will admit “Yes, I clearly understood it, but did not want to accept it and chose not to believe it.”

          And thus, Paul says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked……” He knows every lost soul understood the truth, but refused to admit it and do it. There will be no excuses, such as “Well, I didn’t understand it.” In the end, they lied to no one but themselves.

          Again, you confuse two different kinds of knowledge (internally vs. externally-derived). Honest ignorance is indeed a very good excuse before God. There will be many who are saved who were honestly ignorant of various Biblical concepts and truths – or even of the existence of the Bible itself. What they were not ignorant of, however, is the Royal Law of Love.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • Well, Sean, we will just have to disagree on this issue of knowledge and revelation as it relates to the bible.

          I personally put you in the camp of the liberals in your explanation. I think we are aware that liberals have many conservative ideas, and conservatives have many liberal ideas. So we must have some concensus of what is a liberal vs. a conservative.

          My definition is this, anything we hold to in scripture that we consider non-negotiable makes us conservative on that issue.

          Anything we hold in scripture that is not definitive and therefore negotiable, makes us a liberal on that issue.

          Just because we do not know everything there is to know on any issue does not mean we can not hold our conclusion as absolute in definition. So we may not know everything there is to know about the Sabbath, but this does not mean we can not hold an absolute opinion concerning its basic meaning and function. Even if our knowledge is relative, this does not hinder us from holding this absolute conviction and opinion.

          Jesus is God and man. I need not know all there is to know about this fact. But I have an absolute opinion that is non-negotiable and beyond doubt as to the fact of this matter.

          Just so, I may not know all there is to know about creation and how it was accomplished. But I have an absolute certainty that the God of the bible created this world in six literal days and rested on the 7th day and created the Sabbath on this day.

          So your challenge to absolute certainty as being bogus for lack of full knowledge will not fly for a conservative bible believer. Adequate knowledge can rightly create an absolute certainty that is non-negotiable under the influence of the Holy Spirit by way of scripture.

          I am not sure you agree. In fact, I don’t see this as being your conclusion. So, we will agree to disagree with the awareness that “error is never harmless”. And we can’t both be right.




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        • Having an “absolute opinion” isn’t the same thing has having absolute or perfect or even direct knowledge. In fact, the term “absolute opinion” is a very strange self-contradictory nonsensical term. The fact of the matter is that you have to make a leap of faith that goes beyond what you absolutely know in order to accept the claims of the Bible as true. This knowledge simply isn’t inherent. It is learned knowledge that is based on an interpretation of the weight of evidence. God has not directly revealed this kind of knowledge to us outside of our own efforts to work to study and learn how to interpret the empirical evidence provided.

          You may have very very good reasons for your leap of faith – similar to your reasons for believing the Sun will come up tomorrow. I think I have very good reasons for mine as well. However, it is a mistake to claim perfection in your conclusions or your human perspective. We can claim what we see as the clear weight of evidence and our own personal conviction, but we should never claim absolute perfection in knowledge or understanding. That is why Mrs. White explained the nature of faith as being non-absolute (as I’ve already pointed out to you). Nowhere does she describe faith in the claims of the Bible or in anything else in the absolute language that you are using:

          “God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration.” – Ellen White, Sc, p. 105

          “Perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

          This is a far more rational statement of belief compared to your position of “absolute opinion”… even when it comes to our understanding of the origin and meaning of the Bible (i.e., Mrs. White isn’t just talking about one’s faith in one’s own salvation, but about faith in general). Our faith in the credibility of the Bible, and its Divine origin, is based on evidence, not direct demonstration or absolute certainty or perfection. One may be confident enough to go to the stake for one’s beliefs. However, this still isn’t the same thing as having obtained perfection or some kind of absolute or direct or perfect knowledge outside of or beyond the weight of evidence.




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        • Sean, the bible gives us direct information about the historical process by way of prophecy. The bible does not give us direct information about the scientific evidence you refer to.

          We have the clear history of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. All of these are refered to in scripture, and even named in some cases.

          Nowhere does the bible give us the information you want to use as evidence of creation to affirm the validity of the bible. And we don’t use these “evidences” in our evangelism except in a secondary way. We always (hopefully) begin with Dan. 2 and Daniel’s prophecies in connection with Revelation and show how the bible affirms itself by way of prophecy and the historical process.

          We agree that God does not bypass human reasoning on any and all levels, and expect us to simply “believe” the bible with no evidence of its validity. But if and when the bible itself clearly gives clear evidence by way of prophecy, we need not go the natural law science as equal, or even superior, to the clear test of the bibles validity by way of prophecy.

          Natural law science is ambiguous and non-definitive as “proof” and at best can only be helpful to affirm the bibles validity. There is nothing ambiguous about bible prophecy and really is beyond question and can be affirmed clearly by way of positive proof of what the bible says on the historical process. And because of this, the bible claims self validation as the final authority of its truth and revelations concerning God and all He says about Himself and the created order.




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        • I believe you’re mistaken. The Bible does refer to the empirical world and empirical evidence of God’s Signature in nature quite specifically – in both the Old and New Testaments. So, it seems quite clear to me that all evidence can be used, to include the evidence of fulfilled prophecy and evidence of God’s Signature in nature, to add to the overall “weight of evidence” as to the origin of the Bible and a better understanding of what the Bible is saying (i.e., better interpretations of the Bible).

          Beyond this, your appeals to historical evidences for fulfilled prophecies are, yet again, based on science or empirical evidence – on the weight of evidence that must be learned over time (evidences that are not based on inherent knowledge). These evidences are therefore not some kind of absolute demonstration nor have you been given perfection of knowledge or understanding beyond the weight of evidence. The claim of perfection and absolute knowledge is God’s prerogative alone. The human position of faith cannot be based on perfect understanding or absolute knowledge, but upon the weight of evidence.




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  4. Sean

    Sean Pitman: Not really. Consider that practically all of the hundreds of modern breeds of dogs were produced within the past 300 years or so – from the chihuahua to the Great Dane. How is that possible? Because of something known as Mendelian genetics where rapid changes or variations in phenotypes can be produced without any change in the underlying gene pool of options. No new alleles need to be evolved at all

    With this statement you once again demonstrate that you still do not at all understand the principles of populations genetics. The deluge associated genetic bottleneck to 2 individuals remains a gene puddle that cannot be salvaged by recourse to any hand waving about epigenetics.

    Though I may have accepted that it is a waste of time to respond to you I still peruse your missives to your acolytes to stay informed on where Fundamentalist Adventism is.




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    • Mendelian genetics is still active when one starts with just a one breeding pair. Beyond this, as already discussed with you, allelic variation at very low levels of functional complexity can be produced extremely fast. What have you ever presented that cannot be explained from a very small starting population just a few thousand years ago? Random mutations are very common. Dozens of them occur in each individual in each generation. As the population increases in size, allelic options are very rapidly produced over very short periods of time.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @Pauluc:

      Paul,

      There are two well known Laws of Biology

      Biogenesis – Life comes from life only

      Heredity – After their kind.

      Do understand that those two laws completely refute neo-darwinism?

      Pop genetics is based on models that assume neo-darwinism,

      > Population genetics as a scientific discipline makes use of mathematics and the principles of neo-Darwinism to try to understand how genetic variation spreads through populations and influences their evolution. It does so by assuming that all processes are purely natural and unguided, and that phylogenetic history is mainly the product of common descent, at least in multicellular organisms. The four main processes thought to affect population genetics — mutation, genetic drift, gene flow, and selection — are all unguided. The first three are random in their effect on evolution, meaning that they can be positive, negative or neutral in their effects on fitness; only natural selection acts in a directional manner to increase fitness.
      http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/on_retrospectiv062881.html




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  5. Dr. Pitman, you keep arguing that the vast majority of mutations and allelic options are of the degenerative kind, resulting in less fitness and devolution, not evolution. And yet we see dog breeds that have become highly specialized with adaptations to fit the climates they live in, and traits that suit them well for desired traits. Why is it that artificial selection leads to beneficial mutations and great diversity (evolution), whereas natural selection leads to deleterious mutations and diminished diversity (devolution)?

    We still have the problem of species. Why is that after the two individuals and their descendents have bred for a few thousand years, and scientists think they have evolved extremely rapidly, they still remain just one single species? There are many other “pairs” that emerged from the ark that had to evolve into dozens or hundreds of species. Why didn’t the dogs do the same?




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    • Dr. Pitman, you keep arguing that the vast majority of mutations and allelic options are of the degenerative kind, resulting in less fitness and devolution, not evolution. And yet we see dog breeds that have become highly specialized with adaptations to fit the climates they live in, and traits that suit them well for desired traits. Why is it that artificial selection leads to beneficial mutations and great diversity (evolution), whereas natural selection leads to deleterious mutations and diminished diversity (devolution)?

      Artificial selection and natural selection are the same in that they are both function- or phenotypic-based selections. Most of the specialized features of dog breeds were pre-programmed. They were already present within the parental gene pool some 300 years ago. Mendelian genetics doesn’t produce anything new within the gene pool. It only allows for selective expression of what is already there. That is why Mendelian-based phenotypic changes can be realized so fast – without the need for any mutations at all.

      Of course, novel alleles are evolved all the time – some of which are actually beneficial (always at low levels of functional complexity). However, the beneficial mutations are swamped by the vast majority of mutations that are detrimental so that the overall direction of evolution is always downhill in each and every generation (for slowly reproducing species).

      We still have the problem of species. Why is that after the two individuals and their descendents have bred for a few thousand years, and scientists think they have evolved extremely rapidly, they still remain just one single species? There are many other “pairs” that emerged from the ark that had to evolve into dozens or hundreds of species. Why didn’t the dogs do the same?

      Dogs did do the same. Domestic dogs and coyotes are classified as different “species”, for example, even though they are part of the same original gene pool of genetic options… as are wolves, dogs (both common dogs and dingoes), Ethiopian Wolves, and golden jackals.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Gene Fortner:

        Gene

        Let me see.
        In a response to a question on the science of biogeography you produce a youtube video by an engineer for Rolls Royce who has never published a single bit of original research and has no research training in biology as the definitive statement on how the animals got from the ark.

        What is the alternative source of information on animal migraiton and diversification? I suggest you do a literature search on pubmed for the primary scientific data on vertebrate biogeography

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=biogeography+NOT+review+AND+vertebrate+NOT+microbiome

        Which gives you a list of 670 original papers from hundreds of researchers who have devoted their professional lives to questions of biodiversity and geography.

        Now which is likely closer to the scientific realities? Which is likely to as Sean would say provide the “weight of evidence”.

        I am not critiquing you for following the ideas of someone like Dominic Stratham or of Sean Pitman for I am sure you have many reasons for doing so. What I am suggesting is that you should not try to present the views of such people as having any sort of scientific credibility.

        If you are interested in scientific explanations then look at the science. If you believe in miracles as an explanation, fine, then simply state your religious belief and provide the evidence from your particular literalistic interpretation of the canon. A religious belief does not at all require a scientific explanation or support to be valid.

        The problem comes when you pretend that you have the weight of scientific evidence to support your position. You are deceiving yourself to make this claim.

        It is much better to simply say it was a miracle and beyond the purvey of any science. I find the desire among fundamentalists including the CMI ICR and their ilk for scientific validation of religious belief most perplexing.




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        • As you know, Darwin himself was only professionally trained as a theologian, not a scientist. What then does it matter what degree one has if he/she makes a valid observation? Why not directly address that observation instead of sidestepping the actual argument in favor of the usual, and meaningless, pejorative attack on the person’s profession or background? – the same meaningless and rather desperate argument that the intelligentsia of the day used against Jesus by the way…

          What is strange here is that people, like you, will devote their whole lives to dreaming up stories without actually producing any empirical support for their stories, and yet have the temerity to call their stories “scientific” for no other reason than that they are in line with popular opinion…

          Again, where is your demonstration or relevant statistical analysis for the creative potential of random mutations and natural selection at various levels of functional complexity?

          Oh, I know, your argument of some kind of “life enzymes” or some other such nonsense is supposed to pass as “scientific”…

          Really now, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist before one can recognize the complete lack of any real science behind such a fantasy world. Why not just admit it and say, “It was a miracle and beyond the purvey of any science”? At least that would more accurately reflect neo-Darwinism for what it really is – a pseudo-scientific religious/philosophical position with fundamentalist believers who will not question the basic tenets of Darwinism no matter what weight of empirical evidence.

          In short, if you have an argument, a real scientific argument, present it. Don’t just list off a bunch of references published by those who share your own philosophical perspective and cite their sheer number as being somehow impressive (i.e., reference mining). Present a real argument already… one that can actually be empirically tested and potentially falsified (unlike your “life enzymes”…). In other words, it would be far far more interesting if you would at least try to actually rebut some specific observation presented by Dominic Stratham (or me) with some actual counter observation or evidence that goes beyond something as magical, meaningless, and off-handed as “life enzymes”…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Sean what you think of me is totally inconsequential to me or to the scientific community (per my definition of those that publish and argue in the scientific literature) but my concern is that within conservative Adventism you are clearly seen as a thought leader and star.

          Even that is inconsequential expect that you have taken upon yourself to launch an attack on the process and practitioners of science education in Adventism. So far this has been restricted to LSU but I have no doubt you wish to eventually extend this to all Adventist tertiary institutions worldwide.

          What is alarming to people like me and Jeff Kent that do science for a living, is that you are clearly very smart and should have been well educated in science but your woolly thinking and confirmation bias are seen as normative in science and faith by many Adventists who are ill-informed on science but who look to Educated Adventists for their information. What hope do we as a community of Faith have if lack of vision and misinformation prevail?




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        • And you don’t think it “ill-informed” to forward your as yet undiscovered “life enzymes” to try to explain the very clear limitations the Darwinian mechanism? You seem to have this inkling that random mutations and natural selection really aren’t up to the job. Yet, you still want to cling to the neo-Darwinian perspective. So, you’re willing to dream up some kind of enzymatic process to bridge the gaps, a process which has yet to be detected, in order to maintain it? – regardless of how magical and completely non-scientific your enzymatic stories may be?

          I ask you then, what kind of “vision” are you and the rest of your so-called “scientific” friends trying to sell here? You “do science for a living” so you should have at least some understanding of the basic science behind the mechanism for your theory. Where is it? Where is your science?

          What really mystifies me is that you’re trying to make religion into a form of irrational blind-faith mysticism – a form of fideism. That’s not how faith is defined in the Bible. The Bible defines a faith that is based on evidence – empirical evidence. Did the faith of Jesus’ disciples not increase after they saw, with their own eyes, the Resurrection of Jesus? Did not Paul argue that without this empirical basis for Christianity, that all hope was “in vain”?

          You have to realize, as a someone works in various forms of scientific research projects for a living, that all scientific methodologies require a leap of faith beyond that which can be absolutely known or knowable. That is where hypotheses and testable potentially falsifiable predictions about the future and predictive value come into play. Therefore, even in science, a form of faith is a requirement. Empirical evidence and faith always walk hand-in-hand for any rational scientific methodology and for any rational religious position. After all God is the Author of all useful scientific understanding, the natural world, and the Bible. Rightly understood, they can only be in harmony with each other.

          So, I challenge you to present some real science here in this forum. What do you really know regarding the science beyond your mechanism? Is the very best you have truly an appeal to some mystical “life enzymes”? Really? How is that “science”? Where is the testability or “predictive value” for such suggestions?

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Pauluc:

          Paul,

          What you need to do to refute Dominic Stratham’s hypothesis is to come up with a hypothesis that matches the data better than his.

          His hypothesis matches the data much better than current just so stories and it makes sense.

          Your attempt to refute his hypothesis was a lazy man’s attempt at an apopeal to authority.

          FYI,

          Engineers are much harder to fool because they design things.

          Academia only has to come up with a story that matches the current dogma’s premise.

          PS: A few hundred years ago, the consensus was against Galileo.




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    • Monotreme remains of a platypus… yes.

      “A platypus tooth has been found in the Palaeocene of Argentina…” (Link).

      “Most fossil monotremes have been found in Australia, though a Paleocene platypus tooth (Monotrematum) has recently been recovered from Argentina (Pascual et al. 1992).” (Link)

      “The Paleocene fossil Monotrematum, based on three teeth from Argentina, is probably also a member of the platypus clade (Ornithorhynchidae).” (Link)

      Also, the notion that Australia had no placental mammals until fairly recently has been falsified by the fossilized remains of the jawbone of a placental mammal found in the Early Cretaceous layers southeast of Melbourne by husband-and-wife team Dr Tom Rich and Professor Pat Vickers-Rich (found in 1997; Link). Prior to this discovery placental animals were not thought to have existed in Australia until the late Tertiary (some 110 Ma later by mainstream thinking).

      It just goes to show how fragmented and limited the fossil record is and how difficult it is to make meaningful statements regarding the earliest existence or extent of existence of various types of planets and animals.

      “It is now plausible, owing to this discovery, that placental mammals may have been widespread on all land masses on earth 115 million years ago, suggesting that the way we currently look at the evolutionary process of mammals may be fundamentally wrong,” Dr Rich said.

      The current theory is that placentals and marsupials, which evolved from the same ancestors, were confined to the Northern Hemisphere until about 65 to 75 million years ago. Around that time, it is thought, an island chain may have allowed both types of mammals to enter South America, with marsupials continuing south to Gondwana and Australia. It was not until Australia had broken away from Gondwana and drifted closer to Southeast Asia that placental mammals supposedly arrived in this country.

      “If this fossil is a placental mammal, it changes our whole perception of how these creatures originally dispersed around the world,” Dr Rich said.

      (Link)

      As far as plants are concerned, the first appearance of flowing plants, angiosperms, has just been pushed back from the early Cretaceous to the Mid-Triassic. The gymnosperm pollen from the Afropollis plant was also limited to the Cretaceous for a long time, until recent discoveries showing Afropollis pollen in the Mid Triassic as well.

      “Thus, similar to the angiosperms, our record of this group [Afropollis] from the Middle Triassic opens another observation gap of over 100 Ma.” (Link)

      And, such examples of massive “gaps in time” for “Lazarus taxa” are becoming more and more common all the time. Such discoveries are far more consistent with a rapid catastrophic model of origins rather than the standard Darwinian model.




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