I read through most of the comments this far and …

Comment on Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution? by Mike Manea.

I read through most of the comments this far and it is unfortunate that so much time is spent on what really is a dead-end conversation. I, on the other hand, am having such a hard time generating interest in a discussion that could potentially lead to actual solutions.

Obviously, I disagree. Using methodological naturalism alone science is very much able to detect true artifacts of intelligent design in the natural world.

Since other people might share your (Sean) perspective, I will reproduce this conversation on the Intelligent Adventist page as well.

There are several points I need to bring out here:

A. Mainstream scientists make the rules, and, to stand a chance, we have to play by those rules.

As mentioned earlier, the scientific community has won the confidence of the general public through decades of hard work and unprecedented success. And, the overall consensus within this community is in favor of Evolution.

Imagine for a second that you invented a new version of soccer where the use of hands was allowed. You and your team got really good playing this way so you decided to challenge the world’s top teams at the World Cup. But, after several games, you were either disqualified for hand use or were defeated when trying to play without using them.

Now you might choose to complain about the unfairness of the official soccer rules or about how your version of soccer is better, but, no one is really going to care. In the end, you really have only two choices: you either learn to play by the official rules or, you work on popularizing your own version of soccer, so that hopefully, someday, the world will like your version better.

Creationists, ID proponents and anti-evolutionists in general have been complaining for decades about flaws with the methodology of science or about the incorrect use of this methodology in regards to Evolution. And, all this complaining has gotten us nowhere. Mainstream science continues to flourish while the opposition is fading away in obscurity; the public increasingly views us as pretty much on par with the flat-earth society.

So, just like with my soccer example, we are left with only two choices if we really hope to make a difference:

1) We find a way to make our case regarding Evolution using a process that the scientific community finds acceptable, or,

2) We develop a new scientific methodology, take several decades to demonstrate to the world that our methodology is at least as effective as the current methodology, and, once we have earned the respect of the public, we take on Evolution.

And, going with the second option will take much longer and a lot more work, if even possible. So we definitely should look for ways to work within the current constraints.

B. Scientists don’t consider Intelligent Design or the Flood model scientifically valid.

I mentioned earlier that Methodological Naturalism is a cornerstone of modern science and that both these models fail in that respect. Now I realize that it is possible to view methodological naturalism in such a way that it is compatible with these models but that is not how the scientific community views it and, again, they make the rules. Their reasoning is simple:

Complex living organisms exist and we need a naturalistic hypothesis to explain how they came to exist. Darwin’s descent with modification is such a hypothesis. ‘God did it,’ (ID) is not. Anything that involves God is considered outside the parameters of science regardless of whether we agree or not.

The Flood model on the other hand could be naturalistic. But, if true, then the current understanding of geology, biology, paleontology etc. is wrong. In other words, if the entire fossil record was caused by a recent flood then there was no time for evolution to have happened and, the only explanation left is that God did it (no longer naturalistic).

So basically an unbiased (open-minded) scientist looking at this question has to choose between an explanation for the fossil record supported by the findings of thousands of scientists over the past century and a half or go with the findings of a hand-full of scientists who are proposing an explanation that requires invoking the supernatural to explain everything else. It is not surprising that such a scientist would look for ways to explain away the findings of this second group rather than the first.

C. The open nature of science works against us.

You might argue again that we should not worry so much about what scientists think since it is not popularity we are after. Those who live godly will suffer persecution. The problem however, is that we don’t live in the time of the Roman emperors when Christianity was forbidden and those who accepted Christ faced public ridicule if not more. We don’t live in the time of the Papacy or inside an Islamic state where holding opposing views is forbidden. We don’t live in a communist country like I did growing up where Evolution was shoved down our throats in school as part of a state-run anti-religion indoctrination program that we were powerless to do anything about. Instead, we live in a democracy and science itself, like I mentioned earlier, is an open platform that has a process for examining dissenting opinions. The very ability of science to adapt to new evidence is what harms our credibility now that we’ve had so much time to come up with something better.

Consider also another point. If in Scripture there were numerous and clear passages claiming unequivocally that the earth was flat, would we side with the Bible or with science? Yes, as Protestants, we base our faith on the Bible and the Bible only. But, we also evaluate the trustworthiness of Scripture based on how well it lines up with what we know about the nature of reality. When we do evangelistic meetings we spend the first few lectures discussing the reliability of the Bible in order to establish trust in what the Scripture has to say regarding spiritual things.

The Theory of Evolution is preventing a significant and important segment of the population (educated professionals) from being receptive to the Third Angel’s Message. And, as those commissioned to take this message to the world, we have a responsibility to challenge current assumptions and demonstrate scientifically that alternatives exist.

So how do we argue our position in a way that mainstream scientists will find acceptable?

If we took 100 atheistic evolutionary scientists and asked them the following questions, they will all answer in the positive:

– Do you expect that science will advance far enough for us to make significant modifications to organisms using genetic engineering?
– Will we be able to invent new organs or even new organisms eventually?
– Once space travel to greater distances becomes possible, if we ever came across a planet that already has simple life forms, would we be able to tamper with their genetic information to introduce new features and speed up their evolution?

But if so, how do we know something like this did not happen to our own planet?

Basically, it is possible to have a fully naturalistic hypothesis of Intelligent Design that still allows us to test our beliefs of supernatural intelligent interference. And, we don’t need to claim that this hypothesis is a complete replacement for evolution but just an alternative explanation for some small aspect of the theory, just enough to get our foot in the door. If we can develop such a model, make predictions, test out those predictions and produce some positive initial results, we have something to take to the scientific community that they have no reason not to consider. This would then allow us to publish articles in scientific journals in support of an ID model and will allow cooperation with scientists from various religious backgrounds as well as scientists that want to look into the possibility of extraterrestrial interference.

Most importantly, such an alternative model will allow us to preach the message without people thinking the Bible comes in direct contradiction to established science.

Mike Manea Also Commented

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman:

Yes, lots of people are making significant efforts. Lots of people have been making significant efforts for a century and a half now. And, fifty years from now they will still be making significant efforts though our situation by then will likely be quite a bit worse.

With this approach however, if we play our cards right, there is a descent chance that in as little as five years we can introduce something that will completely change the game for us. So I apologize if I’ve offended in any way, but, at least in my opinion, this matters.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

I don’t think you quite get what I am saying but I’m in the middle of a business trip and don’t have time to write more now. On my “Intelligent Adventist” Facebook page I have an article where I explain myself in more detail. I will respond some time next week.


Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman:

And this is precisely the problem: we mistake ‘open’ for ‘ easy.’

Think for a moment of the civil rights movement. That movement would not have succeeded under a monarchy or a dictatorship. However, just because it took place under a democracy did not mean that it would be successful without careful planning, hard work and sacrifice.

With virtually every other approach creationists have taken, scientists had legitimate concerns. With this approach there are no legitimate objections based on their own rules of engagement. Does that mean it will be easy? Definitely not. But if we don’t make the effort we have only ourselves to blame for the success of evolution and our inability to reach people with the gospel.