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Two Short Poems on the Nature of Scientific Explanations and God and Science

PARADOX
by Clarence R. Wylie Jr.


Not truth, nor certainty. These I forswore
In my novitiate, as young men called
To holy orders must abjure the world.
'If...,then...,' this only I assert;
And my successes are but pretty chains
Linking twin doubts, for it is vain to ask
If what I postulate be justified,
Or what I prove possess the stamp of fact.


Yet bridges stand, and men no longer crawl
In two dimension. And such triumphs stem
In no small measure from the power this game,
Played with the thrice-attentuated shades
Of things, has over their originals.
How frail the wand, but how profound the spell!




FEAR OF GOD
by Ronnie J. Hastings, Ph.D. (1983)


Galileo was chided by the God-fearing for observing that the solar system is Copernican, not Ptolemaic.
And yet... the wanderers did and do move about the sun.


Newton was chided by the God-fearing for describing all motions with mathematics, not with divine will.
And yet...measurements in mechanics could and can be predicted with precision through calculation.


Lavoisier was chided by the God-fearing for explaining chemistry as quantative reactions, not as miracles or magic.
And yet...substances did and do appear and disappear with predictable regularity in labs everywhere.


Darwin was chided by the God-fearing for showing the diversity of life resulting from ecological factors and adaption to them, not from theistic interventions.
And yet...life had and has a single structure and has changed and does change forms in time.


Einstein was chided by the God-fearing for demonstrating the democracy of observers, not the absolute God's-eye view.
And yet...space and time have changed and do change from frame of reference to frame of reference, and the laws of nature have been and are the same for all frames.


Perhaps the God-fearing are right to fear God. If God is the source of reality, they have been fighting or ignoring God's facts for four hundred years!


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Michael Denton, is now an Evolutionist

Source: Nature's Destiny. From the impossibility of evolution to the inevitability of evolution: Anti-Evolutionst Michael Denton turns into an 'Evolutionist'. A review by Gert Korthof version 3.1b 23 May 2000


Quote from the book :
"It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science - that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called "special creationist school". According to special creationism, living organisms are not natural forms, whose origin and design were built into the laws of nature from the beginning, but rather contingent forms analogous in essence to human artifacts, the result of a series of supernatural acts, involving the suspension of natural law. Contrary to the creationist position, the whole argument presented here is critically dependent on the presumption of the unbroken continuity of the organic world - that is, on the reality of organic evolution and on the presumption that all living organisms on earth are natural forms in the profoundest sense of the word, no less natural than salt crystals, atoms, waterfalls, or galaxies." (page xvii-xviii).




In Nature's Destiny Denton refers to Kaufmann(1) and deDuve(2), to show that, given the right initial conditions, the origin of life and evolution is inevitable.


Can we find crucial evidence in his book which converted him to evolution ? The key passage, I think, occurs in the paragraph "The Closeness of All Life in DNA Sequence Space" of CH 12 (p276). It must have been the key insight for Denton.
It reads:


"One of the most surprising discoveries which has arisen from DNA sequencing has been the remarkable finding that the genomes of all organisms are clustered very close together in a tiny region of DNA sequence space forming a tree of related sequences that can all be interconverted via a series of tiny incremental natural steps."


"So the sharp discontinuities, referred to above, between different organs and adaptations and different types of organisms, which have been the bedrock of antievolutionary arguments for the past century (3), have now greatly diminished at the DNA level. Organisms which seem very different at a morphological level can be very close together at the DNA level." [emphasis & note are mine]


Notes:



1. Stuart Kaufmann: At Home in the Universe (1995). It is instructive to compare what Phillip Johnson wrote about Stuart Kaufmann : "....and some plausible rescuers will invite the officers to take refuge in electronic lifeboats equipped with high-tech gear like autocatalytic sets and computer models of self-organizing systems." (p170, Darwin on Trial, 1993). It is clear that there is now a gap between Johnson and Denton(1998). The most important reason however is that Denton accepts the naturalistic assumption of science, which Johnson rejects. Michael Behe wrote a few 'words of praise' at the back cover of Nature's Destiny, Johnson is absent.


2. de Duve: Vital Dust(1995).


3. Including Denton(1986) himself ! He forgets to mention himself !


Even at the ARN website you can read about Denton and Paul Nelson (of the Discovery Institute) going at it on their way to a "Mere Creation" conference: First stop, who gets in but Paul Nelson. Paul and I have known each other. Then Thane Ury (Bethel College) gets in. We start talking and then son-of-a-gun Paul says, "There is Michael Denton"--I couldn't believe it. Lean 50-ish guy with a shock of white, close-cropped hair wearing a shirt that looks like the top for a pair of long underwear. I spent two weeks one summer vacation in Montana outlining various chapters from Evolution: A Theory in Crisis just to drive out the Darwinian poisons I imbibed from my mother's milk. The biggest shock was finding he is so engaging and approachable! He and Nelson started dukeing it out right away. It was fantastic. Here I was with a bad cold, barely holding on to my name tag, fortunate to have taken all the right turns thus far--and bango, the conference starts en route. Paul says "common ancestry is an assumption." Denton says, "the such-and-such goes down and around the something else and why doesn't it just go straight across?" And Paul says, "But how do you know that the down and around isn't optimal?" I remember that point. Then Denton says, "Yeah but when you have delivered as many babies as I have you notice things." He gestures downward with both hands cupped as though he is about to deliver one. He says "Right after they are born they go like this"--he then does a grasping motion with both hands raised. In my semi-fevered state I saw a new born hominid grasping its mothers' fur--right there in the van. He gave a name for the reflex [primate grasp] but even without it I could see that he knew a thing or two about how our kind and kin are born. The conversation in the van was not really a conversation. Denton started talking and gesturing in a very distinctive fashion. He makes his points by jabbing the air with his middle finger--quite unselfconsciously. Possibly this too is a primordial rhetorical reflex with an interesting aeteology. Denton proceeded to develop an evolutionary cosmology, the point of which is that there is abundant evidence for common descent and it is equally clear that evolution is directed and programmed. Indeed Denton affirmed two things--and this is apparently the thesis of his book now under contract at Simon & Schuster--that humankind literally is the point of creation and he is the end product of a divine design. Paul seemed to just let him go, but I sensed Paul was saving up for another time.


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Response to 'Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust'

Someone sent me the web address of an article at the Answers In Genesis site by Jerry Bergman, titled, "Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust," and I composed a reply:


BERGMAN (author of "Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust" and the Answers in Genesis website): Hitler's government relied heavily upon Darwinism, especially the elaborations by Spencer and Haeckel.


ED: Note the admission, "...especially the elaborations of Spencer and Haeckel." It's the "elaborations" of others, rightly or wrongly that most influenced Hitler, this becomes even clearer below, concerning various "Nazi scientists" listed below and their prejudicial modes of thinking that preceded their eugenics theories concerning "the Jews."




BERGMAN: The Nazis relied heavily upon the work of Hans F.K. Günther, professor of 'racial science' at the University of Jena


ED: Note the admission, "relied heavily upon the work of Hans F. K. Günther," whose "work" consisted of "proving" the "inferiority of the Jews." Why "the Jews" you ask? Because Günther and many other Germans "knew" that the "Jews" were inferior long before Günther ever did his first "racial science" experiment (sic). In fact, many Germans believed that "Jews" were inferior for CENTURIES, because the Bible and Martin Luther told them so. So really, what DOES the Holocaust come down to? Günther's "racial science," a Jew-hating pseudoscience, based firmly on centuries of Jew-baiting and Jew-hating under the Christian cross.




BERGMAN: Poliakov notes that many intellectuals in the early 1900s accepted telegony, the idea that 'bad blood' would contaminate a race line forever, or that 'bad blood drives out good' , just as bad money displaces good money. Only extermination would permanently eliminate inferior genetic lines, and thereby further evolution. . Darwin even compiled a long list of cases where he concluded bad blood polluted a whole gene line, causing it to bear impure progeny forever.


ED: This idea of "telegony" does not necessarily warrant "extermination" in the sense of killing people, just sterilization. I also wonder whether Darwin ever mentioned the words "bad blood" and spoke about it "polluting" a whole gene line. He probably did collect examples in which a pedigreed dog or pigeon was bred with a wild type and the children of that offspring no longer bore pedigreed offspring. But so what? Does that mean build ovens and kill Jews, homosexuals, Poles, and Gypsies? Darwin did invent a theory of inheritance that involved gemmules carried in the blood that carried physically inherited information, but it was disproven long ago. Nobody believes Darwin's theory of inheritance any more.




BERGMAN: Hitler believed that Blacks were "monstrosities halfway between man and ape"


ED: More of Günther's "racial science" at work? Bergman does not say. But the prejudiced idea of Black's being mere savages goes back BEFORE Darwin's day. The Europeans at that time looked down upon the Blacks in Africa and Indians in the Americas for not advancing technologically as fast as they had. The Europeans had guns and steel. The Blacks still had only spears. It proves nothing of course, except that races that develop technology tend to regard the less technologically advanced races with derision, and probably underestimate their capabilities. (Imagine how advanced beings in passing UFOs feel about everyone on our planet?) As for Blacks having a "mundane genetic character" that made them prone to being enslaved, see the "Biblical views" of the president of the Institute of Creation Research in America, found at the very end of this e-mail.




BERGMAN: Relatively few scientific studies exist which directly deal with Darwinism and Nazism


ED: Those wouldn't be "scientific" studies, those would be historical studies.




BERGMAN: . and many evolutionists avoid the subject because evolution is inescapably selectionist.


ED: The word "selectionist" by itself means nothing. Bergman is just straining like the devil to connect everything the involves "Hitlerian, Güntherian, genocidal" selection with Darwin's theory of "natural selection" - a theory that in the biological realm, even some creationists accede to, especially the ones who admit that microevolution occurs.




BERGMAN: One of the best reviews of Darwinism and Nazism documents clearly that Nazism felt confident that their programs of extermination was firmly based on evolution science.


ED: Just because someone is "confident" their beliefs are "based" on something does not mean it is. It merely tells us how "confident" that person was in their belief that it was. So believing one's views are "based on science" doesn't make it so. What was Nazi "racial science" really based on? Perhaps centuries of prejudiced racism? It was also based on "science" prior to the human genome project discovery that all human beings are, genomically-speaking, almost "identical twins" and that the notion of "races" is obsolete. But scientists knew that even BEFORE the human genome project which merely reinforced what they had already discovered via other types of experiments. Speaking of being "based on science," there are still Christian groups who espouse racism and who believe their views are "based on science, or at least on what they claimed was common sense," as did the Christian whites in South Africa, as did Christian slaveholders in the South of the U.S. (As I've pointed out, South Africa was a heavily Protestant Christian nation, that gave more money for missions per capita than even America, and that was during the time of their practice of apartheid, when it was also illegal to teach evolution in schools, nor did they allow the broadcast of any of Sagan's COSMOS programs that dealt with evolution. So, creationism and Christianity in South Africa went hand in hand with apartheid.) And speaking of the idea of "things being firmly based upon" other things, what about all the crazy ideas that one Christian group or another affirms are "firmly based" on the 'Bible," and which another Christian group rejects, though both claim "the Bible" is the "basis" for all their beliefs? And the fact that such disputes have ended in excommunications, riots, murders and wars? Based on the Bible, Early American Puritans were convinced that if the native Americans would not convert, then they should be destroyed like the Canaanites, without mercy, man, woman and child. Need some quotations on that? I've got references. Might make a nice article at the Answers in Genesis site, "Christianity, the Bible, and the Native American Holocaust."




BERGMAN: An assessment by Youngson concluded that the application of Darwinism to society, called eugenics, produced one of the most tragic scientific blunders of all time: "The culmination of this darker side of eugenics was, of course, Adolf Hitler's attempt to produce a 'master race' by encouraging mating between pure 'Aryans' and by the murder of six million people whom he claimed to have inferior genes. It is hardly fair to Galton to blame him for the Holocaust or even for his failure to anticipate the consequences of his advocacy of the matter. But he was certainly the principal architect of eugenics, and Hitler was certainly obsessed with the idea. So, in terms of its consequences, this must qualify as one of the greatest scientific blunders of all time."


ED: Taken from a book titled Scientific Blunders; A Brief History of How Wrong Scientists Can Sometimes Be. No doubt the authors of a book about "science's" greatest blunders are going to play up the "science" aspect behind such blunders and ignore the centuries of religious intolerance and cultural egotism that preceded such blunders. Not to mention the charismatic ideologue, Hitler, and his ideological mass movement that carried out the exterminations proposed by their "leader." I'd say; the Holocaust was a typical case of an alpha male leading his pack of gorillas. And that perhaps a lot of Christians today are being "primed" by their ideology which teaches them to bow down to a holy book or leader, to bow down to the next charismatic leader who comes along and is able to feign both "Christianity" and "science" in the name of some obviously prejudicially based plan which he assures us will "save the world," and thereby wreck it.


Speaking of pseudoscience that is not based on Darwinism, but on a prominent creationist's reading of the Bible check out the following:


HENRY MORRIS OF THE INSTITUTE FOR CREATION RESEARCH, AND THE QUESTION OF "genetic CHARACTER."


From Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, Creation-Life Publishes, San Diego, 1976, I quote this passage: "Sometimes the Hamites, especially the Negroes, have even become actual slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane, practical matters, they have often eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites." There is no scientific evidence for any "genetic character" basis for a disposition to "the mundane" (nor for a "genetic character" for a disposition to "philosophy or religion") in certain peoples, and no biblical basis for assuming that a general distinction of this kind is genetic either. The notion of a genetic disposition to the mundane in certain populations is an utter fabrication. But it suits Morris' view of the Biblically prophetic curse of one of Noah's three sons, which he sees as thereby being fulfilled because he has interpreted it as being fulfilled, via his fallacy of a "genetic character toward the mundane" for an entire group of people.


ENDNOTE: Morris is careful to avoid the word "race," but instead speaks of "genetic character": "Note that these three streams of nations are not three 'races.' Though some have thought of the Semites, Japhethites, and Hamites as three races (say, the dusky, the white, and the black races or the Mongoloid, Caucasian, and Negroid), this is not what the Bible teaches, nor is it what modern anthropology and human genetics teach. There are dusky and black people found among all three groups of nations. The Bible does not use the word 'race' nor does it acknowledge such a concept. The modern concept of 'race' is based on evolutionary thinking. To the evolutionist, a race is a subspecies in the process of evolving into a new species, and this idea is the basis of modern racism . "


This passage by Morris again demonstrates no knowledge of modern anthropology and genetics which are integral to modern evolution, and which teach that the notion of "race" has indeed become vacuous. But not because the Bible told them so.


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Are miracles more falsifiable than neo-darwinism?

"Darwinian evolution is not falsifiable", because "if the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection of random mutations fails to make any adaptive change after millions of years, Darwinists like Mayr protect their theory from falsification by claiming that the "proper" mutations never occurred in order that natural selection could make use of them (Moorhead & Kaplan 1967, pp.63-64)".


ED: Are miracles more falsifiable than neo-darwinism? So what exactly have you gained with your argument above? Indeed, I don't see the point of arguing against neo-darwinistic investigations in favor of miracles -- as if one could find the points at which God stuck his finger into the genome and fiddled with this or that mutation, and distinguish such divine finger pushing from mutations that simply came about naturally. You DO believe that we have evidence of mutations that occur naturally, don't you? Do you also agree that the genomic distance between the human genome and that of the COMMON ANCESTOR of chimp and man, was perhaps half the genomic distance as that between man and chimp currently? And do you further agree that the known NATURAL MUTATION RATES as measured via differences in the non-functional homologous regions of the human and chimp genomes (and as cataloged during meiosis) are HIGHER than the rate of MUTATIONS that are NECESSARY to change the COMMON ANCESTOR into both chimps and humans? Ipso facto, the burden of proof lies on the side of the folks who think it was a miracle. They have to SHOW GOD'S FINGER MOVING THE EXACTLY MUTATIONS INTO PLACE, because scientists already know that THE MUTATION RATE IS HIGH ENOUGH AND THE TIME IS LONG ENOUGH TO CHANGE A COMMON ANCESTOR OF MAN AND CHIMPS INTO BOTH MAN AND CHIMPS.


It's like Newton and the question of the movement of the planets: People wanted to believe God's finger/God's angels moved the planets, but their movements were found to be mappable based on mathematical equations. That didn't disprove that angels moved the planets, and indeed, Newton himself allowed that minor perturbations in their orbits could be "fixed" by the direct hand of God from time to time. But in the end nothing came of that "direct hand of God" theory as physics advanced further in understanding even minor perturbations.


I also showed in my post that minor ADAPTATIONS DO continue to occur even in species allegedly "identical" to their distant ancestors, as evidenced by comparing ancient fossilized species and modern versions of them. The minor differences are there to be found. I also showed that instead of stasis, evidence of large scale adaptations can also be found, including species growing INCREASINGLY more adapted, via STEPS, from say the land mammals to primitive whales to modern day whales. Or from feathered reptiles to less well adapted flying reptiles to modern day birds. Some forms apparently don't remain primitive for long, there seems to be some instability while in the primitve stages and they either adapt further or grow extinct, like primitive feathered reptiles, primitve whales, and hominids, which all went extinct on the way, respectively, to modern birds, modern whales and man. While most other forms remain stable for long periods, like bacteria, jellyfish, flowering plants, coelocanths, monkeys, apes. But even the most stable forms arose as part of an ORDERLY evolution-like trajectory over time, from single cells to multicellular organisms from monkeys to primitive apes to hominids to man, etc.

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