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Conversations with a Seeker of Comprehension

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 5 years, 11 months ago

These are ongoing conversations with a young man at Nyack College who is honestly trying to understand where I am coming from.  He asks such great questions, that I am going to post them here.  They will be updated as he and I correspond.  Incidentally, you will note that my oldest son, Kevin, is one of his teachers at Nyack.  His info is at http://www.nyackcollege.edu/files/interviews/Kevin.Pinkham.pdf.

 

Below these, are conversations with a brother in the Lord who wonders about my views on evolution.  Since I don't know how to do it any other way on this site, you'll have to scroll down to Questions from a Brother. 

 


Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011, 12:10 PM

 

Chris,

 

Before I go into other ways of dating fossils beyond 50,000 years, let me address the issue with C-14 in diamonds.  I had not heard of that issue.  Thanks for pointing it out to me.  I suspect that the levels are very, very small.  If so, here are three explanations I gleaned from the internet:  http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/34531-problem-with-carbon-14-radiometric-dating/  I believe these explanations are correct.  They are provided by a physicist.  But if you want to know for sure, I have a friend who is an international expert on radioactive decay and I can ask him.

 

#1. The small apparent non-zero values are less than measurement error. In other words, the readings are consistent with zero C14 content. In fact, the experiments cited by the creationists appear to be attempts to establish the measurement error of their equipment. Older carbon dating techniques directly detected decays of C14 atoms. The problem: If the material is too old, the small amount of C14 present may not decay in the measurement interval. Newer, more accurate techniques use mass spectroscopy. Mass spectroscopy, like any man-made measurement, is not perfect. In particular, given a pure sample of C12, I suspect a mass spectrometer would indicate that a non-zero amount of C14 present. It is nigh impossible to measure exactly zero.

#2. Contamination. It doesn't take much contamination to spoil a sample with near-zero quantity of C14. Creationists pounce on this explanation as meaning all carbon 14 readings are suspect. False. While that same level of contamination (if this is the explanation) will add some error to the dating of some reasonably aged sample, the error will be small -- so long as the sample is not too old. The contamination is additive, not proportional.

#3. Alternate source of C14 production. Natural diamonds are not pure carbon. The most common contaminant is nitrogen, 0.1% in gem-quality diamonds. Nearby radioactive material could trigger exactly the same C14 production process from nitrogen as occurs in the upper atmosphere, albeit at a much reduced rate. Another possible avenue is C13, which has a small but non-zero neutron absorption cross section. By either mechanism, this is essentially internal contamination.

All this means is that measured dates older than some oldest reliable date are just that -- too old to date reliably.

 

Now, how do we date objects older than 50,000 years?  There are 7 other parent-daughter isotope pairs or chains that are used for aging.  The one used most often is Potassium-40 to Argon-40.  Potassium 40 has 19 protons and 21 neutrons.  Argon 40 has 18 protons and 22 neutrons.  It is formed when a proton in K-40 absorbs an electron to become a neutron.  The half life of this reaction is 1.25 billion years, clearly long enough to date any rock formed on earth.  Of course the rock must have contained K-40 to begin with (many do) and must have solidified and not been modified (melted) since it solidified. (Melting simply resets the decay clock to zero.)  This is a fortunate condition since Ar-40 is a volatile gas that is quickly given off by any molten rock.  Thus if it occurs in solid rock, it had to have formed by the decay of K-40.  The ratio of K-40 to Ar-40 in the rock provides a very accurate way of estimating the age of rocks.  (K-40 will decrease and Ar-40 will increase in inverse curves-see attached crude reproduction I just took of a page in an Astrobiology text book.) Of course this does not apply to fossils, so the fossils have to be found between two layers of rocks (often these are ash falls or lava flows from volcanoes).  So you see, we have ways of accurately dating (at least to within a percent or two) when the organism that became the fossil died, even if that death occurred 2 billion years ago.  That is how we can be so sure of the times involved.

 

Hope this helps.

 

In Him, Carl  


Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2011 3:46 PM

 

Chris,

 

All scientific evidence points to earth’s being around for 4.5 billion years.  The very interesting thing to understand has to do with the geological ages.  From 4.52 billion years to 3.85 billion years is known as the Hadean eon.  As the name implies, the earth was a very inhospitable place.  It was being formed from the solar disk (all the elements, molecules, and dust particles –emdp’s- being drawn into orbit around the young, rotating sun by its not inconsequential gravity) as these emdp’s collided with each other, they accreted together to form inner, planetessimals and rocky planets and the outer, gaseous planets.  The energy of the impact from these emdp’s and planetessimals caused the nascent earth to be almost entirely molten.  Current evidence has the moon forming very early in this process from a glancing collision from one of these large planetessimals that drew some of earth’s material into it.

 

In general, this period is considered pretty inhospitable to life.  Had it emerged through chemical evolution, it would most likely be destroyed by an earth-sterilizing impact.  Interestingly enough, however, at about 4.35 billion years, there is evidence that oceans were beginning to form (where the water came from is hotly debated-I’ll not go there in this message).  The first carbon isotope evidence for life is at the end of the Hadean (3.85 BYA).  The first undeniable microfossil evidence for life is 3.5 BYA.  For reasons that I won’t go into, life requires water.  That life would evolve in such a short time after the formation of the oceans is astounding to those of us who understand its complexity.  Astounding, that is, unless, programmed in the atoms and molecules that made the first life, is the propensity for the necessary reactions to occur and be favored.  We are finding that propensity (my eight phenomena), although few are willing to identify where it comes from.

 

Now, for the age of humans-part of the problem associated with assigning an age to the earliest human is a lack of agreement over whether a particular fossil should be considered human or not.  Evolution progresses for the most part by small, nearly imperceptible “advances” in each generation.  Fossilization is a very rare phenomenon-e.g., how many skeletons have you run across in the woods in spite of the fact that animals are dying there daily?  So, the transition from proto human to human is traced through numerous chance finds that capture the transition at sporadic intervals.  It would be much like you were to take all the students at Nyack and arrange them from the whitest to the blackest and then randomly remove all but 20 of them.  Where would you say white ended and black began in this sequence?  I’m sure you would find a point, but I would probably find a different point.  For this reason, Dawkins can say modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago while Collins can maintain it was 100,000.  As we find more fossils (and we will) the gap between these two dates will diminish (but the line will become fuzzier).

 

One final thought-I have addressed the emergence of Adam and Eve earlier.  I would place that about 100,000 years ago + or – 30,000 years.  The first known evidence for abstract symbolism is from Blombos Cave in South Africa, about 77,000 years ago.  Some event (known as the genetic bottleneck) caused the total number of humans to shrink to about 10,000 around 50,000 years ago.  A marked increase in adult survivorship occurred about 30,000 years ago, causing grandparents to be a major component of family groups for the first time and thus a major source of continued instruction of complex skills and histories.  The shift from hunting to agriculture occurred about 10,000 years ago.  Please note, the emergence of these well-established milestones have their equivalents in the Bible:  Adam and Eve and the development of language (abstract symbolism), the flood, the patriarchs, and the two different occupations of Cain and Abel.  Am I trying to find similarities where they don’t exist, or did God inspire the writers of the Bible to include these representations of actual events in the myth (look that word up and you’ll see it is not as condemning as you may think) of the nation, Israel?  You decide.

 

Agape, Carl

 


Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 6:50 PM 

 

Dr. Pinkham, 

Ok that makes a lot of sense. I assumed that it was something along those lines, because I couldn't find anything on it when I searched. My next question is how old do you believe the earth is and how long to do you believe Homo sapiens have inhabited the earth? Many scientists believe the earth to be 4.5 billion years old, but many Christians will say that it is only 6,000 years old. Richard Dawkins claims that humans have been on earth for 200,000 years. Francis Collins claims that humans have been around for 100,000 years. The Bible on the other hand seems to suggest once again 6,000 years.

 

In Him, 

C.A.R.


Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 7:56 AM

 

Chris,

 

I was unaware of this interview.  Thanks for pointing it out to me.  I have no idea what he meant.  The only D-cell I am aware of is one in the pancreas in the Islets of Langerhans and elsewhere in the body.  It produces a growth-inhibiting hormone.  Although its operation, like any cell’s, is very complex, I don’t believe this is what Dawkins had in mind.  He probably had in mind a general cell of some sort, perhaps a primitive prokaryotic cell that gave rise to all other cells.

 

The point of his conversation is like the turtle upon the back of a turtle upon the back of a turtle… myth for the explanation of the world.  There has to be a First Cause.  By suggesting it is an intelligent race somewhere else in the universe, Dawkins “successfully” avoids having to explain how the mechanizations of strictly random processes can ever create anything intelligent.  Instead he starts with an intelligent race that frees him to explain cavalierly that that race came into being “by some highly explicable explanation.”  Another useful book is “Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins,” by Keith Ward.  Keith was the Philosopher-Theologian to the Queen of England (The highest post at Oxford) until his retirement.  He covers the first cause argument very convincingly.

 

Agape, Carl

 


 Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2011 2:50 PM
 Subject: Re: Evolution - round 2

 

Dr. Pinkham, 

 

You ended your last response talking about Richard Dawkins so I have a question for you that involves him. In an interview I watched with him, he stated about intelligent design: "I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that. If you look at the D-cell of biochemistry and biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe…."

 

What is the D-cell that he is referring to there? Here is a link from the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SHKBU5Q8yI

 

In Him, 

C.A.R.  


Sent: Tue 7/5/2011 7:16 PM

Subject: RE: Evolution - round 2

 

Chris,

I just absolutely love the way your questions are evolving (sure that’s a play on words).  Intelligent design has MANY definitions.  In its very broadest sense, I am an intelligent design advocate.  God is THE consummate intelligent designer.  However, in its commonly accepted form, it says that at the cellular level, the interplay of the molecular reactions are so complex that they could not have evolved piecemeal (as evolution would have us believe).  The phrase “irreducible complexity” is their mantra.  In more direct terms, the concept is that the machinations of the pieces is so complex that there is no way that each piece could have been added by evolution in small steps--lose any part of a mouse trap and it doesn’t work.  God must have inserted the operating cell intact, into His creation.  (The God of the gaps.)  Two examples have often been cited (by Michael Behe, - God’s Little Black Box), the flagellum and the immune system.  Both have excellent explanations from an evolutionary perspective.

 

Now, ID’ers are correct in arguing, “Yes, it is incredible to posit that these things have evolved by a random mechanism.”  But it is not impossible if, in fact, the propensity for them to evolve is built into God’s creation.  Again, look at my eight phenomena.  If we look at the operation of every facet of God’s creation, we find these same eight phenomena at work.   Michael and other ID’ers have missed this understanding.  If they could see it, they would be on our side.   Read my explanations.  I have given examples from each level of complexity to show that they are universal. 

 

At the same time, the atheistic evolutionists, like Dawkins have also missed seeing these eight phenomena and their examples, or if they do see them, they ignore their implications.

 

Agape, Carl 


Sent: July 05, 2011 5:08 PM 

Subject: Re: Evolution - round 2

 

Dr. Pinkham, 

I apologize that is has once again taken me so long to respond back to you. The internet service in Cancun was incredibly slow and just getting the blog and pictures up generally took over an hour. Then when I got back home, I spent most of my time helping a friend move. Once again I'm sorry about the delay.

 

I think that I now understand what is meant by theory, and I also read a good article on the plane about how Darwin showed how the Creation story points towards evolution and how it might have been understood that way back in the original context. My next question for you is if you could briefly tell me how you feel about intelligent design. I was looking on your website, and you have a paper you presented at Oxford called "Evolution is not the enemy; Intelligent Design is not the Solution." I looked at it, and it is quite long, and I'm not sure when I'm going to get around to reading it. I was thinking that you believed in Intelligent Design that led to Evolution, but it seems like I may have been mistaken. This is probably due to the fact that I am probably ignorant to what Intelligent Design is. I did notice though that you didn't say Intelligent Design is the enemy - it's just not the solution so does that mean you are ok with it or not? 

 

In Him, 

Chris,

 


Sent: Tue, June 21, 2011 9:10:07 PM

Subject: RE: Evolution - round 2

 

Chris,

Good questions but they belie an ignorance about what constitutes a law and a theory in science.  Ignorance is not a death sentence—it is what all of us have before we gain knowledge.  I was ignorant of these things at one time.  Unfortunately, some in the creationist movement know these things (or at least should know them) and still use them to promote their agenda.

 

The following is taken from a paper I wrote in 2006 for a presentation at Oxford.  I put so much thought into it at the time that I need not improve upon it.  So here it is.

 

Before going further, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by “law,” “principle,” and “theory” and “idea,” “hypothesis,” “fact” and “thesis” as they are used in science, because their proper understanding and use will bear on what follows in several places.

 

The first set of three words is applied to concepts that are widely accepted by the scientific community. A law is a way of describing reality or a limited part of reality when it can be captured in a mathematical expression, a principle can be a law, or it can be a collection of laws that are related to one another, a theory is a way of describing reality when math cannot (or the mathematical expression is so involved or complex that it has not yet been worked out in its entirety, or if it has been, most people could not comprehend it). Accepting a proposed law or principle is relatively simple. It must describe reality every time it is applied within its limits, including when that application makes predictions about outcomes. For a theory to be accepted by the scientific community, it also must be found to describe reality every time it is applied, however, a law or principle is generally accepted after a relatively few examples of its application successfully predict reality, in part because it is couched in provable or derivable formulas. A theory cannot be confirmed so easily, thus its acceptance rests upon its being able to describe reality as observed, over and over again. A theory is accepted based upon the weight of the accumulated evidence for it. There is no established number of how many times a theory must be found to describe reality or how much accumulated weight must occur before it is accepted, but it is huge (AHSD, 2005)

 

The second set of four words is applied to concepts that may be on their way to being widely accepted by the scientific community. An idea is a concept that has yet to be proven by rigorous observation or scientifically-designed tests. Often ideas begin with observations that may be anecdotal in nature and not rigorous. An hypothesis is the way of expressing an idea in a scientifically testable framework. It involves a “null” hypothesis, which states that the idea is false and a way to test that null hypothesis. A fact is an hypothesis that has been tested and its null hypothesis rejected, usually at a 0.05 confidence level (meaning the results could lead to an incorrect rejection of the null hypothesis 5% of the time). The use of “fact” is particularly warranted when that outcome is consistently produced after several replications of the test of the hypothesis. A thesis is above both a hypothesis (as the word “hypothesis” implies) and a fact. It generally encompasses a broader idea or observation than either. This broader idea has been examined numerous times in different ways under varying conditions and has stood up under these examinations each time. Nevertheless, it is subject to rejection or refinement upon further examination and testing.

 

In other words, knowledge progresses from ignorance, to idea, to hypothesis, to thesis to law or principle or theory.

 

Generally, a large number of facts and theses must be accrued before their corpus is elevated to a theory. Finally, once a theory has been widely accepted by the application of the above rigorous processes, it may even come to be referred to by the scientific community without any modifier (AHSD, 2005). For example, instead of the “theory of evolution,” it is simply referred to as “evolution.”

 

The above represents the ideal, not the real. It is not based on any single published definition, but on years of observation, application and thought. The scientific community intends these terms to be used in this way, but the difference between intent and practice is often wide and these terms frequently are used more carelessly as synonyms of one another, rather than as distinctives.

 

The last paragraph hits on one of my greatest bones of contention with my colleagues.  Almost daily I can find someone using the term “theory” for a relatively new idea he or she is proposing, when he or she should have used “thesis.”  The current state of confusion on the part of the general public is attributable almost singly to these careless lapses.

 

Agape, Carl

 

PS.  I am going to put the  entire paper prepared for Oxford on my mentiscopia.pbwiki website.  

 


Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 2:04 PM

Subject: Re: Evolution - round 2

 

Hey, 

I can definitely see where you are coming from with all of this. I did go to the ASA3 website, and I looked up some articles on Adam and printed them out. Tomorrow I am headed to Cancun with five friends so I'll read through them on the plane. I will have internet access down there so I should be able to continue to respond to you. Also, if you would like to visit our website its www.mybroadventures.com, we blog every night and post pictures as well. When I read through the other articles, I might have a few more questions on the Adam and Eve subject. To move on from there for now, why is it that evolution is still just a theory? Famed atheists and biologists such as Richard Dawkins are always quick to claim that it is "fact." If it is fact, why hasn't it become a law yet?

 

In Him, 

Chris

 


Sent: Tue, June 21, 2011 10:50:35 AM 

Subject: RE: Evolution - round 2

 

Chris,

Before I say anything else, go to http://www.asa3.org/ and type “Adam” in the Search line.  If you have not been there, I think you will find this site to be one of the most user friendly sites on the subject of Science and Faith.

 

You will find that the ASA members have a number of different answers for the question of a literal Adam.  I think your reasons for expecting that he was real are very valid.

 

Here is what I think.  Yes, there was a physical Adam and Eve.  I suspect they existed somewhere around 250-60,000 years ago (I favor the lower end of that range).  First, what was it that made Adam different from his ancestors?  We know that it wasn’t self awareness, because there is ample evidence that other animals are self-aware from gorillas to elephants.  What was different about Adam and Eve is that the connections between neurons in their brains were novel.  The novelty caused  Adam to not only know he was self-aware, but that others (e.g., Eve) was self-aware as well and that he had a responsibility to respect that self-awareness in her as much as he did in himself.  As you know, we struggle moment by moment with the battle to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.”  (Phil 2:3-4).  Failure to do just that, is sin in its naked form.  Adam’s insistence on blaming Eve is a prime example of it.  Furthermore, this novel arrangement meant that God could communicate with him and influence his thinking (clearly something that happened in the Garden).  I am convinced that there is some part of our mind (perhaps even an emergent part that is connected to our consciousness) that enables this communication to occur if the recipient is willing.  I believe this is a correct assessment partly because of the behavior of lower animals, such as that of Koko the gorilla, who responded to the question, what about those (meaning the other gorillas in her compound) with the signs for, “They are just insects.”

So how did this novel arrangement come about? Understanding the nature of evolution, I can confidently say that the egg came before the chicken.  Thus, before Adam, there was a primitive hominid father and mother.  Depending upon the nature of the mutation that led to the novel arrangement (and we now know single genes can radically influence the neural architecture of the brain), this was either a dominant mutation in the germ cells of one of Adam’s parents and it simultaneously occurred in the germ cells of one of Eve’s parents (highly unlikely-but not impossible) or it was a recessive mutation that silently accumulated in the population of Adam and Eve’s parents until it come together in both the egg and sperm of both Adam and Eve (much more likely).  In the heterozygous form (Ii), it was essentially silent.  In the homozygous recessive form (ii) it was expressed as this novel neural arrangement which would be passed on intact to all their offspring. 

 

We can assume this would confer a significant selective advantage to their offspring, which would ensure that the recessive allele quickly become dominant in the descendant population.

 

Agape, Carl

 


Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 2:42 PM
Subject: Re: Evolution

 

Hey, 

I'm going to have to add "I love Jesus and I accept Evolution" to my reading list although it's a long list at the moment so I don't know when I'll get to actually reading it. I do understand what you are saying, and it definitely seems to make sense especially with the fact that Genesis 1 talks about a metal beaten dome holding up the sky. Do you believe that there was some sort of Adam and Eve who were the first to people to be evolved into Homo sapiens? How did sin enter the world? If there wasn't an Adam, how do you deal with Jesus coming to earth to succeed where Adam failed?

 

In Him, 

Chris

 


Sent: Mon, June 20, 2011 1:30:25 PM
Subject: RE: Evolution

 

Chris,

Glad to hear back from you!

 

The creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 is not literally true.  It was not intended to be.  It is God’s reaching down to a primitive people, using their cosmology, to convey critically important spiritual truths.  This is technically called accommodation, and it is the same as your telling your 4-year old daughter (if you eventually have one) that the bees pollinate the flowers and that makes the seeds grow into new flowers as a way to help her to begin to understand the beautiful way God has enabled us to procreate our species.  It is not the truth, but it reflects the truth.

 

So what is true about the Creation story?  Much, but here are the headlines:  God created the universe out of nothing.  God created the universe in stages (He is still creating through the mechanisms He put in place at the Big Bang).  The ultimate goal of God’s creation was man who would have freedom of choice.  The choices available to man were capped by an opportunity to accept or refuse an invitation to enter into discourse with God.  And lastly, God’s creation is good!

 

I wholeheartedly embrace the accommodation explanation.  However, I would take it a bit further than most of my colleagues.  I believe, although God used the cosmology of the time (read Denis Lamoureux’s excellent book, “I Love Jesus, and I Accept Evolution,” for a very readable account of accommodation), He is fully capable of influencing that cosmology and using parts of it in Genesis that would have elements of truth that would emerge as knowledge expanded.  For example.  Isn’t it interesting that the two trees in the center of the Garden included “the Tree of Life?”  And it is exactly that phrase that we use to describe the ultimate relatedness of every living microbe, plant and animal today.  Is this a coincidence, or, was it intentionally put there by God knowing we would understand it’s meaning starting in 1859.

 

So now to your second question, why do I believe that?  There are two very good paths to follow here.

 

The first addresses the idea that every verse in the Bible is literally true.  I can understand why people want to cling to that misconception.  After all, it is easier to think that, than to think we have to work at understanding what God intends by a particular verse.  However, I am convinced God wants us to work, to use our God-given brains to research, to think, to rationalize.  If He didn’t want that, He wouldn’t have given us a Bible with parts of each spiritual truth scattered in many places throughout.  If you want to understand just the composition of the Trinity, you will have to locate and study nearly 1000 passages in the Old and New Testament.  It would have been much easier for us (and God?) if He had just given us an organized handbook.

 

The second addresses the evidence for evolution.  The evidence that evolution occurred and that the mechanism behind evolution is natural selection is overwhelming.  Creationists (the classical ones, not evolutionary creationists) try to poke holes in it, but they quote out of context, they pick parts of the truth while ignoring others, or they select isolated cases without considering the myriad of cases which support evolution.

 

In truth, Creationists do have a point: random events, by themselves can do nothing that lasts.  To expect our universe, which, as Freeman Dyson once said, “in some sense must have known we were coming,” to produce us through random processes alone, misses the point of randomness.  If it in one instant organizes molecules into something elegant, in the next moment, it can “disorganize” them.  The randomness has to play in a system where once a design is found by random mechanisms, it has such an advantage that it will be preserved.  Once you start to put caveats on the behavior of a system, you have to have an explanation for the source of these caveats.

 

Hope that answers your first round of questions.

 

Agape, Carl

 


Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 12:24 AM 

 Subject: Re: Evolution

 

Hey, 

I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you. I did look at your website, and I enjoyed looking through it and found it fascinating. The Eight Phenomena was very informative and a bit over my head but that's ok. I also took the time to read your testimony which was amazing. The ice skating incident and butterfly one are both such amazing ways that God reveals Himself to us. I can definitely tell by your testimony and the Eight Phenomena that you are a very wise Christian, and I can't wait to start picking your brain. My first question to you would be how do you look at the Creation story? Is it literal or is it figurative and why do you believe that?

 

In Him, 

Chris 

 


Sent: Mon, June 6, 2011 3:55:49 PM
Subject: RE: Evolution

 

Chris,

I always have time for this.  May I suggest you start with my website:  http://mentiscopia.pbwiki.com, and check out “Eight Phenomena That Recur Often in Cosmological, Chemical and Biological Evolution.”  That will give us both a starting point.  Another website to check out is http://ASA3.org.  I am a member of this wonderful organization along with about 1,600 other North American scientists who think as I do.

Please feel free to start a dialogue.

 

Agape, Carl

 


Sent: Monday, June 06, 2011 3:37 PM
Subject: Evolution

 

Hello Dr. Pinkham, 

I am a student at Nyack College and have your son Kevin as one of my professors. I had a discussion with him about evolution, and he told me to email you about it. I have always been taught that evolution and religion cannot mix so I'm curious to see what you have to say about it. If you do not have time for this, I completely understand. 

 

Thank you for your time, 

Chris

 

Questions from a Brother

 

Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 10:09 AM
 

 

I think I mentioned Dr. Stephen C. Meyer's book, Signature in the Cell, and his solid demonstration that "intelligent design" is demonstrable science and not "mere religion."  The numbers that he quotes as odds of an "accidental" generation of a simple cell is one in ten to the eightieth power, or the chance of finding a single, specific electron out of all the elements in the known universe.  Not good odds in anyone's book.  His main point is the thought of the vast amount of "functional information" contained in each strand of DNA having to come from an intelligent source.  The odds are too vastly against having even one functional cell emerge randomly and certainly no way for a whole integrated environment to "happen" within the same epoch of history (and pre-history).

 

The need for all of the pieces to be integrated for universal functionality and cellular functionality is my main argument in favor of a six day creations.  There is no organism that I'm aware of that could possibly function and reproduce without the whole environment in place to support and nurture its survival.  And the odds of one piece happening a billion years ago and another a million years ago and so forth would not be sustainable.  There is either integrity or dis-integrity (disintegration).  Col 1:17 & Heb 1:3

 

One of the things I really appreciate in our relationship is that we can talk to one another with civility, knowing that we each love the Lord and want to honor him in everything.  That's why I think it would be great to have you come down sometime and speak to our students about your point of view.  They simply don't have the opportunity in their classes to really discuss the differences with intellectual honesty.  The professors all shut down anything that has the slightest smell of religion or an all-powerful Creator. 

 

Thanks for your patience with me.  I hope we can speak further about this and other things that would bring glory to our Mighty God.

 

Blessings, H

 

 

H,

 

I am currently digesting Christian de Duve’s book “Vital Dust.”  (1974 Nobel Prize Laureate in Medicine for his ground-breaking research on certain organelles in cells.)  In it, he addresses your concerns.  I feel he does a mostly admirable job.  He carefully, and step-by-step takes us along the path cleared by natural selection, from the primordial chemical soup through the proto-cell to the primitive cell to the complex cell found in you and me.  Much of what he describes I am already aware of, but he also discusses some concepts I have not seen elsewhere.

 

I say  “mostly admirable” because I was surprised to see that even though he is Catholic (which may or may not be significant) and even though, like me, he feels there is very likely only one way that this could have happened and it happened by logical events that were bound to happen, he succumbs to the age-old argument against teleological thinking.   Let me explain that if you haven’t heard it before.

 

Teleological (from the Greek word, “telos,” “end or purpose”) thinking is believing that mutations (the engine of the variation on which natural selection works) have a concept of where the train is heading.  In truth, they have none.  The latter is a fundamental tenet of evolution, demonstrated every time one cares to test it.  Mutations occur randomly with respect to just about any measure you can think of.   Most are harmful, some are neutral, but a few now and again are innovative.  Natural selection removes the former, ignores the middle and favors the latter as long as their innovation affects the ability of the individual possessing such mutations to pass them on to their offspring.

 

However, what de Duve did not recognize, in spite of his referring to it again and again, is that there is a second kind of teleological thinking which must be distinguished from the first.  Let’s call the first one, described above, “teleology of the moment.”  Then let’s call the second one “teleology of the whole.”  Just because the former is wrong, doesn’t mean the latter is.

 

Evidence is piling up that there is a correct (and perhaps only one correct) way to go from a primordial soup of chemicals in a primordial ocean to you and me.  The universe follows the recipe for this soup and no others because at the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was imbued with about 20 fundamental forces, masses, and constants (and their precise values) that interact in such a way to cause the universe to combine ingredients so that the soup becomes you and me by a long series of logical, bound-to-happen, steps.  It is these steps that Steven Myer sees in their culmination that do, indeed, make the process look so implausible as to seem impossible.

 

He is mostly correct.  If they had to occur randomly, without any chance of their being a plan, then the ONLY way this could have happened was by deferring to the power of infinity-an infinity of universes or an infinite universe.  Infinity makes anything possible.  That is something many non-mathematicians don’t realize.  But if this whole process was planned (notice I do not use the subjunctive mood here-because it WAS planned), then we can justifiably be blown away by the awesomeness of the Infinite Mind that thought it all up.  As I say in my Oxford paper, Einstein once quipped “I do not believe that God plays dice with the universe.”  What he really should have said was, “I believe God plays dice with the universe, but He uses loaded dice.”

 

Now let’s look at the consequence of following the explanation followed by many scientists: the former two versions of infinity played out in our universe, or some variation thereof.  If we have to rely upon infinity in that manner, then, as a colleague of mine in the American Scientific Association, Robert Mann, pointed out, that means somewhere there must be a universe with an all-powerful, perfectly evil god in control (remember, anything is possible with infinity).  That god would be in direct conflict with ours, and since both were (now I am using the subjunctive mood) all-powerful, they would destroy each other.  Since you and I are still here, infinity in that manner, as an explanation for what we see, seems pretty flimsy.

 

I would take it even one argument further.  If scientists insist upon falling back on infinity to explain what we all see, then there also has to be a universe with an everlasting, all-powerful, loving God who created that universe with the sole intent of generating intelligent beings via natural processes that would have “natural” explanations.  Because they do, these processes wouldn’t prove God, thus leaving room for choice between these natural explanations and the supernatural one.  Thus the gift of faith by grace is available to allow those free agents created by this process, to experience God’s love now and forever of their own free will.  If that is so, how can these scientists be sure they are not in THAT universe?

 

Those are the succinct (or perhaps not so succinct) thoughts behind my deep conviction.  I am not saying you are wrong in yours, I am saying I think there is another way of understanding the evidence.

 

Agape, Carl

 

PS, I really am blown away by our God when He gets in my head as I write these things.  Mutation trains and soup recipes are not the way I normally think. I recognize those thoughts as His.

 

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