Ann Gauger's latest salvo against Dennis Venema's arguments against an original pair of human beings

J Clearly you are unaware that I have always strongly believed in, and continue to defend, a historical Adam and Eve.
A Well, I for one don’t think the origin of the human body is already certain and proved. So it doesn’t seem out of date to me.
J But your opinion is irrelevant when contrasted with the overwhelming scientific evidence

Bless you, Jonathan. You bring a hammer to swat a fly. If theologians teaching theology is dictating to science, then the reverse is true also. But we are in no danger of theologians dictating to science in the Catholic Church. Far from it. Plus, I was making a joke–very bad, but a joke none the less. I had a mental image of Madame Curie and Mother Teresa in a suburban classroom together. I am sure they would be polite to each other. Remember Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur and Georges LeMaitre, all scientists and Catholics?
And last but not least, we agree with each other about the historicity of Adam. It’s just that you don’t like my reason for agreeing with you. And the bolded statement you made above, if true, cuts against your belief as well as mine.

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@gbrooks9 > Additionally, suppose the designer placed into the cell some other systems for which we cannot adduce enough evidence to conclude design.

What does the rest of the paragraph say? Note the word suppose. The paragraph is an argument for why pseudogenes might just be the product of damage due to age, and not the product of evolution. He sets up an imaginary scenario to make his point.

He talks about Evolution vs. De-vollution - - which is a totally bogus concept.

So bogus the Quarterly Review of Biology published it!

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@agauger

His imaginary scenario is ridiculous. But, following @Bilbo’s assertion, I am now looking for more sensible scenarios in another of his books…

Perhaps you could tell me what page “devolution” is included? I did a search and could find no
"De-vo…", “Devolu…” or any other combination…

Oh, yes, I’m well aware of it. I was a teacher in Texas. But “teach the controversy” is a work-around solution that fails for practical reasons. Don’t get me started …

I’m not blaming the victim. But I’m willing to start assigning some blame, if you want me to go there. I can show you hard data about the number of victims of the Culture Wars. The Millennial generation is abandoning the church in record numbers. The data says that the cause is the Culture Wars. Dave Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, spells it out pretty well in You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith. I won’t connect the dots for you. That would be impolite. But I would encourage all organizations whose sole purpose is to fight the Culture War to lay down their arms. Even if they are laboring with the best of intentions, the results show that their efforts have been counterproductive.

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Document this. And not from an anti-ID site, but from a legitimate, disinterested site. Our policy is stated very clearly. We do NOT recommend teaching ID in public schools.
"

Ever since Darwin on Trial, the ID movement has campaigned to paint “methodological naturalism” as a conspiracy to keep God out of science (and, by implication, the classroom).

Methodological naturalism is a particular view of the world, that claims there are only matter and energy in the world. It is a purely materialistic philosophy. No room for belief in God there. So you think that should be the philosophy that science uses? Then what are you doing here on a predominantly Christian site?

Hi Dr. Gauger,

I think you’re confusing methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism.

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Ann, if you really did intend methodological naturalism in that statement, and that’s not just a typo for metaphysical naturalism, I’d be very curious to know why you think methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism are equivalent.

But, it’s probably just a typo.

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Perhaps you could tell me what page “devolution” is included?

No I can’t. It’s not his word. He doesn’t talk about devolution in the paper I linked to. He talked about gain of function and loss of function mutations. He shows that many mutations that are beneficial, i.e. provide some advantage in competing for food or resources, and allow faster growth, are loss of function mutations. Something gets deleted or broken because it is unnecessary at the moment, or it is an energy hog, and suddenly the cell bearing that mutation grows faster.

I can give you many examples from my own work, but this is the most striking. Yeast cells grown for generations under conditions that promote asexual reproduction, will delete their own genes for sexual reproduction.

Call it devolution if you want.

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I think you’re confusing methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism.

Probably so. Not a philosopher. Just tired of the hateful rhetoric.

But, it’s probably just a typo.

Hi Dennis. A mistake made out of frustration. Glad to see you.

Ann

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I lived through the textbook wars in Texas. I worked for a publisher in Dallas that employed several former Probe Ministries employees. Let’s not go down that road. It gets ugly fast. As I just said to a friend of Discovery in an email:

My only point to Discovery is that they would still have the same mission and goals if they dropped their political agenda. They could still promote ID. They could still produce educational materials and curricula for Christian and other private schools. They could still fund research and books. I think they would even receive a warmer welcome from most quarters, even if they never win over the atheist intelligentsia.

I am not being partisan when I say that the data shows that the Culture War has done more damage than good. That is an objective statement. In short, I think it’s time for the organization to rethink its strategy, if nothing else. They could drop the controversial political aspects and come out ahead in the long run, in my judgment. But, I don’t get a vote …

This is another long conversation, but as for my personal view it goes something like this:

The biblical picture of reality is a division between the seen and the unseen, or the physical and the spiritual, if you will. As far as causation, the biblical authors had no problem attributing effects to both a spiritual and a physical cause, simultaneously. They certainly understood clouds and weather patterns and rain, being an agricultural society, yet Jesus could say that God causes his rain to fall on the good and evil alike. (I’ll forego other examples for the sake of brevity.) Thus, viewed through a biblical lens, all events may be considered to have simultaneous causes — spiritual and physical, two sides of the same coin that we call “reality”. (Of course, such a view requires one to agree that God controls and governs and sustains all things, which many Arminians and Christians of a philosophical bent are unwilling to do, but that’s another question….)

Now, I don’t think many folks have actually thought through the implications of such a view, because it renders most of the discussion moot. The evolutionary process was entirely under God’s control, so I can say without reservation or equivocation that God created all life, even (and especially) mankind. Simultaneously, I can explain the evolutionary process purely in terms of physical causes, just as I can explain the hurricane in Houston by a purely physical description. Both the spiritual and the physical explanation are true.

This is also why methodological naturalism is perfectly legitimate, in my opinion. I see no reason to insist that every investigation and explanation of a physical process must somehow take into account a spiritual cause. Again, if we believe that all events have God as a cause, then we may simply assume his involvement at every step in the process and concentrate our efforts on understanding the purely physical causes.

You have been very gracious and patient. I hope you stick around.

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Two part response:

I am not being partisan when I say that the data shows that the Culture War has done more damage than good. That is an objective statement. In short, I think it’s time for the organization to rethink its strategy, if nothing else. They could drop the controversial political aspects and come out ahead in the long run, in my judgment. But, I don’t get a vote …

What do you mean by the culture war? And what do you mean by damage? What data shows it has done more harm than good? I am genuinely asking, because I want to understand. It is like we are both standing in front of the same window and seeing different views.

This is also why methodological naturalism is perfectly legitimate, in my opinion. I see no reason to insist that every investigation and explanation of a physical process must somehow take into account a spiritual cause. Again, if we believe that all events have God as a cause, then we may simply assume his involvement at every step in the process and concentrate our efforts on understanding the purely physical causes

Thank you for the kind words. I can deal with most things, except sneering.

I appreciate the beauty of your explanation. Transcendence and immanence together, with God upholding all things. My only difficulty is, what do you say when there is no sufficient physical cause? Do you allow for guidance? Then we are not far apart.

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Hi Ann,

I am truly sorry for the atmosphere of distrust and aggression that seemed to weave through some of the posts. Thank you and others for working through this.

My perspective (and potentially a little bit different than Jay’s) of the culture war is this:

  • use of political, religious and other forces to promote and secure advantages for viewpoints and organizations typically of the Evangelical - Protestant Capitalism alliance

  • this is seen through prioritization of issues and rights predominant to evangelical Christians and allies (teach the controversy, LBGTQ rights, feminism, BLM)

-this is also the forcing of certain values upon common institutions such that it causes real and perceived harm (opposition of safety net, social medicine, public science, egalitarian marriages, human rights)

This leads a modern millennial and especially the younger generation to perceive Christianity through an Evangelical lens as the following:

  • supports bootstrap politics (pick yourself up and idolize success of the individual)
  • supports identity politics and is allied to right wing Western political organizations rather than transcending culture
  • supports greed and power of the few (corporations and elite as honored job creators with no recourse for wrongdoing or conversations about sharing power)
  • opposes science (global warming and evolution as the prime examples)
  • opposes human rights (LBGQ communities and measures to increase equality for minorities and women)
  • opposes egalitarian marriage (not all but many still either support or have strong elements of complementarianism which I am not decrying just saying this is part of the perception)
  • opposes evidence-based policy such as changing our approach to mental health, gender, identity, drugs, addiction, crime, schooling (lots of blame but this is a vocal group stunting these efforts)
  • supports life but is pro-war and does not support children after birth especially the poor to the degree that they need it and then does not advocate measures proven to reduce abortion
  • reinforces these and others, exports them to other countries, and tries to legislate them

Now a young Christian thinks they have to choose between science and the bible, generosity and care for all and the bible, equality and the bible, and other false dichotomies not to mention interpretation issues, hell, and the general difficulty of it all. These burdens are causing a lot of actual stress and harm.

I have teenagers afraid of rejection from their families and churches for not agreeing with these viewpoints and the cognitive dissonance is real for many young people in church. They want a faith that transcends and challenges and brings people to life in Christ and not reinforces the old especially with all of its defects and proxy wars.

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Hi Ann,

I’ve been mostly lurking on this thread. I mostly wanted to echo the encouragement that someone offered earlier that your grace is uncommon. It’s clear you’re here to pursue truth alongside us as a sibling in Christ and not to grind an ax. It is refreshing, and it is noticed. Bless you for that.

Secondly, I wanted to echo and complement what others are saying here… There really is a world of difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical or ontological naturalism. I’m not sure anyone who believes in metaphysical or ontological naturalism can truly be a Christian. But Christians can be methodological naturalists — this just means that for purposes of scientific inquiry, as a methodology for a specific purpose in a specific context, we bracket off the supernatural causes and say, let’s see how we can explain this from a naturalistic perspective. As Jay emphasized, this does not mean that we believe supernatural causes for these same don’t exist (that would be metaphysical or ontological). It merely means that we don’t think positing them is properly part of the method that we’re using (hence methodological).

I would go further to say that there are some — I believe even some here on the Forum — who would not rule out a priori the possibility that evidence for detectable intelligent design could exist, but who would say that they haven’t seen convincing evidence of irreducible complexity themselves and so it’s something they’re agnostic about for the moment. Such folks (I might count myself in this bunch) would continue to use methodological naturalism for scientific inquiry until it’s been demonstrated to have failed.

As a lurker here, thanks again for your thoughtful and irenic engagement with our at times testy crowd. You are a credit to your movement, and your presence significantly enriches our echo chamber. =)

Best,
AMW

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You must be joking. Are you the only one who’s never heard of it? If you seriously want a reply, I can give one ad nauseum, but I don’t really think that is necessary. The Culture War has entered the vernacular. Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Forum rules prohibit me from getting into politics, so just play along with me as if you know what I mean. :wink:

I’m guessing that you only are viewing replies directed toward you. Here is what I said earlier (and WHY do I keep quoting MYSELF? Am I a narcissist? Should I run for President!?):

I would be glad to share data and resources with you, if you wish. Start another thread or send me a PM with your email address. I promise not to bite. A recent BioLogos blog post may explain a bit more for you, though:

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I personally find some ID arguments very persuasive.

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I am sorry for junking up the thread with multiple posts, but I somehow missed this part of your reply. But the good news is, God was in control of that, too! haha

I was just discussing this with my wife. Methodological Naturalism is the way that we operate every day. I see no reason to make an exception for scientists.

It is only in exceptional cases that we resort to spiritual causes. For example, suppose that I hear a sound at the door. I open the door and look around, but see no observable cause. Do I walk away saying, God knocked on the door? No. I say, I don’t know what caused that sound. That’s how I usually answer when there is no sufficient cause.

On the other hand, if I open the door and see that my screen door is unlatched and the wind is blowing, I assign a physical cause without giving the Lord a second thought. (The Lord forgives me every second of every day, for the most part.) That is how science operates. I do the same.

But let’s take the opposite case. I hear a sound and see no physical cause, but while I’m puzzling it out, I spy a toddler in the road. Since I’m a Christian, I see God’s hand in this. A materialist still might call it coincidence, and I couldn’t reason him/her out of that belief. But almost all human beings, universally, would see a spiritual cause in the incident. Reason plays no part in it. We are wired a certain way, but denied certain evidence. (Cue Pascal quote …)

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Secondly, I wanted to echo and complement what others are saying here… There really is a world of difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical or ontological naturalism. I’m not sure anyone who believes in metaphysical or ontological naturalism can truly be a Christian. But Christians can be methodological naturalists — this just means that for purposes of scientific inquiry, as a methodology for a specific purpose in a specific context, we bracket off the supernatural causes and say, let’s see how we can explain this from a naturalistic perspective. As Jay emphasized, this does not mean that we believe supernatural causes for these same don’t exist (that would be metaphysical or ontological). It merely means that we don’t think positing them is properly part of the method that we’re using (hence methodological).

Thanks AMW. I do understand the difference between the two terms, but thank you for clarifying for me again. Purely and simply, I made a mistake, probably because I was posting in the car, while waiting for my honorary granddaughter to be picked up from daycare, and because I was more than a little irritated by the post in question. I will probably never make this mistake again (though there is no guarantee at my age).

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Please forgive my insulting your intelligence! We all have forgetful moments (at any age!).

You must be joking. Are you the only one who’s never heard of it? If you seriously want a reply, I can give one ad nauseum, but I don’t really think that is necessary. The Culture War has entered the vernacular. Everyone knows what I’m talking about.

A few things:

  1. So you know, I have already ordered the book you discussed from (about?) the Barna Group. I do want to understand.
  2. I am a 64 year old with a 21 year old daughter. I have to ask her to interpret for me some times.
    3.From the “other” side of the culture war, we have a different explanation for why kids leave the faith. Bear in mind, I am not evangelical, so I don’t come from the same cultural background. However, I started out my Christian life as an evangelical–I just didn’t grow up in it. So I can envision how kids might react. And we have data to back our reasons up too.
  3. When you say stop fighting the Culture Wars, how does that work? Some of the things on Daniel’s list will not be accepted on my side. Sad but true.

I got into this because I wanted to show young people the glory of Creation, and how it pointed toward God, not away. It sounds like that may be part of your motivation too.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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