Creating Information Naturally, Part 1: Snowflakes, Chess, and DNA


(Mervin Bitikofer) #21

I like reading Gould – yet another author who did a great job popularizing science at a lay level. His “punctuated equilibrium” has been latched onto by some creationists as a concession to the weakness of the fossil record on this. -Which is only partially true. Gould himself expressed frustration at being quoted by creationists in this way because they were only telling part of the story. Yes, fossils are hard to come by that showcase transitions in between species, but this in no way refutes the abundance of transitional fossils found between larger groups (and this is when Gould was still alive). In short, whenever a new transition fossil is claimed, anti-evolutionists will instead insist that it represents a new species --now with two smaller gaps to fill rather than the larger prior one. And in this way they can neatly avoid ever having to concede that any gaps are gone - because, indeed, they keep multiplying them (and the extant “species”).

But don’t take my word for it. There is much good reading on this (and from Christian authors – I shouldn’t have pushed Dawkins at you so hastily without knowing your situation). Here is a recent article by a Christian who is an expert in whale evolution. And if you follow the link he gives near the top, you can see another Biologos article giving details about known specifics of whale evolution that involve multiple transitional forms. Both articles are worth reading and helpful toward clearing away misconceptions.

It is true that the fossil record can only give us “snapshots” (albeit many of them now!). But it is not true that any evolutionist has ever thought or proposed that evolution works like this. There are saltational changes, yes. But the “hopeful monster” hypothesis (or the huge sudden leaps) are a caricature of how evolution is alleged to have worked according to some creationists, but they are attacking a non-existent “mechanism”, since no evolutionary scientists proposes that evolution works this way.


(Lynn Munter) #22

How much of the fossil evidence have you actually looked at? Because there are museums full of missing links. It’s true that Gould proposed punctuated equilibrium, but ‘drastically’ is hyperbolic—as is ‘in a few generations.’ It’s categorically false to say “we don’t have any evidence of the small jumps in between.”


(George Brooks) #23

@Ashwin_s,

Well, naturally, God left behind a robust trail of indicators that while “miraculously” selecting specific mutations and changes in ecosystems, God used evolution to actually prepare his array of life on Earth.

It would be analogous to God choosing the day for it to rain, and producing the miraculous circumstances that would invoke sufficient evaporation and condensation so that rain would happen.


(George Brooks) #24

@Ashwin_s

It’s all about probability when you discuss things with an Atheist.

It’s not at all about probability when “God guides Evolution”. Some things God does by miraculous engagement… other things by natural law.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #25

22 posts were split to a new topic: Whales did (NOT) evolve


(Ashwin S) #30

Hi Lynn,

I have replied to Mervin. You can refer to that answer.

Logically speaking, we should get actual ancestor species that are a perfect fit if evolution is true. Not a lot of “cousins” without the actual ancestor.
These are all real difficulties and we should not try to sweep them under the carpet.


(Ashwin S) #31

Hi Brooks,

I get your point. However, if I understand biologos correctly, the claim is that evolution happened by natural processes that God setup… and does not involve God doing anything supernatural outside the first act of setting up the universe in a particular way.
So, probabilities as seen in the natural world does play a part.


(George Brooks) #32

@Ashwin_s

And so it is that you do NOT understand BioLogos, or its mission statements.

You seem to want to describe God-Guided-Evolution" as some kind of deism. This is dead wrong.

While there are some BioLogos supporters who think all miraculous events can ultimately be traced to their being a cryptic expression of God’s order… it is more usual to find supporters who believe God engages with the cosmos by means of natural processes…AND also by means of the miraculous.

For some, invoking a specific mutation would be expected of God if the natural methods for creating that mutation would take too long on its own (from 1 second too long to 1 million years too long … and so forth).


(Phil) #33

First, let me welcome you to the forum, @Ashwin_s. I see you joined 4 days ago and I have not had the opportunity to greet you. We appreciate your input and look forward to getting to know you better here on our little corner of the internet.

Regarding this statement, I think George expressed my thoughts well. I might add that Biologos is a “big tent” and some may have this deist bent who are here, but the majority here embrace the sustaining power and presence of God throughout all creation and nature. Just don’t ask how it happens, 'cause we don’t know. At least I do not pretend to do so. It is sort of an interesting world in Christian creationism, with a lot of variety.


#34

Hopefully after George’s and Phil’s reply you have a better understanding of the BioLogos position, if you can call a big tent a position. I apply God’s Providence to evolution. Providence is a firmly established principle in scripture. It applies to evolution just as it does to other natural processes, such as rain. God causes, or not causes as the case may be, rain to fail as He desires. We understand the natural process of rainfall but I believe God is still in control. Even if I don’t know exactly how He does this.


(Ashwin S) #35

Hi JPM (Phil) @Bill_II, @gbrooks9
Thanks for the welcome.
To be honest, evolutionary creationism sounds like an oxymoron if it actually refers to a theistic God. (I believe the God of the Bible is clearly theistic).
Even a cursory check of what evolution means will tell us that it is talking about “random” processes. Why use the word evolution if the process is not random? Isn’t design more appropriate? After all non-random processes are designed processes. Part of my work involves designing manufacturing processes… and though I use the laws of nature through machines, the process itself is thoroughly designed and the changes achieved are based on my/the companies designated purposes.
Animal breeding is another example. No one calls the results of animal hybridisation, evolution. Even though biological processes are used, the use of non-random methods makes it impossible and misleading to call such a process evolution.
The existence of a mind and purpose behind a process means design… and obviously cannot mean evolution.
Hence my confusion.


(Lynn Munter) #36

Don’t dismiss quite so hastily; it can still be an intermediate form without being a direct ancestor, even if it dates to after a point of divergence. How? Because of punctuated equilibrium, we know sometimes a population changes relatively fast and sometimes hardly seems to change at all. A fossil might represent a later generation of a common ancestor, without having changed much from what we would expect that common ancestor to look like, so in that sense they can be extremely useful to study.

Well, first of all, we do get a few actual ancestor species. But hang on. Who decides what “a perfect fit” is? Based on how evolution works, we certainly wouldn’t expect to see every characteristic halfway between the measurements of the descendants. For example, in our own evolutionary past, our lower bodies evolved for bipedal walking significantly before our brains and diets changed much.

But we don’t just expect to see varying rates of change; we also expect occasional traits that are not passed down to descendant species because they are lost. Does this disqualify a species from being a “perfect fit?” No, of course not!

But how do we tell if traits that don’t seem to ‘fit’ were lost after being present in the direct line, or evolved in a side branch that never left descendants? Well…we just can’t really tell. Unless there are a lot of traits that would have been difficult to ‘lose,’ we just have to guess. So nobody calls anything a direct ancestor most of the time, because it’s so difficult to know for sure, not because we don’t have any good examples!

Additionally, have you ever looked at a really thorough family tree? Most of what you’ll find on it is actually cousins, assuming they haven’t been edited out.


(Phil) #37

I think that is fertile ground for discussion, and I can understand your confusion, as I do not think it is a clear separation myself. Biblically, we see God working through what we call random processes. Proverbs 16:33 We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.
We see lots cast in a couple of New Testament writings, to determine Judas’ replacement, and to determine which path to take for Paul, if memory serves. Also, there is a post where N. T. Wright discusses the parable of the the casting of seed which seems a random process.
Anyway, it is sort of fuzzy how God works through a seemingly random process, but none the less, I believe he does.
I smile a bit about your example of how animal and plant breeding is not considered evolution. It is sort of interesting how we tend to place human endeavor outside of nature, rather than being a part of nature. I wonder how a an alien evolutionary scientist studying our solar system would view it.


(Ashwin S) #40

Hi Phil,
I do believe that there is room for randomness or at least seeming randomness in the universe.
However, I doubt the lots cast in the NT were random. Peter did it under the direction of the holy Spirit and the result was controlled by God.
As to proverbs 16:33,
I take it to mean that God is in charge of all events on earth and nothing happens by chance. However I don’t go around throwing dies or flipping coins to make decisions :slight_smile:… because I don’t thinks that’s what the proverb is telling me to do. It’s not about randomness so much as God’s level of control/design.


(Phil) #42

Agreed. Indeed, I have come to realize that the same is true of just about everything in the bible. It is not about (creation, cosmology, Job, wisdom, or whatever else we fill in the blank with) but is about God.


#43

The ancestral group and transitional species would include cousins that aren’t direct ancestors of any living species.

“In looking for the gradations by which an organ in any species has been perfected, we ought to look exclusively to its lineal ancestors; but this is scarcely ever possible, and we are forced in each case to look to species of the same group, that is to the collateral descendants from the same original parent-form, in order to see what gradations are possible, and for the chance of some gradations having been transmitted from the earlier stages of descent, in an unaltered or little altered condition.”–Charles Darwin, “Origin of Species”

A more modern example would be the platypus which is transitional between reptiles and placental mammals but isn’t a direct ancestor of any living placental mammal.


#44

As defined in biology evolution does assume random processes. Just like meteorologists assume rain fall is the result of a random process. Just like the outcome of throwing dice is a random number. Science is always based on the assumption that the result is natural not supernatural. The providence of God can not be proven using the scientific method but it is assumed based on what we are told in the Bible.

So as a Evolutionary Creationist I believe there is an intelligent designer behind evolution, but this is taken on “faith” as there is no way to show evidence of this designer. Just like there is no way to show evidence for God’s direction in a rain shower.


(Ashwin S) #45

Hi ,

I think the context of this quote is with respect to organisms alive now. It doesn’t make sense to apply to fossil evidence.
ESP when the claim is that the fossils are of intermediate species.


#46

When we say that fossils are transitional or intermediate forms we are saying that they they have a mixture of features from two different groups. It is not a statement about direct ancestry. It applies to all species, living and extinct.


(Ashwin S) #47

Hi Bill,

Isn’t it an assumption to say there is no way to show evidence of the designer?
The Bible assumes that the designer is self evident.
Romans 1: 18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of those who in their wickedness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God himself has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse.

As per the Bible, the only way people do not give Glory to God for his creation is through a suppression of the truth(knowingly or unknowingly).

So why do you feel God’s nature/power cannot be understood through the study of his creation?