How much did God affect evolution? continued

(Chris) #1

Continuing the discussion from How much did God affect evolution?:


In this Behe identifies a number of mutations as being adaptive gain of function, so I was wrong to suggest (all?).

However one of those he identified as adaptive gain of functional coded element is Sickle Cell Trait. While this might be a gain in the definition Behe used it still produces a faulty hemoglobin which is detrimental but has a net benefit only when the malaria parasite is present, and only when at low frequency in the population, otherwise the detriment then outweighs the benefits.

Some other gain of function results were when part of an existing gene was deleted experimentally and the gain was full or partial recovery of the original function. This provided a substantial gain of function within reach rather than a random search for a gain of function.

Overall Behe’s conclusion is

This reasoning can be concisely stated as what I call “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”:

Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.

It is called a “rule” in the sense of being a rule of thumb. It is a heuristic, useful generalization, rather than a strict law; other circumstances being equal, this is what is usually to be expected in adaptive evolution.

(George Brooks) #2


Behe is the King of “loss of function”. So if you are going to declare an academically weak conclusion (“gee, lots of mutations lead to Loss of Function”), in opposition to Behe, you really don’t have anything important to discuss.

ADDENDUM: Ultimately, if a creature has been living in a certain environment for millions of years, there are not going to be many mutations left unexplored. It is when global or regional climates change, old rival species go extinct, or new rival species emerge, that suddenly mutations become relevant and even important.

So, how exactly is it that you can explain why a population of a species that is trying to survive changes in its environment would actually want to keep a full inventory of functions and forms that are not helping any more?

Terrestrial Tetrapods with full-blown sets of gills still wrapped around it’s throat?

Whales with fully articulated arms and legs… slowing down its ability to hunt squid or to avoid Great Whites during its adolescence?

Marsupials that lose the ability to live as omnivores when they specialize to become hunters… when it is the shortage of a specific vegetation that drives the species to begin to hunt the better suited vegetarians who are creating the shortage?

What have you paid the moderators here that you can keep repeating the same irrelevancies for weeks on end?


How much did God affect evolution?

Is God done affecting evolution? If so, how was this determined? If gain of function mutations did happen in the past, as Behe seems to claim, then why shouldn’t they also be happening in the present?

(George Brooks) #4


Are you losing track of your frame of reference? Look at the “What we believe” section of BioLogos.Org (now also called, helpfully, the “Our Mission” page!):

[5] We believe that God is directly involved in the lives of people today through acts of redemption, personal transformation, and answers to prayer.

[6] We believe that God typically sustains the world using faithful, consistent processes that humans describe as “natural laws.” Yet we also affirm that God works outside of natural law in supernatural events, including the miracles described in Scripture. In both natural and supernatural ways, God continues to be directly involved in creation and in human history.

[7] We believe that the methods of science are an important and reliable means to investigate and describe the world God has made. In this, we stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom Christian faith and science are mutually hospitable. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Materialism and Scientism that claim science is the sole source of knowledge and truth, that science has debunked God and religion, or that the physical world constitutes the whole of reality.

[8] We believe that God created the universe, the earth, and all life over billions of years. God continues to sustain the existence and functioning of the natural world, and the cosmos continues to declare the glory of God. Therefore, we reject ideologies such as Deism that claim the universe is self-sustaining, that God is no longer active in the natural world, or that God is not active in human history.

[9] We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent. Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes. Therefore, we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God.

I understand the desire to put aside some of Prof. Behe’s rhetoric. But I think it is clear that Behe’s most vulnerable positions are not his view about God’s role … but his position that science can detect God’s operations to fulfill God’s role.

(Chris) #5

But I don’t see anything in [5]-[9] that says science can’t detect God’s operations in nature, including evolution. Do you accept that we can detect God’s operations in history? If so, then why not evolution?

I don’t see that “gee, lots of mutations lead to Loss of Function” is in opposition to Behe. Nor do I see that as an academically weak position. Your ADDENDUM seems to be arguing for widespread loss of function.

I’ll let the moderators answer that.

Perhaps they saw that I was modifying my previous position in the light of new evidence* and thought it was reasonable to allow me to do that.
(* new to me, although the paper is several years old, and from a “real” peer reviewed journal.)

(Christy Hemphill) #6

Chris is paying us double what BioLogos pays us.


LOL! Follow the money.

(Chris) #8

@Christy, you’re worth every penny.

(Phil) #9

CV[quote=“aarceng, post:5, topic:39767”]
But I don’t see anything in [5]-[9] that says science can’t detect God’s operations in nature, including evolution. Do you accept that we can detect God’s operations in history? If so, then why not evolution?

I think that is an excellent question Chris. My knee jerk answer is that even detecting God’s operations in history requires both faith, and a belief that you know God’s intent. Faith in God, and his power to intervene in history is obviously necessary, but you also must be able to look at history, and say that God’s will was served and the outcome was ordered by his intervention. It may be easy to see that in biblical history, but is more difficult outside of the biblical text. The default view of many who lean Calvinist is say whatever happened or will happen is God’s expressed will, which of course ends any discussion.
When you turn to part two of the question, as to why can we not see God’s operation in evolution: Again my knee jerk reaction is to reply that is is because God’s operations are not part of the process of evolution, and would not be expected to seen. It would be a similar question to ask why can we not see God’s hand in auto mechanics? Certainly, I have prayed that my car would get me to my destination despite its shortcomings, but would be hard pressed to show how God intervened to get me there and proving it. Yet, I feel God kept the tires intact that night as a teenager when I thought I would see how fast my car would go with a car full of kids. (It was really fast, by the way, with the speedometer bouncing around 140 in that old '66 Chevelle SS). In much the same way, I feel God’s will is expressed though evolution, but would not expect it to be manifest objectively, and in fact it would surprise me if it could be shown.
What do you think? Can you give a non-biblical example of God’s action in history that is verifiable?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

That was YOU???

[just kidding of course … I’m glad you’re all okay. By God’s grace we’re all still here - those of us that are allowed to survive, anyway. I have my own memory of being a passenger on my friend’s motorcycle on a two-lane highway going about 120mph and passing cars like they were standing still. But hey - I remember that we were wearing helmets for all the good that would have done! Is this why we want to lock our own children in the house and never let them out till they’re 30?]

(George Brooks) #11


The issue of detecting God’s operation per science is an epistemology issue. It comes down to how we know things. In science, we know things by controlling for the “Independent Variable”!

So if I agree 100% with I.D. people that God designed everything in the Universe … what is left to disagree about? What is left is whether God’s design can be detectable by science: in other words, for science to work in this case, we would have to be able to control the variable of God! God would have to be the independent variable.

This is no less than what the Christian Alchemists of old thought was possible, from John Dee (the original “007”) to Isaac Newton! They thought if they could invoke God or His angels, then they could progress further in their knowledge of science. Alas, they were never able to press their claim to fruition … because Angels don’t seem to be interested in being invoked in experiments.

The ID camp might be able to demonstrate that life on earth was brought here, per the Prometheus movie concept, of an ancient alien race of of engineers… because it is conceivable that variables can be controlled for extra-terrestrials. But if you are skeptical of even this possibility, imagine how impossible it would be to try to control for God in any experiment you can imagine!!!

@aarceng, I was referring to your dismissing cases where even Behe was willing to see a mutation as a net gain in function. So it is you who is sometimes in opposition to Behe. My own viewpoint is that you can’t expect a creature to adapt fully to a new environment … WITHOUT losing an old function.

You don’t expect tetrapods that emerged from water to retain their gills do you? Do we say that snakes are “corrupted” forms of reptiles because they don’t have legs?

“Losing Function” is rather irrelevant to the whole concept of Evolution.

(George Brooks) #12


Wow… really? TWICE? I bet he is putting it in a bigger box than BioLogos does too! :smiley:

(George Brooks) #13


My own answer would be “not a one”… but this doesn’t stop us from being convinced by non-scientific evidence.

I think this is what is confusing @aarceng !


I was under the impression that not everyone in the world agrees with those statements.

(George Brooks) #15


Have you ever considered the possibility that having Atheists hanging around the front porch of a Christian establishment is maybe not the best advertising?


Then I guess I won’t post here anymore.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #17

@gbrooks9 going around telling people like @T_aquaticus that your kind aren’t welcome in these parts will not be tolerated.

(George Brooks) #18


My comments are not intended to tell @T_aquaticus he isn’t welcome. My comments were and are intended to get him to do a little soul-searching for what he writes on these boards.

I have, and still do, consider “T” to be one of the “Good Atheists”. He has been an asset to the BioLogos discussion for years.

But lately, he seems to be spending more time challenging the the beliefs of Christians that are well within the normal range for our Christian brothers. Certainly I have been known to do the very same. Unitarian Universalists are not exactly “mainstream” in the view of a great many Christians.

But on issues involving God’s role in creation, I have always striven (and I think successfully so) to make the distinction between “endorsing God’s role in creation” vs. “asserting that Science can detect God’s role in creation”.

@T_aquaticus, like me, is capable of producing quite a volume of postings… and when a frequent poster starts spending more and more of his time defending what is sometimes called “Godless Evolution” or “Darwinist Evolution”, it can start to unintentionally confuse many of the readers.

By confusion, I don’t mean they don’t know what they are reading. By confusion I mean readers start to associate BioLogos, or any other Pro-Evolution voice on a religiously-oriented forum, with the view that “God just doesn’t do evolution”.

Just so we are clear, and in order to deprive the rumor mills of some new “urban myth”… I did not say “his kind are not welcome”.

I said: “Have you ever considered the possibility that having Atheists hanging around the front porch of a Christian establishment is maybe not the best advertising?”

Point One: The use of the phrase “front porch” was intentional - - ordinarily, nobody knows who might be an Atheist. Presumably this is probably best. And so stepping inside in the intimate surroundings of BioLogos makes good sense. But standing around the very ENTRANCE of BioLogos, making the typical Atheist Pose on something as crucial as Evolution, is probably not the most helpful “stance” to so consistently assume.

Point Two: Maybe BioLogos is not a place where worrying about “best advertising” has much merit. But that is a merit. And I would expect that someone with a good heart like @T_aquaticus would want to lessen the “psychological burden” he can add to his discussion - - not for my sake, but for the sake of BioLogos.

Point Three. For the longest time, @T_aquaticus was virtually indistinguishable in his discussions on Evolution except in those threads where he explicitly pointed out the distinctions held by an Atheist vs. a Theist supporter of Evolution. So, just when did Mr. T buy his leather jacket, and scarf that says “God is Dead” that he ties so perfectly around his neck?

But in conclusion, @pevaquark, seeing your reaction, I can see the value of stepping back from that anxious line in the sand that you are pointing to. I’ll avoid using phrases and wordings that look or feel like the last one in future postings.

(Phil) #19

Try to put up with George, @T_aquaticus, we love you and have a wonderful plan for your life. :wink:
Seriously, I avoid discussions where I agree with everyone, as you can never learn from them, so keep up the good work. I just saw a quote on Facebook that may apply:
“I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them.”

----- President George H.W. Bush, reflecting on how the educated mind can hold two conflicting ideas at the same time.

(George Brooks) #20

I just saw this posting, @T_aquaticus… and didn’t realize this is part of what @pevaquark was taking issue regarding.

This is a bit melodramatic for you, isn’t it @T_aquaticus? What happened to the Good Atheist who could speak with Creationists in almost the same voice as Pro-Evolutionist Christians?

Do you really think it was my intent for you to stop posting? Just in case you are confused, it was certainly not my intent.

My intent was to enlist your help in clearing up the air waves here, and encourage you to speak more to the issue of how Theists can embrace Evolution - - rather than to convince Creationists that the best way to understand Evolution is to assume a Godless stance.

Is this really so difficult for you nowadays?

@jpm, thank you for your compassion in this rather awkward “mess” in which I currently I find myself!