The fossil record fits best with progressive creation


I apologise for my “silly and ungracious” comments and I’m sorry I offended you.


Okay, I can accept that. Thank you very much. I now have no theological objection to the God-guided evolution of non-human creatures. However, this doesn’t mean I will necessarily abandon my progressive creation model, although it does mean I can now entertain two possibilities


I thought you were going to explain to me how the common ancestry of humans and certain primates has proven useful in fighting the ebola virus, but nothing has been forthcoming. How disappointing.


You make some valid points. Thank you.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #387

In a funny twist, I think that the common ancestry of ERV insertions actually helps us fight off various viral infections in the present sense. Will provide sources if anyone requested otherwise will just state as likelely true.

(Mark D.) #388

Because how could a thing fall straight down toward the exact center of a larger body without guidance? It requires the guidance of a gravitational watchmaker. Clearly.


Haywood seems to be a self-apppointed Biologos RRAD (Rapid Response Attack Dog). He has trained himself to mercilessly ravage any unsuspecting dissenter who is unfortunate enough to stray onto his turf. But when he’s “off duty” he’s probaby a very nice chap.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #390

I’m glad that you got that off your chest, but let’s try to focus on discussing actual ideas instead of putting labels on other forum members regardless of how their posts can appear to you. Part of this thread ran out of steam, what are some of your thoughts so far @Edgar given the large number of posts regarding the fossil record and the best explanation of it?

(Marty) #391

Hold on! You’re a moderator for a theistic evolution organization, this forum is about whether there has been divine intervention in the history of life, and you don’t understand that term? And then others pile on with really dumb “atheist xyz” terms.

I don’t know if several of you are actually trying to chase away people who don’t agree with you, but I’m happy to oblige. How do you learn anything if you don’t engage at some level with people who disagree with you? Anyway, I’m done here. Life’s too short!

How does morality fit in the Evolutionist Theism view?
(Matthew Pevarnik) #392

I don’t know what you mean Marty. It is a nonsensical term and I wish that you’d stop using it.

That’s one way to stop using it. But in all seriousness you were comparing ‘progressive creation’ to ‘atheist evolution.’ And then continually using the phrase ‘Atheist Evolutionists.’ That’s a rather uncharitable way to engage anyone in the BioLogos tent and when pointed out, you just call foul and leave. Perhaps see you next time, it was nice seeing you back for a few posts as @Chris_Falter noted above!


Did you see this article on intelligent falling from The Onion ?


Marty, I think @pevaquark was just facetiously pointing out that evolution need not (and in fact ought not) be conflated with an atheistic worldview. Intentional or not, using the phrase “Atheist Evolutionist” unfairly caricatures the opposing view and sets up a strawman. No one thus far on this thread (not even our atheist friends) have insisted on this unnecessary conflation. As you have seen, sometimes it can get tense around here and a bit of humor lightens the mood.

Anyway, sorry to see you go brother. Your perspective is welcome here as many of us value opposing positions as we seek to harmonize our faith with science.

(Mark D.) #395

Nope. Not on my regular reading list but pretty funny.


Thermodynamics is not useful in fighting the Ebola virus. Does this mean we should chuck the theory?

The theory of evolution is an extremely useful theory for explaining the natural history of species which is a very important question in biology. Why do species have the features they do? Why do genomes look like that? Why do fossils look the way they do? These are all very important questions, at least to those with a bit of curiosity.

(Haywood Clark) #397

I’m not objecting to your posts because you dissent, Edgar. I’m objecting because you came to your conclusions about fossils based entirely on quote mines, yet you aren’t up front about that.

Instead, you present your position as directly revealed by the fossil record when in fact you are several layers away from it.

So let’s discuss that idea. How is it that you reconcile:

  1. labeling your position as based directly on the evidence, with
  2. not basing your position on any evidence?

It seems that you understand that if you wrote, “The fossil record reveals progressive creation, according to a few quotes I found on the internet, shorn of context and plugged with curious ellipses,” it wouldn’t be convincing to anyone.

So how can you be apparently aware that this isn’t convincing to others, yet it is sufficient to convince you?

(Chris Falter) #398

Hi Marty,

I apologize for my long delay in responding to your thoughtful comments. I hope something in my response will be worth your patient wait.

This is a valid criticism of the way I presented the predictions of the theory of evolution. The theory does not really make binary predictions, though; the predictions are probabilistic. The theory advances a stochastic model, after all. So I should have framed the prediction more like this:

Given a sufficiently large number of fossils found in diverse geographical locations in the right geological layers representing the right semi-aquatic habitat, the theory would predict that at least a few fossils would be from species whose traits represent some sort of intermediate state between lobe-finned fishes and early amphibians.

That’s quite a mouthful, of course, and it is no wonder that busy people resort to the shorthand of saying, “Evolution predicts fossils of species like Tiktaalik.” But I should not have been so busy, and should have explained in probabilistic terms.

Does that sound more reasonable to you? I hope so!

Contrast that, however, with the theory of progressive creation. Would it predict that there would be an intermediate fossil species between lobe-finned fishes and early amphibians? It would depend on the definition of the Hebrew word baramin, along with some sort of knowledge about the details of God’s interactions with nature–as in, God would definitely not want micro-evolution to cross the barrier between fishes and amphibians. Or He definitely would permit it. Who knows?

Personally, I don’t see any way to extract a probabilistic prediction from the theory of progressive creation about Tiktaalik. What is the right definition of baramin? What is the boundary of micro-evolution to the person who is committed against macro-evolution? To me this prevents progressive evolution from having any scientific value.

The five great extinctions discovered by paleontology would not seem to have a counterpart in software engineering. As a decades-long practitioner of the dark software arts (dark in the same way economics is dark), I would never throw away 95% of a code base and expect a fully-functioning system to be built entirely on the foundation of the remaining 5%. However, if I were using an evolutionary algorithm to optimize agents for a variety of habitats, I would expect interesting new forms to emerge from the 5% remnant after altering conditions in such a way as to make 95% of the extant forms unviable.

Have any of the systems you have worked on incorporated evolutionary algorithms, Marty?

In fact, I think a program running a complex evolutionary algorithm as a pretty good analogy for biology. The system would require initialization by an intelligent designer. This has an obvious analogy in the doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

But it does not stop there. From the perspective of the code, the algorithm can run indefinitely without further intervention. Such a code-restricted perspective is analogous to the methodological naturalism of the scientific method.

From a broader perspective, however, the algorithm cannot keep running without the continual intelligent intervention of an operations team that provisions compute resources, supplies electricity, etc. God’s continuing providence–which upholds all of creation in every moment and place–would be analogous to the operations team’s sustainment of running an evolutionary algorithm.

No analogy is perfect, and I’m sure that with a bit of thought a few holes can be punched in this one. I do find it useful, though, and I hope you will find it useful as well.

I’m not so sure that Behe’s attempt was at all successful. Here are some quotes from David Levin’s critique of the book:

Behe’s thesis of evolutionary limits hangs on the assumption that important evolutionary steps require multiple simultaneous mutations without the benefit of cumulative selection. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. His error is evident even in his example of chloroquine resistance, which, by his logic, should not have involved evolutionary intermediates. But the scientific data say otherwise. The existence of natural isolates of malarial strains that possess one or the other of the supposedly critical mutations suggests not only that evolution of chloroquine resistance is a stepwise process, as has been argued by others, but that there are multiple mutational paths to resistance. …

Behe ignores volumes of experimental evidence that many classes of proteins can interact with other proteins through the recognition of fewer than five amino acids. For example, enzymes that add sugars to other proteins (often important to their function) typically recognize as few as two amino acids. Although such enzymes normally interact only transiently with their target proteins, weak interactions can evolve gradually into stable associations through the sequential accumulation of mutations if the association confers an adaptive advantage. Behe’s logical error here is identical to the one he committed in asserting that many biochemical pathways are irreducibly complex. He looks at the final product, incorrectly assumes that each part always existed as it does today, and cannot imagine how stepwise evolution could have generated such an integrated system…

[Behe] describes the stepwise evolution of an antifreeze protein from a digestive enzyme in Antarctic fish. This was an important evolutionary adaptation that allowed fish that possess this protein to survive in frigid Antarctic waters. However, he omits an interesting detail from his description - the antifreeze protein has sugars added to it (by an enzyme), whereas the protein from which it evolved does not. Therefore, a new protein-to-protein interaction must also have evolved to allow modification of the antifreeze protein. In fact, this beautiful example of evolution involves the construction of significant complexity.

The bottom line is that the scientific evidence does not show that evolution has impermeable edges other than those imposed by the laws of physics, chemistry, and DNA recombination. The notion that an intelligent designer was required for the appearance of animal classes such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish is thus, from the scientific perspective, unsupported.

My friend Marty, I hope that this little post shows that I consider your ideas to be worthy of thoughtful reflection and response. I consider you to be a friend, even if we disagree about some details of biology.



Allow me to point out the obvious flaw in your logic: If ERVs help humans fight off various viral infections, it is not because of any theory of “common ancestry”. ERVs will function as ERVs do, regardless of what humans think or say about their role in evolution.


On the contrary, you have not provided even one example of how Darwin’s “tree of life” or the “information” that humans and chimps share a common ancestor has proven practically useful to science. All you have provided are seemingly meaningless comments like the following:

  • “immunology is basically a microcosm of evolution.” A YEC biologist would agree, not denying that the principles of microevolution are essential to immunology.
  • “Show me a creationist clinical immunologist”. If I don’t name a creationist clinical immunologist, this proves that that Darwin’s “tree of life” or the “information” that humans and chimps share a common ancestor is practically useful to science? I don’t think so.
  • “there’s no mechanistic difference between macro- and microevolution, if they denied those mechanisms, they would have a lot of trouble doing immunology.” No YEC biologist denies any mechanisms of microevolution, and hence don’t deny the mechanisms that lead to macroevolution. So no YEC biologist would have any trouble doing immunology - which doesn’t even involve macroevolution.
  • “Tunicates, aka protochordates, are relevant to immunology”. How are tunicates relevant to immunology and how does this relationship inform me of a use for Darwin’s “tree of life” or the “information” that humans and chimps share a common ancestor?
  • “immunology, the most applied discipline of biology.” No argument here, but this tells me nothing.


I would love to get the opinion of those YEC professors of biology on the systems you refer to in your post. I would bet my bottom dollar that they would agree with me - they are not dependant in any way on Darwin’s “tree of life” or on the “information” that humans and chimps share a common ancestor.


Yes, but so what? Even the most one-eyed YEC accepts mutations and natural selection.

Dr. Francis Collins has probably not taken into account the possible effects the Fall (ie, Original Sin) on the genomes of every creature on earth (as Scripture suggests). The Fall could have produced similar genetic patterns of mutations in all creatures, those patterns being most apparent in creatures whose genomes are closest to humans (ie, primates). These patterns may have been (reasonably) misinterpreted by scientists as evidence of common descent.

Well, there goes Progressive Creation as a possibility - separate creations by God are not acceptable as a scientific explanation these days. The problem with “scientific” explanations for the mechanism of evolution is, they often come across as silly and far-fetched - ie, unscientific.