The fossil record fits best with progressive creation

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #423

I’ll explain by way of metaphor to astronomy.

Before Galileo, there was geocentrism. Every planet was thought to travel in its own sphere around the earth.

Galileo with his newfangled telescope witnessed the phases of Venus. The phases changed from one side to the other as Venus traveled its solar orbit. For the first time, here was PROOF that two other heavenly bodies were rotating around EACH OTHER and not around earth. Shocking! And it could no longer fit with geocentrism.

This idea that the fall caused mutations according to genetic distance from H. sapiens is kind of like geocentrism, but it’s anthropocentrism.

Noticing that rats and mice share some modifications that we don’t have, and that capybaras share modifications with rats+mice that we don’t have, is kind of like noticing the phases of Venus.

That is to say, here we have observations that show that these things group together in nested hierarchies with one another, with no reference whatsoever to H. sapiens. What matters as we group them together is not their distance to H. sapiens but their distance from one another in their own group that has nothing to do with ours.

This cannot be accommodated in an anthropocentric view of mutations.

Pardon me if this makes no sense; it’s quite late where I am and I’m committing the cardinal error of posting while sleep-deprived.


Or better yet, humans nest within groups no differently than other species. The following phylogeny is based on genetic distance.

Orangutan genome paper

Added in edit:

Genetic equidistance is also of interest. According to the theory of evolution, humans and mice share the same common ancestor with chickens. That is, there should be an equal distance between mice and chickens as there is between humans and chickens. That’s exactly what we see. The following comparison is between cytochrome c genes for human, mice, and chickens (using Homologene if someone wants to play along).

Human v. mouse = 90.5% similar
Human v. chicken = 81.6%
Mouse v. chicken = 81.9%

The distance between mouse and chicken is nearly identical to the distance between human and chicken.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #425

I’m pretty friendly with you Edgar and will continue to remain so, I hope, but you have to admit (don’t you?) that it’s a bit odd to say your model is predicated on the fossil record when you refuse to discuss the actual fossil record but instead continue to harp on a quote or two from a single scholar. That’s not the fossil record…


On the contrary, my hypothesis is based on orthodox Christian theology.

For example, consider Revelation 21:1, which says, “Then I saw a new new heaven and new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”.
Why will the first heaven and earth be replaced by a new heaven and earth? The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible explains: "John sees all creation transformed and made radiant with the glory of God. It is no longer a world subject to death and decay and suffering the damaging effects of human sin (Genesis 3:17-18, Rom 8:20-22).

Now consider Romans 8:18-23,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

Regarding this passage, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible says, “Paul hears creation crying out like a woman giving birth. The pangs of labour will not subside until the children of God are revealed and the whole material creation is renewed. The earth groans under the curse of Genesis 3:17. The passage shows that Adam’s trespass had catastrophic consequences not only for himself but for the world in which he lived.”

(Chris Falter) #427

Hi Edgar,

I won’t speak for Haywood, but I will speak for myself.

You apparently read the entire book without grasping that Gould was propounding a stochastic model of evolutionary rates of change. No one who understands the science could possibly think that you are citing Gould correctly.

Moreover, you even acknowledged that you have no clue as to what a stochastic model is. You essentially 'fessed up to ignorance about Gould’s big ideas.

Yet a few days later, here you are citing Gould in the same mistaken way, once again.

I don’t understand why you spend so much energy arguing the same points over and over…after you have conceded that you have no understanding of the source you are citing.

What resources are you using to understand stochastic models in science, Edgar?

Best regards,

(Haywood Clark) #428

I’m not implying anything of the sort, and you know it.

How’s this quote?

That’s odd, given these exchanges:

Which books and papers have you read, Edgar?

I can’t remember.

You appear to be contradicting yourself, as your answers to those questions should have been different if you owned The Panda’s Thumb.

And there’s also the fact that Gould’s whole point is the stochastic nature of evolution, to which you said:

Finally, have you quoted anything from the book other than what is on creationist web sites?

(Haywood Clark) #429

Like the sequence evidence you claim requires an advanced degree to even contemplate?

I’m not an atheist, but I’m putting a great deal of importance on facts, while you place everything on quote mines that you’ve cribbed from creationist web sites.

Why does your immune system only recognize foreign antigens in the context of self? Why is your response to tissues from another human so much stronger than your response to those from another species? What are the ramifications of these for bone-marrow transplantation, which saves so many children’s (and plenty of adults’) lives?

Are there any creationist pharma companies?

(Haywood Clark) #430

Are the explanations of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible the Word of God?

Are there other interpretations? It seems that if you have to cite non-Biblical sources, you’re not very convinced of that particular interpretation. Correct?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #431

Indeed. They do something in our genome whether we understand them or not. However, we do understand them quite well and just like with the fossil record they follow very specific patterns between different species. We’ve got some 200,000 of them and share all but 100 with chimpanzees (they have 200 unique ones that we don’t- but the other 200,000 are in homologous locations in the genome) so just like with the fossil record a good question to ask is how did it get that way? Did these things just so happen to all insert independently from one another or where they passed down through common descent? I’ll give you a little hint though – only one of those hypotheses survived.


Once someone understands the significance of the comparative genomic data, intellectual honesty demands concession to common ancestry as beyond reasonable doubt.


@Edgar if you are going to quote Gould the least you could do is not edit the quote to make it say what you want it to say. It is strange but the version you quoted back in post 114 contains the ellipses in exactly the same location in the quote as found on YEC sites.

For your edification here is the quote in it’s entirety. I have indicated where you made the cuts to change the meaning and added some bolding for the parts that don’t fit your message.


(Haywood Clark) #434

That’s been done very well by others.

Here’s an idea: how about if you produce 5 quotes from the book that support your claim, which are not found on ANY creationist web sites?

(Christy Hemphill) #435

I’m aware of the Bible passages you cite and I believe all of nature is affected by human sin and awaiting redemption and the culmination of the re-creation initiated by the Incarnation and Resurrection.

What I don’t believe is that there is anything in the Bible that supports the idea that there was a second creation event post-Fall in which God fundamentally altered the existing perfect creation to the degree that would turn herbivores into carnivores (that requires new jaw and teeth structures, different digestive tracts, and predatory capabilities, not just a different appetite), invent billions of new harmful and parasitic species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms, design genetic mutations for birth defects and disease and proactively insert them in the genome. Or a second creation event that would alter the foundational systems of earth science and institute a new system of plate tectonics and weather that before did not cause any death with natural activity like earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanoes, floods, wildfires, avalanches, and hurricanes, but because of sin, is now “unleashed.” How exactly would plate tectonics be unleashed? Either we live on a crust that floats on a molten mantle, or we don’t. Crust that floats on molten mantle means earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis.

YECs say we have an issue with death existing in God’s good world before sin, but how is it not more concerning that God cursed the world by initiating a second creation in which he proactively created all sorts of nasty stuff as a punishment for a sin event?

And I think it is a cop-out to pretend that there was this magical transformation and God simply “allowed” these things to “come about” because of the curse. YECs have no natural mechanism that explains that. It has to be God. Evolution proposes actual mechanisms for how animals adapt and become predators and how birth defects just “happen.” Creationism doesn’t have a real explanation other than “The Fall did it,” which is really “God did it,” because it was God’s curse and only God can radically re-design life in the way that is described.

It’s pure imagination to say “Maybe the genomes were such that something was triggered with the Fall and bada-bing, bada-boom, herbivores into carnivores.” We know a lot about genomes, and they don’t ever work like that. The fact that some creationists have agile imaginations and it sounds “plausible” to them, isn’t anything close to a working model. Plus, you still have God putting those “evil” futures into the genomes, just waiting to be triggered magically by sin, so God does not get off the hook as the creator of the bad stuff. There are even Scriptures where God takes delight in the predators he has created, and there is no hint that he only created them that way because of a curse.

(George Brooks) #436


I’m a little surprised that you allowed the discussion to go sideways the way you did here.

Of all the Creationists or Old Earth Creationists I’ve “tangled” with, @Marty is one of the nice ones.

You certainly know that I’m not known for coddling Creationists, or even necessarily treating them with too much TLC… so for me to defend any particular Creationist … I think that makes for a pretty strong endorsement for a Creationist’s sincerity and/or good intentions.

So… what is this you are doing here? You object to the phrase “Atheist Evolution”? And yet you and I have read it over and over again from all sorts of Creationists types. And it is isn’t exactly an incoherent phrase. So why are you treating the phrase like its an oxymoron or something?

In discussions with Creationists, I quite frequently have to insist that they understand that i’m discussing God-Guided Evolution, or sometimes God-Governed Evolution… and I even have a neat acronym: E.G.G., which inverts the syntax a little: “Evolution, God-Guided”!

The Mission Statement of BioLogos goes out of its way to distinguish between notions of Evolution that involve God, and notions of Evolution that exclude God.

So why would you say this bizarre sentence: "It is a nonsensical term and I wish that you’d stop using it."

Really? You think it is a term that is nonsense? YIKES.

Let’s look at Statement #9 in the BioLogos page “What we Believe”:

"… we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God."

@Pevaquark, perhaps you were temporarily confused the day you had this discussion with @Marty

If you are a moderator for BioLogos, and you must somehow keep things straight between what BioLogos endorses and what it REJECTS, wouldn’t a phrase like “Atheist[-ic] Evolution” actually be virtually essential for you to know when someone was stepping into an ideological footprint that BioLogos rejects?

By insisting that @Marty should discontinue the use of the phrase, isn’t that going to create endless confusion and disputes over what is being discussed?

Of all the people I thought would have gotten along with @Marty (other than me) I would have expected you to have been an even better fit.

Do you care to explain what transpired in this part of the discussion? I’m absolutely bewildered by your stance, and would want to know if most of the other BioLogos moderators share your position!

(Marty) #437

@Chris_Falter Indeed it was worth the wait! Unfortunately I may need couple days to formulate a thoughtful response also. Back to you soon I hope.

@pevaquark I honestly did not mean to offend and I was quite surprised to read here that you found the term offensive. I have friends who are biologos fans and we have talked “terms” and agreed that “atheist evolution” may best characterize the position of those who believe there has been no divine intervention of any kind since life began. In addition, they have agreed that since they believe God has been involved “somehow” (though not detectable directly by scientific method), that this belief may make them progressive creationists (in addition to evolutionary creationists).

Terms do matter, and I am sorry that I offended. I am open to an alternative term that captures the essence without the offense.

@gbrooks9 Thank you for the defense. Perhaps per my comments just above, Matt can provide us with an alternative that does not cause him speed bumps, or perhaps he can accept the term from us after this discussion without it being a speed bump for him.

As much as I try to escape, these forums can be like the Hotel California… you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

(Christy Hemphill) #438

It is perfectly understandable why you would want to clarify “atheistic evolution” in philosophical/theological discussions. I think some of the response to the term comes from a bit of over-sensitivity because people fairly consistently (and ignorantly) insist that anyone who accepts an evolutionary model must concede or at least subconsciously adhere to an anti-God worldview.

There has been an effort to move away from the term “theistic evolution” (“evolutionary creation” would be the preferred term) precisely because it gives the impression that there are two competing scientific models, atheistic evolution which necessarily excludes God and theistic evolution which necessarily includes God. In fact, no one is proposing a scientific model theistic evolution that describes how God created through evolution. To assert he did is a theological claim that goes beyond science. To assert God was not involved in evolution is not scientific either. As far as science goes, atheistic evolution and theistic evolution are the same thing. (Hence all the comments about other areas of science that don’t get labelled atheistic or theistic.)

Since ID has proposed that science can uncover and model how God works through natural processes, and many Christian scientists who accept evolution are critical of the ID endeavor, they want to be clear that they are not doing anything similar, and they aren’t proposing a scientific model that accounts for God’s action. Evolution is just evolution.

I don’t know if that helps clarify where some of the angst comes from, but thank you for extending grace in your attempts to communicate here. I hope it will be reciprocated. :slight_smile:

(Matthew Pevarnik) #439

There were two models that people were discussing. One where animals experience an unbroken chain of ancestry going back to some LUCA (last universal common ancestor, this model was called atheist evolution) and the other where there are lots of gaps where God spontaneous created each new step along the way from nothing (progressive creation).

There are many possible positions within the model previously labeled ‘atheist evolution,’ with only one of which being actual ‘naturalistic evolution.’ However, they all look the same from a scientific perspective and one can introduce faith components beyond that if they choose to. In this thread, there have been many people who have been arguing for the evolutionary model from a different array of backgrounds: Christian, atheist and others in between. So in this perfectly wonderful thread in discussing what evidence goes in to the class of models that are ‘evolutionary’ compared to models where God spontaneously poofs creatures into existence every million years or so, aligning them in a pattern that matches the idea of common descent it is a false dichotomy. It is a rhetorical ploy that many Christian groups utilize to create false dichotomies and equate atheist to evolution. Was @Marty following suit of how many Christians use the phrase? He clarified below so apparently not.

But the phrase is nonsensical when discussing scientific theories/models on why the fossil record came to be the way it is. It is equivalent to having atheist gravity or the theory of intelligent falling as @beaglelady posted above.

Okay George, thanks for saving me again with the BioLogos mission statement. Obviously BioLogos would be against purely ‘naturalistic/atheistic evolution.’ In the context of ‘progressive creationism’ vs. ‘atheist evolution’ however, it is entirely unhelpful to use the phrase as the thread was really only discussing the fossil record and the best explanation-progressive creation or the theory of evolution.

(Marty) #440
  1. I’m good with not using that term but we need to provide an alternative that captures the idea that there was no divine action in the history of life. Does “unguided evolution” work?
  2. You have a different definition of progressive creation than I do. I will be replying to @Chris_Falter with more detail. I do accept common ancestry but I am skeptical that random changes in the DNA without guidance could provide enough useful information for all the complexity we see. More to come on this.
  3. I have found “poofs” is an offensive term to YEC’s. I don’t have a perfect substitute, but “materialize” or “incarnates” might have less baggage.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #441

Sure Marty, though I am not quite sure how one can determine whether or not such processes are guided vs. unguided in the same sense that one can’t quite say whether or not God influences hurricanes today.

Ah so that was our main problem. My apologies then for the confusion.

I’d also say that many old earth creationists (which is how I at least first heard the idea of progressive creation where God creates and intervenes sporadically–i.e. Reasons to Believe) would hold to the spontaneous materialization of species.


That is a tricky definition, as @pevaquark mentions. From a scientific point of view, if you say that evolution is guided then you need the data to back it or at least a methodology for detecting guidance. As it stands, there isn’t a signal of guidance in the scientific data.

It is also important to point out that the scientific conclusion is tentative and based on methodology. It isn’t an ontological or theological claim. The best science can do is say that there is no statistically significant signal for guidance. That is also the position that many atheists, myself included. I don’t make the ontological or absolute claim that there is no guidance in evolution. What I do say is that there isn’t any apparent evidence for guidance which prevents me from accepting the claim, at least for now.