It’s a week later! It would be a lot of fun and take time to sit down together and learn from each other! Yet writing takes SO much longer! Still, this forum will have to do for now.
It looks like we need to have a philosophical discussion first. I may or may not need to spell this out in this much detail, but hope it’s helpful.
I don’t see Progressive Creation (PC) as a scientific “theory.” I see it as an inference to the best explanation based on what we have learned from science. As you know, science can only look at/for natural causes and effects, so divine intervention cannot be detected directly by the scientific method. However the search for intentionality goes on every day in Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), where the scientific clues may indicate intentionality or perhaps indicate something was an accident. And so intentionality can be inferred from the data, recognized indirectly. And since much of evolution is a historical study, it shares a lot in common in this regard with history, archaeology, and CSI.
In evolution, random mutation and natural selection (RM&NS) are the scientifically recognized natural processes. Microevolution is obvious, seen in geographic speciation and drift, and especially obvious in petri dishes where generation times are fast and populations are high.
The question is whether these processes are adequate to produce all the complexity we see in longer generation times and smaller populations, especially in massive changes such as the Cambrian explosion, or the supposed evolution (by these natural processes only) of a land mammal into a whale. In general the fossil record is kinda stair-step-like, and in some cases the steps are huge (the original topic of this thread). This issue is handled in both unguided evolution and in PC (and other views) not by science but by a narrative, stories that fit together the data and the world view of their holder.
I think “macro-evolution by micro-evolution only” is an inference to the best explanation based on naturalist assumptions and/or opinions. In this way it is a narrative just like PC. There are other narratives also, and without trying to offend, I think evolutionary creationism is one. We all have them. I think that unguided evolution is a narrative based on the unproven assumption that we know all the mechanisms of evolutionary change. It is not a scientific statement that “macro took place by micro only” because it cannot be tested.
The fact that unguided evolution is a naturalist narrative helps it align nicely with a scientific approach whether those overarching naturalist assumptions are proven or correct or not. I would love to have someone come up with a way to test whether macro-evolution was by micro-evolution alone! But ultimately the math of randomness is the problem for me – you can’t get RM to offer this much complexity to NS in the times available. It is a probability issue for me, and any way you look at it, the denominator is an unfathomably large number (and yes, lots of items go in the numerator also like 10^17 seconds and the volume of the oceans, but the denominator just utterly overwhelms those).
So PC is held by those of us who 1) are skeptical that RM can accidentally provide enough useful information to NS in the time frames given, 2) see the bigger steps in the fossil record as probable indications of real “steps” in the history of life (the topic of this thread), and 3) probably already have other reasons to hold that there is a deity who is willing to take action in our realm. (Sidebar: the big three places I see divine action outside the Biblical include: 1) the fine tuning of the universe for life, 2) the absurdity of a naturalist origins of life on early earth (my favorite), and 3) the nature of humans. I’m here discussing evolution because that’s the topic of the thread, though I think those other three, especially origins of life, show stronger evidences of divine intervention).
Honestly, if I thought God had kicked off life and made a process (we call it evolution) that developed it to it’s current complexity without his involvement, I’d be OK with that. But I just don’t think he stayed out of it. That’s where the evidence takes me.
Regarding evolutionary software, somehow we are missing each other on this one. I’m not saying software evolves, but that snapshots of the software over time show similar characteristics to the fossil record. Hence the fossil record matches either narrative.
As regards Levin’s critique of Behe, a review with that much invective is never fair. It would be possible for Levin to comment on Behe’s actual arguments rather than demolish straw men, but he chose the latter. Behe is neither a scoundrel nor an idiot. Let’s not work with this agenda driven diatribe, but perhaps try to find someone who has critiqued the work fairly.
I’m gonna stop here cuz this has taken far too long. Hope it’s at least helpful!