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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comments

Andrew

It's always interesting that some people who have no interest in what the Church teaches about the resurrection, salvation, sin, holiness, etc, are very anxious to have the Church accept Darwinian evolution. By consigning all opposition to Darwinian evolution as "creationism" or "intelligent design," Tom Heneghan has made the perfect straw-man argument. The proponents of ID cannot asked to be let off the hook when people ask about things like say, the suffering brought about by malaria (both the virus and the mosquito being intelligently designed creatures). The biology lab is a terrible place to discuss theodicy.

But theistic evolutionists need to explain where they get off the Darwinian train as well. Darwinian evolution is a vital component of the materialist worldview. The evolutionist will gladly let you say "God guided the process along in a mysterious fashion that only science can determine and explain," but they will then demand that "God" be also explained by evolution. William Dembski once argued (my paraphrasing) that theistic evolutionists who have no problem with non-scientific ideas like the Virgin Birth, or Jesus's resurrection, or turning water into wine suddenly insist that we cannot determine if God had any role in man's biological development. Assuming, of course, that God had any such role at all. At what point did God interrupt man's evolution and implant the soul? You cannot have your own personal interpretation of Darwinian evolution.

Rick

Thanks for publishing this book, I received it about 3 weeks ago, it was easier to get through Ignatius Press than Amazon. Plan to read it after I finish Haught's God and the New Atheism which is about the best critique of the NA I have read.

Does Ignatius Press plan to publish something adressing the NA as a whole? I realize that Fr. Crean's and Cardinal Schonborn's books do this to an extent.

Paul MacLeod

Lest one become too enthusiastic about Francis Collins' "The Language of God", it should be noted that he claims that man had some 10,000 ancestors whom God endowed with rational souls and a moral sense (P. 207). This of course is contrary to Catholic teaching that man originated from one couple. To say otherwise negates Original Sin and the Redemption. I raised this point in a recent exchange by email with him, but received no response.

Paul MacLeod

PeterWilders

Andrew's post of June 18 stated the much overlooked fact that the case against evolution is not being heard simply: "By consigning all opposition to Darwinian evolution as "creationism" or "intelligent design,". For instance three scientists who examined the only scientific paper submitted to the "Schülerkreis" meeting on evolution discovered that the proposed proofs for macroevolution at at the bacterial level were inexact and didn't give the proof claimed. Their report was sent to the Pope but no acknowledgement was received. No doubt it was classified as creationist and trashed. Seven scientists have since (April 2008)asked Nicola Cabibbo, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to present the empirical scientific evidences against evolution at the Acamdamy's upcoming conference (October 31 to November 3). No reponse! They are highly qualified scientists. They have simply responded to the Holy Father's request in his book "Truth and Tolerance":

"This dispute [evolution] has therefore to be approached objectively and with a willingness to listen, by both sides—something that has hitherto been undertaken only to a limited extent."

Once again one can only presume they have been cast as "creationists" and so can therefore be ignored. A perfect let out for the the Academy.
The PAS conference like so many "free and open" debates on the subject in the past has all the makinqs of a kangaroo court. Shut out the accusation and the case is won!

Peter

Rick

Peter,
Exactly, where should Catholics draw the line with evolution? Pope Benedict and Cardinal Schonborn have both written and critiqued the excesss of scientific naturalism and ontological reductionism within science and what is often called neo-Darwinism. If I have read that essay correctly and its subsequent discussion, I believe that part of the argumemt is that since the cornerstones of evolution, natural selection and mutation, can both be demonstrated in the laboratory and in nature, microevolution should at least be accepted while realizing that theories concerning macroevolution are at best explanatory models. I believe that the latter is implied in the discussion section of Creation and Evolution, pgs. 120-123.

Peter Wilders

The problem, Rick, as I pointed out in my previous post, attempts to demonstrate empirically that the corner stones of evolution you mention are insufficient to support the theory, are ignored. All that we have are repetitions of the arguments for evolution without the opposing evidence being taken into account. Professor Peter Schuster, for example, produced a paper for the 2006 “Schülerkreis” meeting which was supposed to show that macroevolution could be demonstrated in the laboratory. Such eminent scientists as Prof. Pierre Rabischong previous Dean of Montpelier Medical University pointed out to the Holy Father by letter why the demonstration was incorrect. No acknowledgement was received.

We have heard on multiple occasions why Cardinal Schönborn, and the scientific community believe in evolution (theistic or secular), but no scientific evidence is presented to show why other scientists are convinced on scientific grounds that macroevolution is impossible. Show me one authoritative scientific (not "creationist") source where such arguments have been aired. The evolutionists duck the issue by accusing those disagreeing with evolution of being "creationists".

Why do we hear nothing about the real cornerstone of evolution, the geological time-scale, being invalidated by laboratory experiment? Yet these experiments have been published by the Russian Academy of Sciences "Lithological and Mineral Resources" as well as the confirmatory field research. They show that some of the standard geological formations taught as taking millions of years to build up were formed rapidly. Remove time from the equation and evolution disappears. Take a look at the website (www.sedimentology.fr) and decide for yourself whether it is creationism.

Peter

Rick

Peter, thank you for the response. Look, I am not a biologist but there are good, Catholic ones that claim that natural selection and mutation are reproducible in the laboratory. The biologist Martinez Hewlett argues that we do have empirical evidence for natural selection when certain disease-producing populations become resistant to a particular medicine. This resistance is due, in large part, to the process of natural selection. Certainly, we also have proof of microevolution as there a plethora of documented cases of adaptive changes in species over time.

I am not going to call anybody a creationist, nor can I comment issues on sides being heard because I am not privy to the information that you have concerning counter arguments being heard at the Schulerkreis. If the Rabischong letter can be found anywhere online, please let me know. One thing, I think you will see that Cardinal Schonborn pinned down Schuster on the issue of macroevolution in the pages that I cited, the Cardinal critiques the explanatory power of macroevolution as a whole.

Peter Wilders

Rick, microevolution or adaptation has never been in question. All the races of dogs and varieties of roses etc. are examples. It’s macroevolution that is the culprit and for which there has never been any proof. Regarding mutations here is what geneticist Prof. Maciej Giertych wrote last year:

"Today it is very often claimed that organisms resistant to antibiotics, herbicides etc., are evidence for positive mutations. This, however, is not so. First of all, most commonly such forms develop as a consequence of recombination within the existing genetic variation. Secondly, this adaptation, even if it does originate from mutations, has to be treated as a form of defence of existing functions and not as a development of a new one. Thus it belongs to such repair processes known in nature as wound healing, re-growth of detached body parts, elimination of defective cells or individuals in a population, attainment of immunological resistance to an invasive protein (e.g., through vaccination), repair of mutagenic defects, etc. There are herbicides so constructed that they would attach to a vital protein specific for a given weed, thereby immobilising it and causing death of the weed. The appearance of a mutation that gives a protein variant that is still functional (neutral mutation), but without attachability to the herbicide, is in fact a defence of the functionality of the protein, and therefore of the organism that needs it. This is not creation of a new function.

Information exists in nature in DNA. It is mobilised for life processes by the DNA/RNA/protein system and conveyed from generation to generation. It can be spoiled by accidental changes (mutations). On its own it will not improve itself. This is equivalent to a computer program, copied from disk to disk. It can become accidentally spoiled, but it will not improve itself spontaneously. Accidental changes can be injurious or neutral. They will never be positive."

The arguments from evolutionists for evolution by mutation sound convincing until a specialist in the same discipline points out the scientific weaknesses in their case. The scandal is that the public has no chance of hearing the other side because opponents of evolution are systematically denied a place in the scientific arena. There are just the fundamental experiments in stratification which have jumped the net, and they happen to be the most conclusive proof against macroevolution. Coming from the East, however, they are given the cold war treatment: and the West hoping they will go away prefer to ignore them.

Peter

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