Jul 252006

For some reason Cornell’s Evolution and Design blog will not allow me to post there. I’ve never posted there before so I don’t know if it is this post or just my IP that it doesn’t like. In any case here is my rebuttal to PvM and nmatzke.

PvM writes:

But things get worse for ID, since ID has yet to show that it can explain design in nature, it is using a false analogy in addition to a begging the question or circular definition of CSI.
Since ID refuses to present any competing hypotheses of how a system arose, it cannot compete with “we don’t know”.

PvM says that “we don’t know”, is this what ID said? This is a blatant misrepresentation of ID. PvM is using the classic “3 Monkeys” attack.

While Darwinists are in denial IDers have been making the case for design. experimentation and predictions. Furthermore people have been doing design experimentations for thousands of years. The dog has been bred for thousands of years and yet in all this time a dog is still a dog, a flower is still a flower and a fruit fly is still a fruit fly.

Man was involved in a series of Faustian projects. The molecular biologist thought he could surmount barriers imposed by nature and, as the saying went, take over control of evolution.

We can conclude by noting that none of the manipulations making up genetic engineering has succeeded in taking off, and nature has effectively defended its frontiers.

All organisms possess immediate defenses against variation, which go by the name of repair mechanisms.

Species maintain stability, in some cases for millions of years, despite the assaults of mutation and the pressures of selection, and then they disappear. The opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) is found throughout the American continent, where it climbs trees and is persecuted for the damage it wreaks on poultry. The female gives birth up to three times a year, each time with a litter of ten to eighteen. Fossil opossums from the Cretaceous (about 100 million years ago) appear to be no different from the chicken predator of today. Despite its great prolificacy and the extreme range of environments in which it is found, the species has remained faithful to itself. Another interesting case is that of the Lingula, a bivalve shellfish in the brachiopod phylum. Several species have remained virtually unchanged since the beginnings of multicellular animals about 550 million years ago. — (Giuseppe Sermonti 2005. Why Is A Fly Not A Horse? Pg 43, 49, 53)

Macroevolution (origin of new forms) is not possible without intelligent design, at the same time ID is forging ahead with these new design experiments.

Random mutation and selection has never been able to produce anything novel, extant and extinct species have proved that to be true.

PvM writes:

even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

I’ve added back in the part PvM left out in his quote. Darwinists are just as poor in co-opting theology as they do science in telling their just so stories. Surely PvM is not going to tell us that this quote supports Darwinian evolution, is he? If it was meant to point out a general admonition from Augustine, what is the relevance in this context? We don’t need Augustine to tell us that it is prudent to not speak nonsense. Maybe PvM is following Dr. Lawrence Krauss in his attempt to convert the religious to Darwinism by co-opting Augustine and some of the early Church Fathers, by distorting their belief and lifting out of context quotes like this one.

Augustine was a great expositor of the Scripture and he holds a high view of the Word of God. Although he takes on some aspect of allegorical method in his interpretation of Scripture, but his primary emphasis is still the inerrancy of the Word of God. In his commentary on Genesis Augustine writes:

If anyone wishes to interpret in a literal sense everything written in this book, that is, to understand it only according to the letter of the text, and if in doing this he avoids blasphemy and explains everything in agreement with the Catholic faith, not only is he not to be discouraged, but he should be considered an outstanding interpreter worthy of great praise. — Augustine The Literal Meaning of Genesis (ACW 42) 8.2.5.

Why should a Christian accept Krauss and perhaps PvM’s assertion that Augustine is allegorizing Genesis to allow for Darwinism? When in reality Krauss PvM have completely misunderstood Augustine.

Furthermore, Augustine made it perfectly clear that there is no allegorical interpretation of God’s Creation of forms.

“We cannot believe that he establishes a new kind, since He finished all His works on the sixth day.”– Augustine Lit. Gen. 5.40 (ACW, 41. 171)

If there can be a fly on the ointment of this great expositor, is his lack of skill in Hebrew and Greek. He relied mainly on the Old Latin text for his interpretive work, which lead him to believe that all forms were created at the same time.

“Thus, what is prior only by origin in the act of creation is prior also by time in the narration. Even in the case of two things in which there is no priority of any kind, it is impossible to name them together, to say nothing of giving an account of them together. There can be no doubt, therefore, that this un-formed matter, however slight its nature, was made by God alone and created together with the works that were formed from it.” — (Lit. Gen. 1.15.29)

Nevertheless, it is clear that Augustine believes that it was God’s hands that is directly involved with the creation of forms and not some Gnostic Darwinian creation just so stories. There is no justification for Krauss and PvM to hijack Augustine’s words to proselytize for Darwinism.

PvM writes:

As a Christian and Scientist … And imagine the response of such Christians when they find out that ID is really quite empty handed? The cost to science is bad enough but the cost to religious faith should not be trivialized.

PvM can play the “3 Monkeys” card all he wants, but as I demonstrated above, the problem lies not in the stars but rather in PvM. Since PvM made Christianity a part of this discussion by indicating that he is a Christian and quoting from Augustine, I would suggest he should take heed from the man he has quoted.

But more dangerous is the error of certain weak brethren who faint away when they hear these irreligious critics learnedly and eloquently discoursing on the theories of astronomy or on any of the questions relating to the elements of this universe. With a sigh, they esteem these teachers as superior to themselves, looking upon them as great men; and they return with disdain to the books which were written for the good of their souls; and, although they ought to drink from these books with relish … I have learnt that a man is not in any difficulty in making a reply according to his faith which he ought to make to those who try to defame our Holy Scripture … When they produce from any of their books a theory contrary to Scripture, and therefore contrary to the Catholic faith, either we shall have some ability to demonstrate that it is absolutely false, or at least we ourselves will hold it so without any shadow of a doubt. — (Lit. Gen. 1.20.40, 21.41)

Another thing, according to PvM is not speaking nonsense when he is doing his Darwinian speak. So I would like to know, how many atheists has he convinced about the resurrection of the dead, because of his no nonsense acceptance of Darwinism?

Does the detection of design require the knowledge of a designer?
Nick Matzke quotes Judge Jones:

For human artifacts, we know the designer’s identity, human, and the mechanism of design, as we have experience based upon empirical evidence that humans can make such things, as well as many other attributes including the designer’s abilities, needs, and desires. (D-251 at 176; 1:131-33 (Miller); 23:63 (Behe); 5:55- 58 (Pennock)).

This has been a smokescreen used by many Darwinists to dispute ID. However, as I’ve shown in Elsberry�s Straw Man, ironically Darwinists don’t seem to think this rule applies to them. Here is an excerpt from Elsberry�s Straw Man:

What would our understanding of these artifacts look like if we apply Elsberry’s theft over toil? First, the artifacts have no known designers, which is one of the requirements for identifying design according to Elsberry’s essay. Yet, right off the bat Darwinists have already pontificated that human beings designed these artifacts. Does Elsberry know for what purpose the Stonehenge was designed? Did Elsberry converse with the designers and interact with them to build a model? Are there a lot of experiences of human designs of Stonehenge?

    “No stage of the building of Stonehenge is later than about 1200 B.C., and any connection with the Druids, who flourished a thousand years later, is purely conjectural” (Jacquetta Hawkes ed., Atlas of Ancient Archaeology. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1994. 33).

Yet there are many respectable scientists around the world who believes that Stonehenge was designed. I don’t think I heard Elsberry raise any objection to these scientists calling them Creationist? What does Elsberry think is the reasoning process of these scientists that come to the conclusion that Stonehenge was designed, without the benefit of knowing and conversing with the designers? Ask yourself do you think Stonehenge was designed? Why?

Remember according to Elsberry, in order to know about a design we need to observe, interact and converse with the designer. The Darwinists have not met any of these criteria and yet they unapologetically declare the Stonehenge was designed. Isn’t this hypocrisy when they criticize ID for not identifying the designer?

  9 Responses to “Darwinists Fail to Co-opt Augustine for Proselytism”

  1. Teleologist,

    I can’t imagine why there would be a problem with you posting.

    You don’t need to login, just provide an e-mail address.

    Try going to and obscure thread and post as small test message like, “this is a really great discussion.”

    Let me know what happens.

  2. You are right, that worked. So it must be the content of my post that was objectionable. It was filtered out by their spam filter.

  3. But things get worse for ID, since ID has yet to show that it can explain design in nature, it is using a false analogy in addition to a begging the question or circular definition of CSI.
    Since ID refuses to present any competing hypotheses of how a system arose, it cannot compete with ‘we don’t know’

    What I would point out to Pim here (and actually ,have pointed out to him on more than one occaision)is that he is playing fast and loose with the term “explain”. For guys like Pim, only naturalistic, mechanistic explanations exist. Therefore, to be “explained” in the scientific sense really means “to be explained by reference to some natural, mechanistic cause”. It’s the hidden presupposition behind everything Pim writes in his ‘critiques’ of ID in general and Dembski in particular. But of course, if we rid ourselves of this presupposition, then intelligent cause can be a valid explanation for an observed phenomenon. Indeed, that is the case in many sciences outside of biology. But for some reason, that just won’t do when it comes to biological systems. Hence, Pim just can’t accept ID as a valid competing hypothesis, because he is blinded by his own presupposition. More than once I have asked Pim to tell me how he knows scientifically that the properties of biological systems are such that any apparent design we observe in those systems can not be actual design, even in principle.
    I have never received a scientific answer to that question. And unless and until Pim (or any other ID critic) can provide such scientific explanation (complete with the requisite peer reviewed scientific studies and all that), the proposition that CSI is circular, or that ID provides no explanation falls flat on its face. It is nothing more than personal philosophical opinion with nothing to back it up!! And yet, Pim et.al. want to be taken seriously? Who are they kidding???

  4. I think Dr. Davison would call it more like a congenital problem. 🙂

  5. btw, I think I found the problem that prevented my previous posting at the Cornell blog. It must think that my link to the cartoon of the 3 monkeys is a spam. I took it out and it posted with no problem.

  6. One way to get through the spam filter is to make your URL tiny through tinyurl.com


  7. Of course it is congenital. Everything is! Don’t take my word for it.

    “Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control.”
    Albert Einstein

    Referring to ontogeny and phylogeny:

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  8. I love this remark:

    “All organisms possess immediate defenses against variation, which go by the name of repair mechanisms.”

    I’ve given much thought to repair mechanisms lately and believe they are a centerpiece of design. When one considers the details of the different detection and repair mechanisms it becomes clear how insightful the comment is. Before a mutation can be selected it must pass through a D&R gauntlet. There must be at least two errors. A mutation and a failure to detect it. I’m still wondering though, how any organism could maintain genomic integrity (assuming a genome could result from a stochastic process) prior to a point in an evolutionary time frame when D&R mechanisms had not yet developed.

  9. Hi Bradford,

    Welcome to the blog. I am sorry we didn’t notice your comment until today.

    Your insight is spot-on. Life not only developed very early on earth, but it was extremely complex. Darwinians have no empirical answer for this of course, other than the usual selection fairytale. The genetic repair mechanism must have happened because it needed it to survive.

    It was a profound insight by Sermonnti, especially considering the complexity of the repair mechanism as you said. The problem gets worse for the Darwinists when you consider the detection and repair enzymes for the DNA, must first be produced by the DNA itself. This is an insurmountable dilemma for the Darwinists, but it is typical of intelligence in design.

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