"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
Jerry McDonald writes:
All forces, natural or otherwise, exist and are upheld by God's creative power. God is the one who initially set into place the laws of physics, and it is his power that continues to uphold those laws of physics.
This is a viewpoint held by many evolutionists who are religious and/or Christians. They believe that God not only initially set into place the laws of physics, but that those laws were specifically designed to result in life from inanimate matter.
Jerry McDonald writes:
Concerning his questions, Mr. Hadley states: "It should be noted that it is not a disproof of God to appeal to natural forces, but it does make his active presence unnecessary and that is what I hope to show." Why would appealing to natural forces not be a disproof of God but then it would make God's active presence unnecessary?
It is not a disproof of God for the reason I give in the previous paragraph. One may hold that a hypothetical god designed the laws of the universe to result in human life, much the way the same god designed the laws of physics to result in something as complex and beautiful as a snowflake.
However, this belief also means that it is not necessary for God to reach down and interfere with the natural workings of these laws in order to cause life to form, or to result in the formation of new phyla, or to cause a transition for one primitive life form to the next. With our knowledge of earth's processes and history, it is possible to show that natural processes can also do the job. Therefore, although I can not disprove God's existence, I can show that his active interference is not needed to account for life as we observe it today. (Jerry may already be aware of this since it follows from his premise, but I thought it might clarify my intentions to state it explicitly.)
I believe that Christian fundamentalism requires God's interference to account for life as we see it today, apparently because the laws he originally designed are inadequate to the task. Therefore, my arguments are really aimed at disproving Christian fundamentalism.
In response to my request for a human characteristic, Jerry writes:
The human has a conscience. This is not something that can be seen, touched, smelled, heard (audibly) or tasted. In other words, it is not something that is tangible, but it does exist. The conscience tells one that he has done wrong when he has indeed done wrong. The conscience tells a person that a thing is wrong so that he won't do it. Animals don't have this characteristic, but humans do. How did a non-human thing that had no conscience give rise to a human that did have this characteristic?
It is possible for humans to have strong and weak consciences. In fact, the Bible discusses the possibility of having one's conscience "seared" such that it no longer functions as a conscience in a particular instance of wrongdoing. Therefore, since degrees of conscience exist, it is not logically impossible that an organism with no conscience gave birth to a creature that had a very faint but just recognizable form of a conscience that was capable of causing guilt-feelings from a particular action.
(However, I don't agree that the conscience is an exclusively human attribute. I think there is evidence that many "higher" animals have something very much like a conscience.)
I think mutation adequately explains the birth of such a new characteristic in an offspring. The characteristic may be very faint indeed, but it can be there. In a previous exchange (not in this debate), I offered intelligence as an attribute that could be seen to gradually increase through mutations that affect brain size and organization.
Jerry writes in regard to my color bar analogy:
Where have I asked him to identify, on the evolutionary scale, the exact point where the Homo Sapiens evolved? My concern is not at what point, but rather is it possible!
In that case, I have probably misunderstood the main thrust of your argument. I will now state that it is possible that some prior ancestor evolved into Homo Sapiens and the mechanism I invoke is mutation.
One final note on this point. In response to my mention of ancestors of man, Jerry writes:
He is bordering on the idea that if one does not recognize erectus and habilis as forerunners of man, then that person is not a rational person, or a reliable source to be quoted.
I want to remind Jerry that point (3) of his argument specifically grants that evolution occurred in order to derive a contradiction or logical difficulty with that conclusion:
(3) If human beings owe their ultimate origin to evolution then this evolution must have happened on one of two ways...
Therefore, the origin of humans from ape-like ancestors should also be granted at least long enough to examine the problem that allegedly ensues.
Jerry clarifies his reasons for point (2) of the original argument which provides some details of the human respiratory system in favor of the argument for design:
My reason for putting that description in there is to show that such an intricate work could not have just happened by chance. There had to be a designer who designed that wonder, and there had to be a purpose for the design (it had to be that way for the human body to survive).
The complexity of a system is not itself an argument that rules out natural processes. For example, the intricate processes that result in weather systems across the planet are so complicated that man may never be able to model or predict them accurately, yet it is clear that they result entirely from natural causes.
Jerry responds to my step-wise description of the evolution of the lung:
(1) Where, pray tell me, did the first lung (this bladder like structure) come from?
It probably resulted from a mutation that produced an outpouching from the alimentary (food tube) wall in some kind of fish. Initially, such a pouch could be fairly small but it would still offer some degree of oxygen-to-blood transfer when air was gulped inside. Such a structure would be advantageous in oxygen-poor waters as described before and would be expected to increase in size with selection pressure.
(2) Are you saying that the respiratory system, that we have today, came from this bladder like structure on this fish?
Yes, in many steps. If increased dependence on air-breathing was advantageous, it is expected that primitive lungs would increase in efficiency. The easiest way to increase in efficiency would be to increase the internal surface area of the lung to allow more area for oxygen to contact the blood stream. Mutations producing folds and wrinkles would be selected for because they would greatly increase surface area without sacrificing other functions. Lungs achieve their greatest surface area with the alveoli we see today.
He says that the men who were involved in writing the Bible were good men, but they were deluded as though these men were not sure of whether or not they wrote it by inspiration. The implication is that they believed that they wrote it, but since there is a difference (in the atheistic mind) between belief and knowledge they really couldn't be sure....
My usage of Gal. 1:11,12 shows plainly that there was no doubt in Paul's mind that he was writing by inspiration. It wasn't that he just believed that he was, but he knew that he was....
This was more than "I think, or I believe." This was "I know...".
Jerry adequately refutes this point, but it isn't precisely my objection. I agree that the men who wrote the Bible were very certain that they were telling the truth. However, that is entirely consistent with delusion. For example, the members of the Heaven's Gate cult were very certain that what they wrote was the truth, so much so that they were willing to die for that belief. Let me quote from the "Earth Exit Statement" of one of those who committed suicide:
Why I Want To Leave at This Time
The main reason is that I KNOW who Ti & Do are. They are members of the Kingdom of Heaven and I KNOW IT.[emphasis mine]
Isn't it possible, that the writers believed a lie that they didn't know was a lie? This does happen, however, Paul knew (ginosko) that he was being guided by inspiration. Thus either he was lying (purposely) or he was telling the truth.
Was the Heaven's gate student who wrote the above lying (purposely) or telling the truth? Neither. I think Jerry would agree with me that he was simply deluded. The same, I believe, is true for Paul.
Jerry provides the premises and conclusion:
Major Premise: If the Bible shows man how to live, and if it is to be man's judge, and if it may not be added to or subtracted from, then it is authoritative.
Minor Premise: The Bible does show man how to live, and it is to be man's judge, and it may not be added to or subtracted from.
Conclusion: Therefore the Bible is authoritative.
I am not sure what the title of this argument means. Is it that (a) the Bible *is* the authority on how man should live, or that (b) the Bible *states* that it is the authority on how man should live?
Jerry adequately defends (b) by quoting extensively from the Bible to show that it supports his major premise. I have no objection to that particular argument. However, (a) seems to be the more interesting question that is left open. (a) requires an argument that the Bible is true before it can be argued. So I'll leave this section unaddressed until I know what Jerry's intentions are for it.
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.