Friday, October 21, 2011

Evolutionary Biologist Defends Creation

It was great having Dr. Rick Oliver on campus last week. Listen to the the MP3 of "The God Solution" show #32 - "Evolutionary Biologist Defends Creation" below!  Get all our previous shows here. We are on the air Sunday mornings at 8:30 am MST. "The God Solution" is an interactive show that will discuss answers to humanity's questions about God and God's answers for humanity's questions. I really hope you'll tune in and listen and share the program with friends as well. If you live in the area listen to the show on 91.9 or 93.9 FM. If you don't live in the area, feel free to check out the show online at and archived hereIf you like the show please let the wonderful folks at KDUR know. You can contact them by clicking hereThanks a ton and tune in every Sunday at 8:30 am! Also, don't miss Dr. Rick Oliver at Connect this Tuesday, Oct. 18th in the Vallecito room at 7:30 pm (get more info here). Get the rest of the God Solution interviews by clicking here!


  1. What the experts have to say.......

  2. "We tend to filter out things that don't fit our philosphical worldview" -Oliver. This remark is patently obvious in the mind of the interviewer and interviewee

    @ 17:20 "when you see reknonwed scientists using such silly tricks to get around statistics, that always seems to me like a lack of scientific integrity" This comment is hilarious because it comes from someone with obviously little understanding of statistical theory, the nature of science,how science proceeds, and peer review.

    As a challenge I encourage you to post references to sceientific peer review papers on ID. Wait, it turns out there are none! Sorry.

  3. Thanks for commenting. Just out of curiosity, do you have a science degree. Mine is in Chemistry. The man I interviewed has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology and a Masters in Geology and my co-host on this show is a bio major. What's your background. It would help to know how to answer.

  4. How about this, show me your journal articles that support 1) fossil records describing all the transitional species between any ancient organism and its supposed modern relative, 2) a biological mechanism for increasing an organism's genome while preserving the change resulting in new features and significant speciation, 3) abiogenesis reproduced in a lab, 4) a naturalistic explanation for the origin of design, information and the laws that govern this universe and 5) a naturalistic explanation (that is empirically verifiable) for the existence of this universe. Wait, there aren't any? I don't want to come across as sarcastic but want to make the point that your criticism of ID goes both ways. There are great reasons to believe in creation but for now, I thought I'd make sure the playing field was level. I'll wait for your response. Thanks so much for commenting. I'd love to talk more.

  5. (1) There is plenty of fossil records showing transitional speciation. Modern humans, dogs and cereals demonstrate rapid evolution in a matter of 100 years or less. Requiring all stages over billions of years is simply ridiculous. Conclusions can be drawn with some remains which show clear linkages. Bacterial breakdown and geologic events ensure that most organisms are not fossilized or are broken down. (2) the biological mechanism is random variation in reproduction. (3) why do you require that primates (humans)be able inact abiogenisus to prove evolution? The evidence of evoluation is now clearly demonstrated in the mapping of the genome and in the fossil remains. Ironically its the creationist who should be the one experimentally proving abiogenisus if anyone. Or demonstrating god doing it. 4) the universe has the appearance of design, laws are emergent properties of physical matter- they do change over time. 5) empirically verify how the universe came into being? What? I don't think you understand what you are saying. But I'll volley the quesiton to you - can the ID people do this, no. Theoretical phyicists are working on a universe from nothing theory and the large hadron collider might reveal insights time.

    In summary scientific understanding of diversity of organisms, which is robust, is so largely at odds with the biblical account in Genesis that the two are not reconciable. In order to marry, one must treat Genesis so loosely, if one is to proceed with any theology. The idea of ID is so marginal now, most of the world is moving on. I feel so sorry for Christians to have to stomach this new understanding of the world which significantly undermines their worldview and belief systems. it's a difficult pill to swallow, I understand why you are so desperate to try to defend your position. But the complexity arguement, the major gambit, pushed by ID people is very weak and short on explanation. Most likely in your lifetime you will have to come to terms with the fact that god did not create in 6 days, the earth before water, and eve from the rib of adam. It will be depressing for you when you finally embrace this, but you will be wiser.

  6. Thanks for the reply. Interestingly, you didn't include the journal references. It's not a great idea to try to get out of the fossil record by saying evolution occurred rapidly and transitions weren't preserved. I mentioned the 2 leading figures that have contributed in that field. Both admit the lack of evidence. Random variation in reproduction, ie. mutations have NEVER been shown to increase genetic information resulting in positive new features that are preserved through natural selection. Go ahead, find a single journal article to refute that. Abiogenesis is necessary for naturalism. If you believe we're a product of chance, you must explain a naturalistic start to the process. In the debates I've had publicly with atheists they always try to brush this off, because of the obvious lack of answers. Go ahead, provide a single journal article describing this. If you can't, I'm glad you agree life is the product of a supernatural act (ie. ID). The laws of the universe govern everything in the universe and aren't just the product of matter but rather govern matter. Again, don't just brush this off. Finally, The large Hadron collider is exciting! I'm eager to learn what they'll find in different aspects of particle physics and so forth but know no one involved plans on discrediting the 1st law of thermo. The creationist position is simple, all we see is the result of a cause. Pretty simple perspective that you readily employ in every aspect of daily life. We, unlike the naturalists, don't try to get around the 1st and 2nd laws of thermo in order to support an ideological position. This discussion started as a challenge for a single journal article in support of ID. I wanted to see where you were coming from before I shared it. 1973, Icarus (Volume 19 pages 341-346) Francis Crick writes, "As an alternative to these nineteenth- century mechanisms (ie. chemical evolution), we have considered Directed Panspermia, the theory that organisms were deliberately transmitted to the earth by intelligent beings on another planet.” There you have it. ID in a peer reviewed journal. Just make sure to call that designer an alien an the scientific community will applaud you, call it God or an intelligent designer and you get laughed out of the discussion. Double standard? It's been fun chatting but I don't think this is going very far. In closing, you said you feel sorry for Christians. Ad-Hominem attack aside, don't. We have hope based in reality, confidence based in truth, security based in assurance, acceptance based in authentic love and purpose, passion and perspective a naturalist could never dream of. I hope and trust you will some day find that in Jesus and know as a result, as you stated, you will be wiser. Thanks for chatting. Have a great weekend.

  7. Saying I feel sorry for Christians is not an ad hominem. I really do feel sorry for them- for what they've been told is "true" now only to find out its' not. Effectively, they've been lied to.

    Secondly, the article you cite makes no mention of God - the question posed is organisms form other planets. By the way the paper is 40 years old! Science has prgressed leaps an bounds since then. I advise you to get current, at least start refering to literature in the past twenty years. Also the Crick article does not present a postive case for panspermia (so I don't understand why you're citing it). Here is an excerpt from the abstract which demonstrates how readily you feel comfortable misquoting scientific literature.
    "As an alternative to these nineteenth century mechanisms, we have considered Directed Panspermia, the theory that organisms were deliberately transmitted to the earth by intelligent beings [aliens] on another planet. We
    conclude that it is possible that life reached the earth in this way, but that the scientific evidence is inadequate at the present time to say anything about the probability. We draw attention to the kinds of evidence that might throw additional light on the topic."

    In the future please reference accurately. Don't insert you views into an article which clearly aren't there and then pawn off the paper in support of your view. If you were an academic your career would be at stake for this. Right now it's just your credibility.

  8. You asked for one article. That is one. Old doesn't discredit. As far as I know, Crick still believes this. Dawkins even proposed it on the interview in expelled. Anyway, I'm using it a bit sarcastically. I thought that was evident. Sorry it wasn't. I understand modern academia has a commitment to naturalism. I am confident anything contradicting that presupposition is not allowed in the peer review process. All that being said, science leads to a big question mark about the big questions, where did all this come from, why are we here, how should we live, what it our destiny, etc. That's OK. Science has a role and a place, it just can't go outside that. It often tries but comes up short. Jesus can and does go far beyond that. My hope is that you will follow the evidence where it leads. Check out the evidence for Jesus, his death, resurrection and promises. Check out some of our other shows (linked under get all our previous shows here). I hope you'll maintain an open mind, honest heart, humble disposition and diligent search and know if you do, you'll come face to face with Jesus. There is hope, peace, joy, love, forgiveness, acceptance, confidence, security, passion and purpose in Christ. I hope you find Him.

  9. The podcast and debate here is on creation vs. evolution. I appreciate your evangelical bent, but whether or not Jesus was resurrected is not germane to the discussion. I will say, however, with regard to Jesus because you brought him up, the germane issue with this conversation is whether there was a garden, an adam, and a fall. Because if there wasn't, which highly looks to be the case, the need for Christ and most theology of the fall, is completely undermined. Sorry to say.

    its worth pointing out that your sense that science is all about dissproving Christianity, and creation manuscripts are not given fair peer review is bogus. Frankly, by and large, science is about moving understanding and knowledge forward. The peer review process ensures that good sound thinking is accepted and poorly supported science and ideas are rejected. If creation were true, scientific papers would reflect this. Unfortunately for you they don't and hence I understand why you feel so defensive and desperate.

    I would encourage your to consider theistic evolution - it is a tenable position, shakey but tenable. The creation /evolution debate is over my friend, and somehow you're still trying to fly the flag of the losing side. I suggest revising your hermenutics of Genesis to metaphor, and not continue to spread manifest falsehood of a literal interpretation. Else later in life you're going to have to apologize to numerous, numerous people because of your misleading them.

    Your current veiw is not convincing at all.

  10. A "universe from nothing" theory is literally nonsense. When physicist work on such theories, they're really working from the assumption of the existence of things like a necessarily existing quantum field. It's intellectually irresponsible wordplay to say that is something from nothing. Here's an argument for my first claim:

    Taking nothingness seriously,
    1. "it" has no properties.
    2.Potentiality is a property.
    3. Therefore "nothing" has no potential.
    4. In order to come into being there must be a potential for whatever comes into being to come into being.
    5.But there cannot be a potential for something to come into being if there is nothing.
    6. So there cannot be something if a state of nothingness obtains.

    So to say something can come from nothing is either to equivocate on "nothing," or to commit a pretty basic error in metaphysics.

  11. One can argue for the same conclusion another way. Suppose that propositions about what is possible are made true by the causal powers of things. Then,
    1. If there is nothing, there are no causal powers.
    2. Therefore, if there is nothing, nothing is possible.
    3. In order for the universe to come to be it must be possible that it come to be.
    4. Therefore, if there is nothing, then it is not possible for a universe to come to be.

  12. I agree that our understanding of the singularity is not good, but the topic at hand is evolution vs. creation. Our point of conversation here is way down the time line from the initial starting conditions. We're starting at the point of an earth.

    It's worth pointing out that the universe from nothing theory isn't anymore nonsense then the theory that God created. After all, who gave us the God creation theory? The same individual who wrongly thought the universe, earth, and its contents were created in 6 days, and that eve was made from a rib of Adam. Apart from this, we've never heard directly from God that he created, or has shown use another creation scenario.

    Finally,Doug, the universe does not always behave according to classical understanding. Just because an argument follows some logical premise, doesn't make it true. We need scientific observations to validate the premises. I can't comment on what existed before the singularity, but your understanding is just as constrained as mine.

  13. You've just used premises untestable by science. Observe: "We need scientific observations to validate the premises."

    But the truth of the matter is that we simply don't. Some premises, premises about contingent, empirical matters of fact plausibly require testing, but to require testing of all our premises via science would be a dead-end, self-refuting condition.

    My claim is that when "nothing" and "coming into being" are used in a felicitous manner, then when we talk of the universe "coming into being" from "nothing" we speak nonsense. Otherwise, we are equivocating on one or both.

    To exempt the universe from operating in line with logical law is to effect a complete epistemic breakdown. All things become assertable about the universe, because they are then compatible with all other assertions. There would be no point of continuing this conversation, because it would be in principle impossible to settle the dispute.

  14. Doug, please try to communicate more clearly. I can't understand half the things you're trying to say - sounds like a bunch of globbly gook.

  15. It is an easy concept for me.

    God and Jesus are crutches; much like alcohol, drugs, and sexual deviance are crutches. We all use ways of coping to deal with hiding from out personal demons. Some people use whiskey, some use cocaine, and increasingly people are using 'god'

    Using Jesus and god to justify one's actions is very weak and self serving. Instead of taking accountability for one's actions they just blame it on a person that NOBODY has ever seen.

    I respect people's beliefs, as longs as they don't tell me mine are wrong. When someone tells me that TANGIBLE facts are wrong and base their argument on passed down oral fables they fall flat on their faces.

    Following the Golden Rule, living by the 9 commandments (there is no lord, so that leaves 9) is a good way to live. Most religions follow these principles, some just try to tie morality to religion. How about we all try to help our brothers and sisters out for the sake of personal development? I am strong enough to face my inadequacies and work on my shortcomings. To be true to myself I don't need a crutch. Preying on vulnerable freshmen in college is no better than tempting them with strong drink and lust. Religion has always been a way to control the thinking of weak minded people.

    I am not a christian, but guess what? When a christian dies the same day I do we will be the same thing- compost. My soul/energy/chakra is no better or worse than that of a Christian, if I have lived my life as a moral and compassionate person WITHOUT jesus I am no better or worse, just able to take my own path. If jesus is so compassionate why does he think I need to accept him just to be rewarded? It's utter nonsense. People need to be accountable to themselves and their fellow humans, not some mythical being. Our world would be better off if people served their communities instead of some fairy tale fabricated to scare children and justify rape, pillaging, torture, war, and close mindedness.

  16. Looks like you guys are having a blast! I'll get back in the conversation at some point. Very busy right now.

  17. I'll simplify.

    First, you make statements not testable by science. This contradicts your own requirement.

    Second, by classical understanding I think you mean classical logic. If the universe does not obey classical logic, then inferences are undermined, we cannot infer anything. If, however, you mean something else, then see below.

    Third, my arguments were designed to require no empirical verification, even if scientists figure out how something can "come to be" out of "nothing" they will have to use "nothing" in a sense in which we're not using it here and one cannot refute an argument by redefining the words used in the argument. "Nothing" just refers to the idea of the absence of all substance and properties.

  18. Thanks for clarifying Doug.

    Please note that your first argument is just a semantic word game. I will stand firm that arguments can follow logic, but if the premises aren't true in reality, then the argument is not true. Premises need validation. Science gives us our most rigorous discussion of fact and validation. Period.

    Second, if you follow particle physics you'll note that some subatomic particles do not follow classical understanding. You're wrong to say that we cannot infer anything because of this - there are exceptions, and they should be treated as such.

  19. You provided no reason to think my first argument was a word game. If you can provide such a reason, then I'll take that objection seriously.

    Subatomic particles follow "classical understanding" (I'm still not clear what you mean by this, but I'm going to assume you mean classical logic) as far as we know. What push the limits are interpretations of quantum physics, but then so much the worse for those interpretations, if they are at odds with logic. The best way to test whether some postulate is false is to show that it's impossible for it to be true.

    It would never be rational to admit an exception to a logical law. There could never be anything we're better justified in believing. Again quantum physics gives us reasons for making exceptions. Sure, the experimental results are strange, but don't force us into believing anything except that they are strange. Nor does the math force us to any strangeness, only interpretations. But again, so much the worse for those interpretations. Further, we cannot infer anything if we abandon or make exceptions to logical laws because then they cease to be laws. I think a scientifically-minded person such as yourself can see why I say that. If logical laws are not laws, then inferences made using them will be up in the air.

    An oddity: you oppose those who tell you that you are wrong about matters of fact, and by that I assume you just mean "scientific fact." But then you feel free to oppose the laws of logic. Do you see how comical that appears? Such a strong faith in science! See below.

    Thus far I've assumed a naive position with regard to science, but there are monumental and unresolved challenges to the idea that science can confirm anything for us. The various problems of induction, the failure of falsification, Hempel's paradox, underdetermination, etc. Your position has the rational status of belief in the doctrine of the trinity. From my point of view, you and my evangelical friends here are on at least equal footing.

    Looking forward to your reply.

  20. One more note: you're right that an argument can have false premises and still be valid (seems that's what you were trying to say). That's true and there's no controversy about it. However, my first argument is purely definitional. If that's what you mean by "semantic word game" then you're right. But it's not a semantic word game in any illicit sense. It's what philosophers call an a priori argument.

    If it were illicit, then the use of any purely definitional claim would be illicit, but then plenty of inferences in science would be illicit. That's not even mentioning mathematics, where we'd be utterly ruined if definitional arguments were not legitimate. So that's not a claim you can make.

  21. I should've said quantum physics gives us NO reasons for making exceptions. :)

  22. I guess when the audience becomes more than willingly led astray sheep, there is no more discussion?

    Science +1
    God 0

  23. The kind of response I had hoped to see.

  24. Thinking and evolving beingOctober 28, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I still can't beleive evangelists confuse evolution with bio genesis. Science has shown us that evolution DOES exist. I look at sea life fossils (nautiloids) in rocks in the La Plata mountains. I see dinosaur bones in Canyonlands. Fossil records across the globe that show land masses diverged while biologic life evolved independently on each separate land mass. The question of where did the first life come from is unanswered, was it amino acids near ocean vents? A comet? I don't know these answers. I do know that single celled and simple organism existed well before humans or even primates. To deny that humans are the culmination biologic changes, and genetic change over the course of 10s of 1000s of years is silly.

    Just because we don't know what started the 'big bang' or what the beginnings of bio-genesis were does not mean there is a god. Simply put: lack of understanding does not confirm the existence of god. It was not long ago that many churches felt 'witches' needed to be burned, or that the earth was flat. If god was so real and clear on homosexuality etc.. why could he/she not be clear on our origins? 7 days of genesis is not evidence, it is merely a theory that some want to beleive in. There is no evidence of such....

    I don't care about what christians think; it is a free country and I love the fact we can all beleive in what we may. I do, however, not like the idea that christians think they can parade around and tell me and my children what to think. I don't go to your church and push my views. I could easily sit in front of your church and legally picket causing a disturbance, I do not out of respect for your beliefs. I could also reserve a room at FLC and have a 'seminar' on why christians are mislead and dumb, again I don't do this out of respect for your individual beliefs. I could also parade around campus and try to prey on vulnerable and confused kids to join my gang (meant church), but i dont.

    Believe what you may, but don't dismiss or warp science into your need for a high being. Be strong and have your beliefs, but don't try to validate or manifest your feelings of loneliness or confusion by disregarding facts. To do so is a sign of vanity, and a sign of lack of respect for others beliefs. Those 2 things are far from the self proclaimed christian way of compassion and humbleness.