Tag Archives: Biologos Institute

Can a person believe in God and evolution at the same time?

Was Mount Rushmore designed?
Was Mount Rushmore designed?

Here’s a post on Evolution News that explains what theistic evolution is:

Three geologists stand at the foot of Mt. Rushmore. The first geologist says, “This mountain depicts perfectly the faces of four U.S. Presidents, it must be the work of a master sculptor.” The second says, “You are a geologist, you should know that all mountains were created by natural forces, such as volcanoes and plate movements, the details were then sculpted by erosion from water and wind. How could you possibly think this was the work of an intelligent sculptor? Only a person completely ignorant of geophysics could think those faces were designed.”

The third geologist says to himself, “I don’t want to be seen as ignorant, but the faces in this mountain sure do look like they were designed.” So he thinks a moment and says to the second geologist, “Of course you are right, these faces were sculpted by natural forces such as erosion. Only an ignorant person would think they were designed.” Then he turns to the first and says, “But what a magnificent result, there obviously must have been a master sculptor standing by and watching.”

The third geologist is a theistic evolutionist. Someone who thinks that God did nothing detectable by science in the whole history of the universe, but who also loves to talk about their religious experience and what hymns they like to sing in church. Synonyms for this definition of theistic evolution are “supernaturalist naturalism” and “theistic atheism”. I like the latter, myself. Theistic atheism. Atheism at work for my colleagues on Monday, and theism in the church for my pastor on Sundays.

Now if you call yourself a theistic evolutionist, but you think that intelligent design is detectable in nature by non-theists doing ordinary science with ordinary scientific methods, then you are not a theistic evolutionist according to this definition. This post is not describing you.

You can listen to a debate on theistic evolution between Michael Behe and theistic evolutionist Keith Fox right here to decide if theistic evolution is true. A summary is provided for those who prefer to read instead of listen.

What is theistic evolution? Can a person believe in God and evolution at the same time?

Was Mount Rushmore designed?
Was Mount Rushmore designed?

Here’s a post on Evolution News that explains what theistic evolution is:

Three geologists stand at the foot of Mt. Rushmore. The first geologist says, “This mountain depicts perfectly the faces of four U.S. Presidents, it must be the work of a master sculptor.” The second says, “You are a geologist, you should know that all mountains were created by natural forces, such as volcanoes and plate movements, the details were then sculpted by erosion from water and wind. How could you possibly think this was the work of an intelligent sculptor? Only a person completely ignorant of geophysics could think those faces were designed.”

The third geologist says to himself, “I don’t want to be seen as ignorant, but the faces in this mountain sure do look like they were designed.” So he thinks a moment and says to the second geologist, “Of course you are right, these faces were sculpted by natural forces such as erosion. Only an ignorant person would think they were designed.” Then he turns to the first and says, “But what a magnificent result, there obviously must have been a master sculptor standing by and watching.”

The third geologist is a theistic evolutionist. Someone who thinks that God did nothing detectable by science in the whole history of the universe, but who also loves to talk about their religious experience and what hymns they like to sing in church. Synonyms for this definition of theistic evolution are “supernaturalist naturalism” and “theistic atheism”. I like the latter, myself. Theistic atheism. Atheism at work for my colleagues on Monday, and theism in the church for my pastor on Sundays.

Now if you call yourself a theistic evolutionist, but you think that intelligent design is detectable in nature by non-theists doing ordinary science with ordinary scientific methods, then you are not a theistic evolutionist according to this definition. This post is not describing you.

You can listen to a debate on theistic evolution between Michael Behe and theistic evolutionist Keith Fox right here to decide if theistic evolution is true. A summary is provided for those who prefer to read instead of listen.

Seven videos from the Biola University conference on God and evolution

I have been weaseling out of my apologetics posting this week, and this is my last chance to get something good up so I can make it onto Brian Auten’s weekly apologetics bonus links at Apologetics 315, the best Christian apologetics site ever.

So I am posting SEVEN video clips from a recent Biola University conference on theistic evolution. (H/T Mysterious Jonathan)

Conference details:

Can you believe in God and Darwinian evolution at the same time? Scientists and scholars have an answer that may surprise the audience as they explore this and related questions at the God & Evolution conference on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

The conference will focus on the conflict between neo-Darwinism and traditional theological views of Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

What is “theistic” evolution, and how consistent is it with traditional theism?

What challenges does Darwin’s theory pose for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews?

Is it “anti-science” to question Darwinian Theory?

These questions and more will be addressed at the one-day conference by Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine, biologist Jonathan Wells, political scientist John West, philosopher Jay Richards, attorney and science writer Casey Luskin and authors David Klinghoffer and Denyse O’Leary.

In the century and a half since Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of evolution, Christians, Jews, and other religious believers have grappled with how to make sense of it. Most have understood that Darwin’s theory has profound theological implications, but responses have varied dramatically.

Some believers have rejected it outright; others, including “theistic evolutionists” such as Francis Collins and Karl Giberson, have sought to reconcile Darwin’s theory with their religious beliefs, often at the cost of clarity, orthodoxy, or both. As a result, the whole subject of God and evolution is a source of confusion for many believers.

Join us for this one-day seminar, featuring contributors to the new book, God and Evolution, exploring these issues and offering a wide-ranging critique of those who seek to reconcile materialistic theories such as Darwinism with belief in God.

Here is the playlist for all SEVEN video clips.

Clip 1 of 7: Jay W. Richards: The Central Issues (34 minutes)

Clip 2 of 7: John G. West: Three Big Questions (22 minutes)

Clip 3 of 7: Casey Luskin: Why the New Atheists Won’t Be Appeased (21 minutes)

Clip 4 of 7: Denyse O’Leary: Catholics & Evolution (29 minutes)

Clip 5 of 7: David Klinghoffer: Judaism & Evolution (17 minutes)

Clip 6 of 7: Jonathan Wells: Science and Theistic Evolution (26 minutes)

Clip 7 of 7: Panel Discussion with Marvin Olasky (99 minutes)

So it looks like there are 2 Catholics (Richards, O’Leary), 2 Jews (Luskin, Klinghoffer), 2 Protestants (West, Olasky) and 1 “Other” (Wells) in that list. It’s a diverse group.

Ann Gauger’s new peer-reviewed paper on Darwinian evolution

Amazing new research paper by the Biologic Institute. The PDF of the paper, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” is available here.

The MP3 file is here.

Participants

  • Jay Richards, Director of Research at the CRSC, (Discovery Institute)
  • Ann Gauger, senior research scientist at the Biologic Institute

About Ann:

Ann is a senior research scientist at Biologic Institute. Her work uses molecular genetics and genomic engineering to study the origin, organization and operation of metabolic pathways. She received a BS in biology from MIT, and a PhD in developmental biology from the University of Washington, where she studied cell adhesion molecules involved in Drosophila embryogenesis. As a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard she cloned and characterized the Drosophila kinesin light chain. Her research has been published in Nature, Development, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Topics:

  • Co-authored with microbiologist Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsion
  • Purpose: study whether bacteria can evolve the ability to fix a broken protein (e.g. – enzyme)
  • Two areas are broken in the enzyme
  • If you fix the first one, it works a little but not fully (slight advantage)
  • If you fix the second one, it starts to work fully (huge advantage)
  • It’s a “two-step adaptive path” – a textbook case for evolution
  • should be able to hit both mutations and get back full functionality
  • At the start of the experiment, the cell is churning out broken protein
  • there is a cost to the cell for create the broken protein
  • the cell can either go through the adaptive path and repair the protein
  • OR, it can shut off production of the broken protein
  • EITHER PATH gives a selective advantage
  • So what happens? The cells NEVER followed the adaptive path
  • They almost ALWAYS turn off the production of the broken protein
  • It happens in 30-50 generations, in 14 different cultures
  • Each culture had a different way of turning off the production
  • They tested on 10^12 cells
  • Only one cell made the first repair, none made the second repair
  • It’s more advantageous to STOP PRODUCING the broken protein as soon as possible
  • The first cell that gets rid of the non-functional protein first overtakes the whole culture
  • so, even adaptive paths that provide a benefit with one mutation are unlikely to be followed
  • The point: even promising theoretical adaptive pathways MAY NOT WORK in experiments

I wrote about Doug Axe’s recent research paper here. He is the Director of the Biologic Institute.

Related posts

Doug Axe publishes a new peer-reviewed paper on protein folding

A new podcast from ID the Future is worth listening to.

Participants

  • Jay Richards, Director of Research at the CRSC, (Discovery Institute)
  • Doug Axe, Director of the Biologic Institute

The MP3 file is here.

Topics

  • the new BIO-Complexity peer-reviewed journal
  • new peer-reviewed paper challenges Darwinian account of protein folding
  • proteins are found in every living system
  • a protein is a chain of parts called amino acids
  • there are 20 amino acids used in living systems
  • it’s like a 20-letter alphabet used to make sentences (proteins)
  • if the sequence is just right, it folds up and has a function
  • the information about the functional sequences is in the genome
  • the “protein fold” is the 3D shape that a functional protein takes on
  • the folding problem is good because you can TEST Darwinian mechanisms
  • the problem is simple enough to be tested rigorously in a lab
  • Question: how easy is it to create a sequence that folds?
  • English is a good analogy to the problem of protein folding
  • you have a long string of characters (e.g. – 200 letters)
  • each “letter” can be one of 20 amino acids
  • if you assign the letters randomly, you almost always get gibberish
  • there are tons of possible sequences of different letters
  • it’s like a 200 digit slot machine with each digit having 20 possibilities!
  • the number of sequences that would actually make sense is tiny
  • protein folding is the same
  • Doug’s paper assesses how many “tries” could have been attempted
  • Doug’s paper calculates the total number of possibilities
  • cells have arrived a large number of functional sequences
  • but only a small number of the total possibilities could have been tried
  • this is called the “sampling problem”
  • there isn’t enough time to test all of the possibilities (see previous paper below)
  • how did living systems arrive at the functional sequences so quickly?
  • there are some possible naturalistic scenarios for solving the problem
  • Doug’s new paper shows that none of the naturalistic explanations work
  • the only explanation left is that an intelligence sequenced the amino acids
  • it is identical to the way that I can sequence letters to make this post

A picture is worth a thousand words

Here’s a video clip from the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma showing the process:

If you would like to know more about Darwin’s Dilemma, you can read Brian Auten’s review of Darwin’s Dilemma.

Who are these guys?

I wrote a post before on Doug Axe’s previous publications in the Journal of Molecular Biology, where he researched how many of the possible sequences of amino acids have biological function. His PhD is from Caltech, and his post-doctoral research on proteins was conducted at Cambridge University.

Jay Richards is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and a Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute. In recent years he has been a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. His PhD is from Princeton University.

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