I Dont Have Enough Faith to be an Evolutionist - Skepticism of Evolution
When someone begins with this:

"'The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel.'
-H. L. Menck

'The exact opposite of what is generally believed is often the truth'
-Jean De La Bruyere 1645-1696 "
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I read that as, "Hi, I think I'm open minded because I have unpopular opinions - but I'm really just prejudiced against majority opinions, and am therefore more irrationally closed-minded than the majority of people.".
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(02-14-2020, 10:44 AM)Melkite Wrote: You said that God created all the kinds, and that what we call species could be from them.  So tigers and lions and jaguars and house cats can all come from the same original pair.  Who defines the kinds?  What if the kinds God created are not distinguished in the same way we distinguish them?  Is a horse from a different kind than a donkey?  A tiger a different kind from a wolf?  A tasmanian tiger a different kind from a wolf?  A whale a different kind from a hippo?  What if the kinds God distinguishes are only plants from animals, animals from fungus, fungus from bacteria?

Maybe that's what happened. That's not the traditional interpretation of Genesis, which speaks of God creating each "according to their kinds". "And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after its kind." Maybe the evolutionists are right and it's all metaphorical. But there's no reason that God couldn't have inspired Moses to write about evolution, about one type of creature changing into another. Yet He didn't. That doesn't rule out evolution, but for the Christian, who believes that Scripture is both inspired and inerrant, it's a question that has to be considered. And if the Fathers and the Church got it wrong all these centuries, then could they be wrong about other things? The burden of proof is on the scientists, and I don't believe they're there yet.

(02-14-2020, 10:44 AM)Melkite Wrote: Is there a reason, other than inserting creationism, to think that that notch was made three different times?

If you find three different computers, from various parts of the world, and they all have some variation of Windows installed, would you think that their respective OSs were all developed from the same system, or that they were invented three different times separately?  DNA functions very much like a computer program.  I used the notch analogy for simplicity, but the marker would be better described as a particular command.  You could make each of those three computers perform a function, and because the programs are all Windows, the command will probably be either the same, or very similar.  Use that command on an Apple computer, and it won't work.  You have to make a completely different command to perform the same function.  Evolutionists think things like eyesight and sexual reproduction probably evolved multiple times, rather than just once, because the markers and the pathways aren't always the same.  The genetic command for all apes to do one thing may be the same genetic makeup, or slightly varied, but that same composition will have a completely different effect, or perhaps no effect at all, in a salamander.  And the salamander has the same trait caused by a completely different genetic code on a different chromosome. 

We don't think apes have a common ancestor only because the notch is the same.  That it is the same isn't the only evidence of common ancestry.



(02-14-2020, 10:44 AM)Melkite Wrote: Is there a reason, other than inserting creationism, to think that that notch was made three different times?


Because God, who is incapable of lying, apparently says so? But there's nothing in the evidence itself that can show whether God created the same DNA more than once, or there was a common ancestor. How you answer that depends on whether you believe one or the other is possible.

(02-14-2020, 10:44 AM)Melkite Wrote: If you find three different computers, from various parts of the world, and they all have some variation of Windows installed, would you think that their respective OSs were all developed from the same system, or that they were invented three different times separately?  DNA functions very much like a computer program.  I used the notch analogy for simplicity, but the marker would be better described as a particular command.  You could make each of those three computers perform a function, and because the programs are all Windows, the command will probably be either the same, or very similar.  Use that command on an Apple computer, and it won't work.  You have to make a completely different command to perform the same function.  Evolutionists think things like eyesight and sexual reproduction probably evolved multiple times, rather than just once, because the markers and the pathways aren't always the same.  The genetic command for all apes to do one thing may be the same genetic makeup, or slightly varied, but that same composition will have a completely different effect, or perhaps no effect at all, in a salamander.  And the salamander has the same trait caused by a completely different genetic code on a different chromosome.


Obviously the computer randomly modified the program, deleting versions that crash and keeping ones that work, until it got from Windows 95 to Windows 10. How else could they have the same code in them? Clearly there's a common ancestor of both programs that the original computer must have had. We don't know yet how the graphical interface developed, but not every version of a program is kept, so the ones in between must have been lost. Perhaps they're out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.


(02-14-2020, 10:44 AM)Melkite Wrote: If the literal interpretation of the Bible didn't contradict evolution, would this even be a problem?  Is there any other evidence to suggest that the various kinds were created separately?  Or is it only necessary to hypothesize it because evolution and a literal Genesis are mutually exclusive?  If a literal Genesis supported evolution, is there some kind of physical evidence suggesting separate creation that fundamentalists would be screaming are just lies from the Devil?  If not, then your argument is still ad hoc.  Even if common ancestry is just one possible explanation among many, the argument of several separate creations isn't being inserted because of any actual evidence that this is what happened, but because of the cognitive dissonance common ancestry causes to one's faith in a more-or-less literal Genesis.


You can't just dismiss Genesis, and you can't accuse creationists of 'excluding science' or some such thing if you don't also accuse scientists of excluding God. It's possible people have misunderstood Genesis, but that raises real issues about what else the Church has misunderstood. Animal (and plant) evolution isn't much of a problem for the faith; human evolution is more of one, and polygenism destroys it.

And there is evidence for kinds being created separately. The "Cambrian explosion", that is, the fossils from the beginning of the Cambrian period, shows all kinds of different creatures appearing suddenly, and the fossil record now is far better than it was in Darwin's day, so the argument of an incomplete record doesn't hold up anymore. And they've found fossils of soft-bodied and microscopic creatures, so there's less evidence that the record's just missing what came before. There's also evidence that mutations only go so far, creating variation but not anything actually new, and the variation is usually less fit. Plus the odds against random mutation creating beneficial features is so low, and then we're supposed to believe that the same feature evolved multiple times? And where are the immense numbers of transitional forms? At most, they claim to have found evidence of a few, but they should be far more numerous. Most importantly, they still can't tell how life started, and for evolution to work, it has to have something to work on.
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(02-14-2020, 02:50 PM)Paul Wrote: Obviously the computer randomly modified the program, deleting versions that crash and keeping ones that work, until it got from Windows 95 to Windows 10. How else could they have the same code in them? Clearly there's a common ancestor of both programs that the original computer must have had. We don't know yet how the graphical interface developed, but not every version of a program is kept, so the ones in between must have been lost. Perhaps they're out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.

The issues with Scriptural exegesis aside, this ends up being one of the biggest problems with any Darwinian explanation which it is reasonable to keep in mind, and where any variety of thesistic evolution, intelligent design or progressive creationist hypothesis will be formally different than Darwinism.

A Darwinian process (or the varieties of purely-materialistic processes), assumes random mutation produces changes. This can be shown of course, to a very limited degree. The problem comes with how to then justify that certain changes last. Survivial of the Fittest, of course, ends up be a substitute for final causality, but it ends up being a very poor substitute, indeed. Complex changes which clearly have an order clearly show not only design, but purpose. Merely saying that a change per accidens assists survival and reproduction does not sufficiently explain purpose, or order or design. It does not provide a real final cause, and that makes explaining the harmony and order of everything impossible.

Fundamentalists often conflate, or attempt to conflate Darwinism and permissible Catholic theories, but neglect that formal distinction. That is frustrating and ultimately unhelpful. Hopefully it is simply out of misplaced zeal rather than an intentional effort to red herring/poison the well with their opponents' arguments.

The materialistic approach always removes any final cause. The various theistic approaches demand a final cause.
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(02-12-2020, 05:25 PM)Paul Wrote: It only works back to a certain point, because prior to that, all the different kinds were separate. If there was no first organism for everything to descend from, shared genes prove nothing. It makes all sorts of sense to say that you can’t compare the genes of fish to those of dogs if the two never had a common ancestor. The only way it works your way is if there were, which is assuming what you want to prove.

Descent with variations produces a set of entities that can be consistently classified into nested groups.

Manuscripts of the Bible were generated by descent with variation (ie, copying). When these manuscripts are classified into groups, they form nested groups. Relationships between manuscripts are fairly consistent whether we look at spelling, artistic embellishment, or historical data about the manuscripts. Human languages also form nested groups, and relatively consistent nested groups when classified through different features of the languages.

Books in a library are not generated by descent with variation. What happens when we try to classify them into nested groups? One person might classify based on subject matter, another might classify based on size and shape, and another might classify based on the type of binding and paper. They can be classified, but the classification systems are not unique or consistent, and the implied "relations" between books not similar between classification systems.

So what about living organisms? They also form nested groups, so they fit the pattern of descent with variation. What if there were some number of distinct kinds from which they developed? When we tried to classify organisms, the descent within kinds would classify consistently into nested groups, and would classify relatively consistently into the same nested groups when we tried to build the classification system using different approaches - morphology, genetics, dating, etc. But the kinds themselves would be like books. They share similarities, but different approaches would produce different classification systems or relationships between the kinds. That inconsistency would be evidence that the relationships are not objective.

But that is not what we see with cellular organisms. Different approaches to classification yield consistent nested groups with consistent relationships.

So yes, there is a way to distringuish between things created similarly and things generated by descent with variation.
[-] The following 2 users Like Stanis's post:
  • MagisterMusicae, Melkite
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Just a note of thanks for this meandering discussion of evolution--I love a worthwhile argument and this certainly is one.

Our 12-year-old homeschooled granddaughter is now learning about human anatomy--something I didn't study until college--and just today asked about the function of the human coccyx. Oh, what they won't tell you in a textbook!

So thanks.
Qui me amat, amet et Deum meum.
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This is more of a stream-of-consciousness than a serious argument, but here's an excerpt from my "journal" on the subject of evolution;


Quote:The thought of devolution crossed my mind this morning while reflecting upon the Fall and the teachings of the Church and Fathers on Genesis. Man fell from an exalted and perfect state. This need be kept in mind. And since all things were formally perfect in the Paradise of Eden, plants, creatures, and Man. So too were they afflicted by the Fall. The modern sentiment is that man developed from lesser things into his current form, only to change once more. They are correct in their view of simplicity becoming multiplicity, but erroneous in their assessment of it from purely natural means. It is seen as an upward progression from the less perfect to the more perfect. When rather, it is the opposite. What were once perfect in form under the physical expression of a creaturely kind,  as Man in Adam and Eve, so did things devolve into a multiplicity according to their kind. So Man became the multiplicity of men, in their various races, so too did the animals fall suit according to their kind. There was once a Lion in perfect creation, which has digressed into multiple forms of the feline species. They are all the singular kind of feline, from this "common ancestor" of the Paradisical Lion, but have a multiplicity of accidental expressions of lesser perfection. And so it is with all creatures ad infinitum, and so it will continue for all time until the Last Day when Christ recreates the heavens and the earth.


Take it as you will, but just something I was reflecting on.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture: and it shall not fear when the heat cometh.' - Jeremias 17:8
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(02-25-2020, 01:22 PM)Augustinian Wrote: This is more of a stream-of-consciousness than a serious argument, but here's an excerpt from my "journal" on the subject of evolution;


Quote:The thought of devolution crossed my mind this morning while reflecting upon the Fall and the teachings of the Church and Fathers on Genesis. Man fell from an exalted and perfect state. This need be kept in mind. And since all things were formally perfect in the Paradise of Eden, plants, creatures, and Man. So too were they afflicted by the Fall. The modern sentiment is that man developed from lesser things into his current form, only to change once more. They are correct in their view of simplicity becoming multiplicity, but erroneous in their assessment of it from purely natural means. It is seen as an upward progression from the less perfect to the more perfect. When rather, it is the opposite. What were once perfect in form under the physical expression of a creaturely kind,  as Man in Adam and Eve, so did things devolve into a multiplicity according to their kind. So Man became the multiplicity of men, in their various races, so too did the animals fall suit according to their kind. There was once a Lion in perfect creation, which has digressed into multiple forms of the feline species. They are all the singular kind of feline, from this "common ancestor" of the Paradisical Lion, but have a multiplicity of accidental expressions of lesser perfection. And so it is with all creatures ad infinitum, and so it will continue for all time until the Last Day when Christ recreates the heavens and the earth.


Take it as you will, but just something I was reflecting on.


Just one small point of contention.

My reading suggest that you think that the animals were in some way changed by man's fall. That does not accord with the Thomistic understanding, and so the mainstream Catholic notion. St Thomas, in fact, calls the change of animals by man's fall ridiculous.

The idea here is that, if man had control by his fall over the nature of the animals, then he would be equal with God, because only the Creator can change the nature of a thing, since to give a nature is to create a new thing. Since man does not have this power by nature, it makes no sense that he would gain this power by sin. Appeal to God for this change, and then it undermines the Wisdom and Providence of God.

There are some early Fathers who, being Platonists, were okay with this idyllic world, where in a sense Paradise was the "world of ideas" and things were broken by the fall, but this does not really work with Catholic theology as it's developed.

There are even some early Fathers who denied that animals were in Paradise, and instead that they lived outside of Paradise which was a symbol of the Sanctifying Grace that rational creatures had. Since man is rational animal, an no one would think plants were rational or touched by Sanctifying Grace, it was proper that only a rational animal in Sanctifying Grace be admitted. Animals were brought to the edge of the garden for Adam to name, and thus Eve should have known very clearly that the serpent was a trap.

That's not offered as a rebuke, but as a means of facilitating discussion and perhaps deeper thought.
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(02-27-2020, 05:36 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: There are even some early Fathers who denied that animals were in Paradise, and instead that they lived outside of Paradise which was a symbol of the Sanctifying Grace that rational creatures had. Since man is rational animal, an no one would think plants were rational or touched by Sanctifying Grace, it was proper that only a rational animal in Sanctifying Grace be admitted. Animals were brought to the edge of the garden for Adam to name, and thus Eve should have known very clearly that the serpent was a trap.

That is an interesting point, Adam going to the precipice of Paradise to name the animals makes me wonder, then, if what is meant by the Fall coincides with this ejection from Paradise into the world of death and suffering. As if Adam and Eve stepped from aeviternity into temporality, not simply spiritually, but physically as well, when they left the Garden.

I guess the one thing that still gives me pause about this perspective is in Romans 5:12 where St. Paul states that death entered the world through the introduction of sin in Adam. If he means not just spiritual death, but physical death, then would the 'world' he is referring to be that of man's subjective experience? Since death has already existed for the lesser creatures?

Quote:That's not offered as a rebuke, but as a means of facilitating discussion and perhaps deeper thought.


No offense taken. A discussion is all I am aiming at here.
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"Man fell from an exalted and perfect state."

Lovely and true. I'll mention that to her too.

Please, in your charity, pray for my granddaughter Madeline as she discerns becoming a Catholic. It's been a long, hard road for her, and she's only twelve.
Qui me amat, amet et Deum meum.
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