Monday, June 16, 2008

The Coherency of Evolution and Faith - Part IV

Part III lists all questions and comments raised to date from original posts and replies in Part I and II. So far, Dr. Jason Epps, my friend and colleague (hopefully to remain as such), has been the only person to pose such responses; therefore, my comments and questions are directed mostly to what I discern to be his position favoring Creationism over the claims of science concerning evolution. I will provide a brief treatment of epistemological issues raised thus far and then speak, mostly by reference, to some science questions raised.

The Distinction between Science and Faith
So far, the attempt has been made to place science and faith on the same playing field regarding what kind of knowledge they provide and the manner in which belief functions. In other words, the claim is that faith is ultimately common to both science and faith. Respectively, this is both simplistic and fallacious. There is not just one category of belief nor is there just one form of knowledge. Belief in God, belief that I will be killed if I play on the freeway, belief that I am not just a brain in a vat, and belief in the Big Bang Theory of the Universe are different categories of belief that provide different types of knowledge. I am not saying anything new here; many epistemologists have recognized this for centuries. For a more complete treatment of this idea, one may refer to an introductory text in epistemology such as Morton’s Theory of Knowledge (2002). If you would like a theological treatment of faith, reason, inference, and assent you may refer to Cardinal John Henry Newman’s A Grammar in Aid of Assent (1870). Newman’s work is especially relevant regarding the difference between inference and faith.

In regards to science, inference is used to make claims that have yet to be empirically proven. For example, the Big Bang Theory was inferred from the observation that the universe seems to be expanding. The inference is that if the visible universe is currently expanding then it was smaller in the past. Taken back far enough the inference leads to an extremely dense, hot singularity and an event that is known as the Big Bang. This is not faith. It is based on observations that can be replicated. Inference is more flexible to revision than faith because new observations are a different kind of evidence than what faith may require for change. Reason and observation are all that is required to produce an inference. Faith is much more complex and requires intuition and affect in addition to reason. Faith, unlike inference, does not always require direct observation. Another difference between inference and faith is that faith is not simply a belief; it requires volition of action for coherency. Inference, unlike faith, may never affect daily life. Quite simply, faith points to a different kind of truth and knowledge than inference points to associated with science. So, if one is truly interested in discovering truth, the choices after appeal to or replication of observations become:

1. Deny the observations that lead to inference because of difficulties associated with empiricism.
2. Offer an alternative inference. This leads to the formulation of a theory that may be tested to either reject or refine that theory.

Option (1) is problematic because if you reject all observation and experience then one may fall into deep skepticism, which should also apply to one’s own position and leads nowhere meaningful. Skepticism helps keep claims to knowledge rigorous but when taken too far, like most things, is not helpful or practical. Therefore, the question then becomes what observations are reasonable to accept in propositions and inference. Who decides what to accept and what to reject? My observation of the Creationist position, thus far, is that observations that lend support to a position contrary to their own or that supports a theory with implications contrary to their own is many times rejected outright. Does this aid in the search for objective knowable truth or is it simply easier to ignore the tough questions that entail from observations of the physical world?

I think Option (2) is much more interesting and at the heart of what any debate related to coherency should address. The problem, however, still comes back to the demarcation problem. There are exceptions and some difficulties with verifiability and testability but these two qualities seem to provide what Creationism and I.D. do not. If one infers God, is one still practicing science? Maybe yes but on only two questions related to prima causa:

1. How did matter come into existence in the first place?
2. How did the first nucleotide or lipid necessary for even a simple Eukaryotic cell come into existence in the first place?

After those first two moments in time (and maybe not even then), no appeal to God, the supernatural, or anything non-naturalistic should be made for it remain science. Why? Because science and religion serve two separate, distinct functions in human society and are categorically different, not opposing ends of a spectrum. To change science or religion to function in a similar manner as the other defeats the type of knowledge that may be discovered from its distinct, respective position. I simply do not understand why many (but not all) in the religious community want them to be the same thing. If they are the same, do the same epistemological difficulties apply to their position as well? Some argue that the push to get science and religion on the same playing field is part of a larger sociopolitical agenda to get prayer back into the classroom at the expense of all that we have gained over the last 300 years. It is easy to see why when you have action plans such as the Wedge Strategy associated with Philip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial. One of the purposes of this blog is to explore the characteristics that make science distinct so I encourage asking the tough question of “What is Science?” and posting what qualities you feel science should possess that are distinct from religion. Also, check out the websites for the Center for Scientific Creation and The Discovery Institute to make up your own mind on the larger issue of evolution … just don’t look for many citations without a last name of Behe, Dembski, or Meyer.

A Few Replies and a Comment on Science
I must begin by stating that this exercise has shown me how much more science I need to learn. I have 3 years of Biochemistry, 1 year of Physics, 1 year of Genetics, 2 quarters of Zoology, 1 semester of Philosophy of Genetics, and 1 semester of Science & Society under my belt (all college level). I am also a big fan of the History Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, and the Discovery Channel. Lastly, I have read a decent amount of hard science on my own including Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe, Michio Kaku’s Parallel Worlds, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History in Time and Universe in a Nutshell. I am not listing this to brag; my purpose is actually quite the contrary. The type of knowledge science provides is so vast that to answer all the specific questions in a particular field is rather difficult and upon reflection, I should have done more to increase my knowledge of the natural world to be able to more eloquently answer the questions posed in this blog. As such and in regards to the questions of evolution and other scientific questions raised, I recommend checking out and defer to TalkOrigins because they provide answers to these types of questions and more with many citations to source materials. They respond to but do not present Creationist or I.D. positions but provide numerous links to alternative views including Creationism and I.D. websites here. As with any Internet resource, be skeptical and judge for yourself. I have a few replies to specific questions and comments raised so far.

*** “Big Bang theory posits that at some point, there was nothing that somehow became something.” ***
This misrepresents the theory. The inference for the theory leads back to an extremely dense, hot singularity. This allows for many things including a cyclical beginning and end to the universe due to black holes or God. Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene do not posit the idea of something from nothing. Neither my physics book nor anything I researched on the web claimed something from nothing either. I am interested in a citation for your claim. Hawking and Greene do acknowledge the difficulty of the prima causa for creation of matter in purely naturalistic terms.

*** “When has “mutability” been observed?” ***
See TalkOrigins on Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution regarding direct and indirect evidence observable in the here and now. Any basic biology or evolutionary biology text should also provide examples.

*** “There is still no observable evidence for transmutability. I would challenge anyone reading this blog to produce it. If you can’t produce it, then you have to concede that there is a significant measure of “faith” that is involved in accepting evolution – as much as it might hurt to admit it :0) ” ***
Once again, either you are rejecting the abundance of observations that lead to this inference or you are not doing your homework. Many transitional fossils have been found that lend support to an inference of transmutability between species and genera, between families, genera, and classes, and between kingdoms and phyla. Check out the TalkOrigins link here for a brief treatment regarding such evidence. I also suggest reading the full article entitled Transitional Vertebrates Fossils FAQ. Your challenge has been produced, no concessions to faith given, and no hurt felt, thank you very much. Do you claim that all these observations are a hoax or do not exist? If not, what inferences would you make with the data? I highly recommend checking this section out because it addresses the misconception of extreme transmutability that has been raised such as transmutation of a frog to a cow or fish to a man. I found the idea fascinating that such extreme mutability is actually evidence against evolution.

A few more questions:
1. What is an evolutionist? If I believe in coherency between faith and religion, what is my label? How would one categorize Francis Collins? He is Director of the Human Genome Project and Evangelical Christian. He believes that evolution is not only real but also evidence of God.

2. How can evolution be coherent with the idea of Biblical inerrancy? Is the Bible a guide to the physical, spiritual, or both? If it is a physical guide then how does it help answer modern questions of medicine, biology, or physics that were inconceivable roughly 2000 years ago?

3. If the message of the Bible refers to an immaterial soul, how are morality and meaning affected by evolution, a material process?

4. What specifically does treatment of science with epistemological integrity look like or entail?

5. What are the 700 dissenters who claim, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life? Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” actually saying? It does not seem to denounce evolution but calls for skepticism and careful examination of evidence, which no scientist would (or should) disagree. See Jason’s blog on the subject here for the specific document.

I appreciate the comments and questions so far. I think Socrates had it right when he argued that the way to truth involves pursuing thought in many directions and to follow out logical implications of thought. It makes us uncomfortable to challenge our own positions but drives those who truly seek truth to continue to work and discover. I do not understand how Creationism or I.D. allows for the possibility of further work to discover the many unanswered questions; however, I am open (and still waiting) for answers to analytically evaluate. Only in this way may objective truth may be discovered and therefore become knowable.

As always, respectful comments are encouraged.

Best Wishes,
Roger

2 comments:

Jason Epps said...

Hi Roger,
Good treatment of the issues here. Here are some responses….
The Distinction between Science and Faith
So far, the attempt has been made to place science and faith on the same playing field regarding what kind of knowledge they provide and the manner in which belief functions. In other words, the claim is that faith is ultimately common to both science and faith. Respectively, this is both simplistic and fallacious.

*** First of all, a proposition’s simplicity in no way determines its value. Secondly, the claim that modern science utilizes is not fallacious – it is fact. As you so accurately describe later in this post, for one to accept the “big bang” theory, one has to believe that the inferences that are made are of more value than alternative inferences. When carried back far enough, what is dealt with is not something that is empirically observable, but something that must be accepted without further regression. This is a type of faith. Science uses it every day because of the inductive nature of the reasoning it employs. This is not disputable. An example? George Washington died because when he contracted an illness, the doctors bled him to death. The fact that Washington died because of their misguided practice proves that their methods were based upon false beliefs. Now, you may say that science has come a long way since then, but the same thing could have been said in Washington’s day in reference to the science of a generation or two before. In the end, science does make use of observable data. But to process that data and make inferences requires something that is not empirical. Here is where faith comes in. To say that science does not utilize faith is to deny reality.
There is not just one category of belief nor is there just one form of knowledge. Belief in God, belief that I will be killed if I play on the freeway, belief that I am not just a brain in a vat, and belief in the Big Bang Theory of the Universe are different categories of belief that provide different types of knowledge. I am not saying anything new here; many epistemologists have recognized this for centuries. For a more complete treatment of this idea, one may refer to an introductory text in epistemology such as Morton’s Theory of Knowledge (2002). If you would like a theological treatment of faith, reason, inference, and assent you may refer to Cardinal John Henry Newman’s A Grammar in Aid of Assent (1870). Newman’s work is especially relevant regarding the difference between inference and faith.

*** There may be different categories of belief or faith, but each category is still united by a common denominator – belief in that which cannot be observed. In addition, I fail to understand why your assertion of a variety of categories does anything to strengthen your argument. Perhaps you could elaborate on this.
In regards to science, inference is used to make claims that have yet to be empirically proven.

*** Exactly. And upon what is inference based?
For example, the Big Bang Theory was inferred from the observation that the universe seems to be expanding. The inference is that if the visible universe is currently expanding then it was smaller in the past. Taken back far enough the inference leads to an extremely dense, hot singularity and an event that is known as the Big Bang. This is not faith. It is based on observations that can be replicated.

*** It is faith. “Replicating observations” is not on the same plane as “replicating the big bang.” It may be true that we can observe the universe to be expanding – but the big band conclusion, which may be possible, is not the only possibility. But whatever the possibility, the fact remains the past cannot be observed, and neither can the future. Only the present can be. So to suggest the Big Bang involves no faith at all is a bit silly. And to suggest that we have absolute knowledge of the Big Bang because we have observed the universe to be expanding is even sillier.
Inference is more flexible to revision than faith because new observations are a different kind of evidence than what faith may require for change. Reason and observation are all that is required to produce an inference. Faith is much more complex and requires intuition and affect in addition to reason.

*** Then suppose two scientists both make inferences based solely on reason and observation as you suggest – but they come up with different, even contradictory, conclusions? What then? Who has the more valid inference? You must believe in one’s ability over the other. Faith.
Faith, unlike inference, does not always require direct observation. Another difference between inference and faith is that faith is not simply a belief; it requires volition of action for coherency. Inference, unlike faith, may never affect daily life. Quite simply, faith points to a different kind of truth and knowledge than inference points to associated with science.

*** A different kind of truth? Truth is what objectively is. Truth is truth. The Bang Band either happened or it did not. Evolution is right or it’s not. God either exists or He does not. There will be a judgment day or there will not be. Faith deals with claims about what is objectively true. So does science. Therefore both deal with the same type of truth and the same type of knowledge. This is not what is up for debate. What is up for debate is the interplay between the two in becoming cognizant of that knowledge.
So, if one is truly interested in discovering truth, the choices after appeal to or replication of observations become:
1. Deny the observations that lead to inference because of difficulties associated with empiricism.
2. Offer an alternative inference. This leads to the formulation of a theory that may be tested to either reject or refine that theory.
Option (1) is problematic because if you reject all observation and experience then one may fall into deep skepticism, which should also apply to one’s own position and leads nowhere meaningful. Skepticism helps keep claims to knowledge rigorous but when taken too far, like most things, is not helpful or practical. Therefore, the question then becomes what observations are reasonable to accept in propositions and inference. Who decides what to accept and what to reject? My observation of the Creationist position, thus far, is that observations that lend support to a position contrary to their own or that supports a theory with implications contrary to their own is many times rejected outright. Does this aid in the search for objective knowable truth or is it simply easier to ignore the tough questions that entail from observations of the physical world?

*** With all due respect, my observation of the non-Creationist position is that observations that lend support to a position contrary to their own or that supports a theory with implications contrary to their own is many times rejected outright. And when you misrepresent Creationism as ignoring tough questions, you demonstrate your ignorance of their position. How many publications have you read by scientists who believe in Creation? How many of their best works were fairly represented in the philosophy of science class you took at the University of Utah? If I remember correctly, I don’t think there were any. If you want to understand Creation Science, you should read its arguments from its own proponents rather than watching and cheering as its opponents build up and burn straw men. Did you know that creationists deal with observable data as well? Did you know that they pay attention to data that the other side refuses to deal with? Creationists and non-Creationists both assess the observable world. The difference is that Creationists are able to process this data through the filter of knowledge of an absolute and objective intelligence who is the source of all that is. This is the Creationist’s interpretive presupposition. The non-Creationist’s presupposition is the opposite: the data is interpreted through the filter of a naturalistic worldview – one that denies the existence of a supernatural God. Each presupposition cannot be empirically proven – therefore both inferences are based on faith, as I’ve been saying all along. God’s existence cannot be empirically proven, but neither can His non-existence. Hence, both presuppositions, and all inferences and conclusions that come from them, are in some way faith-based.
I think Option (2) is much more interesting and at the heart of what any debate related to coherency should address. The problem, however, still comes back to the demarcation problem. There are exceptions and some difficulties with verifiability and testability but these two qualities seem to provide what Creationism and I.D. do not. If one infers God, is one still practicing science?
*** Why do you ask this question? Because if we cannot prove God’s existence, then anything we base on that is not science, right? If this is the case, the same question could be asked, “If one infers ‘not God,’ is one still practicing science?” God’s non-existence is no more provable than His existence. If you line of reasoning is correct, then the one who disbelieves in God is also guilty of not practicing science.
Maybe yes but on only two questions related to prima causa:
1. How did matter come into existence in the first place?
2. How did the first nucleotide or lipid necessary for even a simple Eukaryotic cell come into existence in the first place?
After those first two moments in time (and maybe not even then), no appeal to God, the supernatural, or anything non-naturalistic should be made for it remain science. Why? Because science and religion serve two separate, distinct functions in human society and are categorically different, not opposing ends of a spectrum.

*** This may be the way society is at this point in time, but this has no bearing on the question of whether the two subjects are, epistemologically and metaphysically, based upon the same starting point. Both seek truth, and both utilize some measure of faith. If you cannot accept that it takes faith to believe that “in the beginning, there was nothing,” but then, “out of nothing, came something,” I’m not really sure what else to say. This defies all natural laws, but it is still believed by those who accept the Big Bang Theory. If Creationists are attacked for bringing in non-natural phenomena to strengthen their positions, then non-Creationists are equally as guilty because the heart and soul of their positions rests upon the same non-natural assertions.
To change science or religion to function in a similar manner as the other defeats the type of knowledge that may be discovered from its distinct, respective position. I simply do not understand why many (but not all) in the religious community want them to be the same thing. If they are the same, do the same epistemological difficulties apply to their position as well?

*** I am not understanding what you mean when you say that some in the religious community want science and religion to be the same thing. I think, once again, this is a misrepresentation of the Creationist position. The issue is that if the Christian faith is correct, then it makes no sense, and is unbelievable foolish, to try to and make inferences about observable data without taking God into account. The truth of God should inform our knowledge of the world, not detract from it. I don’t understand how this is trying to make science and religion “the same thing.”
Some argue that the push to get science and religion on the same playing field is part of a larger sociopolitical agenda to get prayer back into the classroom at the expense of all that we have gained over the last 300 years.

*** All we have gained? I’m assuming you are speaking in terms of “scientific knowledge” since the moral state of our world is probably as bad as it has ever been and continues to get worse.
It is easy to see why when you have action plans such as the Wedge Strategy associated with Philip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial.

*** Action plans? Are you accusing Creationists of a conspiracy theory? Isn’t that what evolutionists say that Creationists are always guilty of?
One of the purposes of this blog is to explore the characteristics that make science distinct so I encourage asking the tough question of “What is Science?” and posting what qualities you feel science should possess that are distinct from religion. Also, check out the websites for the Center for Scientific Creation and The Discovery Institute to make up your own mind on the larger issue of evolution … just don’t look for many citations without a last name of Behe, Dembski, or Meyer.

*** I like the pejorative comment at the end of that last comment. I guess if any of these three has something rational to say that is based upon evidence that cannot be refuted, we should ignore them because they are small in number. Maybe we should have ignored Galileo as well and treated him just like the member of Plato’s cave who saw the truth but was killed because the other slaves in the cave couldn’t handle its implications.
A Few Replies and a Comment on Science
I must begin by stating that this exercise has shown me how much more science I need to learn. I have 3 years of Biochemistry, 1 year of Physics, 1 year of Genetics, 2 quarters of Zoology, 1 semester of Philosophy of Genetics, and 1 semester of Science & Society under my belt (all college level). I am also a big fan of the History Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, and the Discovery Channel. Lastly, I have read a decent amount of hard science on my own including Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe, Michio Kaku’s Parallel Worlds, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History in Time and Universe in a Nutshell. I am not listing this to brag; my purpose is actually quite the contrary. The type of knowledge science provides is so vast that to answer all the specific questions in a particular field is rather difficult and upon reflection, I should have done more to increase my knowledge of the natural world to be able to more eloquently answer the questions posed in this blog. As such and in regards to the questions of evolution and other scientific questions raised, I recommend checking out and defer to TalkOrigins because they provide answers to these types of questions and more with many citations to source materials. They respond to but do not present Creationist or I.D. positions but provide numerous links to alternative views including Creationism and I.D. websites here. As with any Internet resource, be skeptical and judge for yourself. I have a few replies to specific questions and comments raised so far.
*** “Big Bang theory posits that at some point, there was nothing that somehow became something.” ***
This misrepresents the theory. The inference for the theory leads back to an extremely dense, hot singularity. This allows for many things including a cyclical beginning and end to the universe due to black holes or God. Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene do not posit the idea of something from nothing. Neither my physics book nor anything I researched on the web claimed something from nothing either. I am interested in a citation for your claim. Hawking and Greene do acknowledge the difficulty of the prima causa for creation of matter in purely naturalistic terms.

****** Even if Hawking and Greene do not believe in “something from nothing,” is it enough to simply say that they “do acknowledge the difficulty of the prima causa for creation of matter in purely naturalistic terms?” If this is a difficulty, what then are we to do with it?
*** “When has “mutability” been observed?” ***
See TalkOrigins on Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution regarding direct and indirect evidence observable in the here and now. Any basic biology or evolutionary biology text should also provide examples.

****** Again, when has mutability been observed – in the present? Never. Talking around the issue does nothing to help evolution’s cause.
*** “There is still no observable evidence for transmutability. I would challenge anyone reading this blog to produce it. If you can’t produce it, then you have to concede that there is a significant measure of “faith” that is involved in accepting evolution – as much as it might hurt to admit it :0) ” ***
Once again, either you are rejecting the abundance of observations that lead to this inference or you are not doing your homework.

****** No, actually – I’m stating common sense fact. There is no “abundance of observation.” Evolution is supposed to have happened in the past. The past cannot be observed. Present evidence can be observed, but evidence must be interpreted – and this is not the same thing as observing the actual process of evolution.
Many transitional fossils have been found that lend support to an inference of transmutability between species and genera, between families, genera, and classes, and between kingdoms and phyla. Check out the TalkOrigins link here for a brief treatment regarding such evidence. I also suggest reading the full article entitled Transitional Vertebrates Fossils FAQ. Your challenge has been produced, no concessions to faith given, and no hurt felt, thank you very much. Do you claim that all these observations are a hoax or do not exist? If not, what inferences would you make with the data? I highly recommend checking this section out because it addresses the misconception of extreme transmutability that has been raised such as transmutation of a frog to a cow or fish to a man. I found the idea fascinating that such extreme mutability is actually evidence against evolution.

****** Sorry, but I do not think my challenge has been produced. Everything on these pages interprets a set of data in a way that is consistent with anti-theistic presuppositions that have not been substantiated. Fossils have been found for the last century and it is well known that a fossil can be used to demonstrate a variety of theories. Even if these examples of fossils were strong ones, which they are not, the problem would still remain that faith is required in order for them to be interpreted. One has to believe that God does not exist for such a naturalistic framework to hold up – and such a belief cannot be proven any more than can the contrary.
A few more questions:
1. What is an evolutionist? If I believe in coherency between faith and religion, what is my label? How would one categorize Francis Collins? He is Director of the Human Genome Project and Evangelical Christian. He believes that evolution is not only real but also evidence of God.

*** A person who does not believe that the Bible is God’s Word is not an evangelical Christian. He may characterize himself as such, but anyone who dismisses Genesis as allegory is at odds with Jesus Himself who believed in the historicity of Genesis. If one doubts the words of Jesus, I would have a hard time accepting that such a person is an evangelical Christian. However, my information regarding Collins is limited. I’m open to hearing more about him. But I do know what his position on Genesis is.
2. How can evolution be coherent with the idea of Biblical inerrancy? Is the Bible a guide to the physical, spiritual, or both? If it is a physical guide then how does it help answer modern questions of medicine, biology, or physics that were inconceivable roughly 2000 years ago?

*** Even if it is not a “guide” to the physical world, it is not at odds with it.
3. If the message of the Bible refers to an immaterial soul, how are morality and meaning affected by evolution, a material process?

*** Evolution (on the large scale) is a myth. Therefore, they are not affected at all by it – unless of course you take into account the horrible atrocities that have been justified by the belief in evolution. I know you didn’t like that part of Ben Stein’s movie because it played the emotion card, but it’s true nonetheless.
4. What specifically does treatment of science with epistemological integrity look like or entail?

*** I think it would entail an openness to other interpretations of similar data sets. At this point in the game, if you don’t go along with the mainstream, you are blackballed.
5. What are the 700 dissenters who claim, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life? Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” actually saying? It does not seem to denounce evolution but calls for skepticism and careful examination of evidence, which no scientist would (or should) disagree. See Jason’s blog on the subject here for the specific document.

*** I think you are exactly correct. And this has been my point the entire time. Evolution is not fact. It has not been proved. There are serious and fundamental holes I the theory that are ignored by most of its proponents. And if this is the case, it should be taught for what it is – a theory with many holes, inconsistencies, etc. Why is that so much to ask?

Later dude,
Jason

Ronin said...

Jason,

Thanks again for the comments. Based on the course of the debate so far, I should propose continuing it over beers until 4 a.m. to finish but the SiteMeter tells me people are reading so here are a few comments.

1. Respectively, I once again disagree with your treatment of faith as it concerns science. You mentioned that when something cannot be observed a “type of faith” is required to draw a final line to the regress. We may actually be talking over one another but along similar lines in that there are different kinds of knowledge. We disagree on the process to get to that knowledge. I believe the human mind is extremely complex and is not made up simply of the faculty of reason, affect, and faith. We recognize categorical differences everyday in everything we do so I do not see a problem with science and the type of knowledge it provides and the process we use to infer as categorically different from the type of knowledge religion provides and the process we use to obtain faith. There are simply different kinds of assent to propositions.

2. We recognize that metaphysics is distinct from physics even though metaphysics underlies physics. However, we do not have to appeal to metaphysics whenever we do a physics problem. When you regress far enough in anything, you must appeal to metaphysics, which includes evolution. The question for you then is why must evolution always appeal to metaphysics with every biological observation or problem, as it seems you are implying? If you are not implying this then I believe every comment you have made in regards to evolution in this blog is not really about evolution per se but science in general. Science has epistemological problems just like many other many, many, things in this universe. Can you concede that religion has epistemological problems as well?

3. I probably shouldn’t have phrased it in such a pejorative way; however, the comments regarding Behe, Dembski, and Meyer stem from the fact that I have read what they’ve written on the subject on my own and, contrary to your statement, in Tabery’s Philosophy of Science and Society class. Their arguments are weak, many have been defeated, and I think they are less interested in truth as they are in promoting an agenda to make God part of every classroom from Kindergarten to PhD. Check out the ruling for Dover vs. Kitzmiller and read how those guys fared under “burden of proof”. I think Intelligent Design has some potential and it certainly has raised interesting difficulties for science to answer but if I.D. is to survive, they need to do better.

Also contrary to your statement, we did cover the various arguments for Creationism in Tabery’s class including those from Henry Morris, Kent Hovind, and Ken Ham. Please do not assume that because I disagree with a position that I have not done some homework on that position. That would be prejudicial without knowledge of what that position argues or states. Wouldn’t you agree?

4. *** Are you accusing Creationists of a conspiracy theory? Isn’t that what evolutionists say that Creationists are always guilty of? ***

I will not speak to your position on the matter but I think it would be fair to say that some Creationists would rather not have science exist at all or at least not exist in its current form excluding any claim to supernatural causation. There certainly would be fewer questions to answer. If you have read the Wedge Strategy document thoroughly, I am not even close to saying anything new concerning a definite agenda. It even says under “Goals”:

1. To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies.
2. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.
3. To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
4. To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
5. To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal, and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.
6. To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
7. To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.
8. To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

I would say that “conspiracy theory” is not correct because many who prescribe to this idea are downright forthcoming about their motives and disdain of science. What are your thoughts on this doctrine? It clearly mentions both God and Intelligent Design. It seems the Designer is God so isn’t this just another form of Creationism? Why not just state that in the first place? Could it be because of the Supreme Court Ruling banning the teaching of Creationism in the public education due to separation of Church and State issues and an agenda to get around that ruling?

5. *** The issue is that if the Christian faith is correct, then it [science] makes no sense, and is unbelievable foolish, to try to and make inferences about observable data without taking God into account. The truth of God should inform our knowledge of the world, not detract from it. ***
A few questions:
1. How could science not make sense if God made everything including our ability to observe, make inferences through the faculty of reason, which He gave us, and the actual thing we are observing that He made?
2. Based on your statement, what should science specifically look like or how should it specifically function?
3. If the truth of God or Christianity as a revealed religion comes from the Bible, where can I find answers to why we have to get a different flu vaccine every year or whether or not we should genetically test for PKU or why we have the same color blood as other creatures or why we even need blood in the first place if we are a special creation?
4. What account of God do I have to make with the observation that a pesticide that worked on a particular insect 10 years ago is resistant to it? Do you mean account or praise? I think the distinction is important because I can be wondrous of a discovery without bringing God into the equation to solve the problem.

You have spoken to the presuppositions of science and difficulties of induction related to past and future events. Based on your statement, isn’t your presupposition that God works through everything in the present? I reject your claim that there is neither direct evidence nor observable evidence of evolution in the present. There is an abundance of evidence of evolution at work in the present; much that I have linked. Do you reject the evidence because you claim it doesn't exist thereby collapsing the theory of evolution or do you reject the evidence because it has implications you find distasteful? This still leaves the question of coherency, which is what I originally posed. I am willing to explore and accept the possibility of both but I have yet to discern your position on coherency so I have very specific questions.

Do you think evolution exists? Yes or No.
If yes, how can it be coherent with faith in God, the Bible, and/or Christianity?

I am most interested in your specific yes or no answer. As an Evangelical Christian Pastor, a man of faith that I deeply respect, and a highly intelligent student of Philosophy that not only understands epistemological difficulties but how significant (or insignificant) such difficulties are in making claims, do you reject evolution outright? If yes, why? If no, what parts are acceptable to you as a person of reason and faith?

Respectively, this blog concerns what I consider truly tough questions, not a never-ending debate on presuppositional and epistemological difficulties of science. Speak to it more if you must but I am interested in the answers to the other 40 or so questions I have asked in this blog that are relevant to this debate as well. You last comment/question from your last reply stated:

*** “… it should be taught for what it is – a theory with many holes, inconsistencies, etc. Why is that so much to ask?” ***

I do not see many holes and inconsistencies with evolutionary theory even though I acknowledge that more work is needed to answer all the questions. How do you specifically support this claim of holes and inconsistencies? Would you also require a disclaimer for all subjects of science or just evolution specifically? What would that disclaimer say?

I truly am interested in the reasons behind the why of your position. We also need to grab a few beers and talk Battlestar Galactica ... anything but this issue for a while.

Best Wishes,
Roger