Friday, January 06, 2006

Catching up Part 3: Walter R. Thorson addresses "Natural Theology."

The third article, Walter Thorson's Naturalism and design in biology: is intelligent dialogue possible? takes the view that ID, when viewed as a theological approach, is compatible with a naturalistic approach to science. Taking the same tack as the uniformly excellent Science Held Hostage, Thorson notes:

The established habit of appealing to "evolution" as an ultimate explanation for the biological order is no more legitimate scientifically than appealing to "design"--and this philosophical bias in the scientific community should be recognized for what it is.

He also points out that experiments in science that attempt to show the inadequacy of particular theoretical constructs, even if they are performed by ID proponents, are legitimate scientifically. Read the whole thing.


  1. I found your blog by way of Jon Reid. I have enjoyed your comments a great deal. Fascinating stuff….I especially enjoyed your commentary on Richard Dawkins and his dubious statements. From what I’ve read Dawkins betrays his supposed objectivity quite frequently. Even so, I do not consider him to be an enemy. I’m sure he’s an affable chap in person despite how scathing his criticisms of Christianity are. Hey, we live in a free society and he has every right to be wrong! ;^)

    I myself still believe in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis and do not at all see any merit to the change of one organism to another over vast periods of time (e.g. dinosaurs becoming birds over time etc.). But, I will very quickly concede that I am not a biologist or a scientist…and will quickly defer to people who are more learned in these areas. No, I am content to believe that there is abundant evidence of design in the world. As such I guess I am a pretty strong ID proponent. I do agree with Michael Behe that scientists should be shouting with joy from their roof tops at the discovery of design. However that design came into being is a glorious debate.

    As an aside, may I ask you what you think of the teachings of Dr. Hugh Ross? In your estimation, do they hold any merit scientifically?

    Also, just out of curiosity, do you believe there was a literal Adam and Eve? I have a friend who has his PHD in Geography and works for the National Geographic Society. My friend pointed me to some intriguing work being done by the NGS that has somehow genetically tracked humans back to one geographical group of humans in Africa. Interestingly they call this group Adam and Eve. Not sure what to make of it...but it is interesting stuff.

    Peace be with you!


  2. Richard,
    Sorry to get back to you so tardily. I have read much of Dr. Ross' material, including "The Fingerprint of God" and find his treatment of astronomy quite intriguing. His work has been characterized by a great deal of care to detail and solid scientific research. The two problems that I have with his arguments are that 1. they do not constitute evidence for the existence of God. They constitute evidence for a universe constructed to exacting tolerances. 2. He goes off the rails when he talks about evolution, betraying a lack of understanding of its mechanics. This is especially aggravating since he chastises his fellow creationists for using bad arguments to argue for a recent creation.
    A literal Adam and Eve...not sure. I am still working this one out. I have been reading a lot about the doctrine of original sin and am still formulating. The hypothesis that you are referring to is the mitochondrial eve model of modern human origins. As is typical with the media, they got the details wrong. Mitochondrial DNA is not recombined like nuclear DNA is and is passed down the line maternally. Consequently, it is possible to determine rates of divergence between populations based on known mutation rates. Based on this data, one study that was done in the late 1980s argued that modern humans went through a population bottleneck around 200 thousand years ago, in which only one or a few lineages survived. Note, this does not mean one Eve. Several problems with this original research have surfaced in the intervening years, suggesting that the evidence for a bottleneck of this sort is not as good as it once was thought to be. Does this help?