Animal Biotechnology and Guided Evolution


#1

*Transgenic animals are animals with a foreign gene that was introduced externally. Meaning its genome was added a gene that it was not born with. Transgenic animals are animals that are “enhanced” and are used for any field and can also be use to produce an extra desired substances. They are also beneficial to our economy through uses in Agriculture, Medicine, and Industrial. There are many controversies concerning transgenic animals. These controversies are both ethical and social… *

This area has caught my attention lately because these chimeras appear to be direct evidence of ‘intelligently designed’ animals. Methods for bringing these ‘creations’ about include transgenics, gene knockout technology, and somatic cell nuclear transfer. Examples of animals ‘created’ in this way include glofish, green fluorescent bunnies, flourescent bollworms, tissue-specific knockout mice, transgenic sheep and goats, and various kinds of transgenic crops as well.

A good example of how this is done can be seen here…

http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/N/Neo.tkVector.gif

My three questions on this are hypothetical ones based on a fictional situation.

Situation:
Let’s say the technology to produce transgenic animals became lost to humanity for 2000 years. Later, 2000 years after the various transgenic species spread into the natural environment, humanity rediscovers the methods by which transgenic animals can be made.

Question 1:
Looking back, after 2000 years, how would a molecular biologist be able to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced? (I honestly don’t know the answer to this question but I am fairly sure there must be some way to discern this distinction)

Question 2:
Using these same methods that a molecular biologist would use to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced, can we look through the genetic record and likewise discern if this happened prior to humanity discovering the means to produce transgenic species 2000 years ago? (In other words, is there evidence in the genetic record that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced?)

Question 3:
In reference to question 2, if there is a way to determine that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by an intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced, has anyone actually made the effort to search through the genetic records to see if this has actually been done? (The reason why I ask is because it seems to me that this would be a good way to scientifically prove or disprove certain claims of the Intelligent Design movement without simply dismissing their thoughts out of hand)


#2

Insofar as IDers implicitly imagine a God in his laboratory carefully designing and then assembling one by one the 200,000 proteins which go to make up a human being, they probably deserve to be dismissed anyway. It is not entirely clear what “design” means in the context of divine omnipotence and creation. Are we really to imagine an omnipotent God, metaphorically scratching his head over his drawing board, as he tries to figure out how to get this to work?


#3

Actually, I don’t imagine God metaphorically scratching His head over His drawing board as He tries to figure out how to get this to work. I believe that God allowed life to naturally evolve into the life forms we see today, including humanity. I also believe that God already knew in advance how life would evolve. No experimentation was required on God’s part in my opinion.

My presentation of these questions is to investigate the claims of ID in light of recent technological developments within the human sciences. Even though I do believe that God principally allowed life to naturally evolve as He guided the forces that produced the life forms we know of today, I’m also not totally against the idea of God intervening into His creation to create new life forms either.

Consequently, even if He were to intervene with His creation, this wouldn’t necessarily imply experimentation either. Rather, much like an artist delighting in His work, God could simply be enjoying His participation with His creation in order to bring greater beauty to the universe as he further diversifies the life forms on Earth. No ‘corrections’ would be implied, only more beautiful creations to delight in.

I’m hoping that someone at least attempts to answer these 3 questions noted above. If we fail to answer these questions then it seems to me that we are not engaging in science. Rather we are broadcasting our own philosophical opinions over the available scientific data in order to force a conclusion that may not be entirely true. I think that evolutionary biology can answer these questions adequately enough so that our evolutionary origins are not threatened in the least.

Anybody? :shrug:


#4

The transgenic species won’t fit the standard molecular phylogeny, at least if the transgenic modification is large enough. It’ll “stick out like a sore thumb”. Imagine if we had a species of bird whose DNA more resembled that of a rhinoceros. It would be clear this species did not arise through descent with modification. (For small modifications, though, there may not be enough to go on. Gene insertions, duplications, deletions, etc. can also occur through natural processes.)

Question 2:
Using these same methods that a molecular biologist would use to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced, can we look through the genetic record and likewise discern if this happened prior to humanity discovering the means to produce transgenic species 2000 years ago? (In other words, is there evidence in the genetic record that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced?)

Yes, in theory we can.

Question 3:
In reference to question 2, if there is a way to determine that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by an intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced, has anyone actually made the effort to search through the genetic records to see if this has actually been done? (The reason why I ask is because it seems to me that this would be a good way to scientifically prove or disprove certain claims of the Intelligent Design movement without simply dismissing their thoughts out of hand)

Well, the standard molecular phylogenies hold up very well. There’s no species that “sticks out like a sore thumb”.


#5

I know that this would be a vast list. But do you know of any links that gives some basic outline of the evolution of the standard molecular phylogenies that we are familiar with today?

It’ll “stick out like a sore thumb”. Imagine if we had a species of bird whose DNA more resembled that of a rhinoceros. It would be clear this species did not arise through descent with modification.

That’s what I was thinking too: it would stand out against the standard molecular phylogenies we are familiar with.

Having said that, it seems that convergent evolution could produce similar molecular phylogenies that are actually transferable from one species to another.

(For small modifications, though, there may not be enough to go on. Gene insertions, duplications, deletions, etc. can also occur through natural processes.)

You brought up an interesting point in your other post here.

There appear to be jumps in the fossil record followed by periods of stasis. Now it is possible that this is merely a result of not finding the appropriate fossils since the species didn’t fossilize. However it is also possible that they aren’t there and never were there. To be fair relatively small jumps in DNA space can result in large jumps in phenotype space; however, the “relatively small jumps” might still be larger than what a “random” process could produce.

This is what I’ve been noticing too. I think this information is still being researched well. I do believe that evolution can eventually explain these jumps in more detail than we currently have. But, at this time anyway, it seems that more research is required.

There also appear to be “jumps” in the DNA evidence. If you look at the ape and monkey and human DNA, the chromosomal pattern between the various groups show big mutations at the chromosomal level (for instance the well-known fusion of chromosome 2 in humans). So there is evidence that “jumps” in the DNA space also occur. Are these random? Well, perhaps, but these appear to be one-off, and irreversible events.

This is an example of a “quantum leap” in evolution. These are the gray areas where I think God could have intervened. But I think it would be extremely reckless if any scientist made this claim without further details to confirm it.

Unfortunately, at this time anyway, it appears that we do not have enough genetic information to display this either way. These are areas where I would have no problem with someone believing in either evolution or design, so long as they do not claim that one side is “proven” more than the other.

I personally think this was produce by evolutionary processes. But I would be cautious about calling this a “fact”. It’s highly probable to the point that denying it would be seen as ignorance from a purely secular point of view. But, if one allows for God as a Creator, I think this is a plausible belief that can be reasonably supported (for now) by science.

Of course, as more data becomes available, this “belief” would be subject to revision. If one is placing their faith on this particular belief they may be sorely disappointed if more information becomes available.

Yes, in theory we can.

Has anyone from a theistic evolutionary perspective done this kind of search?

It seems to me that anyone who holds to some kind of theistic perspective regarding God’s creative act would be somewhat obligated to conduct this kind of search before they claim there is no evidence for “design”.

Well, the standard molecular phylogenies hold up very well. There’s no species that “sticks out like a sore thumb”.

What about the well-known fusion of chromosome 2 in humans from the ape?

It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. But it does stand out enough so that we can make a genetic distinction between the two species.


#6

This was an interesting example to consider.

Rather than “sticking out like a sore thumb” there are changes that could be more subtle and could appear as if it was a natural transition or some kind of convergent evolution.

Using existing evolutionary theory to analyse that kind of situation would result in an erroneous concusion.

The starting point is that all of the changes in species are caused by accidental or material causes (and not by intelligent causes). In this case, evolutionary theory would not be adequate to understand the intelligent cause that guided the development of the hypothetical species.

Some might argue that the “fossil record” would provide a way to trace back the development of the transgenic species to its origin (in a science lab somewhere). Personally, I think that’s as improbable as are current attempts to trace the fossil record back through progressive stages of development.

Question 1:
Looking back, after 2000 years, how would a molecular biologist be able to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced? (I honestly don’t know the answer to this question but I am fairly sure there must be some way to discern this distinction)

If the transgenic species was close enough to a related species, there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell that it was not created from “ordinary evolutionary processes”. So, as above, evolutionary theory would prove to be inadequate in explaining the orgin of those species. It’s also possible that some kind of design theory could prove that such species could not be produced by Darwinian processes. That’s the concept behind ID.

Question 2:
Using these same methods that a molecular biologist would use to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced, can we look through the genetic record and likewise discern if this happened prior to humanity discovering the means to produce transgenic species 2000 years ago? (In other words, is there evidence in the genetic record that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced?)

That’s an excellent and logical follow-up to the first point. Whatever the method that was used to determine the difference between the transgenic species and the “natural species” – that same method could be applied to all known species. If we see the same “signs of intelligence” in the development of other species, then new conclusions would arise out of that.

Question 3:
In reference to question 2, if there is a way to determine that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by an intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced, has anyone actually made the effort to search through the genetic records to see if this has actually been done? (The reason why I ask is because it seems to me that this would be a good way to scientifically prove or disprove certain claims of the Intelligent Design movement without simply dismissing their thoughts out of hand)

It’s an interesting point. I don’t think Intelligent Design necessarily proposes that species are the result of deliberate genetic modification. I think it’s more a matter of understanding the pathway of development and recognizing that natural process alone could not have created the end product.


#7

The Deist believes God kick-started the universe and it all unfolded “naturally.” The Church does not teach this. In fact, Cardinal Schonborn wrote an article for the New York Times titled “Finding Design in Nature.”

Whenever the term ID is brought up here, it is always with the purpose of stamping it out. Strange that a concept with supposedly no valid science behind it needs to be stamped out at all. But, once again, the idea of “stealth creationism” is associated with this as well. There will be no fruitful dialogue about this subject until it can be disentangled from politics. This dialogue will occur, but so far, at least, not here.

God bless,
Ed


#8

Assuming there was enough difference between the genes, then yes. An insect-specific gene in a mouse would be a dead giveaway. A gene transplanted from a different species of mouse might not be different enough to give a reliable result.

Question 2:
Using these same methods that a molecular biologist would use to differentiate between a transgenic species and a species which is naturally produced, can we look through the genetic record and likewise discern if this happened prior to humanity discovering the means to produce transgenic species 2000 years ago?

In principle yes, though the further back in time the transgenic event happened the more mutation that gene will have suffered so the more difficult it will be to detect.

Question 3:
In reference to question 2, if there is a way to determine that certain species may have been deliberately genetically modified by an intelligence in a way similar to how these transgenic species were produced,

That depends on how and when the modification happened. A designer can deliberately make any change appear to be natural, such as to borrow genes from closely related species so disguising the artificial nature of the design. However, in general it is not impossible to detect such modifications.

has anyone actually made the effort to search through the genetic records to see if this has actually been done?

Yes. Work has been done on horizontal gene transfer among bacteria, which is a method of passing genes from one species of bacteria into another species of bacteria. Also in the metazoans, work has been done on retroviruses and retrovirus remnants in genomes, which is where a virus inserts its own genetic material into the host organism’s genome. Both of these involve the transfer of genes between different species outside the constraints of the phylogenetic tree. So far neither of them appear to involve intelligent intervention.

The reason why I ask is because it seems to me that this would be a good way to scientifically prove or disprove certain claims of the Intelligent Design movement without simply dismissing their thoughts out of hand

It would indeed. It is up to the ID movement to provide the data to support their claims. They have set up a laboratory (the Biologic Institute) and they have their own journal (PCID). So far we have seen nothing from them; we await their results with interest.

Thankyou for three interesting and insightful questions.

rossum


#9

Oh wow. I just realized this thread is active again.

My thanks to reggieM for responding to me and getting the ball rolling again. My thanks to edwest2 and rossum too.

I have few thoughts and questions regarding the responses. But I will have to pray more and then reply to this more in depth perhaps on the weekend when I have more time to delicately phrase my thoughts.

I’ll be responding soon :slight_smile:


#10

I think this could be summed with the statement that the theory of evolution might not be fully equipped to determine if an intelligence had been involved or not. I say “might” because I do think the theory of evolution more than adequately explains the origins of our species, even if there are currently limits to what we can determine.

Some might argue that the “fossil record” would provide a way to trace back the development of the transgenic species to its origin (in a science lab somewhere). Personally, I think that’s as improbable as are current attempts to trace the fossil record back through progressive stages of development.

Why do you feel that way?

I know that the fossil record is not complete. But the genetic record really does fill in many spaces that we had not considered yet using the fossil record alone.

Myself, I would like to see if someone could determine via the genetic record what kind of transitions we should expect to find and then test them against later discoveries that might arise.

If the transgenic species was close enough to a related species, there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell that it was not created from “ordinary evolutionary processes”. So, as above, evolutionary theory would prove to be inadequate in explaining the origin of those species.

See, but there’s the problem:

What if God did not directly participate in the speciation of life?

Wouldn’t the research of the ID movement likewise be capable of making the same error, potentially misleading people away from the true means by which God may have created us?


#11

Personally, I don’t think they’ve done a good job in this area. I don’t think this failure has been due to the fact that all people are against creationism in any form either. It’s true that some are against creationism in any form. But many are open to the idea of Intelligent Design and are simply not convinced by what the ID movement proposes as evidence.

That’s an excellent and logical follow-up to the first point. Whatever the method that was used to determine the difference between the transgenic species and the “natural species” – that same method could be applied to all known species. If we see the same “signs of intelligence” in the development of other species, then new conclusions would arise out of that.

But could retroviruses, for example, produce the same effect?

It’s an interesting point. I don’t think Intelligent Design necessarily proposes that species are the result of deliberate genetic modification. I think it’s more a matter of understanding the pathway of development and recognizing that natural process alone could not have created the end product.

See here’s where I get a bit puzzled. :confused:

There seem to be many within “my team” who claim that God directly intervening with His creation would be akin to blasphemy. And Yet God has apparently genetically modified animals before according to the Bible. I’m thinking of Laban and Jacob and their flocks in this regard.

It seems to me that God somehow miraculously genetically modified Laban’s sheep to become speckled. This is certainly not simply a coincidence because the Bible specifically attributes this as a miraculous event in which God Himself apparently brought about a real genetic change that defied the probabilities of their flock’s arrangement.

The color of hair is due to the presence in the cortex of granules of a pigment called melanin. Melanin is formed in special pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the hair bulb during the growing phase (anagen) of each hair. The melanin granules lie along the amino acid chains of the proteins, looking under the microscope rather like a string of pearls. So to bring this about seems to really require God to nudge something along to produce the outcome that actually happened.

As the Peppered Moth research demonstrates, a change in color, which is considered a good candidate for natural selection, can make a big difference in the outcome of the life of the moth. We know that the rise and fall of dark-colored moths, a phenomenon known as “industrial melanism,” remains a striking and persuasive example of natural selection in action. As Miller notes, what we have to be cautious about is attributing 100% of the work of natural selection in this case to the camouflage of the moths and their direct visibility to birds.

So too, apparently, with Laban’s sheep, which were apparently supernaturally selected by God to increase Jacob’s flocks despite the schemes of Laban. Due to the arrangement of the flocks it is nearly impossible to attribute this genetic change to the work of natural selection or even “tricky breeding”. The schemes of Jacob had nothing to do with this change. And if one wants to attribute this to a coincidence then they are basically betting against the odds that some intelligence was involved in their change. For so many to have been genetically modified against the odds in this way almost seems to demand a miraculous intervention from God Himself.

See Genesis 30:25-43 for the arrangement and Genesis 31:3-13 for the testimony of Jacob regarding God’s involvement in this “genetic change”.


#12

Is it possible for a retrovirus to carry the genes of one species and insert into another species?

If so, it seems that a certain gene could then suddenly appear in the genetic record of another species, appearing as if perhaps “created”.

In principle yes, though the further back in time the transgenic event happened the more mutation that gene will have suffered so the more difficult it will be to detect.

Could convergent evolution produce the same effect, but more gradually?

That depends on how and when the modification happened. A designer can deliberately make any change appear to be natural, such as to borrow genes from closely related species so disguising the artificial nature of the design. However, in general it is not impossible to detect such modifications.

Hmmm…that is interesting.

Yes. Work has been done on horizontal gene transfer among bacteria, which is a method of passing genes from one species of bacteria into another species of bacteria. Also in the metazoans, work has been done on retroviruses and retrovirus remnants in genomes, which is where a virus inserts its own genetic material into the host organism’s genome.

Have there ever been examples of one species actually taking the genetic material of another species and inserting it into yet another species?

Both of these involve the transfer of genes between different species outside the constraints of the phylogenetic tree. So far neither of them appear to involve intelligent intervention.

But I guess my question would be: How could we actually tell?

As pertaining to the evolution/creation debate, it seems as though it would be virtually impossible to make this distinction in either direction. So, for all intensive purposes, whatever explanation one uses they could potentially find evidence in either direction. In this sense, the default natural explanation would probably be accepted, unless one has some spiritual explanatory filter to describe the cause.

It would indeed. It is up to the ID movement to provide the data to support their claims. They have set up a laboratory (the Biologic Institute) and they have their own journal (PCID). So far we have seen nothing from them; we await their results with interest.

But I think it goes a little bit further than this. There are some who seem to be saying that it’s virtually impossible for God to have acted in such a way.

In this sense I disagree. I personally don’t think the scientific evidence indicates that God did this. I also think that a natural explanation can explain this. But we really can’t tell for sure at this point and I think that some are going beyond what their theology demands and instead inserting their own scientific/philosophical leanings in place of how their theology states that God actually acts.

If someone is of a theistic background then I think they should be surer of what the evidence indicates before they use their philosophical arguments to prove what God can and cannot do.

As I said already, I think that God did use evolutionary process to bring forth the speciation of life as we see it today. This is what the science strongly indicates too regardless of what others claim.

But I don’t think the theory of evolution is proven to the point that we can fairly say that God didn’t “nudge” his creation sometimes, just as the story of Jacob’s and Laban’s flocks indicate, often with serious implications. A very small change here and there can produce some wild divergence along a chain reaction of biological events so much so that bats and whales, oddly enough, could share a common ancestor

It remains a potent fact (at least from a theistic framework) that God does indeed genetically modify things via miracles from time to time. And to restrict God’s creative power to being as limited as some claim seems to really smack God’s Omnipotence in the face too.

He is the Creator and He has done this in the Biblical record too. Therefore, if one is of a theistic background, it seems to me that they should not just relegate these questions to the work of the Biologic Institute, something which they disdain anyway for philosophical reasons and not theological reasons. They need to take a more careful look at what they are claiming before they state these things are impossible which such boldness.

Again, my own personal view is that of a theistic evolutionary framework. But I do not object to God intervening with His creation either. It has happened in the past as the Biblical record indicates. And it may very well be that it has happened more often along the evolutionary ladder than what the scientific record can actually validate.

Thank you for three interesting and insightful questions.
rossum

Thanks to you for the responses. :slight_smile:


#13

Well, I’m not alone in this opinion. Other scientists have criticized the view that the fossil record can provide a means to fully trace the development of species.

What if God did not directly participate in the speciation of life?

I can’t see that as a possibility, myself. Traditional Catholic theology has taught the God directly creates the substance of all living creatures – that is the form that these creatures will take.

Wouldn’t the research of the ID movement likewise be capable of making the same error, potentially misleading people away from the true means by which God may have created us?

The research of the ID movement is just that – research. It’s based on an understanding of nature in its wholeness and not in it’s external - superficial aspects only (matter & molecules). The ID movement is looking at the evidence that has supported the teleological argument for centuries. Personally, I can find no way that the ID argument could not be true. It aligns with centuries of Catholic teaching, with the teaching of Christ, with the teaching of the Holy Scripture, with the ideas of many intellectuals and with believers today. It also aligns with what I’d call “common sense” – which is the human ability to see the essence of things in their “creaturely” aspect. The fact that a kitten or a lamb or a donkey or a butterfly or a bumblebee is more than a collection of molecules and organic matter.

I find it confirmed almost every day here on CAF. I see die-hard evolutionists arguing their points but making wild assumptions and ignoring information that contradicts their ideas. To me, this is a defensive posture, not a neutral-objective work of scientific research. Why the rash opinions and defensiveness? I conclude that the theory is not well-established and is easily criticized. As non-scientist myself, I’ve offered several critiques that have not been answered sufficiently.

But to answer the question again – is it possible that God does not exist, as a majority of scientists assert? For myself, I find that it is impossible to consider that.

I don’t see how the ID movement could mislead people by questioning evolutionary theory. If the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ, I do not see how it’s possible that the teleolgical argument could be false.


#14

I too find it odd that the Church is presented in two different ways. In one description, the Church only addresses issues of faith and morals, in another, especially when its words offer support for evolution, it is credited with being able to speak about science also.

The term “guided evolution” assumes that evolution is unguided. This goes against the teleological argument so well presented in “Human Persons Created in the Image of God.” The Bible also tells us clearly that those things created recognize God’s work in His creation. Far from lacking the same level of scientific knowledge humans possess today, the ancient writers knew, as the Church teaches, that God can be discovered through natural human reason. But, as used here, the word “natural” usually implies God had literally nothing to do with it.

What was the effect on the gene pool of the time when Jesus cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead?

God bless,
Ed


#15

True, many are not convinced. But have you seen the number of pro-ID books that have been published in recent years? I would think that shows some momentum and both an increased audience and scientific writers supporting ID.

There seem to be many within “my team” who claim that God directly intervening with His creation would be akin to blasphemy.

I might not have made my point clearly enough. As I see it, there’s a contradiction in the phrase “God did not intervene in His creation”. How did God create His creatures and His world? As I see it, science cannot provide the answer to this question. I would say also, the more we use science to try to answer this, the farther we will get from the truth.

Is it possible for God to tell a human being how He did things? If so, this would be far more certain knowledge than anything offered by science.

And Yet God has apparently genetically modified animals before according to the Bible. I’m thinking of Laban and Jacob and their flocks in this regard.

This is an excellent point. This is just one instance recorded in Scripture. Is it possible that there were many other instances not recorded? If there were, then any species that were miraculously genetically modified could not be explained by Darwinian theory. Evolution would try to claim that the species developed through natural processes alone but this would be false since God intervened.

So too, apparently, with Laban’s sheep, which were apparently supernaturally selected by God to increase Jacob’s flocks despite the schemes of Laban. Due to the arrangement of the flocks it is nearly impossible to attribute this genetic change to the work of natural selection or even “tricky breeding”.

This is really good – I had never considered this example before.

As I see it, God intervened to genetically change one of His creatures. This says a lot. Why didn’t God just let evolution do this work for Him? Again, as I see it, there’s a message here beyond the question of genetic development. Could God have shaped creatures all through natural history very much in the way He modified Laban’s sheep?

I would just offer this – if this Bible story is true (as I believe it and I think you do), then how could evolutionary theory exclude the hand of God as a possible factor the development of other species? I think that’s a powerful critique in itself.

Thanks for posting information about this Scriptural text.


#16

Again, my own personal view is that of a theistic evolutionary framework. But I do not object to God intervening with His creation either. It has happened in the past as the Biblical record indicates. And it may very well be that it has happened more often along the evolutionary ladder than what the scientific record can actually validate.

One concern I’d have here is what I offered before. We can see one instance recorded in Scripture. If this happened more often, as you suggest (and if it happened once we cannot exclude the possiblity that it would happen again), how is that information factored into evolutionary theory today? In other words, to fully understand the evolutionary process, one would need to include God’s influence in the process itself. If that is “forbidden” by science, then evolutionary theory would never be able to understand the development of species.

If materialist-evolution is correct, then we would be forced to reinterpret the story of Laban. Thus, science would force us to change our theological position (so there is, indeed, a conflict between science and faith quite often).

Some have accepted that evolutionary theory forces us to reinterpret the entire book of Genesis -and from there the entire Bible. All that is left are some “core truths” which are of an ethical basis, or perhaps some rudimentary religious concepts. All the rest is fable or myth.


#17

That’s true. But they are the minority amongst a large field that generally accepts the fossil record as evidence of gradual change. Even without the genetic record this point is accepted very much amongst the scientific fields. I see no scientific or theological reason to question this interpretation either.

It’s also true that some reject the idea of an active intelligence modifying (or in some way participating with) the species along that way. But that isn’t the case all the time. There are many who do believe that God guided evolution even as He allowed His guidance to manifest as a gradual evolutionary speciation in many different directions.

I can’t see that as a possibility, myself. Traditional Catholic theology has taught the God directly creates the substance of all living creatures – that is the form that these creatures will take.

True. But at the same time it is clear that God creates via latter processes too, such as through procreation for example. So, since God can operate through contingent processes, this is not really an issue for me. I do believe that God actively participates in creation. But that doesn’t mean that people and even animals cannot co-operate with God’s will according to the overall pattern that God controls and sustains.

The research of the ID movement is just that – research. It’s based on an understanding of nature in its wholeness and not in it’s external - superficial aspects only (matter & molecules). The ID movement is looking at the evidence that has supported the teleological argument for centuries. Personally, I can find no way that the ID argument could not be true. It aligns with centuries of Catholic teaching, with the teaching of Christ, with the teaching of the Holy Scripture, with the ideas of many intellectuals and with believers today. It also aligns with what I’d call “common sense” – which is the human ability to see the essence of things in their “creaturely” aspect. The fact that a kitten or a lamb or a donkey or a butterfly or a bumblebee is more than a collection of molecules and organic matter.

This is indeed been an argument that has been ongoing for a long time, going back and forth many times.

I do agree that the natural essence of something can be intuitively known without specifically requiring divine revelation to “know” this.

I find it confirmed almost every day here on CAF. I see die-hard evolutionists arguing their points but making wild assumptions and ignoring information that contradicts their ideas. To me, this is a defensive posture, not a neutral-objective work of scientific research. Why the rash opinions and defensiveness? I conclude that the theory is not well-established and is easily criticized. As non-scientist myself, I’ve offered several critiques that have not been answered sufficiently.

Just because someone takes a defensive and aggressive stand against another’s arguments doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

True. It could mean that their arguments are not good. But it could also mean that they are not used to having their ideas challenged. It could also mean that their personality types are not suited for an open discussion about these things. It could also mean that they are simply frustrated by the fact that the other person doesn’t understand their side after having this explained to them so many times. I think it’s probably combination of many of these factors and probably a few more too.

But to answer the question again – is it possible that God does not exist, as a majority of scientists assert? For myself, I find that it is impossible to consider that.

Hold on a moment.

I did not say that I thought that God didn’t exist. I do believe He exists. I think nature reveals its creator too.

I also don’t think that the failure to find “scientific evidence” that God specifically created something means that God didn’t actually create it either.

Just because God used evolutionary processes to create does not mean that He didn’t create. It just means He created by a means which was much more complex than heretofore understood.

There are indeed limits to what our finite human logic can discern. Some are some ways of God which are inscrutable and there are some ways of God which are plain to see for everyone.

I don’t see how the ID movement could mislead people by questioning evolutionary theory. If the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ, I do not see how it’s possible that the teleological argument could be false.

I don’t think that the teleological argument is false. I do think that it is being partially misapplied by the ID movement though.


#18

There is a good point here.

Again, God’s miracle can modify the genetic makeup of creatures, as with all the cases that you’ve demonstrated. These are all perfect examples of God using a miraculous means to modify the genetic makeup of these individuals to bring about permanent biological effects, whether that be a rapid healing of the skin, or a replenishment of the biological functions of the eye, or even the complete restoration of life itself to the individual who biological functions totally ceased.

In Jesus’ time He told them to go see the Rabbis to have the pronouncement that they are cleansed in order to prove a miracle happened. And even when determining a miracle within the modern causes for the saints, these teams apply some rigorous discernment from medical experts in order to rule out natural causes for the bringing about of the healing, when is then examined more deeply by the cause for the saints.

There are other examples too in the Bible which explicitly indicate that God brings about biological changes via miraculous means, such as the feeding of the 5000, or the healing of the servant’s ear, or the bloodletting of the woman.

And in the Old Testament we see God bringing about other biological miracles, such as the budding of Aaron’s staff from dead wood, or the transformation of Moses’ staff into a serpent (which then consumes two other serpents) and then turns back into dead wood again, or the transformation of an entire section of the Nile River into blood.

Again, I have no problem with God bringing these things about since He is the creator. My only caution is when someone presents a scientific argument as a proof of God’s involvement in creation. Very often there does appear to be a rational biological reason that can explain the events in mundane terms that no longer involve God’s special active involvement on a physical level, such as was the case of Behe’s arguments for the irreducible complexity of certain biological systems.

Of course, God is always deeply involved on a spiritual level. If God withdrew His presence we would cease to exist. But I don’t think science can clearly demonstrate this (even if solid reason can clearly discern it).

Again, I don’t object to any claim that God may have specifically modified life forms along the evolutionary ladder. He may have very well done this, just as Laban and Jacob’s flocks indicate. My only concern is that, without additional Revelation, it is, in my opinion, extremely unwise to base one’s faith on these kinds of “evidences” of God’s involvement.


#19

This was an excellent reply - thanks. I didn’t really take enough time to answer your questions thoroughly – I wasn’t sure where you were going with them. But it’s clear that you’re taking a very open-minded view to the total picture rather than just trying to win something, and that is very much appreciated.

My reasons to question the theory of gradual change and the proposed evolutionary progress from single celled organisms to the spectrum of plant and animal species on the planet are mainly the criticisms given by the ID movement. I find those critiques to be convincing. I add those to my own non-scientific observations of nature. I don’t see how it’s possible that the grandeur and splendor of nature – the incredible diversity, complexity, pattern and beauty could have been the product of mutations and natural selection. I just don’t see evidence that natural selection works that way in the world.
The mathematics behind these changes also seem impossible to me. Perhaps not as obvious as the fine-tuning of the universe to be perfectly suited for planet earth to provide life – the fine-tuning of the biological world makes the random-mutation, natural selection story seem impossible to consider.

There are many who do believe that God guided evolution even as He allowed His guidance to manifest as a gradual evolutionary speciation in many different directions.

I follow what you’re saying in general terms, but I really don’t see how this can be compatible with Darwinian theory. A common question is “why would God make it appear that evolution was correct when He actually created things in a different way?” But I would ask the question why God would make it appear as if all of creation was designed (as Richard Dawkins admits that it appears) but it was actually the result of accidental processes.

But beyond that, as I see it, once we posit God as an active “player” in the development of nature – this causes enormous problems for the standard evolutionary theory. How do you reconcile God’s guidance of the process with the belief that there is no discernable evidence of His guidance (as it is claimed although I disagree with that)?

I do believe that God actively participates in creation.

Do you believe that based on some inner conviction or do you see some evidence (scientific or not) that supports your view?

Just because someone takes a defensive and aggressive stand against another’s arguments doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
True. It could mean that their arguments are not good. But it could also mean that they are not used to having their ideas challenged. It could also mean that their personality types are not suited for an open discussion about these things. It could also mean that they are simply frustrated by the fact that the other person doesn’t understand their side after having this explained to them so many times. I think it’s probably combination of many of these factors and probably a few more too.

Those are excellent points, and I think you’re right. I think some of them are surprised to see things they have taken for granted be challenged by people who they believe do not have the scientific background. So this causes frustration. I’ve tried to advise the more scientifically-astute members not to get frustrated, but if their first attempt at an explanation doesn’t take hold, try a different manner of explaining. I think it’s a personality-type issue also.

I did not say that I thought that God didn’t exist. I do believe He exists. I think nature reveals its creator too.

Ok, this seems to be a contradiction of sorts. You questioned whether ID was misleading people to think that God’s work is revealed in nature. I think you asked what would happen if this was not true. I assumed you were questioning the existence of God. But in my view, if God exists and has been involved in the development of nature, then it wouldn’t be correct or accurate to exclude His influence on the process.

Some will say that God’s only influence was in creating the laws – after that, the laws do all the “creating”. To me that seems like saying “God created gravity and gravity caused the avalanche – therefore, God’s creative power is seen through this action of gravity”. It’s true that God created gravity and His providence guides all things, but God has created natural laws to act in a “mindless” manner. They do not create intelligent results – and nothing like the diversity of plant and animal life that we see.

I also don’t think that the failure to find “scientific evidence” that God specifically created something means that God didn’t actually create it either.

Agreed. I would add, that finding “scientific evidence” that God created nature does not mean that this is proven without a doubt. Scientists could come up with other options. One example of this is the multiverse hypothesis. This idea came about simply to deal with the problems of a fine-tuned universe – since those “problems” lead very clearly to the idea that there was a intelligent cause behind the origin of the universe.

(continued)


#20

Just because God used evolutionary processes to create does not mean that He didn’t create. It just means He created by a means which was much more complex than heretofore understood.

God could have created in a way that made it appear as if everything was created by blind, accidental forces. One of the many problems I see with that, though, is that His creatures would be hindered in thanking and praising Him for His creation. Again, with gravity, a stone rolls downhill. Perhaps God is actually pushing the rock downhill so we should admire His action in pushing all of the rocks around (actually, we should praise God for every little thing that happens, but in general terms we are amazed by His more glorious manifestations).
But we normally just think that the rock moved because of gravity – no big deal.
The same would be true of evolution. Supposedly, the natural laws can create any enormous diversity of plant and animal life and (supposedly) all of the intelligence and beauty found within them. If this was true, I can’t see what would be so special about it. Natural laws would just “create things” of increasing complexity, order and appearance of design.

But as I see it, that doesn’t align with the natural laws that we see in action. Plants and animals follow very predictable pathways – they are bound by the laws of their nature. They do remarkable things as if designed to accomplish certain tasks – but rarely, if ever, do they innovate or create new things or modify themselves (apes are not more intelligent today then they were 40,000 years ago).

So I don’t see this creative power in natural laws. I don’t see how a “light sensitive spot” on a creature turns into a fully functional eye with complexity and precision beyond what human instruments can produce. Then we hear that “convergent evolution” created another eye from an eyeless species which ends up looking very much like all of the other eyes.

At the surface level, this strikes me as a fairy tale or worse, something comical. But then I am told that “I don’t understand the science”, and “why don’t you read a book” – but the bottom line even after a much deeper study of the topic is the same. Convergent evolution means that similar, extremely improbable structures of incredible complexity and power “just happened” to evolve independently. The explanation used that claims, “since nature found a pathway to create an eye one time, certainly it could do it again” strikes me as absurd.

I would say, however, if the proponent of that idea was also saying that “convergent evolution only works because God directly intervenes in the process, and the natural laws alone cannot do such things” – then I could somewhat understand it.

I won’t go into the ideas on “self-organization” which are being proposed by some evolutionary scientists, but this page shows how seriously the standard Darwinian theory is doubted by some prominent thinkers:

scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0803/S00051.htm

I don’t think that the teleological argument is false. I do think that it is being partially misapplied by the ID movement though

Is your concern the attempt that is made to apply scientific evidence and tests to the teleological argument?


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