Schonborn attacks evolutionary biology again


#1

The text of Christoph Schonborn’s latest attack on science is about to be published in First Things (Schonborn, ‘The Designs of Science’, First Things 159, 34 - 38) and has just been published on line here:
firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0601/articles/schonborn.html

Suffice to say, that it does not merely recapitulate his ‘mis-understood’ NY Times article, but goes further in attacking the foundational science of biology on theological and philosophical grounds. I haven’t time now to refute his attack on biology, his deep, deep misunderstanding of neo-Darwinism, his elementary scientific errors, his denigration of science, his promotion of philosophy as a superior method for discerning deep truth and his attempt to drag the debate back into the 80s and 90s with arguments against logical positivism reminiscent of the heyday of postmodernist philosophers and social scientists (arguments so thoroughly dismantled by Sokal and Bricmont in ‘Fashionable Nonsense’ and Gross and Levitt in ‘Higher Superstition’ that one expected them to have been buried forever - obviously Schonborn is having difficulty in keeping up).

What is one to make of pronouncements like these:
“First of all, we must observe that the role of randomness in Darwinian biology is quite different from its role in thermodynamics, quantum theory, and other natural sciences. In those sciences randomness captures our inability to predict or know the precise behavior of the parts of a system (or perhaps, in the case of the quantum world, some intrinsic properties of the system). But in all such cases the “random” behavior of parts is embedded in and constrained by a deeply mathematical and precise conceptual structure of the whole that makes the overall behavior of the system orderly and intelligible. The randomness of neo-Darwinian biology is nothing like that. It is simply random. The variation through genetic mutation is random. And natural selection is also random: The properties of the ever-changing environment that drive evolution through natural selection are also not correlated to anything, according to the Darwinists. Yet out of all that unconstrained, unintelligible mess emerges, deus ex machina, the precisely ordered and extraordinarily intelligible world of living organisms. And this is the heart of the neo-Darwinian science of biology.”

Here is neo-Darwinian biology misunderstood, misrepresented and unfairly traduced, in finer words, but no more sophisticated understanding than the arguments of Young Earth Creationists. Schonborn has been unable to restrain his religious objection to the Theory of Evolution, and has combined this distaste with his lack of scientific knowledge to produce an argument that is at once petulant, weak and saturated with the perfume of personal incredulity.

I am sorry particularly for Phil, who has sought to rehabilitate Schonborn’s reputation on this list by quoting his more moderate statements, but Schonborn has made all such attempts futile by clearly preferring what he would like to be, to what the evidence says actually is. I plan, if I have time to write a full critique of his article for my website. In the meantime, I’ll leave with a statement that I find utterly astonsihing for an educated man, scientific ignoramus or not:

“The variation that actually occurred in the history of life was exactly the sort needed to bring about the* complete set of plants and animals that exist today*. In particular, it was exactly the variation needed *to give rise to an upward sweep of evolution resulting in human beings”
*
In other words, today’s biosphere is not at all the product of variation and natural selection - no, today’s biosphere, including man is the consequence of a process that involves no chance at all, that is entirely deterministic, and in which neither mutation nor Natural Selection are pemissible mechanims (how quantum randomness, apparently accepted by Schonborn, can be fitted into this planned and managed universe is not clear to me and appears not to have crossed Schonborn’s mind.). Needless to say, Schonborn doesn’t actually suggest an scientific hypothesis to replace neo-Darwinism as a mechanism for biological evolution - other than the ubiquitous ‘God did it’

Enough for now. More later.

Alec
evolutionpages.com


#2

Schonborn contradicts himself again. He hasn’t any business dealing with scientific matters! :frowning: I sense a raging migrane headache coming on. The scientific community must be outraged. I’m horrified by this tragic news. Thanks for letting me know, Alec. :thumbsup: I’m out of breath and ticked off. :mad: And sorry that this disturbing news only makes you have to come to the defense in the name of Science. Hang in there. I expect you’ll be kicking someone’s booty on this topic. :smiley:


#3

Evolution theory is forced down throats using political means rather scientific means.
proponents of ET believe ET is the undisputable truth and any doubt on it are from religious illiterates.
Suppose there’re evolution. specifically to Darwinism, anyone can prove it’s RANDOM mutation?
I give a few numbers generated by my computer (pseudo random numbers) and numbers generated by myself(much less random). can you tell which is random which isn’t?


#4

[quote=wildleafblower]Schonborn contradicts himself again. He hasn’t any business dealing with scientific matters! :frowning: I sense a raging migrane headache coming on. The scientific community must be outraged. I’m horrified by this tragic news. Thanks for letting me know, Alec. :thumbsup: I’m out of breath and ticked off. :mad: And sorry that this disturbing news only makes you have to come to the defense in the name of Science. Hang in there. I expect you’ll be kicking someone’s booty on this topic. :smiley:
[/quote]

Oh, my advice is not to let it worry you so. Say OMMMMMMM 30 times while contemplating your breathing and thinking of red balloons; or if you’re a practising Catholic, say a decade of the rosary. Schonborn makes me spit feathers, but you know, it’s not really ‘tragic news’. War, famine and disease are tragic. Extreme poverty and child slavery are tragic. A Catholic cardinal making a bit of an intellectual dolt of himself in a journal no-one has heard of doesn’t really register on that scale. OK, I think the defence of science is important for a number of reasons, the most grandiose of which is about finding truth; and there are other important pragmatic reasons. Schonborn’s new claims are unfortunate and regrettable, but I can’t find them tragic.

You are right about one thing though - I do plan to write a more comprehensive rebuttal of Schonborn’s article if I find the time.

Alec
evolutionpages.com


#5

[quote=hecd2]Oh, my advice is not to let it worry you so. Say OMMMMMMM 30 times while contemplating your breathing and thinking of red balloons; or if you’re a practising Catholic, say a decade of the rosary. Schonborn makes me spit feathers, but you know, it’s not really ‘tragic news’. War, famine and disease are tragic. Extreme poverty and child slavery are tragic. A Catholic cardinal making a bit of an intellectual dolt of himself in a journal no-one has heard of doesn’t really register on that scale. OK, I think the defence of science is important for a number of reasons, the most grandiose of which is about finding truth; and there are other important pragmatic reasons. Schonborn’s new claims are unfortunate and regrettable, but I can’t find them tragic.

You are right about one thing though - I do plan to write a more comprehensive rebuttal of Schonborn’s article if I find the time.

Alec
evolutionpages.com
[/quote]

RED Balloons sounds super! I’ll blow a few up and do my daily rant to Jesus while soaking in a hot tub of bubblebath. :smiley: I’ll look forward to your Schonborn rant. May the angels be with you while you reside at the zoo!!! Be kind to the animals. :smiley:


#6

Maybe I have to read that article again (The Designs of Science) but I didn’t see Schonborn attacking evolutionary biology. He does have problems with folks who have an atheistic worldview and use evolution to promote that worldview. He is defending the idea that we can see “design” in nature not simply through faith but by reason.

Schonborn: “The Church ‘proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.’”

He gets this from Vatican Council I here:

“1. The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason: ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” [cf. Romans 1:19-20; Wisdom 13]

Maybe Vatican Council I is out of line as well. I don’t know.

What Schonborn has a problem with are statements like these from Richard Dawkins:

"In a universe of physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” (Dawkins, cited in Ken Miller, Finding Darwin’s God, page 171)

See PhilVaz take on PandasThumb blog on Cardinal Schonborn here :smiley: (this was back in Nov 2005)

I might not be sophisticated enough in philosophy or science to get all of Cardinal Schonborn’s points. I will read it again. I said before he should stay away from explicit scientific statements since he opens himself up to critique by informed biologists, etc. But I can be quite certain he knows much more about Catholic theology and philosophy than either myself or Alec does. :thumbsup:

Phil P


#7

I’ll look forward to reading and responding to your rebuttal of Cardinal Schonborn’s article, Alec.

In the meantime, you may wish to expand your knowledge of the Cardinal’s extensive writing on this subject, all of which is available through the site/blog I run:

cardinalschonborn.com/

(I would point you especially to his ongoing catechetical lectures on this subject)

Finally, this might also help clarify some of the issues you seem to be havinig difficulty with:

cardinalschonborn.com/2005/12/summary-and-clarification-of-evolution.html

I suggest this because it seems to me you could save yourself a great deal of time if you understood what Cardinal Schonborn is and is not claiming before you start trying to fight a battle that doesn’t need to be fought.

Thank you.


#8

How come that theory of evolution is taught in schools when it is just a THEORY or not yet proven true?


#9

[quote=abcdef]proponents of ET believe ET is the undisputable truth and any doubt on it are from religious illiterates.
[/quote]

You are wrong here. I do not believe that evolutionary theory is the “undisputable truth”. I accept the theory of evoluiton as the best explanation of the facts we have available at present. It is possible, though unlikely, for new facts to require us to replace evolution with a better explanation. Those who doubt evolution can legitimately do so on many grounds. Those who do so on scientific grounds have either been misled or have not studied enough science.

[quote=abcdef]Suppose there’re evolution. specifically to Darwinism, anyone can prove it’s RANDOM mutation?
[/quote]

I this context “random” means “random with respect to its effect on the phenotype”. Mutations are not random with respect to cause, location or many other measures. The Luria-Delbruck experiment from 1943 showed this, your question is an old one.In 1943, Luria and Delbruck did an experiment that led biologists to believe mutations occured at random. They started many parallel cultures of E. Coli., let them grow, then exposed them to the bacterial virus lambda. They found that the distribution of resistant cells across all the independent lines was Poisson. Some cultures had many resistant bacteria, others had few. If the phage had induced the correct mutation to occur, each independent line should have roughly the same number of mutants (a Gaussian distribution would be found across all cultures).

(Evidence for Evolution)

[quote=abcdef]I give a few numbers generated by my computer (pseudo random numbers) and numbers generated by myself(much less random). can you tell which is random which isn’t?
[/quote]

Given a large enough sample and a powerful enough computer, yes. Any pseudo random number generator leaves a pattern in the numbers it generates, this pattern can be extracted using similar algorithms to those used to decrypt encrypted messages.

One thing you might like to bear in mind about discussing things with scientists is that we tend to treat rhetorical questions literally and to answer them as asked. Even if, as in this case, they are irrelevant to the discussion.

rossum


#10

[quote=Pythagoras]How come that theory of evolution is taught in schools when it is just a THEORY or not yet proven true?
[/quote]

“How come that theory of gravity is taught in schools when it is just a THEORY or not yet proven true?” Does that argument look very sensible? That argument would destroy all science teaching in schools. Every scientific theory is unproven; all any theory can ever be is the best explanation of the data currently available. When a better explanation comes along then the old theory is replaced by a new theory, just as Newton’s theory of gravitation was replaced by Einstein’s. Proof is for mathematical theorems, not for scientific theories.

Even Answers in Genesis think that you should not use this argument:‘Evolution is just a theory.’ What people usually mean when they say this is ‘Evolution is not proven fact, so it should not be promoted dogmatically.’ Therefore people should say that. The problem with using the word ‘theory’ in this case is that scientists use it to mean a well-substantiated explanation of data. This includes well-known ones such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Newton’s Theory of Gravity, and lesser-known ones such as the Debye-Hückel Theory of electrolyte solutions and the Deryagin-Landau/Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory of the stability of lyophobic sols, etc.

(Arguments we think creationists should NOT use)If even AiG don’t agree with you then you can hardly expect me to be convinced.

rossum


#11

Scripture pretty clearly indicates that “sin” contributes to a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind cannot locate the truth. When you cannot locate the truth, you make false assumptions regarding “truthful things”.

To reject God is to sin. A rejection of God prevents us from the Light of God. Without this Light, we stumble around in the darkness.

To my knowledge Darwin rejected God. I believe he had a reprobate mind and all of his “surmises” about evolution were more than likely the ‘best’ he could come up with. Others, lacking the same “Light” would tend to agree with him.

Intelligent Design is one theory that all in the Universe is ordered so magnificently, with purpose and elegance, so as to strongly suggest a Supreme Intelligence created it.

Think about it, those lacking standard intelligence – do not recognize Supreme Intelligence when they see it.

Those born again through water and the Spirit, have seen a great Light. So whether in the Church or out of it, does the purveyor of information Know and Accept God, or does he deny the existance of God.

Here’s a corny analogy, but I’m a simple believer:

If I’m standing in a Dark room and I refuse to flip the light switch on and then surmise about the shape of the room, I might be right or I might be wrong.

If someone else comes along and shines a flashlight into the corners and tells me the room is square, but I refuse to look at it or examine it – I’m now not only standing in the Dark, I am refusing to the see the Light.

Evolutionists refuse to see God because they don’t believe in God no matter how “evident” He is. The fact that Creation affirms the existance of God — only serves to infuriate them!


#12

[quote=seabird3579]To my knowledge Darwin rejected God. I believe he had a reprobate mind and all of his “surmises” about evolution were more than likely the ‘best’ he could come up with. Others, lacking the same “Light” would tend to agree with him.
[/quote]

Scientifically, it doesn’t matter if Darwin accepted God or not. The question is does his theory stand up to scrutiny? Yes it does.

Intelligent Design is one theory that all in the Universe is ordered so magnificently, with purpose and elegance, so as to strongly suggest a Supreme Intelligence created it.

ID is not a scientific theory.

Evolutionists refuse to see God because they don’t believe in God no matter how “evident” He is. The fact that Creation affirms the existance of God — only serves to infuriate them!

I accept evolution and I accept God as the creator of all things. I guess that makes your blanket statement incorrect.

Peace

Tim


#13

[quote=Orogeny]Scientifically, it doesn’t matter if Darwin accepted God or not. The question is does his theory stand up to scrutiny? Yes it does.
[/quote]

The theory of Evolution is an example of the blind leading the blind, put simply.

IF you are in the “dark” spiritually, you will not see what others see who are in the Light. Your blindness prevents you from seeing “all of the facts.”

Because atheists, and I would assume diehard Evolutionists are atheists, they lack the Light of God (The Supreme Intelligence) therefore they lack standard intelligence, in my view.

Ignorant people don’t always know they are ignorant. Many think they see. If you combine Pride with Ignorance, then you have a stubborn person, still ignorant nonetheless.

Is is possible that someone could be so ignorant that they could not recognize intelligence when they see it ( *or more accurately – don’t see it? *)


#14

[quote=seabird3579]… and I would assume diehard Evolutionists are atheists, …
[/quote]

and you would be incorrect :wink:


#15

[quote=steveandersen]and you would be incorrect :wink:
[/quote]

I’ts possible! I’m not stubbornly ignorant :slight_smile:

I suppose you could hypothesize that somewhere along the millions (or is it billions?) of years it took “man to evolve” that God would have infused a soul, thus Adam would have been conceived. But, even that is a big stretch for me.

To me, Evolutionism should be abandoned because it is quite obvious that a Supreme Intelligence ordered everything into being.

Just as a Mercedes is not likely to appear in my driveway if I set out a bucket of nuts and bolts (without an Engineer present) – Man is not likely to “evolve” without a Master designer. :thumbsup:


#16

A prince of your church attacks EVOLUTION? Our beleif that God alone made all things just as the Genesis account teaches us is one of the very foundations of our faith.
People, we are Christians! Evolution was created in the Enlightenment to find a way the earth could have come into existence WITHOUT GOD!

Where was Darwin when God stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundations earth? God did it alone. He created all things, and they brought forth “after thier own kind” Genesis 1:12, 21, 24, 25.

And God made us in His own image. Therefore to say that there is even any slight chance of evolution being possible, is to call God a monkey. Plus, in the evolutionary process, death would come before sin. Once again, making God a liar.

And how long did it take Him to create all things? God gave us the Sabbath to remember how long it took. From sunset to sunset is 1 day, and these are the six time periods which God used to create everything. And gave us a rest, on the 7th day to remember what He created.

“Remember the Sabbath day, that thou keep it holy…(WHY)…For in Six days the Lord thy God made the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them. And on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. Therefore the Lord thy God blessed the Sabbath day, and made it sanctified it. (Why again?) For in it He had rested from all that He had created and made” Exodus 20:8-11

Evolution is for the world, and athiests, and so on. We are Christians, seperate, the heritage of God. We cannot capitulate with evolution.

Be ye seperate, saith the Lord. Touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" 2 Cor. 6:17


#17

[quote=seabird3579] It’s possible! I’m not stubbornly ignorant :slight_smile:
[/quote]

:wink:

[quote=seabird3579] I suppose you could hypothesize that somewhere along the millions (or is it billions?) of years it took “man to evolve” that God would have infused a soul, thus Adam would have been conceived. But, even that is a big stretch for me.
[/quote]

How so? How would the creation of a soul at one point be any more or less of a stretch than special creation? :confused:

To me the subtle beauty of evolution is the triumph of Creation

[quote=seabird3579] To me, Evolutionism should be abandoned because it is quite obvious that a Supreme Intelligence ordered everything into being.
[/quote]

Then prove it

I also believe that is the way it is but I can’t prove it.

[quote=seabird3579] Just as a Mercedes is not likely to appear in my driveway if I set out a bucket of nuts and bolts (without an Engineer present) – Man is not likely to “evolve” without a Master designer. :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Mixing you metaphors won’t help
Life isn’t a Mercedes


#18

[quote=Pythagoras]How come that theory of evolution is taught in schools when it is just a THEORY or not yet proven true?
[/quote]

Because not a single aspect of empirical sciences can be proven true. Even a Law is only a probability. Schornborn is correct in is writtings. Our age of over emphasising the empirical sciences has taken away much from knowing deeper truths on the ontological level. While the empirical sciences are good and do much for the advancement of human society it is not healthy for the human society to neglect the higher sciences of theology and philosophy.

Let us not forget that Science broadly defined is “the study through propositions of a direct object.” The sciences that deal with deductive reasoning are the only ones that can claim to know absolute truth as opposed to those using inductive reasoning which can only know probablility because of the logical falicy that inductive reasoning rests upon.


#19

[quote=Schonborn Site]I’ll look forward to reading and responding to your rebuttal of Cardinal Schonborn’s article, Alec.

In the meantime, you may wish to expand your knowledge of the Cardinal’s extensive writing on this subject, all of which is available through the site/blog I run:

cardinalschonborn.com/

(I would point you especially to his ongoing catechetical lectures on this subject)

Finally, this might also help clarify some of the issues you seem to be havinig difficulty with:

cardinalschonborn.com/2005/12/summary-and-clarification-of-evolution.html

I suggest this because it seems to me you could save yourself a great deal of time if you understood what Cardinal Schonborn is and is not claiming before you start trying to fight a battle that doesn’t need to be fought.

Thank you.
[/quote]

 Thank you for giving me a link to your interpretation of what Schönborn is saying. I don’t really understand why you think I need you to interpret what he is saying.  I am considering commenting on what Schönborn himself says, not on what some other anonymous person tells me he is saying.  I don’t see why Schönborn’s pronouncements need exegesis; I assume he writes intelligibly and without deliberate obfuscation, and that he means what he says.

 Alec

evolutionpages.com


#20

[quote=hecd2]Thank you for giving me a link to your interpretation of what Schönborn is saying. I don’t really understand why you think I need you to interpret what he is saying. I am considering commenting on what Schönborn himself says, not on what some other anonymous person tells me he is saying. I don’t see why Schönborn’s pronouncements need exegesis; I assume he writes intelligibly and without deliberate obfuscation, and that he means what he says.

 Alec

evolutionpages.com

[/quote]

That all depends on the ability of the reader to understand the words that he is using in the way in which it is intended. It is nto uncommon for many problems to occur in discussions because of a missunderstanding of a specific term which may have a different meaning to the philosopher or theologian then it does to the average person or the learned person who is not versed in the terms used in philosopher or theology. Sometimes a shade fo meaning or specificity is lost apart from the intent of the author.


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