God and Evolution (Introduction)

by dhw, Saturday, September 01, 2018, 09:48 (682 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

DHW: I meant that some atheists twist the theory to suggest that it explains the whole of life (which it doesn’t), thereby excluding the need for a designer; some theists twist the theory to suggest that it CLAIMS to explain the whole of life (which it doesn’t), thereby excluding the need for a designer, and therefore the whole theory can be dismissed.

TONY: The theory isn't simply dismissed because they try to preclude a designer. The theory is dismissed because there are some very significant scientific gaps in it and some very unscientific reasoning.

By twisting I don't mean genuine scientific problems but the blanket approach outlined above.

DHW: I don’t know why you think epigenetics runs counter to the theory of common descent, since it only explains how existing organs can make changes to themselves. As regards genes, I’m surprised that similar (or the same) genes preclude relationship. Why? I’d have thought it was the similarity or the sameness that supported common descent.

TONY: Epigenetics does NOT add new information to DNA, meaning it can not explain an increase in complexity of information.

Nothing explains the innovations that lead to new “root types”. That does not mean that epigenetics runs counter to common descent.

David: Epigenetics can change the expression of a gene, which means methylation brings out other existing information which the gene contains. This is where I see God's pre-planning.

TONY: Precisely. The epigenetic messages act as inputs to the genetic function, thus changing the genes expression(output). Of course, this output is a spatially/chemically precise response, much like the response from a function in a computer program. This response is then forward on to the next generation… etc.

Thank you for this clear account of how epigenetics works. But none of it runs counter to common descent.

TONY: As regards the genes, the very things that Darwin claims would lead to innovation, i.e. genetic isolation, means that genetic descent should ONLY happen PRIOR to genetic isolation.

Why? The theory is that life began with single cells which eventually assembled (various theories as to how) into multicellular organisms, and all known forms of life arose from this basis. Life forms spread. Different environments demand or allow for different variations. Over hundreds of millions of years, of course different types became specific to their particular environments - especially with land masses splitting up - and as these environments changed, more and more variants appeared. By then, “genetic isolation” was inevitable, but the original basis did not disappear, as evidenced by the similarity of the genes that did not change. David calls this basis his God’s blueprint.

DHW: So did he control the environment or not? It’s true that organisms can change an environment, but so can other factors like catastrophes (e.g. Chixculub), movements in the earth’s crust, floods, desertification...Some of these may also have been due to organismal activity, but what about those that were not?

TONY: Some, like a meteor strike, wouldn't have wiped out life on earth, and the microbes that processed the environment would have continued to do so, albeit after suffering a setback.

Environmental change doesn’t have to be global. Local events may trigger changes, and the new organisms may then spread further afield.

TONY: "Time and unforseen circumstances..." For the things that happened that were part of the Earth's natural cycles (Ice Ages/flooding/desertification/etc) it is perfectly reasonable to assume that those were understood potentials and had contingencies planned for...

Interesting. You seem to be saying that there were circumstances unforeseen by your God. That’s fine with me: your God setting up a mechanism to produce the unforeseen is precisely the theistic hypothesis I have suggested for evolution (though allowing for dabbles). See below for planning.

TONY: ...and then repeated this process at each new stage, driving the development of the environment using the organisms natural biological processes….

DHW: Does this mean he programmed organisms to create new environments, then created and programmed new root types to change environments again, then created and programmed new root types to change environments again, and so on? Just checking.

TONY: Yes. Earths environments were processed through flora, fauna, bacterial life, and natural processes over and over, that is the only logical way to ensure homeostasis[…}

I take it “yes” means God did programme all the new environments, global and local. I find it as hard to imagine a programme that sets them all up for billions of years as to imagine a programme that supplies each root type with every variant and every solution to every problem except the last (i.e. the one leading to extinction). But in fairness to you and David, I find all our hypotheses hard to believe. Hence my agnosticism!

dhw: I’d be interested to know if Tony thinks his God controls the environment, and if he specially created root types in advance of or in response to environmental change.

TONY: It would most likely need to be at cusps.

Fair enough: if he programmed the changes and created new root types to suit them, he would certainly have chosen the best moment (cusp) to do it.

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