Monthly Archives: July 2011

On theodicy and humility

Einstein quote of the day: The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.  It is indeed a wonderful and strange thing that naked apes can understand so much about the working principles of the Universe. But this may be one area in which the anthropic principle actually does operate. We have no reason to believe we can understand everything, and some reason to suspect we wouldn’t realise that we couldn’t perceive the unknown areas. Perhaps what we know of the Universe seems comprehensible only because of our incomprehension of the rest.

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Peer review problem in science fiction

For a bit of relaxation I have just re-read an old sci-fi paperback from my shelves, Isaac Asimov’s Pebble in the Sky. I was struck, for some reason, by the following passage, describing how an archaeologist of the distant future, named Arvadan, had suffered the unprecedented indignity of having his senior dissertation rejected (peremptorily) by the Journal of the Galactic Archaeological Society:

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47 kinds of chocolate chip

Back in 2007 (you see I’m late, as ever) Allen MacNeill published a list of 47 sources of variation within living cells. I believe he’s since expanded it to over 50. As you’ll see from the link, his intention was to knock down an ID “straw man” that random point mutation cannot produce nearly enough variation to give natural selection traction. Every evolutionary biologist, he points out, can refute that from the hosts of other mechanisms now known to occur. His critique of ID is a little unfair, I feel, having seen firsthand how often orthodox Neodarwinists knock down ID on the basis that point mutations are more than sufficient, … Continue reading

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Semi-creationism is alive and well in TE

One of the key insights in recent times that enables Christians to integrate a Biblical worldview with a scientific one is that expressed in John Walton’s seminal Lost World of Genesis One. In this he shows how the Genesis creation account was originally intended not as a material description of creation, but as a functional account of God’s ordering of it as his temple, with mankind in the privileged position of both priest-king and temple-image.

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A day of darkness (maybe)

In a previous post I looked at Neodarwinism as a self-contained belief system which, in essence, cannot be falsified. Today I want to consider what would happen if it were shown to be mistaken. Nearly all the criticism of the Modern Synthesis, outside Biblical Creationism, arises from the mathematical improbability of random mutation having the creative ability to produce the raw material for natural selection to work on. As far back as 1966, mathematicians at the Wistar Conference cast serious doubt on this. The immediate response of the biologists present will be familiar even today: since evolution has occurred, the maths (rather than the MS) must be wrong. Nevertheless one … Continue reading

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Gordon Giltrap

For the last 41 years I’ve been going every so often to get my fix of the music of Gordon Giltrap, one of Britain’s greatest and undersung guitarists. It’s a bit harder to get to him now we’re living in the wilds of the west country, but I caught up with him on Sunday, and found all the old magic that made him my guitar hero back in 1969 is still there. So this is just a heads up to check him out on his website. There’s some good stuff on YouTube too, such as this tour de force.

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The Power of Myth

Everybody interested in evolution ought to read evolutionary biologist Arlin Stoltzfus’s remarkable series on the establishment of the Modern Synthesis (Neodarwinism) as an unassailable and infinitely flexible (though factually mistaken) dogma. Telic Thoughts has actually run a thread on it, and they, like me, picked up the link from a quotation by Mike Gene. Thanks Mike. It’s worth another link for those who missed it.

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Uncommonly Decent

I see (or actually, someone told me) that my piece on Signature in the Cell has been quoted on the news page of Uncommon Descent, the Intelligent Design site. This, naturally, is quite flattering – after all, UD is almost as famous as those other websites, Telic Thumb and Pandas in Genesis.

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