Is Evolution a Random Directionless Process?

I would like to congratulate Michael Dowd for doing a top-notch job defending Intelligent Design in chapter two of his popular book, Thank God for Evolution.  I would like to congratulate him; but perhaps I should not.  Embarrassingly, I believe he is under the impression that what he has written constitutes a solid defense of Darwinian Evolution.  In actual fact, he has produced one of the all time worst analogies for evolution printed in the English language—and in the process provided evidence for Intelligent Design.

Chapter two of Dowd’s insipid book is boldly titled, Evolution Is Not Meaningless Blind Chance.  Now, there are a couple of things one would expect to find in a chapter with such a title; one of them being a clear example of how evolution is not meaningless blind chance.  Unfortunately, such examples are largely absent from the text.  This is not to say that he didn’t try, but as I will soon demonstrate, his attempt leaves much to be desired.  Lest I should overlook one of his more subtle points I will simply quote to you his exact words–any attempt on my part to summarize Dowd’s work would surely do him great injustice.

At the opening of chapter two, Mr. Dowd says this:

In a million years, the ebb and flow of tides on all the sandy beaches of the world will not fashion even one instance of a multistoried sandcastle that any of us would be fooled into thinking was the work of human hands.  Not in a billion years will a tornado whip together a functioning bicycle (much less a jet plane) from a heap of unassembled parts.  We know this.  Commonsense tells us that random, directionless processes cannot give birth to complex or sophisticated offspring.  (pg. 31, emphasis mine)

I must confess that opening chapter two with this paragraph was a bold move on Mr. Dowd’s part.  Proponents of ID have been making these exact claims for quite some time—and it is hard to ignore the logical force and intuitive appeal of such argumentation.  To his credit, Mr. Dowd fully endorses it—even referring to it as being “commonsense.”  In the next line down he proudly proclaims, “here is the good news for peoples of faith . . . evolution is not blind chance.  Randomness yields nothing—by itself.” (31)

It is clear that Mr. Dowd is a master rhetorician and would make a great used car salesman–he knows how to make a bad product look good.  First, you agree with your opponent’s primary objection—random directionless processes cannot give birth to highly complex integrative molecular machinery—and then conclude by assuring him that Darwinian Evolution postulates nothing of the sort.  Darwinian Evolution is not just random directionless processes—that would be silly.  No one in their right mind could believe something so nonsensical!

According to Mr. Dowd, evolution is not a random directionless process because of natural selection.  To illustrate this profound point, Dowd provides this splendid analogy:

Each morning, when I download my email, I engage in a kind of evolutionary process.  Speaking invitations I forward to my assistant; bills to my wife.  Whenever I encounter spam, I hit the delete button.  There is randomness, to be sure, in the order in which the emails show up on my screen.  But what is far more important is my propensity to sort by function and discard anything that is not helpful…Ever since Darwin, evolutionary scientists have been presenting biological evolution in much the same way.  What Darwin called “natural selection” is nothing more than the sum of Nature’s sorting process. (31-32)

Unwittingly, Mr. Dowd’s little story proves precisely the opposite point he intended it to—it proves that Intelligent Design is the best explanation at hand to explain certain features of the universe.  Like so many Darwinian analogies, Dowd’s fails because it utilizes an intelligent agent who can make rational decisions as a representation of natural selection.

In the analogy, natural selection is personified as Michael Dowd sorting through his email—forwarding messages to their correct file location and deleting spam.  However, this analogy is not—by any stretch of the imagination—an accurate depiction of natural selection.  Natural selection is not an intelligent being—it cannot make decisions, it doesn’t evaluate, it doesn’t look ahead—natural selection is a completely mindless physical process.  As Richard Dawkins would put it, natural selection is the “blind watchmaker;” it cannot see what it is doing.  I would go further:  natural selection is not only blind, it is deaf and dumb as well.

Michael Dowd can read and understand emails, determine what type of email he is reading, look to the future and plan ahead–moving pertinent emails into files for his assistant and wife to view—and delete  files he’s deemed un-useful.   All of these actions require the one thing Darwinian Evolution does not allow for—intelligence.  In presenting natural selection as an intelligent agent, Dowd’s analogy is inaccurate and grossly misleading.

In spite of what Mr. Dowd would have you believe, Darwinian evolution is a random directionless process.   It is based upon random genetic mutations—hence, it is random–and naturals selection –which is, by definition, a directionless process.  If natural selection had an end goal or direction it would require some sort of intelligence directing the process; an intelligence who had in mind what it wanted to do with a given biological system—who could look ahead and decide what an organism would need to survive given a certain environment.  But this requires planning and reasoning—this requires a mind.

It seems to me that Mr. Dowd has utterly failed to prove his assertion that evolution is not a random directionless process.  In consequence, he has proved the very thing he hoped to disprove: that certain features of the universe are best explained in terms of intelligent design.  After all, no one believes that a random directionless process can produce sophisticated/complex structures:

In a million years, the ebb and flow of tides on all the sandy beaches of the world will not fashion even one instance of a multistoried sandcastle that any of us would be fooled into thinking was the work of human hands.  Not in a billion years will a tornado whip together a functioning bicycle (much less a jet plane) from a heap of unassembled parts.  We know this.  Commonsense tells us that random, directionless processes cannot give birth to complex or sophisticated offspring. (pg. 31, emphasis mine)

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28 thoughts on “Is Evolution a Random Directionless Process?

  1. Dear Mr. Brown,

    I invite you to keep reading my book. Also notice the endorsements in the front matter and back matter. As you can see, while NO intelligent design proponent has endorsed my book, more than two dozen of the world’s top scientists have gladly done so. I assure you that Richard Dawkins would not have allowed me to reprint a letter to his daughter Juliet as Appendix A of my book if I were in any way supporting the ID position. My book is mainstream science interpreted in what many find to be religiously nourishing ways.

    If your readers wish to do so, they can see comments from 5 Nobel laureates and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics such as Michael Shermer, as well as comments from religious leaders across the spectrum, here: http://michaeldowd.org/endorsements/endorsements.html

    I also suggest you see here: http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1520

    Co-evolutionarily

  2. FYI…

    Here’s a 6th Nobel laureate endorsement that was just emailed to me this morning:

    “I read Thank God for Evolution with much pleasure and interest. I found it to be a very thoughtful, knowledgeable, and pertinent discussion, covering challenging and important issues with scholarship and insight.”

    — Charles Townes, 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics; winner of the 2005 Templeton Prize

    • Dear Mr. Dowd,

      I invite you to read my blog a little more carefully—for if you had, you might have noticed I don’t believe you are a supporter of Intelligent Design. Rather, I find the argument in chapter two of your book painfully unconvincing; and, as a result, I believe it demonstrates the superiority of ID. Sadly, you seem completely uninterested in defending your own arguments against critical analysis—content to hide yourself behind a wall of endorsements from Nobel laureates.

      It probably means little to you that your comments constitute what is known in Logic as an informal fallacy. Arguably you’ve committed a least two: (1) An Appeal to Authority, (2) An Appeal to Popularity. Simply pointing out that a lot of really smart people agree with you does not in any way constitute an argument—for it is entirely possible that a lot of really smart people are wrong. If it makes you feel better, you are more than welcome to continue to notify me when yet another scientist or liberal theologian endorses your book—just realize that this exercise is somewhat petty and profoundly unimpressive.
      I genuinely would like to discuss your book in more detail; but at the moment it is not a discussion. If you believe my criticism is unwarranted please give me good reason to change my mind.

      Sincerely,

      Joshua Matthan Brown

  3. Dear Joshua,

    I am hardly a worthy sparring partner for you, at least not via email. I’m more than happy to have a phone conversation with you; indeed, I would like this. If you are led to read more of my book than chapter 2 and would be open to having a phone conversation with me, let me know or just call me on my cell: 425-760-9941.

    I still recommend you see here: http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1520

    Blessings,

    ~ Michael

    • Dear Mr. Dowd,

      I assure you that you are a worthy sparring partner—you are a published author with endorsements from some of the world’s top scientists and I am a guy who has nearly completed his B.A. in Humanities. Nevertheless, your offer to speak to me by way of phone is much appreciated. I have read more of your book than chapter two and will write up a full review in the near future; in the mean time I will look forward to speaking with you on the phone. This week will be extremely busy for me—I’m moving my family to a different house—so I will not be able to call you until sometime next week.

      Thanks!

      Joshua

  4. Great, Joshua! Know that I have no desire to (nor will I) debate you. I promised God a decade ago that I would not debate anyone. In our conversation, I will seek only to understand you and to clarify my position.

    If you are a Christian, I think you may especially find Chapters 8-12 useful. But, of course, if you’re moving you won’t have much time to read anything. In my experience (I have 3 kids, all grown now) moving one’s family is a big deal! I pray that the process goes smoothly for you and them, and I sincerely look forward to your call whenever it happens. I’m usually free during the weekdays. My exact schedule and itinerary can be found here: http://Michael.Dowd.org

    Blessings,

    ~ Michael

  5. Josh,

    I have not read Mr. Dowd’s book, so I cannot speak to his argument, but the following thoughts hit me while I was reading your post and the following comments:

    1. Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution have in common the idea of an intelligence behind the existence of all living things. It seems to me that Dowd’s argument is to establish this common truth, so while it would seem to score a point for ID, it scores the same point for theistic evolution.

    2. I have noticed of late across the board from Dawkins to Adkins to Dennett that popular representation of Natural Selection has been of an intelligence all its own. While I disagree with Dowd’s version (and all versions) of evolution, does it not strike a blow in the right direction to move the conversation from randomness to intent and, therefore, intelligence? Dawkins especially attributes to Natural Selection all the prescience and wisdom of a deity: at least Dowd moves fully into that court.

    What do you think? Again, I have not read Dowd, so I cannot say that I am accurately representing the chapter, but if he wants to ascribe to God the ability to direct evolution, I am more than happy to move the ball out of the court of naturalism into the realm of the supernatural. THEN, we can deal with all of this evolution nonsense!

  6. Cory, it’s important to remember that prior to a few hundred years ago, mythic so-called supernatural explanations for life’s biggest questions were all that were possible. Such claims are not really supernatural, however; they are pre-natural. They are before God could have possible revealed how He naturally created everything. Without understanding the concept of extinctions, for example, you can’t possibly KNOW how God created complex life. Without understanding glaciers, you can’t possibly KNOW how God created lakes and soil. Without understanding plate tectonics, you can’t possibly KNOW how God created continents and oceans and mountains.

    Of course, we find mythic stories throughout the world and in every religious tradition about how God spoke or sculpted or crafted the world into existence! How could it have been otherwise? A thousand Einsteins living a thousand years ago, or even 300 years ago, couldn’t have possibly known about extinctions, glaciers, and plate tectonics — nor about the 14 billion year epic of physical, biological, and human evolution. God could not have revealed these truths to these thousand Einsteins, nor to Moses, the Apostle Paul, or anyone else in the past. We needed telescopes, microscopes, and the worldwide, self-correcting scientific enterprise before God could reveal such things.

    Valuing ancient mythic revelations over what God has revealed in the past 200 years about how He actually, REALLY created everything is, in fact, dissing the Creator. It inevitably leads to a trivializing of God, gospel, and guidance.

    Here are a few blog posts of mine along these lines, if you’re interested…

    THE DEBATE OVER GOD’S EXISTENCE: http://tinyurl.com/oy82qx

    ARE GOD AND SATAN REAL: http://tinyurl.com/p73pt4

    CHRISTIAN NATURALISM: http://tinyurl.com/mbs2k7

    GOD IS NOT A SUPERNATURAL TERRORIST: http://tinyurl.com/p73pt4

    Co-evolutionary blessings,
    in Christ,

    ~ Michael

  7. Mr. Dowd,

    First of all, I apologize for misrepresenting your work as evolution from a supernatural standpoint. I recognize your distinction between theistic naturalism and supernaturalism. (I don’t understand it, but I recognize it.)

    Second, I want to thank you for being the sort of author who actually takes time to interact with those who critique his books.

    Third, I have a tendancy to come off snippy and arrogant, but this is not my heart; it’s just the way I write. Most of the time, I write with a smile on my face, and I am as much interested in getting to know you and your positions as I am in helping to correct what I see as error.

    I read the blog links that you offered, and the first thing that I need to make clear in my statements is that when I refer to God, I am speaking of the God of the Bible, a personal deity who is both transcendent and immanent and who exists apart from and above His creation. This is obviously a terminal disagreement, but I am curious about your positions, so I press on.

    Your first paragraph sets out to reclassify supernaturalism as prenaturalism as if the onset of naturalism brought about true scientific exploration. Quite to the contrary, the Judeo-Christian worldview finally equipped men with the tools that they needed to be scientists. Empiricism is born from the idea that we have minds capable of reason and that creation is comprehendable: neither of these can be accounted for in a naturalistic worldview no matter how you torture it to fit deity within. (For more on this, see Josh’s blog post regarding establishment of the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for science.)

    I agree with you that we could not know HOW God created lakes and rivers and whatever else until the advances of modern science, but the purpose of His ancient self-revelation was to tell us THAT He created it, not how. And this is not as monolithic of an ancient “mythology” as you would represent it to be. In fact, before the Hebrews, every Near Eastern mythology pictured their gods as part of nature – even as struggling with it! In stark contrast, the Hebrew God transcends it, and is it’s Master.

    I also think that you have conflated divine revelation with man’s ability to gain knowledge through reason. God did not reveal cell structure to man through the microscope, but He did grant man the mental faculties to create and use the microscope to discover His creation. I agree with you that to look at the telescopic majesty of space or the microscopic structure of the cell and to deny the handiwork of God is to “dis” the Creator, but so it is to read His Word and call it less than His own self revelation.

    Please correct me if I have misrepresented your opinions in the above piece. I am going to read your blogs closer, and I also look forward to reading your book when Josh finishes it, but from what I have seen, there is nothing tenable in your work for a believer in the God of Scripture.

  8. Cory, I greatly appreciate you for the tone and spirit of your post.

    There’s way too much for me to comment on in this form, however. I type rather slowly and simply love the give and take of a real conversation. Josh and I talked about the possibility of having a phone conversation in a week or two, after the dust has settled from his move. If you’d like, you are welcome to join us on that call. I have a conference call line that we could all use.

    In the meantime, if you have the stomach for it (it won’t be easy, I promise, and you’re under no obligation to do so), I invite you to carefully and prayerfully listen to Part 1 (Old Testament) and Part 2 (New Testament) of “Bible Stories Your Parents Never Taught You”, by Mike Earl (an atheist):
    http://tinyurl.com/np9rmb

    Doing so will, if nothing else, help you understand why I no longer see the world and God as you seemingly do. Indeed, I’m not sure I even know how to make sense any longer of the phrase “a believer in the God of Scripture.”

    Whether or not you listen to Earl, however, I welcome having a phone conversation with you and Josh. I will neither seek to convert you to my position nor will I debate you. But if y’all are interested (which you may not be and that’s okay too), we just might come to some new appreciation of our differences.

    Blessings,
    In Christ,

    ~ Michael

    PS. If you’re going to read any more of my blog posts, I suggest including these two: “Grand Caynon Revies: Part 1 and Part 2”: See here: http://thankgodforevolution.com/category/blog

  9. Mr. Dowd,

    I still plan on calling you next week; in the mean time, I’ve posted a critique of your blog post Christian Naturalism. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Thanks.

    Josh

  10. Josh, I read your critique of my Christian Naturalism blog post with a smile on my face and a heart full of love and gratitude. It sounded almost exactly how I would have critiqued my own position when I was 20 or 25 years of age (I’m now 50). Indeed, the Michael Dowd of then would judge the Michael Dowd of today an utter heretic. So I can hardly blame you for doing so.

    I look forward to our conversation. As I mentioned to Cory, he’s free to join us if you’re okay with this as well. If you have the means to record the conversation, you are free to do so. Or not. I just look forward to the experience.

    Love and blessings,
    In Christ,

    ~ Michael

    I can’t imagine that you or your readers would be interested, but in case you are… here’s the entire first issue of THE EVOLUTIONARY TIMES:
    http://evolutionarytimes.org/

    • Mr. Dowd,

      I would say that the young Michael Dowd was much wiser, logically consistent, and honest than the Michael Dowd of today.

      – Josh

  11. Josh, please call me Michael. Mr. Dowd is way too formal.

    You may be correct on the second assessment, that I was more “logically consistent” 25 years ago. Here’s my background if you’ve not already seen it:
    thankgodforevolution.com/the-author

    While at Evangel College I double-majored in Biblical Studies and Philosophy. Being logically consistent was a big deal for me back then, so I suspect you’re accurate there. But I assure you that everyone (and I DO mean everyone) who has known me since then would say that I am much wiser and more honest now.

    I actually chose to give up philosophy like it was a bad habit. I was addicted to being right, and my relationships suffered as a result. Today, thanks entirely to God’s Word as revealed in the past 200 years, through science, I find it easy, even effortless, to dwell in Christ on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis. Grace is now my ever-present experience, not merely a theological concept.

    For the most part, I truly loved my life when I was your age (even though I sometimes struggled with my sinful nature). Today, I’m more joyous, peaceful, and passionate about my life, and my relationship with God, than ever before. I used to be known for my arrogant, all-knowing, more-spiritual-than-thou way of being. I read the Bible from cover to cover three times, fasted and prayed regularly (I mean seriously fasted – once for 40 days, through Lent), and could logically argue someone into a corner with ease (as I see you can – I’ve been reading your past blog posts).

    Today, thanks entirely to a deep-time (naturalist) evolutionary understanding of human nature and the nature of our brains (what God could not possibly have revealed to the Apostle Paul in a way he could have received it), I honestly never struggle with my sinful nature, and every single relationship in my life (with no exception) is at a 10 on a scale of 1-10 (1 meaning “it sucks beyond measure”, 10 meaning “I can’t imagine how it could be better”).

    Thanks to God’s grace that for me has shown up in a mostly science-based and to a lesser degree Bible-based celebration of my Christian faith, I could die tonight and I have no secrets, no resentments, and no unfinished business. By “no unfinished business” I mean that everyone in my life whom I love knows it (I’ve recently told them) and everyone in my life whom I’ve harmed or had a negative impact on (that I could remember and track down) I’ve cleaned up and completed with.

    If anything in the undeniably real, measurable universe is heaven, this place of walking with God/dwelling in Christ on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis surely is! And I trust down to my bones WHATEVER happens on the other side of death, if anything. In my experience, an evolutionary understanding of the sacred, creative role of death in the universe is one of the greatest blessings a person can have in this lifetime. http://www.thegreatstory.org/charts/death.html

    Today, I have a deeper appreciation and reverence for the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ than ever before – and yes, I interpret that story naturally, not supernaturally.

    I pray that sometime in your life (soon, and for the rest of your life) you get to experience this heaven – the heaven of having no secrets, no resentments, no unfinished business, and knowing that you are fulfilling God’s will for your life and leaving a positive legacy for future generations. It truly is the peace that passes all understanding – joy beyond measure.

    Love and blessings,
    in Christ,

    ~ Michael

  12. Good feel-good story, but I’m not buying it.

    If I talk to a Christian who is 50 years old and has been a Christian since being a child, in most cases he’s going to look back on himself 20-25 years ago and realize that he’s happier now, more well-rounded, less brash, etc.

    Dowd, what you brought up has nothing to do with naturalism vs supernaturalism; it’s called growing up. I can talk to my professors who are in their 50’s who, when they were young Christians were extremely brash, but now are the epitome of humbleness. Did they stop following the rules of logic? Did they stop learning? Did they stop exploring the truths of the world? Did they embrace naturalism? No to all of those; they got older, they got married, they had children, they gained more life experience, and they matured. Your argument – like your belief in naturalism – is a farce.

    Now let’s make this simple – you’re either a naturalist or a Christian. You can’t be both. I’m polite enough to Muslims not to call myself a Muslim. Why don’t I call myself a Muslim? I don’t believe Mohammed was a prophet, I don’t believe their description of God is correct, I don’t believe we’re saved by our deeds, and I don’t accept the Qur’an or the Hadith. Now, I like some of the religious practices they have, I like some of their ethics (the more moderate ones at least), I love their philosophers, and I believe that Mohammed actually existed, but I don’t call myself a Muslim.

    Likewise, if you’re going to deny God as God, deny the supernatural element to this world, and deny miracles (especially the resurrection), then don’t call yourself a Christian. That makes you a liar or misinformed. Judging from your posts you know what traditional Christianity is, so you’re not misinformed.

    To be honest, after hearing you say that you gave up philosophy and that you no longer care about being rational, I have no desire to read your book. Why in the world would I want to read the book of someone who gives no care to being rational or offering well thought out arguments?

  13. Michael,

    I read your background and listened to much of Mr. Earl’s offerings on “”Stories Your Parents Never Taught You.” A point by point critique of Mr. Earl would take volumes, and I can see from your background that it would not do me any good anyway. Let me say just a few things, and if you like, you can comment on them:

    Continually through Mr. Earl’s first two tapes, he appeals to God’s supposed goodness, love, mercy, and justice for reasons that the “genocides” of the Old Testament would not have taken place. I will grant that His ordered slaughter of many people groups SEEMS in contradiction to his love and mercy if the two stand alone. But if one adds justice to the mix – which Mr. Earl says a lot but never takes into account – then everything flies out the window. Justice entails, nay demands, judgment. In his picking apart of DeMille’s Ten Commandments, Earl brings up the point that the earthquake (which is taken from the story of God punishing Korah and his followers) takes the place of the slaughter by the Levites to make it more palatable. I will argue that a proper view of God and His relationship to Israel makes this statement asinine. The people of God are a tool in His hands so that if He decides to judge, there is no more moral repugnance in commanded slaughter than an earthquake or a flood. The point is this: God has the right to judge whomever – individuals and nations. Sometimes, His mercy prevails, but He is no less good when it is justice that prevails. Israel (and by metonymy, us) learns two things by the slaughter of the enemies of God:

    1. God has the right to judge.
    2. So will it be for you if you forsake and blaspheme the Lord your God.

    This view of God does not repulse me. It does not turn my stomach. It causes me to live in constant gratitude for God’s mercy and goodness toward me and in an evangelistic fervor for those who are the children of wrath (Eph 2:3.)

    There are stark differences between the OT and NT (one being that the kingdom of God as represented by the churches of Christ are not a corporeal kingdom and therefore do not share Israel’s burden for judging fleshly deeds by fleshly actions – John 18:36), but Mr. Earl is CORRECT in his assessment at the beginning of his NT criticism: 1) You cannot divorce the NT from the OT, and 2) the teachings of hell, exclusivity of Christ, and election make the slaughters of the OT look like child’s play IF you adopt the skewed view of God put forth by Earl in his OT critique.

    Which leads to my question: why do you hold to Christ in any form at all? If I agreed with any of Earl’s assessments of God, I’d call the Bible rubbish and move on, not try to integrate some sort of neutered Christianity into my naturalistic worldview. If the Bible that records Christ’s deeds is so unreliable and the God that sent Christ (and to whom Christ clings and indeed claims to be) is so petty and evil, then for God’s sake, quit claiming Christ!! You call Christians to leave behind their Bibles and their God all for the sake of a theory of evolution that is, scientifically speaking, neither observable nor empirically testable.

    I urge you to reconsider your position. I have no doubt that you love Christ, or rather the idea of Christ, but that certain elements of Scripture and certain scientific theories have led you to reinterpret what Christianity means to you and for you. You will see my position as arrogance, and that breaks my heart, but I would rather that you call me accursed than that I leave off our exchanges without pleading with you to submit your life and your brilliance to the God who revealed Himself in Scripture.

    In Christ,

    Cory

  14. Hello Michael,

    The thing that troubles me most about your response is that you equate being “logically consistent” with egoism, arrogance, and self-righteousness; however, this is hardly the case. I understand, and greatly respect, your concerns–but I think you’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

    Let me affirm with you that the study of philosophy can become a destructive unhealthy idol if one is not careful. In point of fact, anything that consumes our lives more than Jesus Christ (who is God) has become an idol—this includes family, friends, jobs, ministries, education, money, sex, power, science, debate—anything. This does not mean we must avoid these things or that they are inherently negative or evil—it simply means that our sin can turn something good into something evil. So, philosophy can become an idol, and an unhealthy obsession with being right can lead to pride. But this does not mean that studying philosophy or desiring to be right (which could simply mean desiring truth) is wrong or sinful. When you gave up philosophy (and logical consistency), “like it was a bad habit,” I think you threw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Consider this; the scientists you admire and respect so much desire to be logically consistent—that is, they seek to attain knowledge about reality. In fact, science is built upon the assumption that man can attain knowledge about reality. If scientists did not desire logical consistency it would be impossible to do science. Can you imagine a scientist defining gravity as being a force and not a force? Or describing the chemical composition of water as being H2O and then explaining that it was nothing but oxygen? Of course not! Science is built on logic—and this is a very positive thing. I would expect someone who puts so much faith in science to desire logical consistency in his own life.

    The thing that is tragic about all of this is that, in truth, you have not thrown out philosophy at all. All you have done is rejected the supernatural worldview of Christianity in favor of a naturalistic one. What is even more tragic is that you’ve fooled yourself into believing that you no longer debate or desire to be right—you do think you’re right and you passionately desire others to believe as you do. The fact that you’ve published a book and dedicated your life to the propagation of its message proves this is true. Every time you present your evolutionary message or leave comments on a blog that criticizes your work you start a debate. You love to start debates—you just don’t love to finish them.

    There are many other things about your comment I find disturbing and incoherent:

    (1) Your claim that you no longer struggle with your sin nature is extraordinary. Do you mean to say that you are now perfect? Or are you saying that you no longer struggle with the same sins you did as a young man?

    (2) Your claim that the present world, if interpreted by your worldview, is like heaven is also extraordinary. Do you think an evolutionary outlook on life would make a little girl who’s been repeatedly sexually and verbally abused feel great joy and peace? If so, how?

    (3) You speak about fulfilling God’s will for your life, but you don’t believe
    God is a person. You believe the universe is God. The universe does not have a will—it just is. Rational agents have a will—impersonal, irrational, brute existence does not. Do you really think the universe has a will for your life?

    These are honest questions and I’d love to get your feedback.

    Sincerely,

    Josh

  15. Y’all win.

    If you’d like, I’m still happy to have a phone conversation with you, Josh, but I request that we use a process such as the one I discuss on pages 235-236 of my book. (This process is used lots in businesses and other non-intimate settings as way of having two or more parties really hear and GET each other.) If you’re interested in this, I’m game. If not, that’s okay too. But I will not debate you.

    Blessings,

    ~ Michael

  16. I guess I can’t resist commenting at least a little more before our phone call…

    It’s true: I am aligned with the billions of people on this planet, and tens of millions of Americans, who no longer (if they ever did) find unnaturalism (supernaturalism) in any form inspiring. Here are three things I’ve written along these lines:

    GOD IS NOT A SUPERNATURAL TERRORIST
    http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1701

    THE UNNATURALIST FALLACY:
    http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1242

    HOW AND WHY I’M A PENTECOSTAL EVANGELICAL:
    http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1634

    Cut and pasted from the first link above:

    “What underlies the supernatural terrorist fallacy is the failure to recognize that the so-called supernatural language in scripture is actually pre-natural (before we could have possibly had a natural, factual understanding) and unnatural (in the same way that what we do in our dreams, if interpreted literally, would be unnatural).

    “Think about it . . . An unnatural father who occasionally engages in unnatural acts (supernatural interventions) sent his unnatural son to the world in an unnatural way, offering an unnatural salvation from an unnatural curse brought about by an unnatural snake. Those who believe in all this unnatural activity get to enjoy an unnatural heaven and everyone else will suffer an unnatural hell, forever.

    “Is it any wonder that young people are leaving religion by the millions, if this is the “good news” they are offered? Is it any wonder that the new atheists continue to ride bestseller lists if religion is equated with such “supernaturalism”?

    • Hey Michael,

      I would love to speak with you on the phone–I’m sorry I have yet to take you up on this offer. Things are getting a little more settled around here, so I should have time to call you within the next couple of day’s. Would Wednesday be a good day? If so, what time is best?

      – Josh

  17. Josh, I know from experience that moving is a big deal. I’m actually a little surprised that you’re seeing your time begin to free up already. Sure, Wednesday could work for me… pretty much anytime in the late morning or early-to-mid afternoon, Pacific time (I’m in the Seattle area for another week or so). Just name a time. My conference call line is 413-461-0333 pin: 408, if others want to join us.

    I look forward to our conversation.

    Blessings,

    ~ Michael

  18. Michael,

    Per your characterization of the God of Scripture as a terrorist, have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ “Miracles”? I would love to hear your take on it.

    And once again, if you see the God of Scripture as a terrorist, fine, but quit claiming allegiance to His Son!

  19. Yes, Cory, I have. I’ve read much of what C.S. Lewis wrote, and enjoyed most of it. I invite you to read Appendix A and B of my book. Appendix A, “Good and Bad Reasons for Believing” is a letter written by Richard Dawkins to his (at the time) 10 year old daughter. It is a classic! Here’s an online version: http://bit.ly/2aqPAL Appendix B is effectively my response to Dawkins (in light of other things I’ve talked about it my book) titled “REALizing the Miraculous”.

    I trust you did NOT read my blog post titled “God is NOT a Supernatural Terrorist”, yes? If you did you would discover that I do not see the God of Scripture as a terrorist: http://bit.ly/PH898

    As a religious naturalist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_naturalism
    it should not surprise you that I reject the very notion that God has the kind of petty, mean, arrogant, genocidal character that the Bible often portrays Him as having. IMHO, to limit one’s understanding of the Creator to a tribal war god is to dis the Almighty in the worst possible way.

    I’m truly sorry, Cory, that the way I “claim allegiance to His Son” bothers you. I assure you that that is not my intention. The fact that you believe you have the right and duty to tell me whether on not I’m a TRUE Christian is precisely the thing that reminds me of me at your age.

    Thanks for caring enough to tell me your unedited truth.

    Cyber-hug,

    ~ Michael

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