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Friday, February 15, 2008

Origins, defined, more or less.

A reader kindly commented on one of what I consider to be my most significant posts, even though the post is about two and a half years old. I am grateful.

Here's my response, changed slightly from my answering comment:
I agree with much of what you say, including the fact that I didn't define "origins." I steered away from using "evolution," because I know that that word has many meanings, and which one is being used needs to be specified, but often isn't. Using origins without definition is just as bad, except that it may avoid some preconceived notions in readers.

I guess that by "origins," I mean how something came about, but the things included are so diverse as to include the universe, the chemical elements, life, large groups of living things (say, Arthropods), species, and humans. It is possible that the mechanisms that produced all of these may have been different from each other. (By the way, I also prefer that "evolution" be restricted to phenomena that might have come about by natural selection, which means that the first two of the phenomena listed in the first sentence of this paragraph, and probably the third, should not be described as having come about by evolution, even by a materialist or atheist. Origins is a more general term.)

You said that "scientists know how the universe came to be." I have to disagree. They think they know, but they can't prove, or disprove, that God acted to bring it about. Most scientists agree that there was a Big Bang, but, even if there was, there is little understanding of what came before it, or, if nothing did, why not.

As to Gould's Non-Overlapping Magisteria, as a Christian, I have trouble with a firm separation between scientific findings and religious belief, because I believe that both are revelations of God to us, and that, therefore, properly understood, they should be complementary and compatible. (See point 12 of this post, and point 4 of this one.)

Thanks again.

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