- I intro
- There are two major things to be considered:
- 1) is the process really there?
- 2)is "selection by nature" a proper wording?
- 1) is the process really there?
- Now, the latter first.
The ‘personification of nature’ claim is simply a hyperliteralistic misunderstanding of a phrase, and a failure to understand that language is defined by usage. The creationists who first proposed NS and Darwinists who followed them never intended it to mean anything cognitive by nature. So we can’t blame the evolutionists for any misunderstandings. This is easy to document.
It is funny, that the people whom CMI/in this article Jonathan Sarfati/ praise as "creationists" (and thus on their own camp) have at other times been called "old earth compromisers" and "species fixicists" and been shoved off as part of the pre-Darwin set up for Darwinism when countering the argument that Darwin was supposed to have been a Bible believing Christian up to his supposed discovery.
Now, making disclaimers is indeed one way to avoid responsability for misunderstandings.
Suppose someone had decided to take me poor sinner for either "Jesus come back on earth" (when we know he shall return on the clouds) or "legal Messiah of the Jews" (when we Christians know Jesus is still alive since His resurrection), and I made a disclaimer (as I have done anyway, just in case, some have acted in ways that were probably either that or testing if I was a lunatic who thought that - not meaning my not thinking it guarantees they won't take me for that on basically baseless excuses), "no, I am a Christian, I know that Jesus is the Right King of the Jews and I know Jesus is not coming back to live a life on Earth as before, but on the clouds", one might either think I had done enough, or blame me for the misunderstanding if I did not repeat the disclaimer often enough or loud enough. Or one might blame me if what I was trying to do was succeeding better because others misunderstood, so that my disclaimers were half hearted. And I might reply that those who don't want to read such disclaimers were the same guys who don't want my blogs to be read anyway, and who make rumours (about Messianity or about madness) about me so as to exclude readers from my blogs. Their fault not mine. Btw, my clothes are ripping apart, so I am in a way fulfilling the obligation (if still such!) to tear my clothes.
But this latter point brings me to one about Evolutionists: are they not both profiting (by the form Evolutionism takes in the popular mind) from undue support and (by forgetting their disclaimers when it suits them) fooling themselves despite all their disclaimers?
There is such a thing as admitting something half of the time and forgetting it half of the time. Like forgetting when arguing from it (I never argue from a supposition I am Messiah, and I never argue from a supposition I am mad, when writing), but admitting whenever challenged on the point. It is a form of hypocrisy.
Guliuzza may be perfectly right that Darwinists are really attributing a kind of personal creativity to "nature" by the use of this word.
I met a German who had grown up in East Germany (the Communist State, where Dia-Mat was taught in all schools) who considered Darwin had shown us that Gaia - mother Earth - was developing us. Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth is very obviously attributing more success to "natural selection" in getting a needed result than to "breeders' selection" in getting a consciously wanted result. How can I convince myself he is not fooling himself, by forgetting any admission he or others may have made? For my part, I can't. I suspect he's a thinly disguised Pantheist.
However, despite the evolutionists’ disclaimers, should we be concerned by a term that even figuratively personifies nature? Actually, scientists do that all the time without any problems. For example, pharmacists might warn about ‘light-sensitive’ medicine that should be stored away from light. Is this really claiming that medicine is literally sentient? According to Guliuzza and some of his colleagues, we must logically say yes.
The day when the public starts believing the medicine will shout at them when light is harming their medical properties, i e the day when the metaphor starts to make people attribute a causality to them which non-sentient objects naturally cannot have, I will take the parallel seriously. I don't expect this day will be tomorrow. Nor the day after. Perhaps they will invent medicine that discolours or changes taste if exposed to light, and if so the user has to know how it should look and taste like. We'll see.
Now, here is where Jonathan Sarfati makes an assumption. Namely that Bible itself uses personification in a metaphoric sense.
As a final observation, it’s rather strange to claim that personification of nature is anti-biblical, when the Bible contains passages like “the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12), unless of course the Bible is anti-biblical.
The idea that "natural selection" is anti-biblical may have other grounds than it being a metaphoric personification. For instance that it is a misleading such - as said - or for other reasons, I will come back to. But Jonathan Sarfati seems to be no Narnia fan or if such at least very confident that Narnian things "don't happen in our universe," if he takes it for granted that Isaiah 55:12 or rivers clapping hands or stars singing are just metaphors.
Haydock, Isaias 55:
12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall sing praise before you, and all the trees of the country shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the shrub, shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the nettle, shall come up the myrtle-tree: and the Lord shall be named for an everlasting sign, that shall not be taken away.
Ver. 12. Peace, by strangers, chap. xlix. 22. --- Hands, for joy. (Calmet) --- Ipsa sonant arbusta Deus Deus ille, Menacla. (Virgil, Eclogues v.)
Ver. 13. Myrtle-tree. Instead of the wicked, the just shall be seen. (Chaldean) --- Away. The conversion and sanctity of the Gentiles shall be a trophy to the Lord. (Menochius)
So Calmet thought the trees clap hands for joy? He feels it necessary to comment on "plaudent manu" as "for joy", but not to point out that trees whether clapping hands or being joyful is a metaphoric personification? And what about the reference to Eclogues v? It is a dialogue between shepherds and these were in those times very likely to believe in nymphs, just as likely as CSL was to put such in the fictional setting of Narnia. So, a Pagan who wanted to become Christian obviously had to renounce all sacrifices to Olympian gods as well as believing in them - but was he required in the days of Saints Paul and Barnabas (who had no more inclination to be taken for Mercurius and Jupiter than I to be taken for King of the Jews!) to disbelieve nymphs of trees? I highly doubt it.
If Sarfati feels it MUST be a personification, he might be using some other info than the Holy Scriptures, and I would like to know what it is.
- III - back to issue 1
- As already explained, a personification can be antibiblical if misleading. And "Biblical personifications" may be very much something else, i e descriptions of real persons. I have no problem to take "trees clapping hands" as at least their guardian spirits - usually good angels rather than demons to judge from the context here - actually doing some Ent-like or Huorn-like hand clapping. While we are not watching. So if Scripture is not in the habit of metaphorical personifications, it may be even less Scriptural if the metaphoric nature of one is forgotten half of the time so one expects from a personification what can only be expected from persons.
But there is another turn on the question whether Natural Selection is anti-Biblical. Does it occurr?
Natural selection of who or what specimen shall survive long enough to have offspring, of whose offspring or the offspring of what specimen shall diffuse most or least, as explained means selection depending neither totally on chance or in any greater way on personal conscious choice.
In other words, natural selection means God is not personally making choices about the matter. Is that Biblical?
Psalm 103 includes the verse 5 which is Geostatic. If Earth is a disc, it will neither sink closer to Hell nor rise further up to Heaven. Nor even move sidewards. If Earth is a globe - as we know by other means that it is, but not directly and obviously from the Bible - it neither rotates around its axis nor, even less, is removed from its place to get around an orbit. That is at least a pretty obvious reading of that verse.
But this is not all the Psalm contains. It also includes "oculi omnium in te spectant Domine, et tu das illis escam eorum in tempore opportuno." Oh, sorry, that was Psalm 144! Now Psalm 103 contains a parallel:
Omnia a te expectant ut des illis escam in tempore. Dante te illis, colligent; aperiente te manum tuam, omnia implebuntur bonitate.
Everything expects from chance to be fed so as not to starve? No. Everything expects from their natural abilities to starve if weak or to eat if strong? No. Everything expects it from God! And if some creature starves to death?
Nonne duo passeres asse veneunt? et unus ex illis non cadet super terram sine Patre vestro.
Saint Matthew, chapter 10.
Are not two sparrows sold for a shilling? Not even one of the falls on the ground without your Father. Oh ... so what Evolutionists and CMI (unanimously according to Jonathan Sarfati) attribute to "natural selection", our Lord attributes to - God.
God does the culling. God knows whatever genetic faults there are in a population, of beasts or of men, and God also knows which of them He intends to let through and which if them He intends to cull.
In that sense, yes, Natural Selection is deeply antibiblical.
It presupposes the genetic material is full of brave new possibilties (evolutionist version) or of disastrous faults (CMI version) either the one needing culling away or the other needing to be exalted by culling away of the rest. Either version supposes that life of a species depends on disaster on part of its members. Now, after the fall, life of wolves or lions may indeed depend on disaster for rabbits or deer, such as being caught and eaten, or life of rabbits and deer depend on (relative) disaster for wolves or lions such as going hungry. But the idea of Natural Selection means that life of each population also depends on death of some of its members. Not just from time to time, not just by the oldest dying away to give place to the youngest (most of the time), but also regularly through choices being operated by culling of some individuals. Now, God certainly does know as an occasional fact that some individuals have genetic traits likelier to survive in some environments and God sometimes in such cases choses to take care of the population by culling away those with traits less likely to survive.
But it is neither good theology nor even good operational zoology to suppose this is almost always the case.
A lion catching or not catching a deer and a deer escaping or not escaping a lion is of course a survival occasion of that individual. And of course there is a sense in which a genetically slower individual, if there be such one, will be less likely to catch or to escape. But this is very far from being the reason why a lions catches or why a deer escapes in all cases. It can be a matter of the other of them being slow. And even that need not be hereditary, it can be due to its shape of the day. The slow individual which looses such a spurt (as deer eaten or as lion going hungry) may simply have just eaten and be full (in which case the lion would normally not be hunting, unless catching up on family obligations, but it can easily be the case for the deer), may have stumbled, may even have stumbled because its very quickness did not allow it to pay attention, may have had an accident relevant for the leg, and so on.
It is very nonsensical to presume this "lottery" is always or regularly - except on very long run - favouring the best and disfavouring the worst genes. And it is not needed to presume genes are often in a survival relevant inequality. Obviously downright genetic diseases are. Among men, this is less likely to stop procreation - except when men get Darwin conscious and eugenicist. Even among wild animals, God could make an exception to the usual rule of disregard and dying out of "unfit", and among domesticated animals it is even current. Some cat races and dog races could not survive in the wild - unless God provided.
So, in that sense, Natural Selection is anti-Biblical. It disregards the Divine Providence and overdoes the Pagan feeling that "heredity is destiny" - a feeling I am more certain that Pagans had to renounce, as they also had to renounce consulting Sibyls, when getting ready for Baptism.
Hans Georg Lundahl
UL of Nanterre
Saint Sosthenes of Corinth
whom Saint Paul mentions
- Sources of citations:
- CMI : Feedback archive → Feedback 2014
The fact of natural selection
- Wiki : Antoine Augustin Calmet
Note he was not a believer in Enlightenment or Scientism. Voltaire taunts him for having believed in Vampires. Kent Hovind has at least once, probably more than once, given an Inerrancy related exegesis (10 men per chariot! - Kent explains it as three teams of three changing turns and a tenth attending the horses so they exchange too) agreeing with Calmet.
- Search function and cites on Douay-Rheims Bible Online (I wondered why I could not find "passer" in NT, I should have searched "passeres"!).
- Same version with fuller comment on Haydock Commentary site. Haydock is not a single man commenter, he is often referring back to Calmet or Menochius. Which I thus know chiefly in English translation.
- Eclogue v by Virgil : Latin / German parallel text
- CMI : Feedback archive → Feedback 2014