John S. Wilkins posted Entry 2981 on March 13, 2007 10:27 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2971

A common attack upon evolutionary biology, from ranking clerics in the Catholic church to the meanest creationist blogger, is that it implies that life arose and came to result in us by accident. We are asked to believe, they say, that three billion years led to us as a series of accidents. No matter how often evolutionary biologists and informed respondents try to point out that the sense of “accident” in biology is based on the lack of correlation between the future needs of organisms, the trope is repeated ad nauseum.

Why?

Read on at Evolving Thoughts

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Comment #165372

Posted by Frank J on March 14, 2007 5:05 AM (e)

To his credit, the “ranking cleric” (Bishop Barbarito) at least said “Evolution is perfectly acceptable and does not contradict faith,” and did not pull the “macroevolution” bait-and-switch (whether “macroevolution” is correct or not has no bearing on whether evolution occurs by “accident”). Nevertheless, it’s quite annoying to hear the constant reference to Cardinal Schonborn, without “equal time” for Pope John Paul II’s major contribution to the church’s position, which is that the evidence for evolution is “neither sought nor fabricated.” The Cardinal did more than state the church’s position on evolution; he misrepresented Pope John Paul II’s contribution as insignificant. That was surely innocent on the Cardinal’s part, as he was known to have been misled by ID activists (who conveniently waited until the Pope was no longer around to defend himself). Why did the Bishop leave out that important fact, as well as the fact and that many Christians find the ID strategy to be both bad science and bad theology? Why no mention that Pope John Paul II likely chose his words specifically to contrast with anti-evolution arguments, which are always sought and fabricated?

I understand that God, not science, is their business, but doesn’t everyone over the age of ~7 already know that the Catholic Church rejects the possibility that we are an accident of anything, evolution or not? Why on Earth does that bear repeating? Especially when it is the other part – that the church accepts evolution as science defines it, though not as many atheists and all anti-evolution activists define it – which is misunderstood by much (most?) of their congregation. Also, his choice of the title “We are not Some Accident of Evolution,” knowing that many of the “faithful” will read little more than the title, and interpret wrongly that evolution, not “accident,” is the problem, was quite irresponsible.

Comment #165400

Posted by Henry J on March 14, 2007 10:04 AM (e)

Re “The trouble is, most of these end up being neutral or harmful.”

So what? What aspect of natural selection requires a large percentage of mutations to be beneficial?

Besides, if talking about a species that’s already well adapted to its current environment, it probably already has the vast majority of simple changes that would benefit it in that environment.

Henry

Comment #165427

Posted by fnxtr on March 14, 2007 12:16 PM (e)

Blair: So what? If other accidents had occurred, or not, there’d be a completely different ecology in place right now. Big deal. It’s amazing, wonderful, and glorious that we won the lottery, but really… somebody was going to win.

Comment #165478

Posted by Popper's Ghost on March 14, 2007 6:33 PM (e)

And, fortunately for OUR present existence, there have been a few mass extinctions along the way. Whew! That was close! If that asteroid hadn’t his when it did, I wouldn’t be here posting this!
What luck!

And if the people who win lotteries hadn’t been “lucky”, they wouldn’t be spending all that money. Gee, that must prove that God intended them to win!!

Not. And the problem with that reasoning is the same as the problem with your reasoning, Blair.