Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

14650Re: Unposted quotes: 2002-2004 #8 (was The End of CED)

Expand Messages
  • Stephen E. Jones
    Jul 21, 2005
    • 0 Attachment

      On Thu, 21 Jul 2005 06:51:10 -0700 (PDT), Paul wrote:

      >JD>Goodbye PKPaul, goodbye AlanC, goodbye
      >>Chris Doyle, you were all
      >>interesting discussion partners, though
      >>we didn't discuss much evolution,
      >>did we? No, we were mostly on about
      >>various religious topics,

      PK>Most of my posts have centered around evolution,
      >creation and ID issues including almost all between me
      >and Paul A as well as me and Pi; two individuals you
      >specifically mentioned. Most of my exchanges with
      >John were responses to his posts in which he had
      >already raised religious topics.

      Good point. In my experience it is atheists who are at least equally the
      ones who most bring up "religious topics". Consider all the times we tried
      to talk about design and Paul A would keep bringing up the Designer/God.
      And what about all the science news items that I posted. Most
      evolutionists (with the notable exception of Cliff, ignored them).

      In fact it is hard to remember an evolution or non-religious topic that John
      brought up. Apart from Cliff, it is hard to think of any evolutionist who in
      recent times has initiated any posts on evolution.

      If John didn't want to discuss "religious topics", why did he: 1) join and 2)
      stay on CED, a list run by a Creationist? And what does John think
      "Creation" is - chopped liver?

      And what about John's tagline quote:

      JD>Religion is the greatest untreated disease
      >of the twenty-first century.
      >-- John Distazo

      It is really is *amazing* (if not disturbing) how it can be pointed out to
      atheists like John the hundreds of millions who were tortured, raped, killed
      and orphaned by atheist regimes in the 20th century alone And that
      atheistic regimes in North Korea and Zimbabwe are continuing the same
      pattern into the "twenty-first century". Yet it makes no difference. They
      still think "religion" is the problem and if it could be exterminated like a
      "disease" and atheism then ruled, everything would be OK (like it was
      under Uncle Joe Stalin or Pol Pot)! Quite clearly their problem is not


      PS: More unposted quotes.

      "Where did it all come from?" There are few questions that grip the mind
      more forcefully than those about the creation of the universe. Every
      society has given a prominent place in its folk lore to an explanation of
      how the world came to be. ... Western civilization's contribution to this
      longstanding human endeavor is impressive and, as we shall shortly see,
      has be come much more impressive in the last few years. Since the early
      part of the twentieth century, we have known that there is a general
      expansion in the universe, with distant galaxies receding from our own
      Milky Way. As our ability to measure the properties of distant parts of the
      universe has grown, a picture has emerged-a picture that constitutes the
      creation epic as told by the scientific method. The weight of the
      accumulated evidence tells us that the expansion we see is the result of a
      titanic explosion that took place about 15 billion years ago, an explosion
      we call the Big Bang." (Trefil J.S., "The Moment of Creation: Big Bang
      Physics From Before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe,"
      Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1983, pp.1-2)

      "Despite the fact that we have to push into regions of energy and
      temperature that we have not, and probably cannot, explore
      experimentally, we can still do so in a way that is in harmony with the
      traditional way science is done and that does not simply introduce special
      ad hoc assumptions to explain what we find. So important is this aspect of
      modern cosmology in this age of creation "science" that we will state it as
      a basic rule (Rule 1). Rule 1: The laws of nature that have operated at any
      time since the Big Bang still operate today and can be understood by
      theories which can be tested experimentally. The philosophically inclined
      reader will recognize this rule as a statement of the doctrine of
      uniformitarianism, which first arose during the debates on geological
      evolution during the nineteenth century. It is not a statement that can be
      proved in the way that a theorem in geometry can be proved, but it reflects
      an important frame of mind among scientists. It is always possible to
      "explain" any known fact by tailoring a theory to fit it. Such explanations
      abound among believers in UFOs and other paranormal phenomena. They
      have the same validity in physics as Kipling's Just So Stories do in
      biology. If conventional theories simply cannot explain a given
      phenomenon, of course, unconventional ideas may become necessary.
      Until that time we will abide by Rule 1." (Trefil J.S., "The Moment of
      Creation: Big Bang Physics From Before the First Millisecond to the
      Present Universe," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1983, pp.32-

      "Just as we see no reason to suppose that unusual processes were going on
      in the early universe, there is no reason to postulate special starting
      conditions for the Big Bang. For example, we saw that during the particle
      era electrons and positrons annihilated each other until only electrons were
      left. One to explain this would be to assume that there were more electrons
      than positrons at the moment of creation. But this is no explanation at all-it
      merely assumes what we want to prove. Therefore, rather than make such
      arbitrary assumptions, we will assume that equal numbers of positrons and
      electrons were present at creation and look to the laws of physics to tell us
      how there came to be more of one than the other at a later time. Thus we
      come to our second rule. Rule II: No special conditions may be postulated
      at the creation." (Trefil J.S., "The Moment of Creation: Big Bang Physics
      From Before the First Millisecond to the Present Universe," Charles
      Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1983, p.33).

      "What About God? When I talk to my friends about the fact that the
      frontiers of knowledge are being pushed relentlessly back toward the
      moment of creation, I am often asked about the religious implications of
      the new physics. That there are such implications is obvious, particularly
      in the speculations about how the universe came into existence in the first
      place. Physicists normally feel very uncomfortable with this sort of
      question, since it cannot be answered by the normal methods of our
      science. For what it is worth, I will give my own personal views on the
      subject there, with the caveat that these views may not be shared by other
      scientists. It seems to me that the unease people feel when they think about
      the sort of scientific advance implicit in the new physics arises from a
      notion that applying the techniques of science to the creation of the
      universe is somehow encroaching on terrain that has been staked out by
      religion. ... [But]. No matter how deeply we probe into any scientific
      subject, we will always find something unexplained and undefined. ... It
      now appears that our new discoveries of the laws that govern the nature of
      elementary particles may allow us to push the frontiers back to the very
      creation of the universe itself. This does not, however, alter the fact that
      there is a frontier. All it does is transfer our attention from the material
      form of the universe to the laws that govern its behavior. I can hear a
      twenty-first century philosopher saying, `Very well, we agree that the
      universe exists because of the laws of physics. But who created those
      laws?' And even if, as some physicists have suggested, the laws of physics
      we discover are the only laws that are logically consistent with each other
      (and therefore the only laws that could exist), our philosopher would ask,
      `Who made the laws of logic?' My message, then, to those who feel that
      science is overstepping its bounds when it probes the early universe is
      simple: don't worry. No matter how far the boundaries are pushed back,
      there will always be room both for religious faith and a religious
      interpretation of the physical world." (Trefil J.S., "The Moment of
      Creation: Big Bang Physics From Before the First Millisecond to the
      Present Universe," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1983, pp.221-

      "Recently, Clarkson and Levi-Setti (1975) of the University of Chicago
      have done some spectacular work on the optics of the trilobite eye lenses.
      It turns out that each lens is a doublet, that is, made up of two lenses, while
      the shape of the boundary between the two lenses is unlike any now in
      use-either by animals or humans (Shawver 1974). However, the lens shape
      and the interface curvature is nearly identical to designs published
      independently by Descartes and Huygens in the seventeenth century. Their
      design had the purpose of avoiding spherical aberration and were known
      as aplanatic lenses. Levi-Setti pointed out that the second lens in the
      doublet of the trilobite eye was necessary in order that the lens system
      could work under water where the trilobites lived. Thus, these creatures
      living at the earliest stages of life used an optimal lens design that would
      require very sophisticated optical engineering procedures to develop today.
      If Darwin turned cold at the thought of the human eye at the end of the
      evolutionary cycle, what, one wonders, would he have thought of the
      trilobite eye near the beginning?" (Taylor I.T.*, "In the Minds of Men
      Darwin and the New World Order," [1984], TFE Publishing: Toronto,
      Canada, Third Edition, 1991, Fifth Printing, 1994, pp.168-169)

      "The fivefold increase in the level of illumination at the focal plane could
      conceivably have exceeded the threshold level of neural response in a
      dimly lit environment, allowing the trilobite to see at some depth in the
      sea, at dusk, or in turbid water. And yet the lens arrangement and shape of
      the schizochroal eye raises doubts that a useful mosaic image could have
      been formed by this type of eye. The number of lenses is generally too
      small and the angular coverage of their fields of view too discontinuous to
      form a detailed mosaic similar to that that we presume formed by the
      schizochroal eye and that of insects and crustaceans. (Levi-Setti R.,
      "Trilobites," [1975], The University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, 1993,
      Second Edition, pp.59,66)

      "Even if the genetic information of the perfected visual apparatus in the
      phacopid trilobite's eye became lost to further evolution within the
      phylum, the fundamental principles of physics that guided its development
      obviously survived. And, indeed, they guided other unrelated creatures to
      reproduce the mastery. From recent studies of vision in modern in
      vertebrates, it has become apparent that the correction of spherical
      aberration following the precepts of Descartes and Huygens, as well as the
      concept of adopting a doublet structure for the dioptric apparatus, have not
      been the unique prerogative of the trilobites. The corneal thick lenses in
      the compound eye of the backswimmer Notonecta glauca, a predatory
      aquatic insect, have been shown (Schwind 1980) to consist of a doublet
      structure with an unmistakable bell-shaped optical interface. Much as for
      the phacopid lens, the lower unit has a refractive index slightly lower than
      the upper unit, except that no calcite is involved in the lens composition,
      only organic material. Theoretical calculations and experimental
      determinations of the focusing properties of these lenses have confirmed
      that they are well corrected for spherical aberration (Horvath, 1989).
      Although we believe that the structures observed in the trilobite's lenses
      are real (not, for example, due to diagenetic alteration of the calcite
      crystals), and that our interpretation of their function is sufficiently
      supported by our model, it is gratifying to find confirmation of our
      conjectures in a living system that can be studied without the need of
      assumptions. Since no direct connection can be seen between trilobites and
      Notonecta, it must be inferred that the similarity in the solutions to the
      problem of vision optimization was the result of convergent evolution."
      (Levi-Setti R., "Trilobites," [1975], The University of Chicago Press:
      Chicago IL, 1993, Second Edition, pp.66,68)

      "Another most intriguing two-component, corrected optical system is that
      found in the eyes of the scallop Pecten (Land 1965) and only recently
      brought to my attention (Horvath and Varjii 1991). In this bivalve mollusc,
      fifty to sixty simple eyes are embedded in the pallium. and appear as tiny,
      bright iridescent pearls. Their optical structure, sketched in figure 13,
      rivals in perfection and ingenuity that of the phacopid trilobite's lenses.
      They also consist of a compound, two-element structure. The upper unit is
      a soft lens, almost identical in shape to Huygens' solution, but mounted in
      inverted geometry, so that the bell-shaped interface is external. Facing the
      spherical, internal interface of this lens is a spherical mirror, the argentea,
      made out of thirty to forty layers of guanine crystals, interleaved with
      layers of cytoplasm. This multilayered structure acts as a highly reflecting,
      interferometric, quarter wavelength mirror. The image is formed on a
      retinal surface, located between the mirror and the correcting lens, that
      responds to a decrease in the level of illumination (the "off' signal).
      Another retinal surface, located beneath the former, responds to "on"
      signals only. The ensuing neural response imparts to the eye remarkable
      sensitivity to dimming of light levels and angular movement of the light-
      dark stimulus. In other words, the eye takes advantage of the image
      contrast, as surmised in our previous discussion of possible evolutionary
      advantages of correcting eye lens defects. Astonishing as this may seem,
      the two-element structure of the scallop's eye corresponds to the structure
      of the catadioptric telescope or Schmidt optical system. This compound
      lens system has an amazingly large angular acceptance, expressed by an f:
      number equal to 0.6. I should mention that the Cartesian Ovals connection
      was not recognized in the earlier studies of the Pecten's eye, although the
      function of the aspherical lens in correcting spherical aberration was fully
      documented. I also became aware of this preexisting evidence, after
      having already formulated my reflections, expressed earlier, concerning
      the significance of such complex designs found in naturally evolved living
      systems. Whatever repetition this may involve, I felt compelled to narrate
      how my premonition became eclipsed by reality. Indeed, a wide-angle
      imaging lens, inspired by the design of the Pecten's lens system, has been
      incorporated into a miniaturized fiber optics endoscope, named the "Tube
      Peeper" (Greguss 1985)." (Levi-Setti R., "Trilobites," [1975], The
      University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, 1993, Second Edition, p.68)

      "Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the
      strangled snakes beside that of Hercules; and history records that
      whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has
      been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihilated;
      scotched, if not slain." (Huxley T.H., "The Origin of Species," in
      "Darwiniana: Essays by Thomas H. Huxley," [1896], AMS Press: New
      York NY, 1970, reprint, p.52)

      "Why did Darwin, a figure of such stature in science, feel impelled toward
      this grudging and secretive behavior? Many pages of his biographies are
      devoted to his magnanimity, his friendliness, his lack of pretense. On the
      other hand, it is well known that he had his moments of indifference
      toward his forerunners. He was capable of saying in his autobiography that
      he had never encountered a single naturalist who entertained doubts on the
      permanence of species, although in a letter to Hooker in 1847 he had
      commented jovially, `I see you have introduced several sentences against
      us transmutationists.' Attempts to explain some of these paradoxes of
      character have been legion." (Eiseley L.C., "Charles Darwin, Edward
      Blyth, and the Theory of Natural Selection," in "Darwin and the
      Mysterious Mr. X," E.P. Dutton: New York NY, 1979, p.73)

      "Of course it would be idle to pretend that Darwin was not theologically
      heterodox as well. Determined to shield God from the pretensions of
      human science and the aspersions of the lower creation, he embraced a
      'grander' theology which amounted to little more than deism. At length,
      having regarded nature for decades without 'a constant reference to a
      supreme intelligent Author', he could scarcely accept even this conception
      of God. All he could believe in was 'my deity, "Natural Selection".
      However, in committing himself thus to a causo-mechanical account of
      evolution, to 'material substance in nature' and 'empirical methods in
      natural science', Darwin revealed where his ultimate loyalties lay. In a
      sense natural selection was the Deity in the universe of orthodox theology.
      Order, purpose, historic progression without inevitable progress - these
      were the doing of the Christian God in the world of Paley and Malthus. In
      this world, as Kingsley observed, either 'God is great, or else there is no
      God at all'. That Darwin was in a 'muddle' over the question may be a sure
      sign of liberalism, but that he refused to resolve it at the expense of natural
      selection shows that his 'liberalism' was incidental to the development of
      his theory. The orthodoxy of Darwinism was that, not of its author, but of
      the theology of nature which his theory presupposed." (Moore J.R., "The
      Post-Darwinian Controversies: A Study of the Protestant Struggle to Come
      to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America 1870-1900," [1979],
      Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1981, reprint, pp.344-345)

      "By not asking that last question, Leff in effect placed the death of God in
      the place of God. In his system, the absence of a supernatural evaluator
      was a premise so far beyond question that it could not be doubted even
      when it pointed to a conclusion Leff desperately wanted to escape, even a
      conclusion he acknowledged to be false. If we know that totalitarian mass
      murder is evil, and that those who acquiesced in it deserve damnation,
      then we know something about that absolute evaluator as well. Leff
      offered no reason for protecting modernism's founding premise from the
      brilliant skeptical analysis that he directed at everything else. To a theist
      this must seem indefensible, but Leff could not have done otherwise
      without ceasing to be a modernist. A system's ultimate premise is always
      beyond question; that is what it means to say that it is an ultimate
      premise." (Johnson P.E., "Nihilism and the End of Law," First Things,
      Vol. 31, March 1993, pp.19-25.

      "I suppose I had better mention the concept of a divine creator, but
      personally I do not find that particular hypothesis useful and I am tempted
      to ask about the cosmic accident that created Him (presumably before the
      'big bangs' that started the universe). And what did He do before He
      created the world and mankind?" (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism:
      The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge
      University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.149)

      "Personally, given the resources of geological time, I feel confident that
      sooner or later that hypothetical chimpanzee sitting at a typewriter, will
      one day type Hamlet." (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The
      Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge
      University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.149)

      "Now let us give Charlie a normal keyboard with, say, 45 keys. ... Things
      get rapidly worse when we use longer messages. We will let Charlie try for
      a bit of Hamlet. The phrase "to be or not to be" has 18 characters, if we
      count the spaces as characters. The chances that our chimp will type this
      out are 1 in 45^18, or 1 in 6 x 10^9. At one try per second, it will take
      poor Charlie more than 10^22 years to do that number of tries. Should the
      open model for the universe be correct, Charlie will still be typing away
      long after the stars have ceased to shine and all the planets have been
      dispersed into space through stellar near-collisions. But now we have
      developed a real thirst for Shakespeare. We want our monkey to type out
      "to be or not to be: that is the question," which has 40 characters. The
      chances then become 45^40, or about 10^66, to 1. This is a number 10
      million times greater than the number of trials maximally available for the
      random generation of a replicator on the early earth. There we have it. If
      the chances of getting the replicator at random from a prebiotic soup are
      less than that of striking "to be or not to be: that is the question" by chance
      on a typewriter, we had best forget it. The replicator would have about 600
      atoms. The chances of Charlie typing a 600-letter message (twice the size
      of this paragraph) correctly are 1 in 10^992." (Shapiro R., "Origins: A
      Skeptic's Guide to the Origin of Life," Summit Books: New York NY,
      1986, p.169)

      "I was impressed by the studies made after the 1980 eruption of Mount St
      Helen's in Washington State, which destroyed all life for many kilometres
      around. Within a remarkably short time, nasty hot, evil-looking pools
      around the volcano were teeming with life in the form of bacteria and blue
      green algae. These are exactly the kinds of organisms that we know from
      the earliest records of life on Earth. The necessary original formula must
      have been one of chemistry and heat in a watery environment.' (Ager D.V.,
      "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological
      History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.149)

      "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the
      trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our
      textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is
      inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." (Gould S.J.,
      "Evolution's Erratic Pace," Natural History, The American Museum of
      Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, May 1977, pp.12-16, p.14)

      "Charles Darwin is widely regarded as the father of the greatest intellectual
      revolution of all time. His theory of evolution by natural selection,
      published in The Origin of Species in 1859, challenged the widely held
      views not just of science but of society as a whole. Indeed, Ernst Mayr,
      Professor of Zoology at Harvard University, said in his contribution to the
      Darwin Centenary Conference in 1982 that 'there could not be any truly
      objective and uncommitted science until science and theology had been
      cleanly and completely divorced from each other', and that the publication
      of the Origin was the greatest single influence in bringing about this
      divorce." (Gribbin J., "In Search of the Double Helix: Darwin, DNA and
      Beyond," Wildwood House: Aldershot UK, 1985, p.1)

      "Without going into details of the nineteenth-century debate about
      evolution, there is one crucial point which illustrates the scientific method
      at work and which should be stressed. Opponents of the idea, then as now,
      were generally people who *believed*, as an act of faith, in the Biblical
      story of creation. ... Darwin pointed out many times, including in his
      letters later collected by Francis Darwin, that he did not *believe*
      anything. Like all good scientists, he created working hypotheses to
      explain his observations of the natural world, and then looked to see how
      well the rest of the world fitted in with those hypotheses. He regarded the
      theory of evolution by natural selection as a good working hypothesis,
      because it could explain so many phenomena that were otherwise
      inexplicable, except by the actions of a somewhat capricious Deity
      constantly tinkering with nature. The distinction sounds subtle, but is
      crucial. Ask devout Christians whether they *believe* that Christ died and
      rose again, and they will say that of course they do. Ask them for evidence,
      and they will be baffled by the question. It is not a matter of evidence, but
      of *belief*, asking for evidence indicates doubt, and with doubt there is no
      faith. But science is, or should be, all about doubt. Ask a scientist whether
      he *believes* in evolution, or that the Earth is round, and when pressed, if
      he is a good scientist, he will admit that these are good working
      hypotheses, but that new evidence may yet emerge which requires them to
      be replaced by better hypotheses. Science and religion speak different
      languages, and that is why the debate between 'creationists' and
      'evolutionists' was, and is, ultimately sterile." (Gribbin J., "In Search of the
      Double Helix: Darwin, DNA and Beyond," Wildwood House: Aldershot
      UK, 1985, pp.21-23. Emphasis in original)

      "Of course, if the fossil record does not fit the theory, it is always possible
      to adjust the theory to fit the record. In science, an enterprising theoretician
      has several degrees of freedom within which to maneuver before the
      referee reaches ten and the final bell comes to clang. Steven [sic] Jay
      Gould, who was trained as a paleontologist, surveyed the fossil evidence
      early in the 1970s and came to the obvious conclusion that either the
      theory or the evidence must go. What went, on his scheme of things, was
      the neo Darwinian orthodoxy by which species change into different
      species by means of an endless series of infinitesimal changes,
      continuously, like the flow of syrup. Instead, Gould argued, biological
      change must have been discontinuous, with vast changes taking place at
      once. Such was his model of punctuated equilibria. It fits the fossil record
      far better (if it makes sense, even, to talk of scientific fit here), but the
      model achieves faithfulness to the facts only by chucking out the chief
      concepts of the Darwinian theory itself, and while paleontologists have
      been glad to have had Gould's company, evolutionary theorists have
      looked over what he has written with the cool, slitted, appraising glance of
      a butcher eyeing a sheep." (Berlinski D., "The Evidence for Evolution," in
      "Black Mischief: Language, Life, Logic, Luck," Harcourt Brace
      Jovanovich: Boston MA, Second Edition, 1988, pp.30-302)

      "If both sides [Dawkins' and Gould's] agree that natural selection is
      responsible for adaptation, and also that natural selection isn't the whole
      story of evolution, then where is their disagreement? ...In fact, however,
      the disagreement is substantive. The key to understanding it is to recognize
      that being a true Darwinist requires more than just giving lip service to
      natural selection before going on to something else, which is what Gould
      typically does. If natural selection actually made all those marvels of
      biological complexity, certain conclusions about the pace and manner of
      evolution necessarily follow, and Gould frequently seems to be denying
      those necessary conclusions. The dinosaurs can be killed off as rapidly as
      you like, but all the dinosaurs that died and all the new mammals that
      replaced them had to have been built up in the first place through the
      gradual accumulation of random mutations by natural selection. Likewise,
      the problem with neutral gene substitutions is not that anyone doubts they
      occur, but that neutral changes by definition do not help with the
      overwhelming task of building up the complex adaptations. Natural
      selection had to do that whole job, if God didn't do it, and that means
      natural selection had to be continuously active across vast stretches of
      geological time regardless of what the fossil record shows. That implies,
      among other things, that an enormous amount of evidence of the process
      has to be missing from the fossil record, but Gould frequently gives the
      impression that he thinks the evidence was never there. (Johnson P.E.,
      "The Gorbachev of Darwinism," First Things, 79, January 1998, pp14-16.

      "Although Darwin's evolution by natural selection appeared to challenge
      the prevailing 19th century concept of a Divine Creation, the discovery of
      the structure of DNA and its role in the replication of genetic information
      has largely reinstated the Almighty as the Great Computer Programmer of
      the biosphere-and it is now a matter of 'In the beginning God created
      DNA'. Nevertheless, our new understanding of how the computer works
      would seem to justify reverence for God *and* the molecular biologists. It
      is a remarkable process and its clarification must rate as one of the truly
      great achievements of science. Without the help of God, on the other hand,
      the information in the genes is certainly the information 'selected for' by
      Darwin's process of natural selection working on the individuals of the
      species. But since any selection for information demands the existence of
      information according to which selections can be made, the problem still
      remains: where does the original information come from?" (Black S., "The
      Nature of Living Things: An Essay in Theoretical Biology," Martin Secker
      & Warburg: London, 1972, pp.11-12. Emphasis in original)

      "What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock
      or the century. If a man believes in unalterable natural law, he cannot
      believe in any miracle in any age. If a man believes in a will behind law,
      he can believe in any miracle in any age. Suppose, for the sake of
      argument, we are concerned with a case of thaumaturgic healing. A
      materialist of the twelfth century could not believe it any more than a
      materialist of the twentieth century. But a Christian scientist of the
      twentieth century can believe it as much as a Christian of the twelfth
      century. It is simply a matter of a man's theory of things." (Chesterton
      G.K., "Orthodoxy," [1908], Fontana: London, 1961, reprint, p.74)

      "Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in
      miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles
      accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the
      other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly)
      because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny
      them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The
      open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when
      she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman
      when she bears testimony to a murder. The plain, popular course is to trust
      the peasant's word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant's
      word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great
      deal of healthy agnosticism about both. Still you could fill the British
      Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant, and given in favour of the
      ghost. If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human
      testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean
      one of two things. You reject the peasant's story about the ghost either
      because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is,
      you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main
      principle of materialism-the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a
      perfect right to do so; but in that case you are the dogmatist. It is we
      Christians who accept all actual evidence- it is you rationalists who refuse
      actual evidence, being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not
      constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain
      miracles of medieval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that
      they occurred." (Chesterton G.K., "Orthodoxy," [1908], Fontana: London,
      1961, reprint, p.149)

      Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol). http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones
      Blog: http://creationevolutiondesign.blogspot.com/ Book, "Problems of
      Evolution" http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/PoE/PoE00ToC.html