My Brethren without Christ, I have to let you know you're all a bunch of Darwinian primates. (Just hit the link below to get the joke.) I just got back from the September 28, 2010, Dinesh D'Souza/Michael Shermer debate at USF in Tampa. They took questions at the end of the session and I got a chance to ask the following question in front of around a thousand attendees.


The opening comments by Dinesh were very similar to the debate a couple of years ago. At first, I was going to ask him about the old Dostoyevsky conjecture he mentions in his opening remarks: there's no morality without God. To an atheist this conviction is an insult and I knew he probably answered it many times, so on the queue I thought of a better question. I knew he couldn't possibly answer without time-lines and equations and a blackboard to write on.


In his opening remarks, Dinesh stated that he “accepts” the theory of evolution as valid, and that there's no conflict with Biblical thought. So I switched my question to, ”Since you accept evolution, could you explain why it took over four billion years for intelligence to arrive on the planet?”


Actually, dinosaurs and early mammals evolved some intelligence in the Cretaceous Period, but I knew he would take a anthropocentric view—being a Christian. For a few seconds he seemed to take the question in stride, as Shermer sat complacently smiling like the Mona Lisa. Dinesh gave it some thought, then squirmed in his armchair and proceeded to get into a circumlocutory rant. I wish the response were recorded because Hamlet somehow got in there (no bull), and I think it all came down to the old catchall “God works in mysterious ways.”


This is a complex technical question. The most conspicuous answer, to me, is the eons it took to progress from prokaryotes (bacteria with the genetic material dispersed throughout the cell) 3.6 billion years ago, to early eukayotes, (bacteria and algae with a distinct nuclear membrane that houses and protects the genetic material) 2.5 billion years ago. That's over 1.1 billion years where our beautiful planet was the habitat for nothing more than germs. The protective nucleus was the springboard to the Cambrian Explosion around 540 million years go. That's another two billion years before complex microorganisms (plants and animals) came on the scene. This is why Carl Sagan in his Cosmos TV serious states that space probes like the Explorer were likely find life in the universe, but only at the microbial level.


I think this is an important question and would bet it shows up again in future debates. This consideration destroys Pope John Paul II's explanation in 1996 that “God infused a soul” as in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel rendition of God and Adam touching index fingers. If humans were the centerpiece of God's plan, why did heck did it take so long? It's pretty evident that evolution moves at it's own speed and the human genome is a digital book that wrote itself. With all the junk in there—around 30%—the human genome manifestly contradicts “intelligent design.”


As always I welcome any comments on this blog. The link is the debate with Shermer from two years ago. It's pretty much what I heard Tuesday night, so I guess these guys have been playing this road show for quite a while. It gives A/N members a chance to discuss and analyze what Christians are trying to put forth as reasons to believe. .





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Comment by Jo Jerome on September 30, 2010 at 2:27pm
The compulsive shit-stirrer in me would first jump up and demand a definition for "intelligence." I like to argue that the simplest of single-celled organisms can exhibit a degree of intelligence.

But, considering the question was asked of a Christian apologist, their definition of intelligence is usually "homo sapien."

Homeless-hobo me has spent the last several nights camped alongside a guy who I don't believe is lying about the vast amount of education he's had on various subjects, including Anthropology and human evolution, which he says are exactly the same subject (at which point he starts to sound less like the wise old hippie in the camper and more like the crackpot old hippie in the camper. But he's replacing my alternator belt for next to nothing so I feel obliged to indulge him a little).

Anyway, he came out the other night with the ID explanation that the sudden leap in evolution (I think he was talking about the Cambrian Explosion but it was hard to tell) is empirical proof of "outside influence" which he also referred to as the "hand of god." I was trying to clarify that what he's talking about is not evidence but lack of evidence: I.e.; high odds and missing links. But he seemed to think there was a solid, testable positive proof in there somewhere of this hand-of-god/outside-influence.

I'd love to get with someone more coherent and clarify exactly what this hypothesis and supposed evidence is.

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