Thursday, May 31, 2007

Biogeography and Loving God



One of the major “proofs” of evolution is biogeography – the distribution of living things.

As far as I can tell, biogeography does not mean that animals are always most similar to other animals living near them and more different than animals that live far away. There are too many exceptions to this rule. Alligators, for example, occur only in Florida and eastern Asia. The opossum is a unique American marsupial. It also doesn’t mean that present day animals closely resemble extinct animals from the same area. The fauna of North America two millions years ago resembled today’s Africa.

What it seems to mean is that, if God created life, then similar habitats should have been created with similar plants and animals. There would be no need for all the variety that we find in the modern world. Deserts should all have one standard desert flora and fauna, forests should have a standard forest type of life, the Polar Regions should be the same and so on. In fact, this is far from the case.

I would like to question this premise, however.

According to Judaism, the highest level of serving God is the love of God, and that love may best be attained by studying nature. The wisdom and beauty of nature instills within us a love of God. If a painter painted a thousand masterpieces he is clearly greater than if he painted only ten. So also, the diversity of nature is designed to fill us a greater love of God. This is the correct explanation for biogeography.

29 comments:

badrabbi said...

What I would like to know is if the story of Noah is true and that there were only 2 of every animal was on a boat, how did the Kangaroo exclusively end up in Australia?

Did the pair of them hop all the way there, swimming an ocean enroute?

jewish philosopher said...

I would assume that following the Deluge, God miraculously replaced each species in its correct habitat. It may have been something like the way birds migrate instinctively today. If there were water barriers, then perhaps God made a temporary splitting of the sea where necessary.

badrabbi said...

So, if Noah's ark landed somewhere in Mount Ararat in Asia, the poor Kangaroo pair hopped to the edge of Europe. Then God split the Atlantic Ocean for them, so that they an hop across the continent to America. They then hopped across America, heading west until they hit the California coast. Then God split the Pacific Ocean for them so that they can hop another few thousand miles to Australia! Is that what you are saying?

Moses' splitting of the sea of Reeds must be nothing compared to God's splitting of both the Atlantic AND Pacific Ocean just so a pair of Kangaroos can make it to Australia!

Is this credulous to you sir?

Are you in a habit of inventing miracles to explain things that don't make sense?

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, if you go through Indonesia, I don't think the kangaroos would ever have needed to cross more than about 60 miles of open water on their way to Australia. This could have been done by floating for a day on a conveniently available fallen tree.

badrabbi said...

LOL, yes there is an alternative. The Kangaroo pair would have come off of the boat, cross Turkey into Iran, find the Khaiber pass so that it can traverse the Himalayan mountain chains, into the Punjab territory. Then, off to India, going East all the while.

Next, the dedicated Kangaroo crosses Bangladesh into Myanmar, finding Thailand. Then, the pair of Kangaroos, no doubt a little weary of all this hopping, would find the southern tip of Thailand into Malaysia.

Now it gets a little tricky! Our Kangaroos are now in Singapore, looking for a stick to float on. They would have to float from Island to Island along Indonesian chains until they get to Papua New Ginea. From there, yes, there is about a stretch of 60-80 miles of Ocean that the couple can traverse to get to Australia.

Wow, mystery solved! I guess no splitting was necessary after all!

With religious advocates like you, Atheists don't need an enemy.

jewish philosopher said...

Is that much more incredible than an Arctic tern who migrated from England to Australia?

badrabbi said...

dont know. You tell me.

Spike said...

I have another question. You say that your theory is the correct interpretation of the data. Can you suggest a test that would distinguish between the theories?

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding an historic event, such as why kangaroos were created in Australia and not Arizona, a laboratory test is not relevant. One must rationally consider the evidence and draw a conclusion about what happened and why.

badrabbi said...

But Kangaroos were not 'created' in Australia. They were created somewhere close to where Noah was. They somehow must have 'travelled' to Australia. That is the point.

jewish philosopher said...

My comment was an answer to Spike's question, which was referring to the topic of biogeography and why the same habitat in different parts of the world may have widely different flora and fauna - for example, why was the kangaroo created in Australia and not Arizona.

Spike said...

So, what you are saying is that there is no way to distinguish between a world ppopulated post-flood, and a world that evolved over billions of years? That anything can be explained by "god did it"? That there is no evidence that will even suggest that you are wrong?

You say laboratory tests are irrelevant. Fine, make a prediction about how you would expect further evidence from the field to distinguish between the theories. Something along the lines of "the bible says that hares chew the cud, therefore I predict that we will find hares that chew the cud in brazil, but not in france." Or do you rely on the multiplication of entities to do everything?

jewish philosopher said...

Proving evolution is easy. We just need to find evidence.

badrabbi said...

Here is a prediction that I can make. The bible states that all the animals on the planet were placed in Noah's boat. It stands to reason, therefore, that animals found to be indiginous to a particular part of the world, say a Kangaroo in Australia, would therefore had to have migrated there.

Thus, the first pair of Kangaroos, coming off of Noah's boat, must have travelled about 10 thousand miles to get to Australia. Since there is no evidence of any Kangaroo fossils, we are compelled to assume that either the story of Noah did not take place, or that the first pair of Kangaroos must have migrated over 10,000 miles to settle in an Island!

jewish philosopher said...

The entire episode of the Deluge was clearly miraculous. How did all species of animals find the Ark to begin with?

badrabbi said...

Ok, the entire story is miraculous. But there are consequences even of miracles. What Spike is saying is that a purported action, even a miracle, has consequences from which prediction can sometimes be made.

He is asking for a prediction from your claim of a given event that would destinguish it from an alternative hypothesis.

jewish philosopher said...

If the flood did indeed happen, we would expect many cultures to have a memory of it, and this is the case.

badrabbi said...

This memory that you talk about suffers from the same problem as your Kuzari...

Remember the flood story. God killed all that is living in the world except for Noah and his family. Thus, the only people left alive were Noah. Any surviving memory, then, necessarily, must come from Noah himself.

Thus, you can not use 'many culture's' memories as evidence since the story claims that only Noah survived!

Right? Am I missing something?

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not referring to the Kuzari argument. I am talking about a predictable consequence of this miraculous event.

badrabbi said...

I know. Please re-read my previous post.

Spike said...

So, one man and his family survives, and we are meant to take his word for everything that happened before that? Oh, but other cultures have memories of a flood. What other cultures? Why were the other cultures not destroyed by the flood? How do you reconcile the cave paintings at Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc with the flood? If cultures have histories going back before the supposed date of the flood, how do you explain that?

If you cannot distinguish between the biogeography caused by evolution, and the biogeography caused by god, why add the complication of god to the theory. After all, it is already explained by evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

There is only one culture I am aware of which seems to span the Deluge - Egypt. I have posted about it.

I am not saying that biogeography proves God, but I am saying it does not prove evolution.

Spike said...

"the diversity of nature is designed to fill us a greater love of God. This is the correct explanation for biogeography."

So, you are making a positive claim about nature here. For this claim to be worthwhile, there should be some test to distinguish it from other explanations. Otherwise, why bother?

You claim that the same people who built the pyramids also built stonehenge. What evidence do you have for this?

jewish philosopher said...

"the diversity of nature is designed to fill us a greater love of God"

I think that's the most reasonable explanation.


I wrote, correctly,

"I suspect that this early race of superior men also built the remarkable Stonehenge monument which dates from about the same period."

badrabbi said...

The Tsunami, earthquake, cyclone, plague, disease, insanity, too, is designed to fill us. What it fills us with, though, is not love of God!!!

jewish philosopher said...

Fear of God.

badrabbi said...

I wonder whether the love and fear of God cancel one another. Apathy may be a good term - Apathy for the non-existent!

jewish philosopher said...

Fear is a motivator for passive commands [Thou shalt not etc]. Love is a motivator for active commands [Thou shall etc.]

Spike said...

I ask again, do you have any evidence, beyond wild conjecture, that the egyptians built stonehenge?