Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ecumenical cartomancy

Perry Robinson has chimed in on some comments by Gene Bridges.

In addition to his own arguments, Gene is also imported some arguments that Jason Engwer and I have used over at T-blog, so I’ll take the occasion to respond to some of what Perry has to say.

“As for the rules of the grammatical-historical method, I am not sure where the Bible employs it. It would be interesting to know where it does because I would really be interested to see it in Jesus own exegesis of Exodus 3:6 as proving the resurrection. What principles from the grammar when applied yields that interpretation?”

Several issues here:

i) Perry is evidently assuming that if Jesus cites Exod 3:6, then we must be able to exegete the resurrection of the just from that isolated verse, all by itself. But this is a terribly naïve view of how the citation functions. For a citation may be used to trigger a set of associations. Indeed, the reference to the patriarchs in Exod 3:6 would be unintelligible apart from a knowledge of the patriarchs in the Book of Genesis. It was never intended to be understood in splendid isolation, for it would be incomprehensible in splendid isolation.

For the speaker to identify himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would, to a Jewish listener, immediately associate the speaker with the God of the Abrahamic covenant.

In addition, the Book of Genesis is full of loose ends. Promises are made to Abraham, and yet they are not all fulfilled within his lifetime. So we’re waiting for the coin to drop.

All of this is quite consistent with the GHM. For the GHM is very sensitive to intertextuality, to the narrative cycle and thematic developments. As one scholar explains:

“This description of Yahweh as the God of the patriarchs is very familiar from all over the OT…by identifying himself with these famous men, whose earthly life was finished centuries before he spoke to Moses, God implies that the relationship still holds good…the argument is based…on the nature of God’s relationship with his human followers: the covenant by which he binds himself to them is too strong to be terminated by their death. To be associated with the living God is to be taken beyond the temporary life on earth into a relationship which lasts as long as God lasts,” R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans 2007), 840.

ii) At a more general level, D. A. Carson has also discussed some of the ways in which NT writers are quite alert to the original context:

When Paul as a Christian and an apostle reads the same texts, he insists on preserving the significance of the historical sequence. Thus in Galatians 3, Abraham was justified by faith before the giving of the law, and the promise to him and to his seed similarly came before the giving of the law. That means that the law given by Moses has been relativized; one must now think afresh exactly why it was given, "added" to the promise. Again, in Romans 4 Paul analyzes the relation between faith and circumcision on the basis of which came first: it is the historical sequence that is determinative for his argument.

Nor is this approach exclusively Pauline. In Hebrews, for instance, the validity of Auctor’s argument in chap 7 turns on historical sequence. If Psalm 110, written after the establishment of the Levitical priesthood at Sinai, promises a priesthood that is not tied to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah, and is thus bringing together royal and priestly prerogatives in one person, then the Levitical priesthood has been declared obsolete in principle. Moreover, if this new king-priest is modelled on ancient Melchizedek, himself a priest-king, there is also an anticipation of this arrangement as far back as Genesis 14. In other words, where one pays attention to links that depend on historical sequencing, one has laid the groundwork for careful typology. The argument in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 similarly depends on reading the Old Testament texts in their historical sequence: the fact that Psalm 95, written after the people have entered the Promised Land, is still calling the covenant people to enter into God’s rest, demonstrates that entry into the land was not itself a final delivery of the promise to give them rest. Moreover, the reference to "God’s rest" triggers reflection on how God rested as far back as Genesis 1-2—and thus another typological line is set up, filled in with a variety of pieces along the historical trajectory.

iii) What is Perry’s alternative? Does he agree with the liberals that NT writers misinterpreted OT passages? Does he agree with the liberals that NT writers ripped OT verses out of context and foisted fanciful interpretations onto the text?

Does he then salvage his liberal admission by running it through an Orthodox blackbox, so that, somehow, the output is true even though the input is false? Does Orthodox tradition legitimate an otherwise illegitimate interpretation? Does Orthodox tradition validate an otherwise invalid inference?

“As for certainty, I think you have misdiagonosed the problem. Knowledge doesn’t require certainty and so there is no need to have a “teaching office” to grant it.”

How does that admission undercut the Protestant position? Doesn’t that admission concede the Protestant position?

“What would be needed would be something applying a rule that had more normative gumption than that which is required for knowledge to justify our absolute commitment and not turn the faith into a proivisional scientific belief, always open to future revision.”

Why is that needed? Why do we need something over and above knowledge to justify absolute commitment? “Knowledge” is not “always open to future revision.”

“As for the council of Florence, the Council did issue statements, but since the Orthodox participants were compelled and some were bribed and a number of them refused to sign like Mark of Ephesus, the council resolved nothing for the Orthodox.”

I, for one, was quoting from an Orthodox reference work when I raised this issue. Cf. Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, 50.

“In case you didn’t know, the ROCOR and Moscow patriarchate schism was healed months ago.”

Yes, but like a verbal altercation between a married couple, you can’t always take back all the mean and nasty things you said in the heat of anger. ROCOR accused the rest of the Orthodox communion of outright heresy. And it documented its allegation in lurid detail.

“Ah, the Long ending of Mark again. Orthodoxy has accepted it via the text type it accepts. And it doesn’t follow that Orthodox has to think that the signs follow believers than Calvinists do, and most Calvinists via nifty interpretations don’t think they need to, though they could.”

The parallel falls apart since a Calvinist doesn’t have to come up with a “nifty interpretation.” Rather, a Calvinist can treat the passage as spurious, based on the standard text-critical arguments.

“Even if our position puts us in no superior position I am not sure how that shows your position to have escaped any problems. If every interpretation necessarily adds a layer of tradition doesn’t that actually weaken the case for sola scriptura? And if scripture is the only infallible rule, who is the judge to apply the rule normatively?”

A couple of issues:

i) Assuming that Orthodoxy does not confer an epistemic advantage, that would still be a major, strategic concession. For the argument that a number of Orthodox apologists have deployed against the Protestant rule of faith is that the Orthodox rule of faith supplies a level of dogmatic certainty lacking in Evangelical theology. If the Orthodox apologist withdraws that objection, then we’re on a par, at the epistemic level.

ii) Since the Protestant position isn’t claiming to be in a “superior” position, our own position doesn’t have to escape its own set of problems, if that’s what they are. The Protestant position would only need to be problem-proof if we made that a criterion for the true rule of faith.

The argument never took the form of saying Orthodoxy can’t be superior to Evangelicalism because Evangelicalism is superior to Orthodoxy—where “superiority” stands for some epistemically privileged position. The choice is not between either x is superior to y, or y is superior to x.

Evangelicalism is only concerned with the true rule of faith, and not whether our rule of faith must meet some allegedly advantageous condition.

iii) As to his question, “who is the judge to apply the rule normatively?” Why should we even assume that that’s a problem? Or, if it’s a problem, that it’s a problem we’re supposed to solve?

Here we need to lay down a basic principle: something is only a problem for us if it’s a problem for God. If God doesn’t regard this situation as problematic, why should we?

iv) All of the high-church objections to the Protestant rule of faith are a special case of the argument from evil. The high churchman looks at Protestant diversity and says that’s a problem. He assures us that this outcome doesn’t reflect God’s original plan for the church.

But if it’s such a problem, why did God allow it in the first place? The high-church objection to the Protestant rule of faith is no different than the atheist who points an accusatory finger at some humanitarian disaster and exclaims: “If there is a God, then why didn’t he step in to prevent this catastrophe?”

So the high churchman is very selective about what he assures us God would never permit. He applies the problem of evil to the Protestant rule of faith, but he denies the argument from evil when that very same argument is extended by an atheist to Christendom in general.

“As for errors, given textual corruption I am not sure how error can’t creep into Protestantism and become enshrined.”

How is that a problem which we’re supposed to solve? Does God hold us all responsible for preventing this outcome?

What people like Perry do is to create a problem, and then blame the Protestant position because it fails to meet their felt needs.

The world is full of problems. This doesn’t mean that a particular problem is a problem for the position we hold. It may be a real problem in its own right, but this doesn’t automatically make our position problematic.

Otherwise, we would have to agree with the atheist. For the world is full of problems. Is that a problem for the Christian faith?

Not all human problems are humanly soluble. God has put us in a fallen world where many problems will remain in place despite our best efforts to prevent them or resolve them.

If God wanted us to be inerrant, he would have made us infallible. If God wanted every MSS would be inerrant, he would have inspired every scribe.

So how is scribal error a problem for the Protestant rule of faith? If God didn’t want any errors to creep into the text, he could surely prevent it.

If I don’t have an answer to every hypothetical question that you can dream up, how does that disprove my position? How am I supposed to prevent something that God didn’t prevent?

Now, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing we either can do or should do. It’s God’s will that we act in a way that will limit certain evils. And our efforts will be successful to the degree that God wills us to succeed. Textual criticism is a worthwhile endeavor.

But the mere existence of “problems,” even if these are genuine problems, is not an undercutter or defeater for the Protestant rule of faith.

If anything, it’s an undercutter for defeater for the high-church position since the high churchman is a perfectionist in an imperfect world. It’s the high-church tradition that erects and unbridgeable chasm between its utopian speculations about just what God would allow, and the dystopian spectacle of just what God has, in fact, allowed—and, indeed, decreed.

“There is nothing to imply that the revisionary role that Protestants take themselves to occupy will imply progress. If Rome can get it wrong along with the East for the better part of two millenia, why think that Protestants being smaller and more diversified won’t?”

Of course, Rome got it wrong for specific reasons. The result is not reproducible unless you reproduce her reasons.

“Isn’t this is exactly how they have treated reforming movements like the Federal Vision and the NPP?”

Are these reforming movements or deforming movements?

“And unless the canon itself is unrevisable, that is a criteria that Protestants have enshrined quite concretely so as to be functionally beyond question which is itself above Scripture for Scripture does not list its contents in full.”

This is another empty objection since we don’t control the future—God does. Why does Robinson think that Protestants are responsible for every imponderable and imaginary contingency?

I’m not the dealer. God is the dealer. I play that hand that God has dealt me. I don’t worry about the next hand.

The mentality of the high churchman is interchangeable with the mentality of the psychic. They live in fear of the future. So many unknown variables! So many things to go wrong!

Dare I get out of bed in the morning? Leave the house? What if I’m struck dead by a falling latrine from a defective airplane?

So they try to manipulate the future. Fabricate a failsafe. They reject sola Scripture because what they really want is not a Bible, but a horoscope. The Pope is my Tarotist. Or, if I reject papal primacy, what about a council of Tarotists? Ecumenical cartomancy.

It’s a heathen mentality. A mindset fundamentally distrustful of God’s providence.

“In any case, I am not sure how tu quo que is a truth preserving mode of reasoning.”

It’s not. It’s just a way of answering your opponent on his own grounds. And that’s one step in establishing your own position.

“As for Orthodox disagreeing on the canon, I think you might be thinking of the Ethiopians. We accept the canon as defined by earlier synods ratified at 2nd Nicea in 787 and re-affirmed at the 8th Council in 880 A.D. Since they were busy being monophysites and weren’t there, we don’t have the same canon. Go figure.”

i) I take it that he missed all the documentation that Jason Engwer and I have supplied.

ii) But what about the monophysites? What about their claim to apostolic succession?

“I for one would really like to see the doctrine of Platonic simplicity derived exegetically from the text using the grammatical-historical method. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun to watch. Could you show me?”

This assumes that we’re committed to the doctrine of Platonic simplicity.

“As for the Universalism nonsense, I have already corrected this stuff over on your blog at In the comments section…Here’s a friendly suggestion. Why not try to learn about Orthodoxy as you would want someone to try and learn about Calvinism?”

It’s not as if I was quoting from hostile sources. I was quoting from Timothy Ware and the Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.

Why should I assume that an Orthodox layman is a more reliable spokesman for the Orthodox faith than a Metropolitan?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Signs of the Spirit

Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards' "Religious Affections" by Sam Storms
Publisher Description: Jonathan Edwards’s treatise Religious Affections is widely considered the most important and accurate analysis of religious experience ever written.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned readers sit down with Religious Affections, only to give up in frustration over Edwards’s lofty style and complex argumentation.

For this reason Sam Storms, one of evangelicalism’s experts on Edwards, has attempted to bridge the gap between how Edwards said what he did in the eighteenth century and how he might say it today. In Signs of the Spirit he articulates the substance of Edwards’s arguments in a more understandable way. The point is not to “dumb down” Jonathan Edwards but to make his work accessible to a wider audience.

This volume serves those both in and outside the academic realm as valuable preparation for, or as a companion guide to, a reading of Edwards’s Religious Affections.
Read the Preface & Introduction

A bucketful of wisdom

Continuing our dialogue with MG:

“One route would be by appealing to people who have salvation but do not perform these signs. For instance the thief on the cross had salvation but did not perform these signs. Thus it seems that there is some kind of qualification to Mark 16:17-18.”

Yes, well, the argument from experience cuts in more than one direction. If you’re going to invoke experience to qualify the long ending of Mark, why not invoke experience to falsify the long ending of Mark?

“I think the issue is ‘how would the early Christians know what Christ is like apart from Scripture?’ and one way to answer this would be ‘Authoritative oral tradition and written tradition, as well as accurate oral and written tradition, could adjudicate false from true’.”

But, of course, this only pushes the question back a step. What authority will adjudicate between true and false oral and written tradition? What authority will authorize authoritative tradition?

The church? Does the church authorize tradition, or vice versa?

“I think you might be confusing authority with epistemology. When we epistemically act so as to recognize an authority, this is not the same as this authority being established *as* an authority. The fallibility of the source of knowledge is not the same as the fallibility or infallibility of the authority revealed in that source.”

Even if the authority were infallible, the port of entry is fallible. How does a fallible entry point to an infallible church improve over a fallible entry point to an infallible Bible?

“Also, I consider it an improvement because the infallibility of the Church which establishes the infallibility of Scripture would be publicly-accessible. Instead of the infallibility of Scripture just being something revealed to individual’s hearts, it is public and therefore its claim to bind consciences rests on more than a mere ‘doesn’t your heart say so?’ which is shaky ground because of how evil the human heart can be. It is in-principle and in-practice questionable.”

Once again, this only pushes the question back a step. How is the infallibility of the church personally appropriated or revealed to the individual?

“How would the Bible’s self-authentication improve this?”

i) Idle speculation (or should I say, “idol” speculation?) over which rule of faith is hypothetically superior to another is irrelevant to me. I’ve been answering you on your own grounds.

I myself am only concerned with the identity of the true rule of faith. I don’t begin with a preconception of what the rule of faith should look like, and then select the option that dovetails with my preconception.

ii) Pace, Leibniz, I don’t assume that God always does the best, for I also don’t assume, pace Leibniz, that there is always one optimal choice. There are often tradeoffs between the advantages/disadvantages of one arrangement and another.

iii) And even if there were an optimal choice, that is a retrospective rather than prospective value-judgment.

“Also, it seems that you *can* bootstrap your way from a fallible witness to an infallible witness in a certain sense. This is because a fallible witness can recognize an infallible authority. The strength of our conviction that a locus of authority exists is not proportional to the degree of authority that the locus of authority actually possesses. We can be pretty sure that there are cops and school teachers; but that doesn’t imply that because we are confident that they exist, they therefore are more binding than, say, God. And we can have less confidence that God exists and still recognize that His commands are absolutely binding and supercede all obligation from cops and school teachers. This is a case of infallible witness ‘rising above’ fallible witness; our fallible judgment that God exists and commands certain things entails a degree of obligation that is not directly proportional to our confidence that God exists.”

i)I don’t know whether this illustration is hypothetical, or if it expresses your true sentiments. For my own part, I don’t have less confidence in the existence of God than I have in cops and robbers and schoolteachers. I don’t regard the existence of God as uncertain. Not in the least.

And if I didn’t believe I God, then I would begin to question many of my otherwise irrepressible, common sense beliefs.

ii) But to play along with your argument, there is a link between the authority of the command and the existence of the authority-figure.

As an army officer, I would be duty-bound to obey a direct, lawful order by my superior. But suppose there’s some doubt about the authenticity of the order? If there’s evidence that the order is a forgery, if there’s evidence that the commanding officer didn’t issue the order, in case the enemy murdered him for purposes of identity-theft, then that would certainly affect my level of obligation.

“But of course a fallible authority could not ground the authority of an infallible authority.”

Which is the ultimate issue.

“I definately grant that this probably cannot in itself establish the infallibility of the Church. However, the revelatory function of the Church as bearer, teacher, and enactor of the divine mystery seems implicit here. It doesn’t seem impossible, therefore, to see this as supporting ecclesial infallibility, or at least some kind of incarnational ecclesiology.”

Eph 3:9-10 isn’t talking about the teaching office of the church. Rather, it’s taking about the sheer existence of the church itself as a tribute to divine wisdom. Not what it does, but what it is.

“Would you be so kind as to argue for that? [1 Tim 3:15]”

Check out the quotations from Quinn and Johnson in my reply to Blosser:

“Also, this verse could still give some weight to ecclesial infallibility even if it is referring to a local Church. This is because biblical ecclesiology includes the idea that a local Church is a full manifestation or extension of the whole Church.”

i) I deny that the local church is a “full” manifestation of the universal church. Begin local, it’s a partial manifestation of the universal church.

ii) At the abstract level, the local church (as well as the universal church), exemplifies God’s plan for the church.

iii) At a concrete level, the universal church is an extension of the local church, not vice versa.

“The evidence for this comes from the fact that__1. The local assembly is sometimes given the title of the whole, namely ‘Church’, without specified location. (Acts 20:28/Acts 20:17; Acts 12:5, 15:4, 11:26, 14:27; in 15:3, ‘Church’ refers to Antiochean Christians, whereas in 15:4 it refers to Jerusalem Christians; in 9:31 Church is singular but refers to multiple locations of local assemblies).”

This is a very weak argument:

i) The singular form could simply be a shorthand expression for a local church, the identity of which is specified in context.

I say I went “to church” on Sunday, I don’t say that I went to Church Creek Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Charleston, SC. Why? Not because I regard the local church I attend as the “fullness” of the universal church, but because it’s less cumbersome to abbreviate the reference.

ii) And no doubt there’s a sense in which these NT churches, at the time Luke was writing, participated in the divine institution of the Church. This doesn’t mean that we can extrapolate, without further ado, from the identity of local, NT churches to national (Orthodox) churches in the 21C.

“2. It provides a parallel with Israel’s understanding that ‘synagogue’ can refer to the whole nation or just a part (1 Maccabees 3:44, Susanna 41, 59-60).”

i) There’s a sense in which the local church is parallel to the synagogue, although your apocryphal prooftexts are, at best, descriptive rather than normative. But the nation of Israel is not directly parallel to the universal church.

ii) And you’re erecting your ecclesiology on merely possible inferences from pretty tangential data.

“Heretics and schismatics can be written off insofar as they don’t teach consistently with what Jesus and the apostles taught.”

i) Speaking for myself, I distinguish between heretics and schismatics. Sometimes the schismatics were either right or half-right.

ii) When the rule of faith is the very question at issue, appealing to what Jesus and the apostles taught is question-begging.

“No, it just assumes that we can identify to some degree what Jesus and the apostles understood about the Church on an historical basis, treating Scripture as a record of their words and teachings.”

I see you apply the historical-critical method to Scripture, but I don’t see you apply the historical-critical method to the church. Why is that?

“This is true in a qualified sense--namely there weren't enough bishops for there to be ‘degrees of honor/seniority’ which is the main distinction in the various levels of the episcopate. But it is possible for societies to develop and retain the same identity in the process (see Swinburne’s ‘Revelation: from Metaphor to Analogy’, specifically his chapter on the Church). Furthermore, it is possible to successfully trace the development of a society and identify it as it endures through change (if you want me to explain further then just ask). If we come to questions about the Church with this understanding, then it seems to me like Orthodoxy could very easily qualify as the best contender because the Orthodox Church understands itself in a way that is (arguably) more consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the apostles about the Church than Protestant churches. (of course this all assumes the success of my arguments that Scripture teaches or implies ecclesial infallibility, etc.)”

i) Why do we need to come to questions about the Church with a prior, sociological model of identity through time? Why not begin with what the Bible has to say?

ii) In my opinion, a number of polities may be consistent with NT ecclesiology.

iii) Appeal to how the Orthodox church “understands itself” is question-begging.

“As I mentioned above, the hierarchy serve a representative function. They act on behalf of the part of the organization they represent; hence, when they act, the whole Church acts. This doesn’t seem like a sudden jump. In fact this appears to be operative in the apostolic decree (Acts 15:22-29) and perhaps elsewhere as well.”

This is careless:

i) Of course “apostles” can serve in a representative capacity.

ii) It doesn’t follow that bishops, individually or collectively, speak with apostolic authority. The NT qualifications for the pastorate are quite different from the qualifications for the Apostolate.

“I don’t see how this is special pleading. I don’t think I ever said that ‘being decreed by the majority of the hierarchy’ is the *only* criteria in operation here. You wouldn’t say that if all of the elders got together at your church and decided that every sermon would preach Arianism that this would be something your church had actually validly agreed about. Instead, they would have yielded their authority by decreeing something contrary to true prior teaching, thus estranging themselves from the true faith and any degree of authority or even membership they had claim to. And that’s the same kind of thing that I’m arguing is true about the EO.”

No, it’s not the same thing, for in EO ecclesiology, an ecumenical council is infallible, whereas I’d never say that the elders of my church, or the elders of my denomination, are infallible.

“Sorry I think I originally misunderstood what you meant. Could you explain how this would help?”

As one scholar puts it, “Many written texts, especially biblical ones, were written with the full awareness of other texts in mind. Their authors assumed the readers would be thoroughly knowledgeable of those other texts. The New Testament books, for example, assume a comprehensive understanding of the OT. Many OT texts also assume their readers are aware and knowledgeable of other OT texts. Intertextuality can either be explicit…or implicit,” J. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach (Zondervan 1995), 212-13.

Intertextuality operates at many different levels: you can have internal parallels within the same book (e.g. Genesis), or between books that form a larger literary unit (e.g. the Pentateuch). Earlier books can lay down theological motifs that foreshadow their thematic unfolding in later books. Conversely, later books can quote or allude to earlier books. Literary dependence is a form of intertextuality (e.g. the Synoptic problem). And so on and so forth. One can work this out in excruciating detail.

“But if the canon is divine doctrine, then its status as authoritative Christian revelation can only be established (declared, formally sealed--not recognized epistemically) by divine authority. Anything less as a means of establishing the canon would be fallible, and subject to the possibility of revision in principle, which would indicate that the canon is the teaching of men, not of God. And this seems unacceptable.”

i) What is unacceptable is the way you begin with your preconceived strictures and armchair stipulations rather than observing what the Lord has actually said or done or said he would do. I prefer Scriptures to strictures.

ii) What is the official canon of the Orthodox church?

“The issue is not ‘can God reveal Himself privately?’ but ‘is Christian revelation grounded in publicly-accessible authority?’”

The issue is not “private revelation” but divine regeneration. That is not a “confirming religious experience.” Rather, that is an inaugural religious experience, absent which the individual cannot exercise genuine faith in Scripture.

“But is grace also an objective thing, or is it just subjective?”

Both. Grace is what God does in us (subjective) as well as what he does for us (objective).

“Sure, there are. But are they successful? I think the question then becomes whether the objective evidence establishes the authority or just the *accuracy* of Scripture.”

“Success” is person-variable. And you could say the same thing about arguments for the Orthodox church.

“The negation of reject is not ‘choose’, but ‘to not reject’.”

You’re being too abstract. You need to cultivate an exegetical mindset. Lower the altitude. Get your hands dirty instead of viewing the text from 40,000 feet in the air.

Yes, you can say abstractly that there are more than two options, but that’s irrelevant to Paul’s argument. For Paul, any outcome will be the result of divine agency. It is not as if God is just sitting back and letting things happen all by themselves—as if he chooses to opt out of the proceedings. “I choose not to choose one way or the other.”

For Paul, God doesn’t watch things play out of their own accord from a safe distance.

“And indeed, “to not reject” is already stated in verse 2—“God *did not reject*”—and is an action that God performs.”

And how did God “not reject”? By making a choice.

“Here’s what I’m thinking. Paul is specifically dealing with the issue of whether Israel has been completely and entirely rejected as a whole; he is not *directly* dealing with the issue of whether or not a saved elect remnant has persevered. Rather he is indirectly dealing with that issue because it is instrumental to answering the question of whether or not God has rejected ethinc Israel. In that case, bringing up the remnant shows that God has indeed not rejected all ethnic Israel, because the remnant consists of people who are ethnic Israelites.”

The survival of ethnic Israel is not an end in itself, but a means to an end:

i) Elect Jews are a subset of ethnic Israel.

ii) The prophets, Apostles, and the Messiah are a subset of ethnic Israel. Ethnic Israel supplied the raw materials, as well as the medium.

iii) Ethnic Israel, in this instrumental role, is a blessing to the Gentiles.

God is not concerned with the preservation of ethnic Israel, per se, but with ethnic Israel as a conduit.

“And indeed I think there is something within the context of the verses in consideration which could be read as affirming a conditional election of the remnant, namely the fact that God’s act of reservation in verse 4 could be taken as contingent on the act of not bowing the knee to Baal.”

And why did the remnant not bow the knee to Baal? They are not elect because they are obedient, but obedient because they are elect. And that’s the differential factor that distinguishes them from the apostate mass. You render election otiose.

Apocatastasis redux

Recently, there was a debate at Triablogue over the question of whether the Orthodox tradition is tolerant of universalism. I’d like to broaden out the question.

As I recall, Origen’s position didn’t stop with universal salvation. That would be the optimistic or utopian version of apocatastasis. But, consistent with his commitment to libertarian freewill, he held to a more pessimistic or dystopian version according to which the Fall might repeat itself. And libertarian freewill certainly opens the door to a cyclical view of history—“the myth of eternal return”—in Eliade’s felicitous phrase.

And, in this respect, every theological tradition that denies the perseverance of the saints subscribes to modified form of apocatastasis. Although a theological tradition may deny universal salvation, if it also denies the doctrine of perseverance, then it does apply the principle of apocatastasis at an individual level and local scale.

For it takes the position that a fallen creature can be redeemed, then fall away once more. So this is apocatastasis in miniature. Distributive rather than collective; local rather than global; historical rather than eschatological—but the underlying dynamic is the same.

Libertarian traditions arbitrarily deny perseverance to the saints on earth while they affirm perseverance to the saints in heaven. Grace is resistible here-below, but irresistible in the hereafter.

So, apart from Calvinism, every other theological tradition is Origenistic, but less consistent than Origen.

What Does An Unscientific Imbecile Know?

Now I realize that I am just an unscientific imbecile who ought to be punished for having the audacity to question the high priests of Darwin, but there are certain things that just don’t seem to add up for me. I read Stephen Jay Gould and I see some of the things he says doesn’t quite match what Darwinism requires. So I write a post on it, and our resident non sequitur claims that I haven’t understood Gould at all. (This would circuitously follow, seeing as how I am an unscientific imbecile who ought to be punished for having the audacity to question the high priests of Darwin.)

But bear with the heathen for a minute more. There happens to be a book that I read immediately after reading Wonderful Life by Gould. This book is entitled Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? It’s by David M. Raup. (1991. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.).

Who is Raup? you wonder. Let’s put it this way: If you believe that the Permian extinction wiped out 96% of life on Earth...well, he’s the guy who came up with that figure. Interestingly, in Extinction he says:

I am slightly embarrassed by the wide use of the figure of 96 percent for the Permian because I was responsible for it in a 1979 article presenting the reverse-rarefaction method. Although my article contained ample caveats about the random-killing assumption and although I said that the 96 percent estimate was an upper limit, all too many users of the number have neglected to mention the caveats. In truth, I probably did not exert myself to emphasize them (p. 74).
This admission is interesting because it is virtually impossible to find any paleontologist today who views the 96% extinction rate as anything less than Gospel—er, in the "scientific" sense of course. But this is not the reason why I bring Raup up now. Instead, I bring him up for a couple of other quotes.

Let’s start with this one:

The disturbing reality is that for none of the thousands of well-documented extinctions in the geologic past do we have a solid explanation of why the extinction occurred. We have many proposals in specific cases, of course: trilobites died out because of competition from newly evolved fish; dinosaurs were too big or too stupid; the antlers of Irish elk became too cumbersome. These are all plausible scenarios, but no matter how plausible, they still cannot be shown to be true beyond reasonable doubt. Equally plausible alternative scenarios can be invented with ease, and none has predictive power in the sense that it can show a priori that a given species or anatomical type was destined to go extinct (p. 17).
To this, we can also add from the same page:

Sadly, the only evidence we have for the inferiority of victims of extinction is the fact of their extinction--a circular argument (p. 17).
And later:

The fossil record documents extinctions of many species that were doing fine--until their demise (p. 195).
In other words, as I stated when examining Wonderful Life, extinctions (which, when they are mass extinctions, we theorize are caused by some sort of catastrophe) do not operate on the Darwinian level. There must be something more going on than just Darwinism. In fact, Raus says the very same thing. Raus is, of course, a Darwinist, and as such he denies that Natural Selection (which he equates with Darwinism) is overthrown by extinctions; yet after arguing that, he admits: "Thus, Darwinism is alive and well, but, I submit, it cannot have operated by itself to produce the diversity of life today (p. 192)."

And if you were wondering, yes Raus did read Gould too:

I conclude, therefore, that extinction is necessary for evolution, as we know it, and that selective extinction that is largely blind to the fitness of the organism (wanton extinction) is most likely to have dominated. As Stephen Jay Gould and others have emphasized, we probably would not be here now if extinction were a completely fair game (p. 191)
And, yes, Raus also read Wonderful Life: "Edacara is comparable to the somewhat younger Burgess Shale (Middle Cambrian of British Columbia), which Stephen Jay Gould has described and interpreted so elegantly in his book Wonderful Life" (p. 25-26).

Despite all this, it remains possible that someone could argue that Raus misunderstood Gould just as I have. But then they would have to deal with a tricky little problem.

Stephen Jay Gould sorta wrote the introduction to the book. And in the introduction, he so obviously says exactly the sort of thing you would say when you write the introduction to a book in which the author has so seriously misrepresented you:

But the primary architect of this shift [toward considering extinction in paleontology] is my brilliant colleague David M. Raup. Dave may be more at home before a computer console than before a dusty drawer of fossils (and he gets his share of flak from traditionalists for this predilection), but he is the acknowledged master of quantitative approaches to the fossil record. He saw the power of the impact scenario right from the beginning, when most paleontologists were howling with rage or laughter, and refusing to consider the proposal seriously. He has made the most important discoveries and proposed the most interesting and outrageous hypotheses in the field, including the suggestion that mass extinctions may cycle with a frequency of some 26 million years. He is also the perennial Peck’s bad boy of paleontology—a hard act to maintain past the age of fifty (I am struggling with him), but truly the most sublime of all statuses in science. If Dave has any motto, it can only be: Think the unthinkable (and then make a mathematical model to show how it might work); take an outrageous idea with a limited sphere of validity and see if it might not be extendable to explain everything. This book is a wonderful exposition of this potentially valid iconoclasm, as Dave not only validates the impact scenario for one major extinction but then asks, Suppose that all extinctions, not just mass dyings but even minor removals in local areas, are caused by impacts of various sizes. What would the history of life look like then? Does the actual history of life look like this after all? (p. xv-xvi).
But obviously our credo must be "Let T-Stone be right and the rest of the world wrong." Therefore, we must conclude that Stephen Jay Gould doesn’t understand his own argument! After all, Raus says what I have said, and Gould did not see fit to respond, "You are so far from understanding this, it’s not even a misrepresentation. Why should I write an introduction to this tripe?"

Be that as it may, Raus also makes some interesting points regarding how wonderful and accurate science itself is. I realize that by repeating this I am helping to spread the heresy, but so be it.

A species is a species if a competent taxonomist says it is. Although a bit cynical, this is the operational definition most widely used in biology and paleontology (p. 14).
(Darn, there goes that precision T-Stone likes so much.)


Because the perception of trends and patterns depends so much on one's vantage point, it is difficult to view the evolutionary record objectively. This is especially true when we deal with evolution of land-dwelling vertebrate animals: amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. It is almost impossible to escape a feeling that the human species is the culmination of an upward progression--whatever "upward" may mean. This notion of progress implies that mammals are somehow better organisms than reptiles or amphibians and that humans are somehow better than other mammals. This, in turn, implies that extinctions in the past were due to the victims' deficiencies--in other words, to bad genes (p. 33).
(Darn, there goes that scientific objectivity T-Stone worships.)


Geologic dating is often so uncertain that one cannot be sure that the rocks at different sites are the same age. Even if the K-T boundary can be identified at each site--not always possible--the boundary itself may not be the same age at all sties. Suppose that at one site, the rocks deposited during the last two or three million years of the Cretaceous were eroded away before the start of the Tertiary. The K-T boundary, defined as the upper surface of the youngest Cretaceous rocks, would be several million years older than the actual age of the K-T transition (p. 76).
(Darn, there goes the ability for T-Stone to get a date. Yes, this is an example of equivocation for the purpose of humor. It’s sad that I have to point out such obvious humorous conventions, but since T-Stone would take it literally, I must do so. I mean, the poor guy takes things far more literally than even the most vicious caricatures of Fundyism would give us.)


In my experience, about as many people say, "Scientific problems rarely have simple answers," as say, "Where there is a choice, simple explanations are most likely to be correct." Both statements are rhetorical rather than analytical, and one hates to see them used as arguments for or against a theory (p. 92-93).
(Darn, there goes T-Stone’s parsimony crutch, which was already broken and impaling his armpit anyway.)


Something is not proven correct merely because it is shown to be plausible. And this is why circumstantial evidence carries little weight in a criminal court. Merely because a defendant could have committed the crime, by virtue of having the opportunity and perhaps even a motive, we cannot say that the defendant is guilty. Many explanations of extinctions are based solely on arguments of plausibility, proposing ways that extinction could have occurred. These are often granted the cynical label of Just So Stories, in honor of Rudyard Kipling's yarns about the origin of the elephant's trunk and the tiger’s stripes.

What if the proposed explanation is the best among many? Suppose we have four competing explanations, labeled A, B, C, and D. Suppose further that we have the power to assess accurately the likelihood that each is correct. Let the chance that A is correct be 40 percent and the chances for the other three be 20 percent each. Explanation A is twice as likely as any one of the others. This is fine and may give us some hope for A. But note that the odds are sixty to forty against A’s being correct. Thus, we cannot select one hypothesis merely because it is better than any of the alternatives. ...

The scientific literature, including that dealing with extinction, contains a surprising number of popular arguments based solely on the "better than any of the others" logic (p. 111-112)
(Darn, there goes T-Stone’s plausibility concept.)

And finally:

Published research articles in science tend to be advocacy statements. In scientific writing, one seldom admits puzzlement or uncertainty. Rather as in a lawyer's brief, the strongest possible case is made to support each conclusion. I don't know how this got started, but it is part of the culture. Although the practice has some benefits, it has the negative effect of polarizing the scientific community on difficult research issues--issues that do not have a clear answer but which still need discussion and a full exploration of alternative hypotheses (p. 178).
(Darn, there goes T-Stone’s peer-review process.)

By the way, since T-Stone talked about the "eyeless" trilobite, I have to add:

The two-lens nature of the trilobite eye is common in modern optical design and is called a doublet. But the shape of the upper lens is unlike any now in use either in nature or in man-made optics. Levi-Setti, with training and experience in optics, was able to recognize, however, that the shape of the upper lens of the trilobite eye is identical to designs independently published in the seventeenth century by Huygens and by Descartes. This lens shape was devised to minimize spherical aberration. The Huygens and Descartes designs were apparently never used, because other lenses were available to serve the same purpose.

The lower lens was the trilobites' idea. Levi-Setti was able to show that the doublet is necessary to avoid spherical aberration under water--something the seventeenth-century designers were not concerned with.

My point is that, even early in the Phanerozoic, organisms had evolved highly sophisticated systems--in this case, systems that in human terms would require a highly trained and imaginative optical engineer. Were trilobite eyes more effective than those of modern crabs or shrimps? We cannot answer this, because we cannot observe living trilobites. We can say only that there is no evidence that the eyes of the modern crab are better (p. 35).
(Darn, there goes what little was left of T-Stone’s credibility.)

I am so looking forward to T-Stone’s papal pronouncement that I have misrepresented Raup too. Perhaps it’s morally wrong to be rubbing my hands in eager anticipation of his continual downward spiral into oblivion.

Give that, it’s probably best if you just don’t mind me. After all, I’m only an unscientific imbecile who just can’t agree to Darwinist dogma.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Honor your whore of Babylon

Tim Enloe has been running a series on the papacy:

Let’s examine his major arguments, such as they are:

“One of the biggest problems with contemporary Protestant rhetoric about the papacy is that it refuses to acknowledge the historical and familial connections we, though Protestants, have with the papacy.”

i) Notice that he doesn’t quote anyone to back up this claim. Who in particular is he talking about?

Indeed, this is par for the course with Enloe. In the past he has even admitted that he doesn’t bother to read his critics. So, despite his assumption of the third-person plural, he’s just talking to himself.

The rhetorical function of the third-person plural in a setting like this is to achieve through verbal coercion what you can’t achieve through reasoned argument. You rhetorically extort the agreement of the reader by acting as if he shares your opinion.

ii) Another rhetorical ploy is to bundle two (or more) claims into one, as if the reader must assent to both claims at once. But historical and familial connections are not interchangeable concepts.

What contemporary Protestants of note deny “historical” connections between the papacy and the Protestant Reformation? Why doesn’t he name names?

“We do not seem to understand a very important implication of the fact that the Reformation was a product of Western Christendom.”

i) Once again, what Protestant author of note, however critical of the papacy, denies the fact that the Reformation was, in large measure, a product of Western Christendom?

If this is something “we” don’t seem to understand, then why doesn’t he quote his sources for this assertion? Enloe is merely talking to himself, like Renfield in solitary confinement.

ii) Incidentally, was the Reformation wholly or solely the product of Western Christendom? Wasn’t the Reformation in part the product of the Renaissance? And wasn’t the Renaissance, in part, the product of Byzantine refugees who fled to the West after the fall of Constantinople, and brought their knowledge of the primary sources along with them?

“That implication is this: because the Reformation was a product of Western Christendom, Western Christendom before the Reformation was quite literally ‘bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh’ Our fathers in the Faith stretch back for 1,500 years prior to the Reformation, and they are not merely located in isolated and marginal and persecuted sects.”

“Quite literally bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh”? That would literally be a genealogical claim. I’d like to see Enloe show me the family tree that traces my bloodline back to my “fathers in the Faith” 2000 years ago.

“This should not be a controversial statement. “

True. A demonstrably false statement should not be controversial. For no one should believe it.

“Think of it this way: just as our biological fathers are our fathers even if they fail to meet our standards of Truth and Godliness, so too are our spiritual fathers our fathers even if they fail to meet our standards of Truth and Godliness. If ancestry, family relationship, and, correspondingly, family obligation, are not dependent upon intellectual or moral criteria in biology, how much less can they be dependent upon such in spirituality?”

Unfortunately for Enloe, this analogy breaks down at the critical point of comparison. Of course my biological father remains my father regardless of his failure to meet my non-biological standards inasmuch non-biological standards are not what makes him my biological father. Biological paternity is constituted by biological factors, not non-biological factors.

But if you switch to spiritual paternity, then the only link would be the spirituality of the mentor and the spirituality of the apprentice. If a spiritual father fails to be spiritual, then in what sense is he a "spiritual" father? What makes him a spiritual father is a certain level of spirituality.

By contrast, a biological father who fails to meet spiritual standards is still a father to me since there is a biological bond between me irrespective of his spirituality or the spiritual kinship we share in common.

This is all so obvious that it should be unnecessary to spell out.

“The kings of Judah were still the kings of Judah--still the sons of David--even when they were abominable idolators.”

Once again, he bundles several ideas into one:

i) To be a son of David, in this sense, is a biological bond.

ii) But that is not a sufficient condition of kingship. To begin with, David had more than one son. And this gave rise to vicious succession battles.

iii) Moreover, you didn’t have to be a son of David to be a king of David. A usurper could seize the throne.

iv) Furthermore, under the Mosaic law, kings were constitutional monarchs, not absolute monarchs. An apostate king could be dethroned. For example, Jehoiada foments revolution against the reigning monarch (2 Chron 22-23).

“The Israelites who fell in the wilderness on the way to Canaan were still called ‘our fathers’ by the Apostle.”

This appeal either proves too much or too little. For the “fathers” in view are not a select group of authority-figures, but, with a few exceptions, the entirely of the Exodus-generation. So where’s the parallel with the papacy?

“What is more, Christ's own lineage contains murderers, adulterers, idolators, and even prostitutes. Family relationship is not a function of purity.”

Once again, he’s equivocating as he oscillates between figurative paternity (1 Cor 10:1) and legal rather than literal paternity (Mt 1:1-17).

“Just because you politically disagree profoundly with your father, and might even become estranged from him for a long time, does not mean he is not really your father. Why then would he not be your father if you disagreed with him doctrinally?”
Once more, is Enloe really that dense? What makes him “really” your father is genetic. So, of course, political or theological disagreements don’t dissolve a biological bond.

But apart from a legal or biological bond, there can be no spiritual paternity absent the requite spirituality since that is all the two parties would otherwise have in common.

“If we take Scripture as providing principles in this matter, we must understand that ‘honoring’ our fathers is not tied to our estimation of our fathers' purity. Scripture does not say ‘Honor your father unless he is a bad man.’ Scripture does not say ‘Honor your father unless you think he anathematizes the Gospel.’ Scripture does not say ‘Honor your father unless he wrongly proclaims himself infallible’."

i) Notice how he rips the fifth commandment out of context. The commandment says, “honor your father,” not your “fathers.” It uses the singular rather than the plural because it’s talking about actual rather than metaphorical paternity. And that is also why it references motherhood as well as fatherhood.

ii) That’s the primary referent. Up to a point, it could be extended to analogous authority-figures, but one would need to argue for the analogy, and not merely assume it.

iii) Submission to human authority is not unconditional in Scripture. Human authority is derivative of divine authority, and answerable to divine authority.

“Scripture does not authorize us to go on the spiritual equivalent of racist quests to track a ‘pure’ bloodline throughout history in order to justify contending that ‘No, none of those scoundrels in Rome ever had any connection to me’."

To the contrary, if Enloe is going to contend that the popes are “literally bone of our bone,” and give that as the reason why we should honor them as our fathers in the faith, then establishing the purity of one’s pedigree is, indeed, required by his own argument.

“First, I reject Mr. Henzel's consistent dichotomization of flesh and spirit, which I think is key to his critique. It is popular in Evangelical circles, obsessed as they are with dichotomies, to read the New Testament's utterances about flesh and spirit as if they are presenting a dichotomized world--that is, a world starkly divided between two contrary poles, neither having much to do with the other.”

Now he’s being silly. Many men can play a paternal role to me in a legal or metaphorical sense, but only one man can play a paternal role to me in a literal sense. This has nothing to do with Gnostic dualism or disdain for matter. It’s a natural fact.

“In Mr. Henzel's critique this theme comes out first in his attempt to determine who was and was not a ‘true Christian’ in the Middle Ages.”

Does Enloe think the Abigenses were true Christians?

“A second large point, which is a subset of my critique of Mr. Henzel's flesh / spirit dualism, is this: I entirely reject Mr. Henzel's polemical tirades about ‘the Gospel,’ specifically about those who supposedly ‘reject it’ and therefore supposedly prove that they are not related to us.”

i) Doesn’t Enloe belong to a consortium of confessional churches? They don’t all share the same confession, but they do stipulate that you must subscribe to one of several classic Protestant confessions to be a member.

ii) Does Enloe have no doctrinal criteria for Christian identity? Is John Spong a Christian? What about Kenneth Copeland? Or Gordon B. Hinckley?

“This objection, flowing from the dichotomous worldview just discussed, betrays the unbalanced subjectivity of commonplace Evangelical theology. Christianity for this way of thinking is essentially a subjective thing, defined by internal (spiritual) conditions that are held to be almost completely antithetical to external (bodily) conditions.”

Yes, Christian identity is defined by such psychological states as regeneration, sanctification, faith, and repentance—just like the Bible says.

“Rituals, liturgies, historical progressions, institutions are all secondary to ‘true faith’."

And the problem with that is why, exactly? This “dichotomy” goes all the way back to the OT. Despite the institutional and ritualistic dimension of the Mosaic covenant, which was quite prominent, the externals were never a substitute for true faith.

“In the first place, holding that ‘the true Gospel’ is equivalent to 16th century polemical theology against ‘papists’ is an astoundingly subjective judgment.”

This is a rhetorical decoy. What we say, rather, is that the 16C Protestant interpretation of Scripture is far truer to the true Gospel than the 16C Catholic interpretation of Scripture.

“Some popes have left us valuable commentaries upon books of the Bible and valuable manuals of principles for spiritual living (Gregory I). Others have played key roles in the development of Western legal thought (Gelasius I, Gregory VII, Boniface VIII), or international politics (Innocent III), or ways to constructively relate to other Christians (John Paul II), and so forth.”

What responsible Protestant denies that some popes were better than others, or that some popes did some good things?

i) But that’s beside the point. For Rome doesn’t allow us to cherry pick the good popes from the bad popes. For Rome, the papacy is a take it-or-leave-it affair. You accept the bad with the good. You either accept the magisterial authority of the papacy in toto or you reject it in toto.

ii) Moreover, our spiritual forefathers are hardly limited to a few good popes. If his argument has any logical force at all, then it’s logical scope is far broader than the papacy. It would include a variety of Eastern Christians as well as Western Christians. Lower clergy as well as higher clergy. Layman as well as clergymen.

iii) There is also a difference between valuing what a man does for the intrinsic value of what he does, and acceding to his official pretensions. Suppose a Tibetan scientist discovers the cure for cancer. Suppose he also imagines himself to be the 15th reincarnation of the bodhisattva. Do I have to honor his spiritual fantasies to appreciate his contribution to medical science?

“We see them as being guilty, almost from their beginnings, of willfully substituting ‘traditions of men’ for ‘sound doctrine,’ and for knowingly subverting the way the Bible says the Church ought to be run.”

It doesn’t matter what their intentions were. As Blake said of Milton, you can be of the Devil’s party without knowing it. In that respect, even Bultmann was well-meaning. In his self-delusion he really thought he was doing the Christian faith a big favor by demythologizing the Bible to make it more palatable to modern man.

“We heap railing scorn upon them for (sometimes) being fornicators, adulterers, murderers, simonists, warmongers, idolators--and, well, the list goes on and on, seemingly limited only by the amount of time and energy a polemicist has to dig for dirt.”

You know, this didn’t begin with Protestant polemical theology. He needs to brush up on Erasmus.

Incidentally, if he’s going to keep using the word “idolater,” it would behoove him to learn how it’s spelled.

“Popes have done much good through the centuries, and we must, unless we are base cretins incapable of recognizing even common human dignity, let alone proper respect for family members, honor them for those goods.”

That’s a liberal Protestant compromise which Rome rejects.

“For one thing, we could try putting aside our vehement polemical books, full of slurs and slogans and slanders against "papists" and "Romanists" and try to focus on good things about various popes, such as the ones listed above.”

In what sense are these “slurs” and “slanders”? We may speak of a Catholic as a Romanist because he identifies with the church of Rome.

And how can Enloe, with a straight face, claim the pope as his spiritual father while disowning the label of “papist”?

Capital punishment

The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense by Ernest van den Haag
New arguments against capital punishment by Ernest van den Haag

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Coercive equality

Here's an important review of an important book. If you want to get at the core of liberal political fallacies, here's a good place to start.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I Apologize In Advance For This Post

I remember once when I read a Jeffery Deaver novel. I don’t remember which one it was now—I’m leaning toward The Lesson of Her Death. In any case, Deaver had a character in the book who, after being told something obvious, responded with: "Stating the obvious diminishes us both."

Sadly, since T-Stone is such an apparent dolt that it is impossible for him to complete basic reading comprehension, I must now state the obvious. So I apologize to anyone with an IQ above 82 (this obviously excludes T-Stone) for the following post. I also apologize since I know now, before I post it, that after it is posted T-Stone will completely ignore it (although he will comment on it anyway), so it won't benefit him either. I also apologize to myself for making me go through the tediousness that is forming rigorous logical connections amongst the obvious. To offset this, I will helpfully use the dispassionate third person, with occasional reference to the editorial we. (Sure, that's a non-sequitur...but who's counting?)

The original post is in bold, with the helpful contextual comments following after in plaintext (T-Stone: "plaintext" means "not in bold"; oh, and by bold I mean "darker" not "more courageous", in case you had to look that word up too).

I just read Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould (1989. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.). It was the first Gould book I ever tried to read--I started several years ago, but unfortunately put aside for a while. I reread it from scratch this weekend, but this time with the added benefit of having read much of Gould’s other works, including Full House and The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (although I’ve not yet finished this massive tome). There is one specific issue relating to Wonderful Life that is relevant to some claims that our evolutionist friends have made over the years: Darwinism, despite claims to the contrary, is not predictive.

In this paragraph, we have the normative introductory phase of writing. The author of the piece begins by giving some basic information as to the content that will follow, specifically notating that he has just read Wonderful Life. Helpfully, the author provides the bibliographical reference to said book, should any readers wish to do research on their own, although most can find it by simply going to their library and asking for it via title and author’s name. The introductory paragraph in general is designed not just to catch the attention of people so that they will continue reading, but also to give us the thesis. Here, the introductory paragraph follows the general rule and ends with the thesis statement: "Darwinism, despite claims to the contrary, is not predictive."

Stripping away extra verbiage, we can summarize this thesis (T) by reducing it to a simple: T = Darwinism is not predictive (or an even simpler "Darwinism is unpredictive" except "unpredictive" is not a word according to Microsoft Word—which is basically God—despite the word being found at; following convention, we shall obey the spellchecker and use the slightly longer thesis).

Gould illustrates this in Wonderful Life by the analogy of "running life’s tape again." This effectively demonstrates that evolution can never be predictable. At the risk of being repetitive to an extreme, we will look at several of his quotes below:

The first sentence of the second paragraph used the word "this" to refer back to the thesis statement, T. That is, one can substitute T for "this" in the sentence to understand the meaning, viz.: "Gould illustrates Darwinism is not predictive in Wonderful Life by the analogy of ‘running life’s tape again.’" Stated in this manner, the paragraph becomes redundant, as the next sentence merely repeats this same claim. However, since the original sentence used the word "this" instead of stating T, the second sentence has been written to assure us that the "this" is indeed referring to T. Thus, we have supreme confidence that the author’s claim is that Gould will demonstrate his (the author's) thesis statement in a series of quotes.

Therefore, we have the following claim. Claim1 = "Gould illustrates T by analogy of ‘running life’s tape again.’" Let us examine the first quote, which we will label as GS1 (GS stands for "Gould Statement"):

I believe that the reconstructed Burgess fauna, interpreted by the theme of replaying life's tape, offers powerful support for this different view of life: any replay of the tape would lead evolution down a pathway radically different from the road actually taken. But the consequent differences in outcome do not imply that evolution is senseless, and without meaningful pattern; the divergent route of the replay would be just as interpretable, just as explainable after the fact, as the actual road. But the diversity of possible itineraries does demonstrate that eventual results cannot be predicted at the start, and none would ever occur a second time in the same way, because any pathway proceeds through thousands of improbable stages. Alter any early event, ever so slightly and without apparent importance at the time, and evolution cascades into a radically different channel. (p. 51).

GS1 does lend support for Claim1 in the following way. 1) It defines the analogy of "running life’s tape again", here in the statement "replaying life’s tape" (which is functionally equivalent). 2) This analogy does indeed state "eventual results cannot be predicted at the start", thus establishing a link in the analogy to unpredictability. 3) The quote concludes "evolution cascades into a radically different channel" showing that Gould is indeed speaking of evolution in this quote. Even if we appeal to ambiguity in the term "Darwinism" we know that Darwinism deals with evolution. In fact, if Darwinism is a subset of evolution (as it is since there is evolution that is not Darwinian in theory), and if all evolution is unpredictable, then Darwinism would likewise be unpredictable, according to GS1. These three facts point toward Claim1 (Gould illustrates T by analogy of "running life’s tape again") being true.

The author comments on GS1 immediately after quoting it:

Naturally, Gould remained a Darwinist despite demonstrating the problems with Darwinism (and as an interesting side note, his examination of the philosophy of Walcott—discoverer of the Burgess Shale, who tried to shoehorn everything into the prevailing evolutionary paradigm—is relevant in looking at Gould too). But notice the framework here: evolution can be explained "after the fact" but "cannot be predicted at the start." This is illustrated further by Gould:

In terms of the thesis, the first part of the paragraph is indeed extraneous. It does, however, provide extra information in an admitted "side note" that some readers may find interesting. Since it is a side note, one should not expect it to deal with the main thesis. The paragraph does, however, conclude by the author commenting on how GS1 fits T, which as we have demonstrated above, it does do (utilizing Claim1). The author tells us there will be further evidence in GS2, which immediately follows:

I challenge any paleontologist to argue that he could have gone back to the Burgess seas and, without the benefit of hindsight, picked out Naraoia, Canadaspis, Aysheaia, and Sanctacaris for success, while identifying Marrella, Odaraia, Sidneyia, and Leanchoilia as ripe for the grim reaper. Wind back the tape of life, and let it play again. Would the replay ever yield anything like the history that we know? (p. 188)

It is immediately apparent that GS2 is once again dealing with "life’s tape." Further, as GS2 is in the form of a challenge, it indicates that Gould is strenuously stating that it is impossible to determine which species would be successful and which would not be. This only makes sense if Gould is talking about unpredictability again. The final rhetorical question demands an obvious "no" response. Thus, GS2 also provides support for Claim1 for the same reasons that GS1 does.

The author continues with his commentary on GS2:

Indeed, such a task is virtually impossible. So pervasive is this unpredictability that Gould rightly asks how it is possible for us to predict an alternate evolutionary sequence when we cannot even see how the sequence that did (supposedly) occur happened:

This paragraph serves as a transitional paragraph between two quotes. This paragraph is again extraneous in reference to GS2; it simply repeats the conclusions of the quotes already provided. However, it also preps us for the next quote, GS3:

After all, we cannot even make predictions when we know the line of descent: we cannot see the mayfly in Aysheaia, or the black widow spider in Sanctacaris. How can we specify the world that different decimations would have produced? (p. 292).

This quote is not speaking of "replaying the tape" specifically, although it is inferred by the fact that the concluding sentence asks us to consider "different decimations." Since "replaying the tape" is the analogy used to describe considering "different decimation", this is equivalent. Further, GS3 states we cannot make predictions "when we know the line of descent." Once again, GS3 provides support for Claim1.

So, to sum up, we have the following so far:

T = Darwinism is not predictive.
Claim1 = Gould illustrates T by analogy of "running life’s tape again."
Claim1 is supported by GS1, GS2, and GS3.

The author then transitions from providing evidence for Claim1 to providing other claims:

Now lest we be charged with twisting Gould’s words, it is important to note that Gould is specifically addressing his argument to catastrophes, and not to "normal" evolution. (It should also be noted, however, that this firm of a distinction is not clearly stated in Wonderful Life, although it is clearly assumed and you can spot it when you know it’s there; the clearer statements that Gould is not speaking universally of evolution here are actually found in other works Gould later penned.) Thus, Gould does seek to avoid some of the charge of circular reasoning that is inherent in the tautology problem—in fact, Gould does address this specifically, although only tangentially:

From the above, let us flesh out the claims:

Claim2 = "Gould is specifically addressing catastrophes, not normal evolution."
Claim3 = "Gould did not clearly state Claim2 in this writing."
Claim4 = "Gould does clearly state Claim2 in other writings."
Claim5 = "Claim2 can be used tangentially to avoid the tautology problem."

Claim2 is not argued for directly at this point, although if one understands Gould’s use of the term "decimation" it is obviously true from GS3. Claim2 will be supported later, however; GS6 will provide all the necessary evidence (see below).

Claim3 is a negative claim and, as such, cannot be proven. (That is, in order to prove it, one would have to look through the entirety of Wonderful Life to see that Claim2 is not in it.) However, Claim3 can be falsified by any counter quotes to the contrary, and thus the absence of counter quotes leads credence to the claim (although, naturally, it cannot be proven in that manner).

Claim4 is not argued for by the author, and thus we do have a genuine unsubstantiated claim here. This claim is, however, trivial inasmuch as it has no bearing on T and, if false, impugns Gould rather than the author.

Claim5 references the next Gould Statement, GS4. To see if Claim5 is unsubstantiated, we turn our attention to GS4:

Arguments that propose adaptive superiority as the basis for survival risk the classic error of circular reasoning. Survival is the phenomenon to be explained, not the proof, ipso facto, that those who survived were "better adapted" than those who died. This issue has been kicking around the courtyards of Darwinian theory for more than a century. It even has a name--the "tautology argument." Critics claim that our motto "survival of the fittest" is a meaningless tautology because fitness is defined by survival, and the definition of natural selection reduces to an empty "survival of those who survive."

Creationists have even been known to trot out this argument as a supposed disproof of evolution (Bethell, 1976; see my response in Gould, 1977)--as if more than a century of data could come crashing down through a schoolboy error in syllogistic logic. In fact, the supposed problem has an easy resolution, one that Darwin himself recognized and presented. Fitness--in this context, superior adaptation--cannot be defined after the fact by survival, but must be predictable before the challenge by an analysis of form, physiology, or behavior. (p. 236).

In GS4, we see that Gould does define for us what the "tautology argument" is and how it is used by creationists. Gould concludes that fitness must be predictable rather than defined after the fact in order to avoid the circular charge. Hence we see that if Claim2 is true (that is, if Gould is not speaking of evolution in totality, but catastrophe specifically), then Claim5 is also true: "Claim2 can be used tangentially to avoid the tautology problem." This is so because if Darwinism "normally" is predictive, then the tautology problem is only a problem at the time of catastrophe. This is considered a "tangential" claim because Gould immediately contradicts the basis for this claim in GS5, as the author points out:

Ironically, just a paragraph later, Gould refutes this very claim of "easy resolution":

In short, while the author demonstrates that Claim2 can be used to neutralize the tautology problem, he claims here that Gould contradicts himself. Thus, Claim6 = "Gould’s neutralizing of the ‘tautology problem’ in GS4 is contradicted by GS5."

GS5 is:

But if we face the Burgess fauna honestly, we must admit that we have no evidence whatsoever--not a shred--that losers in the great decimation were systematically inferior in adaptive design to those who survived. Anyone can invent a plausible story after the fact. For example, Anomalocaris, though the largest of Cambrian predators, did not come up a winner. So I could argue that its unique nutcracker jaw, incapable of closing entirely, and probably working by constriction rather than tearing apart of prey, really wasn't as adaptive as a more conventional jaw made of two pieces clamping together. Perhaps. But I must honestly face the counterfactual situation. Suppose that Anomalocaris had lived and flourished. Would I not then have been tempted to say, without any additional evidence, that Anomalocaris had survived because its unique jaw worked so well? If so, then I have no reason to identify Anomalocaris as destined for failure. I only know that this creature died--and so, eventually, do we all. (p. 236-237)

In support of this as a contradiction, the author took pains to spell it out:

In other words, Gould here argues that Natural Selection—or more specifically "Survival of the Fittest" is not a tautology because it is predictive; yet it is impossible to predict who will survive. In short, the way I see the argument shaping up is as follows:

Opponents to Darwinism say X neutralizes Natural Selection
Gould says that X does not neutralize Natural Selection because of Y.
Gould then says that Y is not true.

Frankly, I can’t see why Y is relevant then.

The logic, which we will label as LA1 (for Logical Argument 1) above does demonstrate Claim6.

Thus far, we have the following:

T = Darwinism is not predictive.
Claim1 = Gould illustrates T by analogy of "running life’s tape again."
Claim1 is supported by GS1, GS2, and GS3.

Claim2 = Gould is specifically addressing catastrophes, not normal evolution.
Claim2 is supported by GS3 (if you know Gould’s term) and by GS6 (which we will show next).

Claim3 = Gould did not clearly state Claim2 in this writing.
This is a universal negative and impossible to prove.

Claim4 = Gould does clearly state Claim2 in other writings.
This claim was not demonstrated, but is trivial.

Claim5 = Claim2 can be used tangentially to avoid the tautology problem
This claim was demonstrated by GS4

Claim6 = Gould’s neutralizing of the ‘tautology problem’ in GS4 is contradicted by GS5.
This claim was demonstrated by GS5 and the logical argument LA1.

The author then extrapolates on the error demonstrated in Claim6:

To be as charitable as possible, perhaps we can argue that Gould is saying Natural Selection is true for most of the time, just not when it really matters—at the time of mass extinction (which Gould labels as "decimation"). This also does fit with some of Gould’s other statements, wherein he specifically says that Natural Selection does not apply during these mass extinctions:

In other words, the author makes an attempt here to be as charitable as possible to Gould, knowing that most people try to avoid contradictions and do not have them in their thought intentionally. Thus, he proposes an Alternate Explanation (AE) for GS5, namely: AE1 = "Gould agrees Natural Selection occurs most of the time, just not during decimation." AE1 already has sympathetic evidence given Claim2—in fact, we can treat them identically. Both are further solidified by GS6:

Groups may prevail or die for reasons that bear no relationship to the Darwinian basis of success in normal times. Even if fishes hone their adaptations to peaks of aquatic perfection, they will all die if the ponds dry up. But grubby old Buster the Lungfish, former laughingstock of the piscine priesthood, may pull through--and not because a bunion on his great-grandfather's fin warned his ancestors about an impending comet. Buster and his kin may prevail because a feature evolved long ago for a different use has fortuitously permitted survival during a sudden and unpredictable change in rules. And if we are Buster's legacy, and the result of a thousand other similarly happy accidents, how can we possibly view our mentality as inevitable, or even probable? (p. 48)

Here, we clearly see that GS6 supports Claim2/AE1 for Gould specifically states that he is speaking of times that are in juxtaposition to "normal times."

The author points out:

In fact, this evolution of traits that can be fortuitously used during a catastrophe is key to Gould’s theory. Later, he calls this the "different-rules model" of catastrophic evolution, saying:

Here, we have Claim7 = "Evolution of traits that can be fortuitously used during a catastrophe is key to Gould’s theory." Claim7 is supported by GS6 and GS7, which is immediately quoted:

The different-rules model therefore fractures the causal continuity that Darwin envisaged between reasons for success within local populations and the causes of survival and proliferation through long stretches of geological time. Hence, this model strongly promotes the role of contingency, viewed primarily as unpredictability, in evolution. If long-term success depends upon incidental aspects of features evolved for different reasons, then how could we possibly know, if we rewound life's tape to a distant past, which groups were destined for success? Their performance and evolution during our observation would not be relevant. We might base some guesses on incidental features that usually imply survival through a mass extinction, but how could we do so with any confidence? In an important sense, these crucial features don't even exist until the different rules of mass extinctions make their incidental effects important--for extreme stress may be needed to "key up" these features, and animals may never experience such conditions during normal times. And how can we know, in our rich and multifarious world, what the next episode of mass extinction, somewhere down the road, will require? Unpredictability must rule if geological longevity depends upon lucky side consequences of features evolved for other reasons. (p. 310-311)

Here, the fact that Darwinism doesn’t work during catastrophe shows that Gould is specifically isolating his argument to times of catastrophe and not to times that are normative. Proof of Claim7 could not be clearer. As a result, the author concludes:

It is important to note that, again to be as charitable as possible, Gould is arguing that Darwinism works on "normal" times, but during catastrophe, "the causal continuity that Darwin envisioned" is fractured. Indeed, Gould’s argument is that it is because Darwinism doesn’t work when it comes to catastrophe that the unpredictability of evolution comes into play. If Darwinism was the only force at work in evolution, then it would be possible to simply look at the Burgess organisms and determine which one is better suited to survival.

From this, we can include some more claims:

Claim8 = Evolution is unpredictable because Darwinism doesn’t work during catastrophe.

Claim9 = Darwinism is not the only force at work in evolution.

Claim9 is found by using an implied logical argument, LA2:

. If Darwinism is the only force at work in evolution then we can predict the survival of organisms.

. We cannot predict the survival or organisms.

.: Therefore, Darwinism is not the only force at work in evolution.

(Naturally, we can also say that the first premise is wrong in that Darwinism is not predictive...but that merely serves to prove the thesis right off the bat.)

So we see the following:

T = Darwinism is not predictive.
Claim1 = Gould illustrates T by analogy of "running life’s tape again."
Claim1 is supported by GS1, GS2, and GS3.

Claim2 = Gould is specifically addressing catastrophes, not normal evolution.
AE1 = Gould agrees Natural Selection occurs most of the time, just not during decimation.

Claim2/AE1 is supported by GS3 (if you know Gould’s term) and by GS6 & GS7

Claim3 = Gould did not clearly state Claim2 in this writing.
This is a universal negative and impossible to prove.

Claim4 = Gould does clearly state Claim2 in other writings.
This claim was not demonstrated.

Claim5 = Claim2 can be used tangentially to avoid the tautology problem
This claim was demonstrated by GS4

Claim6 = Gould’s neutralizing of the ‘tautology problem’ in GS4 is contradicted by GS5.
This claim was demonstrated by GS5 and the logical argument LA1.

Claim7 = Evolution of traits that can be fortuitously used during a catastrophe is key to Gould’s theory.
This claim was demonstrated by GS6 and GS7.

Claim8 = Evolution is unpredictable because Darwinism doesn’t work during catastrophe.
This claim is demonstrated by GS7

Claim9 = Darwinism is not the only force at work in evolution.
This claim is demonstrated by GS7 and LA2.

At this point in the post, the author shifts his focus from exposition of Gould’s philosophy to a critique of it:

There are several glaring problems if we accept Gould’s theory, though. First, the unpredictability of Darwinism means that we do not have any scientific way to examine evolution. Evolution is simply narrative, which does not fit into the strict roles of scientific method. (Gould argues that we should not heed such rules at this point, but I find this to be nothing more than a case of special pleading that he would never allow a theist.) The problem is even summed up by Gould:

Here we have the following claims:

Claim10: The unpredictability of Darwinism means we have no scientific way to examine evolution.

Claim11: Gould argues we do not need to be concerned with the scientific method at this point.

Now it is possible given the context that the author should have used the term "evolution" in Claim10 instead of "Darwinism." If so, the author did engage in equivocation at this point. However, it should be noted that if there is any equivocation, the origin stems from the various Gould quotes first, which treat "Darwinism" and "evolution" as interchangeable. Likewise, if we keep the original claim that unpredictability is inherent in Darwinism specifically and not in evolution generally, Claim10 is supported by GS2 and GS3, as well as by the contradiction demonstrated in Claim6 above (wherein it was demonstrated that trying to separate Darwinism as the "normal" evolutionary mode from what occurs during catastrophe is contradicted by GS5).

As for the evidence of Claim10, we see it is supported by GS8:

Historical explanations are distinct from conventional experimental results in many ways. The issue of verification by repetition does not arise because we are trying to account for uniqueness of detail that cannot, both by laws of probability and time's arrow of irreversibility, occur together again. We do not attempt to interpret the complex events of narrative by reducing them to simple consequences of natural law; historical events do not, of course, violate any general principles of matter and motion, but their occurrence lies in a realm of contingent detail. (The law of gravity tells us how an apple falls, but not why that apple fell at that moment, and why Newton happened to be sitting there, ripe for inspiration.) And the issue of prediction, a central ingredient in the stereotype, does not enter into a historical narrative. We can explain an event after it occurs, but contingency precludes its repetition, even from an identical starting point. (p. 278)

GS8 also supports Claim11 by demonstrating how historical explanations are different from regular science, and that they are not rejected (by Gould) despite this.

Beyond the Gould statements, the author also gives us detailed reasons backing up Claim10 specifically. Claim11 is mostly ignored as being fairly trivial at this point, although this is a subjective call that could be wrong. On Claim10, the author writes:

In short, if we accept Gould’s reasoning, we have literally broken the back of Darwinism. Darwinism cannot explain which organisms will ultimately survive when it matters the most, and as a result is limited in scope to only times between the great extinctions. While this accounts for a great deal of time, if we accept the geological time scale, it still does not account for why any specific species survived the Permian extinction, or even the end of the Cretaceous period when the dinosaurs were killed off. Gould’s argument is that mammals survived not due to their being better adapted, but due purely to pure luck, and as such we could not look at a mammal in situ with a dinosaur and determine which one would survive and which one would die. Darwinism had nothing to do with survival at this point; pure chance was all that was involved. Furthermore, our reconstruction of the events can only be done via unscientific just-so stories.

In support of Claim10, we see:

Claim12 = "Darwinism cannot explain which animals actually survive an extinction event."

This is supported by the fact that we cannot predict which animals will survive (GS2 and GS3); something other than Darwinism is at work here (Claim9, supported by GS7 and LA2); and the fact that this is survival of the lucky rather than survival of the fittest (GS7).

We can now propose LA3.

. Science must be either predictive or explanatory
. Darwinism is not predictive (Claim1)
. Darwinism is not explanatory (Claim12)
.: Darwinism is not scientific

LA3 fully demonstrates Claim10.

The author then continues on to what he considers the more important event (given the fact that the above can allow Darwinism in instances other than during catastrophe and only runs into the logical problems fully during catastrophic events):

The second, more important problem, is that Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection doesn’t work during the space between mass extinctions either. Remember that the different-rules model Gould proposes is predicated on organisms gaining traits that serve absolutely no survival advantage while they get them, and which only later serve a purpose when a catastrophe hits. The heart of this problem is summed up in the previously quoted passage: "In an important sense, these crucial features don't even exist until the different rules of mass extinctions make their incidental effects important--for extreme stress may be needed to 'key up' these features, and animals may never experience such conditions during normal times."

The new claim, Claim13, is "Natural Selection doesn’t work between mass extinctions." This is immediately supported by the author’s quote of GS7. The traits that allow survivability through an extinction event give no survivability advantage during regular evolutionary times. Thus, there is no survivability advantage given to the organism under Natural Selection, which is immediately argued by the author:

In other words, animals must gain features that serve no purpose (in survivability terms), which (because science divorces itself from the realm of teleology) cannot have been introduced intentionally, and which then are not weeded out through normal evolution.

The author then concludes with the idea that we ought not expect these random variations to occur in organisms:

But the fact of the matter is that after a short time, a species reaches stasis when it comes to variety.

Claim14 = "Species reach stasis after a short time."

Claim14 is demonstrated by an appeal to Mayr (MS1):

With drastic selection taking place in every generation, it is legitimate to ask why evolution is normally so slow. The major reason is that owing to the hundreds or thousands of generations that have undergone preceding selection, a natural population will be close to the optimal genotype. The selection to which such a population has been exposed is normalizing or stabilizing selection. This selection eliminates all of those individuals of a population who deviate from the optimal phenotype. Such culling drastically reduces the variance in every generation. And unless there has been a major change in the environment, the optimal phenotype is most likely that of the immediately preceding generations. All the mutations of which this genotype is capable and that could lead to an improvement of this standard phenotype have already been incorporated in previous generations. Other mutations are apt to lead to a deterioration and these will be eliminated by normalizing selection. (What Evolution Is, 2001. New York: Basic Books. p. 135, italics his).

The author then demonstrates the tension for us:

Now Mayr was, of course, a gradualist while Gould was a catastrophist. Even so, this illustrates the problem for us. Either organisms evolve slowly and not too far away from the basic phenotype, or else organisms evolve rapidly so that when a random catastrophe occurs there will be a chance for some of the organisms to survive. This tension is part of the reason Dawkins (another gradualist) so despised Gould. When we look at organisms today, they appear to be very similar to their phenotypes—suggesting the slow evolution as put forth by Mayr; but this kind of evolution is destroyed by catastrophes, where it breaks down into oblivion as demonstrated by Gould. Clearly, the two positions cannot both be correct; and equally as clearly, they both fail at crucial points.

This paragraph clearly flows from the preceding texts. Gould’s position requires enough variety away from the main phenotype as to ensure a sufficient difference to allow survival through an extinction event, but Mayr states that such variety will not occur due to phenotype stasis. Gould and Mayr are at odds here, bringing us to the author’s ultimate conclusion:

Most evolutionists today argue amongst themselves as to which view is right: gradualism or catastrophism. Neither side seems to grasp that there is a third alternative available: neither side is right.

This is a simple illustration of the false dichotomy problem.

So, to wrap up our examination, we see the following:

T = Darwinism is not predictive.
Claim1 = Gould illustrates T by analogy of "running life’s tape again."
Claim1 is supported by GS1, GS2, and GS3.

Claim2 = Gould is specifically addressing catastrophes, not normal evolution.
AE1 = Gould agrees Natural Selection occurs most of the time, just not during decimation.

Claim2/AE1 is supported by GS3 (if you know Gould’s term) and by GS6 & GS7

Claim3 = Gould did not clearly state Claim2 in this writing.
This is a universal negative and impossible to prove.

Claim4 = Gould does clearly state Claim2 in other writings.
This claim was not demonstrated.

Claim5 = Claim2 can be used tangentially to avoid the tautology problem
This claim was demonstrated by GS4

Claim6 = Gould’s neutralizing of the ‘tautology problem’ in GS4 is contradicted by GS5.
This claim was demonstrated by GS5 and the logical argument LA1.

Claim7 = Evolution of traits that can be fortuitously used during a catastrophe is key to Gould’s theory.
This claim was demonstrated by GS6 and GS7.

Claim8 = Evolution is unpredictable because Darwinism doesn’t work during catastrophe.
This claim is demonstrated by GS7

Claim9 = Darwinism is not the only force at work in evolution.
This claim is demonstrated by GS7 and LA2.

Claim10: The unpredictability of Darwinism means we have no scientific way to examine evolution.
This claim is demonstrated by GS8 as well as LA3 and Claim12 below.

Claim11: Gould argues we do not need to be concerned with the scientific method at this point.
This claim is demonstrated by GS8.

Claim12 = Darwinism cannot explain which animals actually survive an extinction event.
This claim is demonstrated by GS2, GS3, GS7, and Claim9

Claim13 = Natural Selection doesn’t work between mass extinctions.
This claim is demonstrated by GS7.

Claim14 = Species reach stasis after a short time.
This claim is demonstrated by MS1.

Of these, we can see that T is supported by Claim1, Claim7, Claim8, Claim9, Claim10, Claim12, and Claim13. All of these claims are supported by other evidence. In fact, the only unsupported claims are trivial: Claim3 and Claim4. As such, whether we agree or disagree with the author, he has firmly established his case both in logic and in the writings of Gould.