Faizal Ali: My thoughts on GAE


Very well written, @Faizal_Ali!

One aspect that I think you may need to reconsider is regarding this:

Swamidass states several times in his summary that “science is silent” on the idea of a de novo creation of Adam and Eve. This is not accurate, in my view. Science is quite clear that human beings do not spring into being from a pile of dust. That is just not how it happens. Science is as clear on this question as it is on the fact that rocks do not stay suspended in mid-air, impervious to gravity, when you let them go while standing on the surface of the earth. What I believe Swamidass actually means is that, if we presume the existence of an omnipotent God who is capable of performing miracles, then the fact that it is not scientifically possible for a human being to instantly spring into being from dust does not mean it will not ever happen. Which is true as far as it goes.

I think that @swamidass has this point right. Science is silent on this kind of miraculous event. Even if it were observed, in real-time, science might study the event, but it would determine (after exploring all methodological explanations) that the cause was, in fact, beyond science.

Similarly so with your floating rocks. Science is not clear on the fact that rocks do not stay suspended, mid-air, because science has no opinion on that which is not observed or does not happen. Science is clear that rocks in the air will fall to the earth, due to gravity. If science were to explore the hypothetical floating rocks, it would determine that there is no reason why this should happen, but this is different than having a default position regarding something that doesn’t happen. I don’t believe that science has any position at all on hypothetical floating rocks or spontaneously created humans. In my opinion, Joshua is quite correct in stating it this way. I could, of course, be wrong…

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I disagree. If we knew the event had occurred, and yet could find no scientific explanation, it would just be filed in the “no explanation yet, let’s keep working on it” drawer.

In any event, that is not quite what I was saying. According to science, human beings don’t spring into existence from dust. Science is not “silent” on this.


So, it would be silent on it. And this is an example where you are stating that the event occurred.

You are right that scientists, if asked if people “poof” into being, would agree that it does not happen. They would explain, instead, how people are born.

What you quoted Joshua as saying is this:

Science has no explanation for a de novo Adam and Eve. The idea is outside of science. It would be a miraculous event. Because it would be miraculous (there is no methodological explanation), it would be outside of science and science would be silent. Science would literally have no scientific explanation, because there is none.

I think that you are missing his point, is all.

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No, science would then no longer be silent on it, It would say that it happens, just as it now says that it does not,

Science does not require an explanation for this, because science says it does not occur.

Part of my point is that if the rules of the discussion ares such that everything that could occur if there is a omnipotent God is now on the table, then there is pretty well no limit to what we can say might have happened, and which we can carry on as if it did happen. GAE has no special privileged place in such a discussion.


@Faizal_Ali Once again, I feel as though we are talking past one another, because I fear that you are trying, at all costs, to win an argument rather than to see a commonality.

The point that Joshua made about the de novo Adam and Eve being silent was to show that such an opinion did not conflict with modern science, for instance, because a supernatural miracle, caused by Yahweh, the God of the Judeo-Christian religion, would be outside of science. As such, science is silent on this topic, because it is outside the auspices of science.

We all agree that a de novo Adam and Eve would only occur through a supernatural miracle.

You are now both arguing that:

Science is saying it does not occur … AND … that IF IT DID OCCUR… (which you already said that science says it does not…)

Pick a horse and stick with it.

How do we determine the likelihood of a particular supernatural miracle occurring?

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That’s a good question, but an entirely different topic. The topic at hand is whether or not science is silent on the de novo creation of Adam and Eve.

The de novo creation of two specific human beings at some point in history is a miracle, entirely outside of science. This is the point that Joshua was making. When you called that point into question, it was not minor or inconsequential. This is why I suggested that you may wish to reconsider this one point in your otherwise very well-written article.

We can’t, which is why a miracle is not examinable using science. It’s not even wrong, you could even say it’s meaningless to think of the likelihood of miracles.


@Faizal_Ali this is a good article. I appreciate you writing it.

Regarding the back and forth with you and @Michael_Callen, I see where you are coming from, but I think you are missing my intended point. Here is what Coyne writes:

These are the scientific facts. And, unlike the case of Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection, we can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty (Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!) – Why Evolution Is True)

My point is that a physical Adam and Eve (including their de novo creation) is no different from an evidential point of view than the virgin birth or the Resurrection. That’s my point, and this the only sense in which science is silent about it.

That being said, I think your article was quite good. Of note:

I am an active member of the Peaceful Science forum, which has attracted an impressive roster of scholars from various fields. While I disagree with Swamidass on several issues, he has always treated me with respect and courtesy there, and I have tried to respond in kind (with varying degrees of success.)

I’m glad you are an active member here. You really have added a lot, and you have won my respect.



@Faizal_Ali, this is an interesting comment from you:

In an odd sense, it could be argued that Swamidass actually shows less respect and deference to science than does a Young Earth Creationist like Ken Ham or an Intelligent Design Creationist like Michael Behe (Though, I hasten to add, in every other respect his understanding and acceptance of science far exceeds theirs).

It sounds like you are trying describe the situation. Perhaps you mean this.

  1. YEC and ID are committed to finding and claiming positive evidence for their beliefs, often with the tacit assumption that “if it happened, there is positive evidence for it.”

  2. Swamidass is content to show nothing out rules his scenario, and is not putting forward positive evidence forward for the de novo creation of AE.

Is that what you are pointing too?


Yes, that is correct.


@Faizal_Ali would you consider reading the book and telling us your thoughts after that, perhaps even writing a real review?

It’s on my to-do list. :slight_smile: