Singularities in Progressive Creation

Progressive creationism looks for places in the text where, if it says specifically that God acted, wherever that occurs at a particular juncture in the record of nature, they try to discern whether God’s active “influence” upon the normally operating laws of nature can be alleged to have changed the usual course of events… some might posit genetic changes that result in “hopeful monsters” with viable offspring, others might allege that some change occurred at precisely the right time, others posit singularities which are non-repeatable, etc. Science can evaluate these claims, but is hard-pressed to either prove or disprove “supernatural” causation --partly because, methodologically, it is dismissed out of hand, while still being retained mentally by those of faith. For those scientist who publicly acknowledge this, they face the prospect of bigoted public ridicule and scorn. Goes with the territory! This is where things like the Dabar Conference hold the prospect for heuristic change to the usual entrenchments.

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Rejecting common descent, physically, is totally unnecessary, as I read my Bible. Yet, positing that evolution, acting alone, without God’s teleological planning, and even active “influence” or “intervention,” even, is sufficient, is not a Biblical option. Not even God can guide an “unguided process.”


What does “singularities” mean in this context? I have the impression this could mean something more commonly understood as a special act of creation.

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It carries that meaning, yes. “Semantic polyvalence.” It also means “unrepeatable,” and thus potentially, ultimately, beyond the reach of scientific duplication or maybe even elucidation.

What if evolution is God’s plan? Why would an omnipotent God need help with his own plan? If He lite the fuse to his own creation, (the universe 13.8 billion years ago), why would He need to intervene, influence, guide? Is God’s plan not able to carry out God’s will? Does nature not behave to God’s will? And needs to be set on track. Didn’t God create the universe that created the asteroid 4.5 billion years ago that killed off the dinosaurs right on schedule 66 million years ago?

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What if you plan to act, not just “exist?”
This would seem to be a common misconception among those who can’t,or at least, say they can’t conceive of God, Who does so much more than simply exist!
How many plans have you made where just planning them is enough for them to pan out?

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Aren’t you painting a pretty severe image? Collins believes in the miraculous… and he believes science will never delve these mysteries… and he conducts good science.

I see him as a solid role model.

None of them. I am a finite mortal human being. I can make plans but life and circumstances usually get in the way of the plan almost immediately. I found that setting a general direction is better than a rigid plan. This way I can adapt and re-adjust constantly. But I am not omnipotent. But I do have the freedom to screw up my life in any way that I chose.

That’s because God planned for you to able to exercise that freedom. Nice plan, huh? : )

You might go ahead and ask Francis Collins what price he’s had to pay for being a person of faith and a good scientist. I see him as a good role model, too.

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The usual answer for a question like this … about an accomplished man like him is… he has had to deny himself actions and interests that would have otherwise have given him pleasure. But I’m just guessing…

I think Collins has answered this many times. He feels that his faith has helped him enormously in his scientific work. His “Language of God” book sits in between Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene” and “The God Delusion” in my bookcase. Both men have contributed much to science. Maybe Collins even more so than Dawkins in that Collins work at NIH these past eight years have been exemplary. I challenge anyone to try to manage NIH during two administrations as different towards scientific health research as the Obama and Trump Administrations. At Collins’ Senate Confirmation hearing, some Atheist groups opposed his nomination being worried that Collins would let his faith effect the grant selections at NIH. He said that his faith would drive the science to the betterment of the American people and he was confirmed. Now, I am glad that he is still there in the Trump Administration as if he was an atheist or none, he might have been replaced by some anti-science Christian fundamentalist like what happened at HUD, DOE, EPA, and State Department. So I am one atheist who is thankful for Collins being a Christian scientist committed to helping all people.


On your “singularities”: the empirical definition would seem to be be something unrepeatable, or unreproducible. Another way of viewing such a singularity would be something whose probability was close to zero. That is as far as empiricism goes - any explanation beyond that reveals a metaphysical commitment to (as far I can see) one of three positions:

(1) It must be an event covered by the usual laws in a vanishingly unusual combination. The metaphysical assumption is: “All physical events necessarily obey known invisible causal agents called laws.” Both the laws and the deduction of universality are problematic.
(2) It is truly a chance event. The metaphysical assumption is then: “There is an invisible causal agent called randomness, which acts without antecedent reasons to cause events which are sometimes unique.” Irrational causes and chance as a cause are both problematic.
(3) It is an event caused by an agent (usually to be conceived as God). The metaphysical assumption is then: “There is a volitional agent who can produce unique physical events by choice.” There are no doubt problems with that, but a majority of mankind takes it as a truth.

The bottom line is that such unique events require a metaphysical choice if they are not simply dismissed as brute facts. (1) and (2) both face additional problems when the singularity is an increase in organisation, (1) because the improbability is increased and (2) because there seems no reason why irrational chance should produce rational outcomes.


OK. So, we have multiple, possibly novel uses of the word ‘singularity’ and these meanings are distinct from more commonly used applications of ‘singularity’ in science and statistics.

‘Singularity’ in physics and math normally refers to areas or conditions where some functions become undefined and/or infinite. For physics, that would relate to parts of a Black hole or at the start of the universe.

There is a quasi-metaphysical meaning from technology and computation which refers to a point in AI or technological development where capabilities increase rapidly to support a very different mode of operation. Cases include AI consciousness or the development of a ‘super consciousness’. I think of those as areas where new, emergent properties can be observed. For biology, it’s often used for either human consciousness being replicated in silico, or humans being able to ‘evolve’ beyond biology or ‘natural’ evolutionary constraints.

I’m being a bit pendantic but… I think there are already words that better describe the cases in being brought up in this thread. I understand the need for professional jargon but that has to balance with the need for ready comprehension in a multidisciplinary setting.

‘Special creation’ at the species or individual level seems to do the job for Guy_Coe’s case. There is a vast literature in the creation/evolution areas that uses ‘special creation’ and it is pretty broadly understood.

I haven’t done a deep investigation but I don’t see much in online theological or philosophical discussion that uses ‘singularity’ in a manner jongarvey does. Granted, the web is probably over-represented with people interested in the technological or AI singularity, but that only suggests that referring to a different meaning of the term in theology/philosophy will likely produce confusion.

‘Singleton’ and ‘outlier’ are commonly used terms used in math and statistics. And that seems where jongarvey’s application is. These other, more conventionally understood terms can be used to describe one-off events and events with rare probabilities or occurrence. These words or something similar from the mathematical field would probably make more sense in jongarvey’s application.

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A purist physicist might insist that “singularity” be used in only a dimensional sense. The word was chosen by me to convey a meaning which I think is clear, whether or not it’s the word others would prefer is what I’m open to hearing about, but not terribly concerned about. “Semantic polyvalence” is simply a factor in any human communication, and the reason why dialogue is necessary when precision is required, and mutual understanding is the goal.

It wasn’t clear to me. That’s why I asked for clarification as there are many uses of the word (polysemy) and none seemed to precisely apply. I’m still not sure. Was jongarvey’s comment on spot?


Isn’t the term “singularity” just another way to indicate something miraculous? I don’t understand why so much conversation is being spent on a one-off term that is supposed to explicate instead of confuse-eate…

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Neither do I. For whatever reason, I was asked by @Argon to clarify my term, which I did. A read through the posts above will reclarify, if needed. @jongarvey 's first two sentences were, yes, spot on. Cheers!