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Of Chromosome 2 and Puppet Propaganda

Biologist Darrel Falk, Senior Advisor for Dialogue at BioLogos, has a new video where he offers two views of the origin of human Chromosome 2.

The two views Darrel offers are (a) Chromosome 2 was specially created as is, or (b) two chromosomes were inherited from a common ancestor with apes, and then fused in a random chromosomal fusion event.

But what about the third view? He neglects to mention option (c), two chromosomes were made according to a common design with apes, and this was followed by a random chromosome fusion event.

If the chromosome fusion happened only in the human lineage, then how can it, in itself, tell us anything about our relationship with chimps and other great apes? It doesn’t. The thoughtful viewer will notice that the whole debate about a chromosomal fusion is a subtle misdirection from the real issue, which is: Why are human and chimp genomes so similar in the first place? One good answer to that question can be found here.

The science regarding Chromosome 2 and the possible fusion event are discussed at length in the book Science and Human Origins, and again here, and here. I am not going to repeat that discussion. I want to talk about something else.

Puppet Propaganda

In the video at his YouTube channel Coming to Peace with Science, Darrel at 5:27 claims that we must choose between intelligent design by an engineer or “master puppet-builder,” or evolution by a “loving parent.” This is a strange way of framing things.

Never mind that we know that humans are not puppets. Never mind that we know engineers can be loving parents. Never mind that natural evolutionary processes are easily characterized as cruel and arbitrary.

The idea that random, blind, impersonal evolution, however well set up and bounded, is more characteristic of a loving parent seems particularly absurd. Or is it just me? Is anyone really persuaded by this characterization? Or is this another desperate attempt to poison the well for intelligent design?

At times we have been told the intelligent designer is too remote and far away to be the theistic. The God of theistic evolution is immanent, they say, while ignoring the fact that the designer could be immanent too, and is at very least close enough to do some rather awesome engineering.

Now they say the designer is too controlling?

One can’t help thinking that these relentlessly negative and contradictory constructions of “The God of Intelligent Design” are borne of insecurity regarding how theistic evolutionists’ own construction of God is perceived. They want to affirm both the Christian religious position that God is a personal creator, but also that he used only blind and impersonal (and largely random) processes to do his work. This could logically be true, but it does not say “loving parent” (like the God of the Bible) to most people. So there is a rhetorical gap that needs to be filled. I understand that. But they need to do so without distorting and misrepresenting intelligent design.

It is because of these chronic attacks from theistic evolutionists that proponents of intelligent design were pushed to publish a wide-ranging critique of their scientific, philosophical, and theological claims in the book Theistic Evolution.

Image: Geppetto and Pinocchio, via Internet Archive Book Images (1904)/flickr.