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The Sciences

And god was angry with his creation!

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApril 18, 2006 8:11 PM

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I just found out that a 19th century geologist, John Phillips, was so struck by discontinuities in the stratigraphy of fossil depositions that he believed there had been multiple Creations. What Phillips was seeing were the mass extinctions, like the Permian event, which resulted in an elimination of most genera and a subsequent radiation of new forms. I wonder how Gottfried Leibniz would reconcile this evidence of god's caprice with his assertion that we lived in the best of all worlds. In reference to a previous post where I made a distinction between what people say they believe vs. what they really believe, I think the lack of perturbation of many traditional Creationist theists to issues like mass extinction is a clue to the workings of the mental engine under the hood. While on the surface there are explanations for why an omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipotent supernatural being would engage in "rought drafts" or allow the perpetuation of functional inefficiencies due to what seem like phylogenetic historical relationships, the reality is that such a creative agent can't be encompassed by the human mind. The real conception is more prosaic, a limited being of great powers in whom fallibility and mistake is possible. Kind of like an alien in fact.

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