… why couldn’t he have just created the fossils all at once, to fool us or test our faith?
In “How TEs Are Like YECs or the Explanation of the Illusion is Itself an Illusion” (Uncommon Descent, May 9), Barry Arrington comments, discussing the views of a physicist, Stephen Barr, who maintains that God creates via random Darwinian evolution but that
God, has loaded the dice so that they rolled “life,” however improbable that might have been (like a thousand 7’s in a row with real dice), and God’s dice loading is so clever that the “fix” can never be detected empirically.
Barr’s view is quite similar to that of nineteenth century biologist Philip Gosse, who argued that God had created Earth instantly, with the appearance of age In that case, as in Barr’s approach, God’s handiwork “is so clever that the ‘fix’ can never be detected empirically.” Both proponents have ruled falsification by contrary evidence off the table, insisting that the real action takes place in a realm inaccessible to human investigation.
The old Earth proponent could not convince Gosse by fossil evidence from, say, the Cambrian era because he would respond that God had simply created it instantly in that state. Likewise, the ID proponent can make no headway with Barr by observing that current claims for Darwinian processes do not meet the standards of probability – because God, after all, can load the dice in an unseen world.
But mark what follows: Theistic evolutionists who follow Barr’s lead can then – legitimately, in their own view – accuse ID theorists of having a lesser conception of God. The ID theorist does not think that God, however you define him, is above the demands of evidence.
And if theirs is a lower conception of God, it’s worth noting that it is the one clearly taught in the Bible. Nowhere better encapsulated than in the “Venite” or Psalm 95, very familiar to anyone who has spent much time in an Anglican/Episcopalian church:
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
[ … ]
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
The gravamen of God’s charge against the Israelites in the wilderness was not that they refused to believe in unseen forces but that they did not heed the evidence of his work that he had put before them, plainly and unambiguously.