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At Evolution News: An Argument from C. S. Lewis for Intelligent Design


John G. West writes:

November 29. Perhaps best known for his Chronicles of Narnia and works of Christian apologetics including Mere Christianity, Lewis was a first-rate scholar of medieval and renaissance English literature, and a first-rate mind on many topics.

Photo: C. S. Lewis, by Asar Studios/Alamy (Photo by Hans Wild/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images).

As I discuss in my book The Magician’s Twin, Lewis frequently examined the impact of modern science on human life, including debates over evolution and what has become known as intelligent design.

In the waning days of World War II, Lewis published two little-known essays advancing a positive argument for intelligent design: “Is Theology Poetry?” and “Who Was Right — Dream Lecturer or Real Lecturer?” Both essays were published in 1945, although the first was originally delivered as a talk to the Socratic Society at Oxford University in November 1944. The second essay was later republished under the title “Two Lectures.”

“Universal Evolutionism”

According to Lewis in these essays, “universal evolutionism” has schooled us to think that in nature complicated functional things naturally arise from cruder and less complicated things. Oak trees come from acorns, owls from eggs, and human beings from embryos.

But for Lewis, this “modern acquiescence in universal evolutionism is a kind of optical illusion” that defies the actual data of the natural world.

In each of the aforementioned cases, complex living things arose from even more complex living things. Every acorn originally came from an oak tree. Every owl’s egg came from an actual owl. Every human embryo required two full-grown adult human beings.

We see the same pattern in human culture. The “evolution” from coracles to steamships, or from one of the early locomotives (the “Rocket)” to modern train engines, requires a cause that is greater than either steamships or train engines. Wrote Lewis: “We love to notice that the express [train] engine of today is the descendant of the ‘Rocket’; we do not equally remember that the ‘Rocket’ springs not from some even more rudimentary engine, but from something much more perfect and complicated than itself — namely, a man of genius.”

Lewis made clear the relevance of this truth for understanding the wonderful functional complexity we see throughout nature: “You have to go outside the sequence of engines, into the world of men, to find the real originator of the Rocket. Is it not equally reasonable to look outside Nature for the real Originator of the natural order?”

An Explicit Argument for ID

This is explicitly an argument for intelligent design, and Lewis implies that this line of reasoning was central to his own disavowal of materialism. “On these grounds and others like them one is driven to think that whatever else may be true, the popular scientific cosmology at any rate is certainly not.”

This argument for intelligent design does not in and of itself lead to the Christian God according to Lewis. But it opens the door to considering the alternatives to materialism of “philosophical idealism” and “theism,” and from there Lewis believed that one may well progress to full-blooded Christian theism after further reflection.

Evolution News
Do you believe that the universe had a beginning and will have an end?
A key question. KF kairosfocus
PyrrhoManiac1 @116,
I quite like pantheism, but having discovered Ellis’s version of theistic naturalism only a few days ago, I rather prefer that.
Thank you. Interesting and understandable in my opinion. I once had a couple of conversations with a retired physics professor who'd embraced pantheism and cosmic humanism, even providing public lectures on the subject. My assumption was that his previous deterministic materialism left a void in his life. The opinion of a less-generous person with whom I shared this, speculated that this drift was common among "aging physicists" . . . Hmmm. However, the professor was still very intelligent and impressed me with his answer to my question, "How many digits of Pi would be necessary to locate all points on the circumference of the known universe to a Planck length?" He described the calculation as performed it in his head (at the time, I was 9 digits short in my memory of Pi). Pantheism associates an intrinsic consciousness to all matter as a logical requirement for explaining our own consciousness in materialist terms. It sounds like Fiona Ellis tends toward to "cosmic consciousness" as expressed by Richard Maurice Bucke and yogic practice, but is less mystical in her articulation of "scientific naturalism." In any case, the source of such consciousness is attributed to and emergent from the matter in the universe. Thus, it avoids the term, supernatural, but sacrifices ultimate causality as a consequence. Do you believe that the universe had a beginning and will have an end? -Q Querius
PPS, on roots of law, i.e. first, in-built law, per Cicero, as a reminder:
—Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC, being Cicero himself]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man.
[--> Note, how justice and our built in nature as a morally governed class of creatures are highlighted; thus framing the natural law frame: recognising built-in law that we do not create nor can we repeal, which then frames a sound understanding of justice. Without such an anchor, law inevitably reduces to the sort of ruthless, nihilistic might- and- manipulation- make- "right,"- "truth,"- "knowledge,"- "law"- and- "justice"- etc power struggle and chaos Plato warned against in The Laws Bk X.]
We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws. Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation. Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason [--> centrality of reason], implanted in [--> esp. our rational, responsible] nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” [--> core of justice] This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions. [--> a pervasive so self evident (as, undeniable, branch on which we all sit) first principle] They therefore conceive that the voice of [--> sound!] conscience is a law, that moral prudence[--> including, warrant on right reason] is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [--> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil. The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.
PS, I cite Holmes in his Ethics, to show how some others have pondered the matter:
However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise . . . . R. M. Hare . . . raises the same point. Most theories, he argues, simply fail to account for the ought that commands us: subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states, egoism and utilitarianism reduce them to statements about consequences, emotivism simply rejects them because they are not empirically verifiable, and determinism reduces them to causes rather than commands . . . . Elizabeth Anscombe’s point is well made. We have a problem introducing the ought into ethics unless, as she argues, we are morally obligated by law – not a socially imposed law, ultimately, but divine law . . . . This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West . . . it has lost the binding force of divine commandments [--> i.e. of the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, who would command and instruct in the good precisely because of his character of goodness AND wisdom] . . . . [The relevance of this comes out as soon as we consider the concept that we have rights:] If we admit that we all equally have the right to be treated as persons, then it follows that we have the duty to respect one another accordingly. Rights bring correlative duties: my rights . . . imply that you ought to respect these rights.[3]
In short is and ought are at the centre of justice, including justice in reasoning. kairosfocus
PM1, the gap Hume spoke to is as follows (1739):
In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, it's necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason.
As a general note, from Phil index: https://www.philosophy-index.com/hume/guillotine/
Hume's Guillotine, also known as the is-ought problem or Hume's law is a criticism of writings by ethicists who make normative claims (about what ought to be) based on positive premises (about what is). The problem was articulated by David Hume in his most important philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature (Book III, §I). Hume argued that one cannot make a normative claim based on facts about the world, implying that normative claims cannot be the conclusions of reason. The term "Hume's Guillotine" is meant to describe the severance of "is" statements from "ought" statements, which similarly, and colourfully, illustrates the resulting removal of the head from many ethical arguments . . .
This suffices to show that the gap is real and is claimed to separate oughtness from rational considerations, as is actually implied by your: "there is no deductively valid argument that has only descriptive statements in the premises and a prescriptive statement in the conclusion." It is more, it attempts to sever ought utterly from reason on what is, i.e. it effectively moves it out of reality. Which is the fatal flaw in it. My comment, and that of many others before me, is that the gap is answerable based on the root of being, the necessary being creator God, being inherently -- i.e. by his core nature -- good and utterly wise. This, the good and the wise, the is and the ought are unified inextricably from the root or wellspring of reality. Oughtness is baked in, in short. Nor, have I made the argument that you suggest, a leap of assertion. Instead, note kindly, that even in our discussion, you cannot but sit on the same branch of first duties as the rest of us, clearly pointing to duties to truth, to right reason, to warrant etc, which you suggest or invite inference I have failed to fulfill. I do assert this and suggest that no objector can escape it, in reasoning: such branch on which we sit first duties are thus self evident and undeniable, on pain of reducing our reasoning to a chaos of confusions and delusions. That is, our reasoning is manifestly morally governed, and we face a need to address its source. In that context, we can see Hume reasoning is-is || ought-ought, but what happens now when we go to the necessary being root of reality? Could there be such a source that is both existing an IS and ground of moral government, OUGHT [which would require goodness and wisdom]? This is a matter for worldview level inference to the best so far explanation. Which is NOT a deduction, it is a worldview framing matter. That matter, then considers candidates, and in the history of our civilisation there has been just one serious candidate: the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great, thus supreme, being. Such a being once not as impossible of being as a square circle, would be as fabric to any possible world, would have neither beginning nor end, would be eternal, and would be the unique source of all else that is or could be, possible worlds. At the same time, that IS-ness would be morally infused with inherent goodness, which will in key parts be intelligible to rational, responsible, significantly free entities in such worlds, as it reflects wisdom. Thus, we see is + ought in the place we commonly fail to look, the ultimate source of existence. One may overturn this by showing such a candidate being to be impossible of being, which has never been done, or to credibly lack necessary being status -- tantamount to saying God is a causally dependent being, a creature rather than creator. This is of course the Sunday School tickler, who made God. It manifestly fails to understand fundamental modes of being: contingent vs necessary. Going back to the key point, the alternative candidate root of reality is ______ . It avoids infinite regress of causal stages or circular cause by ________ . It retains our rational credibility and first duties of reason by ________ . It shows that the God of ethical theism is not a valid alternative as ________ . It would be interesting to see answers to these. KF kairosfocus
PM1, Hume spoke to the is-ought gap and attempts to bridge it in the surpris’d remark we both allude to; is-is then ought-ought. There’s your gap, no valid bridge.
To repeat myself, Hume's "gap" consists only of the following point: there is no deductively valid argument that has only descriptive statements in the premises and a prescriptive statement in the conclusion. It does not follow from this point (which I think is unobjectionable) that therefore the ground of being, the ultimate fons et origo of all reality, must therefore also be the ultimate fons et origo of all values. I am not, I should clarify, objecting to the idea that there is a transcendent dimension to Goodness, to the Good. I rather like Ellis's idea that we experience the transcendence of the Good, as we experience the transcendence of the Beautiful, in our experiences of nature. @112
I was curious about what you see as the difference between your beliefs about God and those of Pantheists.
I quite like pantheism, but having discovered Ellis's version of theistic naturalism only a few days ago, I rather prefer that. The difference, I think, is that Ellis wants to hold onto the thought that God is intimately bound up with the experience of transcendence: the feeling of the boundaries of the self being weakened or giving way. Mystical or spiritual experience is very important on her view, I think: she takes it that what we experience is a dimension or aspect of nature, or perhaps better, a certain way of being attuned to nature as a unified whole with which we can be in an intimate participatory relation. PyrrhoManiac1
Jerry, all science becomes science+ explicitly, once issues of the logic and warrant or explanatory power come into focus. Implicitly, it always is so. That is why Newton spoke of natural philosophy and the result of a sound process being knowledge, scientia in Latin. Knowledge creation, weak defeat-able sense always involves epistemology and logic. Just, these issues seem to be left implicit. KF kairosfocus
PS, I have no particular architecture of computation in mind, digital, analogue, neural network, etc. kairosfocus
PM1, Hume spoke to the is-ought gap and attempts to bridge it in the surpris'd remark we both allude to; is-is then ought-ought. There's your gap, no valid bridge. An is at reality root that simultaneously grounds ought answers the gap, including the Euthyphro dilemma. That is why ethical theism is so powerful. And the context is, our branch on which we all sit first duties of reason, where even you just appealed to duties to truth, right reason and warrant. What adequately grounds responsible, rational freedom, governed morally not merely dynamically-stochastically such as on a gigo limited computational substrate? (Which, has no responsibility of itself, nor can it truly reason, at best it expresses the canned responsibility and rationality of its programmers and other designers.) KF kairosfocus
PyrrhoManiac1 @111,
. . . it doesn’t follow that therefore the ground of all being must also be the ground of all obligations.
Sorry, I'm not a philosopher so I'm a bit confused: Is "being" something that doesn't ever have "obligations"? Are there any "obligations" that don't first require "being"? From another topic, I was curious about what you see as the difference between your beliefs about God and those of Pantheists. -Q Querius
So, part of what we need to account for is a world with rational, responsible, significantly free so morally rather than mechanically or stochastically governed creatures.
I agree with that. (Where we disagree is whether such an account is possible using naturalistic resources.)
Post Hume, that can only be done by bridging the is-ought gap in the root of reality, on pain of ungrounded ought. That requires that the necessary being root be adequate to both be and be inherently good including being utterly wise.
This part doesn't make sense to me. Hume doesn't really have an "is-ought gap". What he says is that he's never seen a deductively valid argument that has only descriptive claims in the premises and a prescriptive claim in the conclusion. (And he's clearly doubtful that there could be one.) But, from the idea that there's no deductively valid argument that has only descriptive premises and a prescriptive conclusion, it doesn't follow that therefore the ground of all being must also be the ground of all obligations. That just seems like one big non sequitur to me. PyrrhoManiac1
Science is P=> Q where P is a combination of forces of physics. Not Q => Not P or P is not the forces of physics, So what could P be? ID says that for a small number of physical phenomenon Q there is no known or possible P of natural forces then concludes that P is not a combination of physical forces. So what else could P be? . That is why ID is not traditional science but actually uses the principles of physics/science as an essential part of it. So anyone who asks what is the science behind ID is being disingenuous. It accepts traditional science for nearly everything but not all. Thanksgiving dinner is about to be served. jerry
I don’t think that’s accurate
A clueless response. ID is not a scientific discipline but applies the tools of science to data generated by science. That's why it is science+ So to try to look for a scientific theory is fruitless. jerry
AF, inference to the best, empirically tested explanation, on observed signs. You have nothing even close. KF kairosfocus
ID works as an empirically scientific project alone.
I don't think that's accurate. Maybe "would work" if that path were taken. Alan Fox
Q, yes, you have that right. Notwithstanding, big questions, hard and core ones are on the table and they need to be addressed. If we do not, collectively, others will push their own answers and often those are incoherent or worse. That has been going on for a long time and some of the civilisation level consequences are playing out; where, it is civilisation that provides the framework for billions of us to live on our planet; and to have a base for responsible, lawful freedom; something we are explicitly instructed to pray regarding. As for that text, there are also texts that show that there are aspects of God's reality that are open to us if we are not blinkered by destructive thinking. Much, is potentially at stake. So, I believe it is time for us to speak to logic of being, possible worlds and root of reality. KF kairosfocus
Kairosfocus @104, Personally, I'm very cautious about deriving or extrapolating anything about God. The difference in my understanding and God's is likely much greater than between my understanding and that of my poodle. Now, poodles are pretty smart, but he can't understand why I'm sitting here making tapping noises with my fingers. He can't even solve simply linear equations and I've given up teaching him to read!
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
Does this perspective make sense to you? -Q Querius
Q and SA, notice the key proviso, AS SCIENCE. Even going on to design friendly philosophy, notice the careful phrasing. First, worldviews level inference to best current explanation. Second, serious candidates to be root of reality, requiring necessity of being. Third, sole serious candidate, things like a flying spaghetti monster not being serious. Then, not omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omniscience, but instead terms of generic ethical theism [a worldview not a theology or dogma], inherently good, utterly wise creator God [phil sense], a necessary and maximally great being. This opens up a world of discussion that turns on a coherent view. The inherently good and utterly wise creator as reality root is able to bridge is and ought -- requiring the good as he is intelligibly good -- as well as to come to a sound design tradeoff for a world. Necessary being, fabric to and causative of any possible world, also, inherently eternal and start point of reality. Maximal greatness, if there is any ladder of being, this is the ultimate with all great making and no great-breaking properties, to maximal compossible degree thus the supreme being. And more. This would also help us clarify what omni and infinite terminology reasonably mean, etc. Not, asserted to be, but seen as serious candidate, which on logic of being either is impossible of being due to incoherent core characteristics or else is actual. Thus, answering to the various forms of atheistical and materialistic claims; have you shown or seriously tried post Plantinga, that the theistic vision is incoherent rendering God, not, what one disbelieves, but what one has shown impossible of being? No, patently. Then, we must take seriously the logic of necessary, reality root being, credibly actual. KF kairosfocus
SA, the further matter is one that goes with the design argument, this is now on the nature of a designer at root of our morally governed existence. This shows how further considerations allow us to identify the designer of a world involving creatures able to reason scientifically and otherwise with some capability, on origins. KF kairosfocus
Silver Asiatic @99, Beat you to @100 (wink).
ID says nothing about the nature of the designer. ID makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator.
I completely agree with this position. To make a claim about the identity of the designer goes beyond science. The sole difference between ID and Darwinism is in the handling of new, poorly understood structures or processes: Darwinism: It has no known function, so it must be junk produced by random mutations. Intelligent Design: It has no known function, but in all likelihood, it has a wonderful, amazing purpose as if it were engineered. There is another difference. Darwinian assumptions have been repeatedly falsified, while there have been zero cases where a biological structure was shown to have no useful function after all. -Q Querius
If ID has refuted its previous view, that’s ok with me – I just don’t want to try to defend something that ID has changed its mind about.
There is no ID authority. So there is nothing official to refute. There are people who write on ID and examined various propositions. Also people on this site make lots of claims. Thus, one can dispute the various interpretations they make, agree with them or suggest modifications. To me the deist position makes no sense given what we know about the fine tuning. People in the 1700s knew squat about it. Intelligent life was intended from the start. That’s obvious. This site was started by Dembski, then run by DaveScot and now Barry. It’s not the final arbiter of ID. That belongs to evidence and logic. jerry
Silver Asiatic @94,
Bad Design Means No Design … Beyond such theodicy-tinged debates, ID as science makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator.
Yes, but the FAQ is poorly framed. To say the least, science does not have a complete understanding of how DNA, epigenetic markers, cellular machinery, metabolic systems (such as in dieting), organs, ecosystems, etc. operate and interact in complete detail. HOWEVER . . . Professors have no qualms about proliferating Pompous Pronouncements (tm) that something is "poorly designed." What a load of crap! They don't know enough to make such pronouncements. Remember when they used to say that the human retina was actually positioned backwards? -Q Querius
The statement below:
ID as science makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator. https://uncommondescent.com/faq/#nobdesn
... comes from the official Uncommon Descent, FAQ page as linked above. That's the statement from ID headquarters. ID makes no claim about an omnipotent or omniscient creator. That statement has been made by ID theorists for decades. That statement has appeared on the FAQ page without controversy for just as long. That's been the basic idea: ID says nothing about the nature of the designer. ID makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator. Now all of a sudden, all of that is wrong and has to be rewritten? The good news is we can see it's not a problem with, for example, my view and Jerry's view. It's a conflict exposed right here. Jerry is opposing the official statement I posted from the FAQ page. So, who is right? The (old?) ID claim as posted on the FAQ? Or the new idea that ID does, after all, identify the nature of the designer and it is "a theistic God" of some kind? I'm happy to let the powers-that-be in the ID world fight that one out, but please change the FAQ page to reflect the current thinking on this matter (if it needs to be changed). Personally, I don't care either way. But if ID identifies the designer, I just want to know that. If ID has refuted its previous view, that's ok with me - I just don't want to try to defend something that ID has changed its mind about. However, as stated - there's no need for ID if the project is a philosophical one. There are plenty of excellent philosophy programs already doing this kind of argumentation. Silver Asiatic
it states that deism is a valid conclusion from ID science.
That is wrong. We can tell by the specific design that purpose was part of the objective. If purpose was part of it, then expect a reason for each aspect of the design. In other words the creator wanted a specific creation. That includes intelligent life. Why design intelligent life if you are a deist? jerry
Further our rational, responsible, free, morally governed nature points to requisites for such a root of reality.
That is basic philosophy. ID is unnecessary for this kind of reasoning. ID contributes nothing to it.
The God of generic ethical theism is still philosophy and is on the table as the only serious candidate explanation that solves the root of morality issue.
Ok, we could say that theism is a philosophical category, although I believe that borders on a religious question. In either case, as above - that is just philosophy. It's been around for centuries. ID does nothing in that field at all. Philosophers have had no need for ID to draw those conclusions you propose here. ID is supposed to be about science and there's nothing of science in that.
We have not got to theology yet, much less theistic traditions and religion.
Theology is the study of theistic God. If science can determine that the designer is theistic (which it cannot do) then it can study the nature of the theistic God, and that is theology.
But lurking here is the serious candidate necessary being challenge: such a candidate — as opposed to composites such as flying spaghetti monsters etc
Yes, I agree that such composite does not work philosophically. Again, ID adds nothing to this. ID is not a player in the world of philosophy. It has always just attempted to be a scientific project. Beyond that, Meyer is not saying this is just a serious candidate, but that ID (not classical philosophy) has determined, scientifically, that the designer is "a theistic God". If ID wants to be a philosophical project (which it has never claimed to be) then it should be battling in the world of contemporary philosophers. Instead, it battles with evolutionists and physicists as if it is entirely a scientific project. If we would allow ID to be a philosophical proposal, choosing classical theistic philosophy, why shouldn't ID be a religious proposal also and just say that the Christian God is the best candidate among all of the theistic Gods? ID choosing to be "just science and philosophy" is arbitrary. ID could easily add on the field of theology in the very same manner. To me that's a subterfuge. ID works as an empirically scientific project alone. As I just posted, even in the UD FAQ page, it states that deism is a valid conclusion from ID science. Silver Asiatic
ID as science makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator.
Yes, it does. How could a creator of such a well designed product such as the universe and our solar system been inept to allow it not be better. This creator would know what to do. So our inferior minds knows how this creator screwed up but the creator didn’t. This is nonsense. So assume the creator did it right. Then our job is to understand why it is right. What ID doesn’t do is associate this creator with any specific religion. But that is what most here want to do. A specific religion and ID should never be discussed together in a causal relationship. That is what most of the comments here are about. Refraining from this would reduce the number of comments 90 fold. But maybe the discussions would get more relevant. jerry
SA, my point is, that signs of intelligently directed configuration in observed biology [here on earth so far] allow us to infer design. But that is a process inference, and from Thaxton et al it has been noted this by itself cannot make a conclusion as to within or beyond the cosmos. As you have seen, for a decade or more I have pointed to Venter et al and suggested bio life within a century likely, will be synthesised in a molecular nanotech lab. Yes, I know Tours thinks 500 or more, but maybe he is over pessimistic. Turning to the cosmos, signs of fine tuning, a beginning and the mathematical logic of attempted transfinite traverse in steps point to design of the observed cosmos. Including, for models that propose that ours is a fluctuation. So, we see here extracosmic thus by definition supernatural design. Notice, Meyer starts from this end, indeed with Olber's paradox on the dark night sky. Going beyond sci and math, logic of being [which undergirds the core of math] indicates a need for a necessary being root of reality as was already outlined. Such is eternal. Further our rational, responsible, free, morally governed nature points to requisites for such a root of reality. The God of generic ethical theism is still philosophy and is on the table as the only serious candidate explanation that solves the root of morality issue. We have not got to theology yet, much less theistic traditions and religion. But lurking here is the serious candidate necessary being challenge: such a candidate -- as opposed to composites such as flying spaghetti monsters etc -- is either impossible of being due to mutually contradictory core characteristics [Euclidean plane square vs circle] or is actual as fabric to any possible world. KF kairosfocus
From the Frequently Raised but Weak Arguments ... https://uncommondescent.com/faq/ Bad Design Means No Design ... Beyond such theodicy-tinged debates, ID as science makes no claims about an omnipotent or omniscient creator. From a scientific perspective, a cosmic designer could, in principle, be an imperfect designer and, therefore, create a less than perfect design; indeed, that was precisely the view of many who held to or adapted Plato’s idea of the Demiurge. So, even if one rejects or abandons theism, the “bad design” argument still does not offer a challenge to ID theory as a scientific endeavor. The real scientific question is this: Is there any evidence for design in nature? Or, if you like, is a design inference the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence? Silver Asiatic
KF It's an interesting view and it represents a change in what ID has claimed for many years.
That pretty well fits with my own framework that inference on signs for design of life on earth points to intelligently directed configuration but not to any particular designer or ontological status.
ID has never been limited to studies of life on earth. Studies of cosmological ID have been ongoing for decades. But nobody said that merely a change of focus to the cosmos , enabled science to determine what the nature and identify of the designer is - until now at least. You (and Meyer) seem to be saying here that if ID is speaking of life on earth, only then can ID say that the designer cannot be identified. However, when turn to the cosmological issues and analyzing those you conclude that:
This is the God of generic ethical theism, and is compatible with the God recognised through the Judaeo-Christian, prophetic-scriptural tradition. Where, Islam is a later variant form, as is deism. The latter being a weakly metastable state.
Is this the same designer of the biological world? I don't see the science that supports that notion. What you're talking about is philosophical and theological analysis. The science doesn't tell us about the nature of God - whether theist or deist. It's a religious question to speak of the difference between theism and deism. However, it seems here you are saying that the ID designer is God. Period. Why not just say it like that? Is it true that all these years with references to "the unidentified designer" ID really was covering up the fact that it had already discovered that the designer is the theistic God? How did science determine that the God of Aristotle was not the true designer? Once you have the theistic God as the designer (if science supposedly could determine that, which it cannot), then you have a God who interacts with nature. It's a God who could create mutations at any time. Darwin's theory would be unchallenged. You could have a God who creates fossils and plants them in the earth. Would science disagree and say: "The ID designer/theistic God wouldn't do such things"? Again, where is the scientific evidence about the nature of God? Meyer said in the interview I posted above:
Because the first two books I wrote were making an argument for intelligent design without attempting to identify the nature of the designer. We know from our uniform and repeated experience that mind is the only known cause of the generation of large amounts of specified information. Especially when we find it in a digital or alphabetic form as we do in the molecules that make life possible. So, from the discovery of the functional digital information in living systems, I inferred that a designing intelligence must’ve played a role in the origin and subsequent development of life. But I didn’t attempt to identify the designing an agent involved. Many of my readers wanted to know, well, who do you think the designing intelligence is? And what can science tell us about that question?
Meyer is saying that in his first two books, he didn't "attempt" to identify the nature of the designer. This conflicts with what many IDists would and have said - that ID "cannot" identify the nature of the designer because such a study is outside of the scope of physical science. But Meyer is saying that he just didn't get around to seeing what the science had to say about the nature of the designer. He is now claiming that he looked at "what science can tell us" about the nature of the designer. So, he's claiming it is science, not philosophy here.
And so, to address that question, I broadened the range of phenomenon under consideration. And instead of looking just at the evidence of design in biology, I also looked at developments in physics and cosmology about the origin and fine-tuning of the universe.
Meyer says that "the science" indicates that there is only one designer responsible for the origin of the universe and life on earth and that designer is "active in creation" so it cannot be the deistic God. He provides no scientific support for those claims however, only philosophical conjecture. All ID really has is evidence of intelligence as a cause. That's the way it has always been. Extrapolating from that to the theistic, ethical God - is far beyond what science can do. But again, if ID is saying that "science has discovered that the designer is God" - then just say it. Don't hide behind "the unidentified designer". That's not honest. Creationists just say they're talking about God. ID should do the same. In support of this claim anyone could provide scientific papers delineating the activity of the deistic God versus that of the theistic God. Again, this requires standard scientific evidence - something observable and measurable. What "would the deistic God do" versus what "would the theistic God do"? Is the ID-creator-God a perfect being? What do the scientific observations of God tell us? If Yes - the theistic-ID-God is perfect, then that kills all those defenses of "imperfect design says nothing about the nature of the designer" since science, supposedly would have to show what "a perfect theistic God would do" and measure observations against that. This is a game-changer, as I see it. This certainly destroyed a lot of claims I've made about ID over the past decades. It also makes a huge mess of things. The only thing that makes sense, for me is the (old) ID proposal is that "science cannot tell us about the nature of the designer" since that is non-observable. Science cannot observe what happened before the origin of the material universe. It therefore cannot observe the nature of designers of the same. Science can only say it's some kind of intelligence. It does not even know what kind of powers that designer has or if it is a poly-deist entity. Science must be silent and so must ID. But going beyond this and claiming that science indicates that the designer is a certain type of God, blows all of that out of the water and leaves ID apologists like myself looking very foolish. The truth is, Dr. Meyer made a big mistake here. It's not even close - there is nothing in the scientific literature to support such a distinction between theism and deism and how, supposedly we could determine that from empirical observation. Science cannot tell you about the nature of God. That's philosophy and religion. Silver Asiatic
SA: I observe, Meyer's table of contents, Part II:
Part II: Return of the God Hypothesis 4: The Light from Distant Galaxies 5: The Big Bang Theory 6: The Curvature of Space and the Beginning of the Universe 7: The Goldilocks Universe 8: Extreme Fine Tuning—by Design? 9: The Origin of Life and the DNA Enigma 10: The Cambrian and Other Information Explosions
Notice, his ordering. He starts with cosmological issues, highlighting fine tuning, then turns to OoL and of information rich body plans. All in a context where origin of the cosmos fitted for such life has already been put on the table. That is, he has shifted the frame from the usual focus for debates, the world of biological, cell based life on earth. That pretty well fits with my own framework that inference on signs for design of life on earth points to intelligently directed configuration but not to any particular designer or ontological status. It is however vital to challenge an entrenched framework that is ill founded, proposing as established causes factors never shown to have adequate capability to create complex, functionally specific organisation and/or associated information. Until that is recognised there will be no willingness to reconsider the establishment narrative, regardless of onward import such as the self defeating undermining of rationality, reason, ability to warrant knowledge and the responsible freedom such require. Which, of course, then acts like oil of vitriol attacking the foundations of civilisation, moral government, justice and lawful government. These point, clearly, to a return of lawless oligarchy with arbitrary rule, buttressed by the prestige of the lab coat and the ideology of evolutionary materialistic scientism. We must highlight the clear signs of design in cell based life, in body plans and our own life. We must not shun to point out that reasoning on science and mathematics is reasoning and requires the acceptance of responsible, rational freedom; which is morally governed, being informed by branch on which we all cannot but sit first duties of reason. Thus we are entitled to ask pointed, weak anthropic questions, what sort of world, what sort of reality roots, what sort of logic of being best accounts for the possibility of creatures like us. Such is a grand, hard, fundamental, worldviews question. That is, it is by definition philosophical and shows again that phil is the mother discipline from which all provinces of learning come. For instance Mathematics can be seen as [the study of] the logic of structure and quantity, of course resulting in a certain, growing body of knowledge. The hostility to phil we see is generally speaking little more than ill informed resistance to asking and following up on hard questions that have no easy answers and where all answers bristle with difficulties so a core method is comparative difficulties. Understandable but in the end indefensible. Turning to the cosmological issues, the fine tuning setting up a life friendly operating point, clearly points to design. The logic of a causal temporal, thermodynamically constrained succession of years from the once present but now past, to the now present, raises the issue of the past of origins. With a little help from the hyperreals, R* we can see that it is an infeasible supertask to traverse a transfinite past of years. Even on models appealing to fluctuations bubbling up into sub cosmi, the actual past is inherently finite. Something from utter non being fails, on want of causal capability and circular retrocausation is similarly something from nothing. The not yet cannot be its own cause. Though, once things are we may ask, what sort of causes could account for such. Logic of being points to a necessary being, fabric to all possible worlds and with capability to design worlds. Necessary being has no beginning [is causally independent] and cannot end. For trivial, concept building example, try to imagine a distinct, possible world where two-ness so distinction of being and nature, does not exist or begins to exist or ceases. The very act of so marking out a world already bakes in distinct identity, so twoness. Two, and with it, 0, 1 and by von Neumann succession and extensions, NZQRCR*+ are all necessary entities and structures. Thence, of course, the answer to Eugene Wigner's wonder on the general power of mathematics. In such a distinct world, we are responsible, rational and significantly free so able to warrant and build up bodies of credible knowledge, also being morally governed. Post Hume, the associated is-ought gap may only be bridged in necessary being reality root. That points to the only serious candidate. Already, we see a necessary being designer. Now, we see requisites to be inherently good and utterly wise. So, we have on the table the inherently good, utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great, eternal, supreme, being. Who -- personality is a direct implication of many attributes -- is worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. This is the God of generic ethical theism, and is compatible with the God recognised through the Judaeo-Christian, prophetic-scriptural tradition. Where, Islam is a later variant form, as is deism. The latter being a weakly metastable state. In that course, we have seen that a necessary being designer of worlds would be a legitimate alternative to account for cosmological fine tuning, and would be a very plausible source for OoL, body plans and rational, responsible creatures capable of doing science. Which is a case where we, as participant-observers are ourselves observable empirical evidence. Meyer has not set up an arbitrary cloud cuckoo land empty hypothesis. KF kairosfocus
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