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God of the Gaps and ID

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From “Intelligent Design: a Theological and Philosophical Analysis” by Erkki Vesa Rope Kojonen the Journal of Analytic Theology

Abstract: “The “God of the gaps” critique is one of the most common arguments against design arguments in biology, but is also increasingly used as a critique of other natural theological arguments. In this paper, I analyze four different critiques of God of the gaps arguments and explore the relationship between gaps arguments and similar limit arguments. I conclude that the critique of the God of the gaps is substantially weaker than is commonly assumed, and dismissing ID́s biological arguments should rather be based on criticizing the premises of these arguments.”

Full text.

Good luck with that. The main purpose of God of the Gaps arguments has been to signal that the academic, usually a self-proclaimed Christian, doesn’t accept any evidence for intelligence in or behind nature. ID godfather Phillip Johnson caught on to that a while back:

“I do not think that the mind can serve two masters, and I am confident that whenever the attempt is made, naturalism in the end will be the true master and theism will have to abide by its dictates. If the blind watchmaker thesis is true, then naturalism deserves to rule, but I am addressing those who think the thesis is false, or at least are willing to consider the possibility that it may be false.

Such persons need to be willing to challenge false doctrines, not on the basis of prejudice or blind adherence to a tradition, but with clear-minded, reasoned arguments. They also need to be working on a positive understanding of a theistic view of reality, one that allows natural science to find its proper place as an important but not all-important part of the life of the mind.” – Johnson P.E., Darwin on Trial, Second Edition, 1993, Inter Varsity Press, Illinois, p. 169

It often doesn’t appear to matter much whether the anti-ID arguments make sense. They read more like signals that one will ultimately accept naturalism as the correct explanation of the human condition, as long as theism is still technically allowed.

That perhaps explains the curious obsession theistic evolutionists have with Darwin in particular: You know, Saving Darwin, God after Darwin, Finding Darwin’s God

If they were truly interested in evolution they would show much more interest in the mechanisms of evolution that we can document and less interest in Darwin’s mechanistic theory. Darwinian theory ignores what we know about how information is created but must be true if naturalism is to rule. Talk about revealing one’s true loyalties by one’s preferences!

See also: History walk: Phillip Johnson clearly explains Darwin’s two-platoon strategy

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17 Replies to “God of the Gaps and ID

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The ‘God of the gaps’ argument is a joke of a argument. If anything, the overarching predictions of Theism have been born out by the findings of modern science, whilst materialists/naturalists have had to resort to more and more outlandish ‘imagination of the gaps’ arguments.

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1139512636061668/?type=2&theater

    Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a framework of illusions. (April 2016)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-603905

  2. 2
    News says:

    bornagain77 at 1, every news beat has its scandals.

    One of the big ones on this beat over the years, in my experience, was the discovery that theistic evolutionists were, for the most part, theistic naturalists or, as I call them, Christian Darwinists. Their big interest seemed to be selling naturalism to the Christian public.

    When mechanisms by which evolution can occur came to be studied and discussed in the science media, THEY were still mainly into stuff like, maybe they are finally going to review Darwin’s Doubt (as if anyone cared whether they did or not, as the book was leading for months).

    It’s an ongoing mystery why Templeton funds them, now that it has decided to fund the extended synthesis – which is a serious attempt to look at the facts.

  3. 3
    buffalo says:

    There will always be at least one gap. Otherwise we would be God.

    Paul Davies stated the universe is porous and maybe where God works, therefore God works in the gaps. 🙂

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    News, this verse came to mind when thinking about Theistic evolutionists, and all their religious talk, and yet how they still deny God had anything to do with creating life on earth:

    2 Timothy 3:5
    having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

  5. 5
    nightlight says:

    God of the Gaps arguments has been to signal that the academic, usually a self-proclaimed Christian, doesn’t accept any evidence for intelligence in or behind nature.

    Not quite. They merely disagree on answer to question: where does the intelligence responsible for biological artifacts reside.

    Meyerism (or Seattle ID) holds an incoherent position that intelligence directly responsible for biological artifacts is external to the universe, intervening every now and then into its workings, on its whim, e.g. to tweak some molecules into irreducibly complex structures that “natural laws” can’t manage on their own.

    The logically and philosophically coherent scientific position is that whatever intelligence is needed is built into the system, whether as cellular intelligence & natural genetic engineering producing phenotypic biological artifacts, or as some hypothetical pregeometry underlying our present physical laws, computing these laws and fine tuning them for the chemical and biological level intelligence.

    There is no intervention by some deus ex machine at any point. The system is fully autonomous, with all its intelligence front-loaded into the universe in the form of simple computational building blocks with additive intelligence i.e. capable of assembling (networking) many smaller and dumber computers into larger and smarter computers.

    We can see this general construction pattern unfolding plainly in front of our own eyes at all times and in all places, whether as cells assembling into multicellular organisms or as biological organisms assembling into vastly larger and computationally more powerful social, economic and technological organisms.

    To extend it down, beyond these immediate self-evident levels, the fundamental physics will need to undergo the revolution that cellular biology underwent chiefly in 1950s, when it was recognized that what was though of as dumb, random blobs of proteins making up cells is in fact an incredibly sophisticated and powerful self-programming distributed computer (of the same adaptable network kind as brains).

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Meyerism (or Seattle ID) holds an incoherent position that intelligence directly responsible for biological artifacts is external to the universe…

    This is false.

  7. 7
    nightlight says:

    This is false.

    It is precisely what they’re proposing — something intervenes from outside of matter-energy universe and its natural laws (present or future), since allegedly, the natural laws and matter-energy cannot ever give rise to the observed biological artifacts.

    Somehow, that “something” non-material then intervenes into the matter-energy universe from time to time, at its whim, supposedly to help out “natural laws” produce those artifacts.

    Meyerism is exactly that absurd.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    nightlight:
    It is precisely what they’re proposing — something intervenes from outside of matter-energy universe…

    Meyer has two large books out. Surely you can quote him.

  9. 9
    computerist says:

    It is precisely what they’re proposing — something intervenes from outside of matter-energy universe and its natural laws

    So? Even if it’s wrong it’s still better than “matter self-organizing itself blindingly”.

    Until the evidence is presented why the universe self-organizes itself blindingly, then something, anything other than that explanation is the more reasonable explanation.

  10. 10
    computerist says:

    And Meyer is not necessarily saying nightlight is wrong either. Am I wrong about that, nightlight? Are the positions of nightlight and Meyer necessarily mutually exclusive?

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    “What happens is this classical information (of DNA) is embedded, sandwiched, into the quantum information (of DNA). And most likely this classical information is never accessed because it is inside all the quantum information. You can only access the quantum information or the electron clouds and the protons. So mathematically you can describe that as a quantum/classical state.”
    Elisabeth Rieper – Classical and Quantum Information in DNA – video (Longitudinal Quantum Information resides along the entire length of DNA discussed at the 19:30 minute mark; at 24:00 minute mark Dr Rieper remarks that practically the whole DNA molecule can be viewed as quantum information with classical information embedded within it)
    https://youtu.be/2nqHOnVTxJE?t=1176

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1141908409155424/?type=2&theater

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    nightlight’s claim doesn’t even make sense, and he won’t be able to back it up with facts (as in actual quotes).

    Let’s assume that this intervention from outside the universe is supposed to be God. God is supposed to be omnipresent within the universe. So even if Meyer and the DI think the information comes from God it still does not follow that it comes from outside the universe and nightlight’s statement is still false.

  13. 13
    nightlight says:

    @9 ” it’s still better than “matter self-organizing itself blindingly”

    I never said that nature operates “blindingly”.

    Computational process running anticipatory optimization algorithms (e.g. chess or Go program) are not making their choices blindingly. They internally model the environment (game board), play what-if game in that model world, testing the outcomes of different available actions (moves), then choosing the “best” action to make in the real world (the “best” regarding the function being optimized by the algorithm).

    While chess or Go programs are written by human programmers (chess and Go being human activities), you don’t need human programmer to produce anticipatory algorithms. Entire nature operates algorithmically at all levels, at all places and at all times. What we call “natural laws” are anticipatory optimization algorithms (and quite mathematical at that) executed on hardware that long predates human activity. Among others they optimize “action integral” (the “principle of least action”) for the system. Of course, we don’t know yet how they do that (how does that underlying computer work), but only that they are somehow doing it.

    Note also that our present fundamental natural science (fundamental physics) is still in a very primitive stage, providing only statistical laws (quantum field theory) i.e. it can only compute probabilities of different events under given conditions.

    Hence our fundamental physics is like statistical laws of road traffic, where the entire lawfulness consists of probabilities that a car will turn this way or that way, lacking resolution to predict (or explain) specific actions by specific car (guided by the decisions of the driver inside).

    What we now consider “elementary” particle, bouncing randomly and aimlessly around, may well be like a car guided by some internal computational process (like the one carried out by the brain of the driver). While there are speculative physics theories (going under labels pregeometry, digital physics, cellular automata physics) about these hypothetical underlying computational processes, that’s still far too immature field with a long road ahead.

    Yet, that’s presently the only conceivable rational path capable, at least in principle, scientifically and coherently explaining the origin of life and of the fine tuning of natural laws & constants for its emergence.

    In that perspective there is no boundary between life and non-life (or between intelligent and dumb processes) since all there is, is a hierarchy of computing technologies all the way down, each one designing and constructing a more powerful computing technology at the next level and larger scale, from elementary particles & fields, through atoms & molecules, to cellular biochemical networks and multicellular organisms, brains and technologies they construct (our conventional computing technology).

  14. 14
    nightlight says:

    @12 “nightlight’s claim doesn’t even make sense, and he won’t be able to back it up with facts (as in actual quotes).”

    Watch any of his myriad hour-long talks on YouTube for all the quotes you are looking for. He clearly divides stuff that goes on by “natural laws” (plain chemistry, physics) vs stuff which requires “intelligent agency” to produce (e.g. cellular nano-technology, functional information). He also brings up numerous times that this “intelligent agency” is conscious, since according to him only consciousness can give rise to functional specified information.

    Similarly, he divides biological artifacts on those that are created via neo-Darwinian mechanism (random mutation & natural selection), the so called micro-evolution, and those which are designed and constructed by “intelligent mind” (macro-evolution, new body plans etc).

    So, in his view there there are two fundamental kinds of causes in action — a) natural laws and b) intelligent, conscious agency aka deus ex machina, interfering with the workings of the first kind at its whim. This is a classical “god of gaps” position.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “In that perspective there is no boundary between life and non-life (or between intelligent and dumb processes) since all there is, is a hierarchy of computing technologies all the way down,”

    REALLY??? Do you have any actual evidence for those fantastic and preposterous claims besides your blind faith that intelligently designed computational processes can create consciousness and novel algorithmic information?

    “To get a range on the enormous challenges involved in bridging the gaping chasm between non-life and life, consider the following: “The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium, is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.””
    M. Averick quoting Dr. Robert Shapiro who is/was Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, NYU

    Our Quantum Leap There Is a Huge Chasm Between Humans & Nonhuman Animals by Michael Egnor – Nov. 2015
    Excerpt: Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. It is qualitatively, ontologically different. It is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is in our ability to think abstractly that we differ from apes. It is a radical difference—an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference. We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses. –
    http://www.salvomag.com/new/ar.....m-leap.php

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time ….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    The mathematical world – James Franklin – 7 April 2014
    Excerpt: the intellect (is) immaterial and immortal. If today’s naturalists do not wish to agree with that, there is a challenge for them. ‘Don’t tell me, show me’: build an artificial intelligence system that imitates genuine mathematical insight. There seem to be no promising plans on the drawing board.,,,
    James Franklin is professor of mathematics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
    http://aeon.co/magazine/world-.....-be-about/

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas G. Robertson – 1999
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomenon: the creation of new information.
    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    Conservation of information, evolution, etc – Sept. 30, 2014
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel’s logical objection to Darwinian evolution:
    “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].”
    Gödel – As quoted in H. Wang. “On `computabilism’ and physicalism: Some Problems.” in Nature’s Imagination, J. Cornwall, Ed, pp.161-189, Oxford University Press (1995).
    Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough.,,,
    More recently this led him (Dembski) to postulate a Law of Conservation of Information, or actually to consolidate the idea, first put forward by Nobel-prizewinner Peter Medawar in the 1980s. Medawar had shown, as others before him, that in mathematical and computational operations, no new information can be created, but new findings are always implicit in the original starting points – laws and axioms.,,,
    http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.u.....ution-etc/

    Evolutionary Computing: The Invisible Hand of Intelligence – June 17, 2015
    Excerpt: William Dembski and Robert Marks have shown that no evolutionary algorithm is superior to blind search — unless information is added from an intelligent cause, which means it is not, in the Darwinian sense, an evolutionary algorithm after all. This mathematically proven law, based on the accepted No Free Lunch Theorems, seems to be lost on the champions of evolutionary computing. Researchers keep confusing an evolutionary algorithm (a form of artificial selection) with “natural evolution.” ,,,
    Marks and Dembski account for the invisible hand required in evolutionary computing. The Lab’s website states, “The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.” So yes, systems can evolve, but when they appear to solve a problem (such as generating complex specified information or reaching a sufficiently narrow predefined target), intelligence can be shown to be active. Any internally generated information is conserved or degraded by the law of Conservation of Information.,,,
    What Marks and Dembski (mathematically) prove is as scientifically valid and relevant as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mathematics. You can’t prove a system of mathematics from within the system, and you can’t derive an information-rich pattern from within the pattern.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....96931.html

    What Does “Life’s Conservation Law” Actually Say? – Winston Ewert – December 3, 2015
    Excerpt: All information must eventually derive from a source external to the universe,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....01331.html

  16. 16
    nightlight says:

    computational processes can create consciousness

    Consciousness is an open scientific problem but it wasn’t the subject of discussion here.

    and novel algorithmic information?

    There is no known example of creation of “novel” algorithmic information. There isn’t even a coherent definition of a “novel” algorithmic information.

    The algorithmic information (AI) of some sequence of symbols (which may be infinite) is number of bits contained in the shortest program (on an idealized ‘universal computer’) that can generate the sequence. What is then a “novel” AI? You can’t even define it.

    Namely, any given sequence S can be generated by mere copy process of that same sequence S from computer memory (computer may need infinite memory if sequence is infinite).

    It cannot be proven for general sequence whether there is a shorter program than some given program known to generate it (such as copy).

    Hence, the question is gibberish.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    nightlight, need I remind you that YOU are the one making the preposterous claims that have no evidential nor mathematical basis?

    “In that perspective there is no boundary between life and non-life (or between intelligent and dumb processes) since all there is, is a hierarchy of computing technologies all the way down,”

    i.e. ‘imagination of the gaps’

    To reiterate post 1:

    The ‘God of the gaps’ argument is a joke of a argument. If anything, the overarching predictions of Theism have been born out by the findings of modern science, whilst materialists/naturalists have had to resort to more and more outlandish ‘imagination of the gaps’ arguments.

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1139512636061668/?type=2&theater

    Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a framework of illusions. (April 2016)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-603905

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