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A Convergence Between Biologos and the Intelligent Design Movement

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In a recent post on Biologos, Kathryn Applegate concluded her criticism of Michael Behe. Interesting, though, was this statement:

Many scientists agree with Behe that evolution may have been guided in some mysterious way by a Mind.

This is very interesting, precisely because the core of ID is whether or not the origins of life (including evolution) have been guided by a mind (or a designer, or an agent, depending on your terminology). It is interesting that Biologos and the Intelligent Design movement converge at this point, precisely because it is really the only point of ID that matters.

Applegate has several criticisms of Behe and his methods. I don’t care to get into whether or not they are legitimate on this post. What I want to focus on, however, is that the idea that evolution was guided by a mind appears to now be a shared idea of both Biologos and the Intelligent Design Movement. The difference, for what its worth, appears in her next statement:

But whether or not the methods of science could ever rigorously detect teleology—mindful purpose—by studying the physical world is hotly debated. Most working scientists I know do not believe science is equipped for such a task.

What Applegate is saying is that, yes, many scientists think that evolution was guided by a mind, but, no, science is not up to this task.

Whether or not you agree with the current stream of thought from Behe, Dembski, Marks, or many others in this field, it is good to keep in mind what is being done – expanding the purview of science. If you think that the current methods of science aren’t up to the task of detecting the guidance of a mind, why stand in the way of those who think that it might be detected? Friendly criticism is always welcome, but why throw stones? Why not, instead, take the time to ask the necessary questions, probe the limits of what is possible, and develop new methodologies? This seems to be a much more constructive approach than simply tossing stones from the sidelines.

Since Biologos is on record saying that it is okay for a scientist to think that a mind guided evolution, why not also allow that scientist to investigate that thought? Certainly, the first steps in such an investigation will be rocky – many false paths will be trodden, and many wrong turns taken – but if it is true that it is guided by a mind, isn’t this a worthy subject for a scientist to pursue?

Since Biologos no longer has any philosophical disagreement with Intelligent Design (only a practical one), why don’t we then join together to see what is possible? Why don’t we join together to see if we can correct our errant methodologies and come up with better, more reliable ones? This seems like a worthy goal to pursue together, doesn’t it? What could be better than learning more about the teleological forces behind evolution?

Let’s work with each other, not against each other. If we do, we shall learn wonderful things together.

Comments
StephenB: "a comprehensible and ordered universe is perfectly syncronized with the mathematical laws that allow us to comprehend it" As far as I am aware, we derived those mathematical laws by observation of the world around us. Were we not here to make the observations, then the mathematical laws would not exist. I must be thick, but I fail to comprehend your point. Are you making a "privileged planet" argument?Muramasa
July 17, 2010
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Muramasa, since you appear to be straining at gnats and swallowing camels in your effort to avoid the context of my argument, I will simplify it once more with the relevant question: How do you explain the fact that a comprehensible and ordered universe is perfectly syncronized with the mathematical laws that allow us to comprehend it?StephenB
July 16, 2010
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Not to flog a dead horse here, Stephen, but the two are not really comparable at all. Planets move around the Sun in a continuous, predictable fashion, which lets us send landers and rovers to Mars. Electrons, if I recall correctly, "jump" around the nucleus. The term "electron cloud" is a more apt descriptor. If Mars jumped around like an electron, I wouldn't want to be the astronaut trying to land there. Also, what do you mean by "measurable quantities" in the periodic table? Are you referring to the arrangement of elements by atomic number? And what are "geometric proportions"? And by "fine tuning" do you mean to say that the puddle is amazed to find that its hole is tailored to fit it exactly?Muramasa
July 16, 2010
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---Muramasa"I don’t think that the gravity relationship between star and planet is directly comparable to the electrical charge between an electron and nucleus (proton)." I disagree with you. I think that a micro marvel that involves pathways around a nucleus is comparable to a macro marvel that involves pathways around a star. In any case, it was only one of many examples that I could have used. How do you explain measurable quantities found in the periodic table of elements, the qualities of geometric proportions, and the fine tuning constants of the univerwse? In keeping with that point, how do you explain the comprehensible nature of those proportions and their perfect correspondence with the mathematical laws that allow us to comprehend them?StephenB
July 15, 2010
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Stephen, I assume you are engaging in more artistic license. I don't think that the gravity relationship between star and planet is directly comparable to the electrical charge between an electron and nucleus (proton).Muramasa
July 14, 2010
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Muramasa @109: I, too, was using a little artistic license. The parallel analysis is far from perfect since the path of the electron is not so well understood, though it was once thought to be elliptical. Still, it seems pretty amazing to me that the micro relationship between electron/nucleus bears a strong resemblance to the macro relationship between planet/star.StephenB
July 13, 2010
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StephenB @101: "Did the same God that designed electrons to make an elliptical journery (sic) around neutrons also design the way planets make an elliptical journey around our sun? It’s a fair question is it not?" It has been a while since I took Chemistry and Physics, but I am pretty sure that the elliptical orbits of electrons are strictly artistic license.Muramasa
July 13, 2010
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Timaeus, If TE/EC people were to make the statement you suggest, *and* repudiate dozens of other statements they have made indicating an inflexible commitment to pure naturalism in origins and indicating emotional hostility to the detectability of design, then I would extend the trust you are asking for. Fair enough, and now I can see where you're coming from. What you've provided here is a kind of 'roadmap to cooperation', and it makes sense to me. My own view of Biologos' record, as you've seen, isn't one of unqualified praise. In fact it's largely negative, with some bright points. But again, I'm an optimistic sort. As I pointed out, some TEs on the ASA list did make statements very similar to the one you’ve proposed I remember some ASA members who took that tack, yes. I also remember a few who did not, and who took a more reasonable/consistent stance. In other words, their concession didn’t bring them one whit closer to ID. Again, we may be seeing things differently here. I'm not thinking about bringing Biologos "closer to ID" at this point. I'm hoping to find some points about design and Designers that even ID and Biologos may be able to agree upon, even while maintaining their differences of views on ID. But you did say above why there are problems even on that front, and I agree with where you're coming from there. I'll put aside the ID/evolution talk now, except to say again that I think 'random', purged of unwarranted metaphysical claims, is ID-neutral to ID-friendly. Of course, to purge that is to purge Darwinism. As ever, I'm not too worried about that.nullasalus
July 12, 2010
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nullasalus: The distrust I spoke of was not an "in principle" distrust. It was based on the analysis provided in the rest of my post, which in turn was based on other statements made by TE/EC which don't fit with the proposal of neutrality that you are speaking of. If TE/EC people were to make the statement you suggest, *and* repudiate dozens of other statements they have made indicating an inflexible commitment to pure naturalism in origins and indicating emotional hostility to the detectability of design, then I would extend the trust you are asking for. As I pointed out, some TEs on the ASA list did make statements very similar to the one you've proposed (i.e., true randomness is just as much out of bounds as divine guidance) but, as you may remember, *despite* those statements, they were still manifestly committed to naturalism in the historical sciences and manifestly against employing teleological conceptions in science, and entirely against design detection for both methodological and theological reasons. In other words, their concession didn't bring them one whit closer to ID. What I am saying is that the proposal you have given, while reasonable and trustworthy coming from your lips, is not so reasonable and trustworthy coming from the lips of certain others, given their track record. Thus, I'd require *more* from them than I would from you. Just as Ronald Reagan could say to the Soviets, if you're really interested in peace and not imperialism, get out of Afghanistan, I'm saying to the TEs, if you are really interested in separating metaphysics from science, don't *assume* (even for methodological purposes) that designed events and processes didn't play a role in origins, and don't *assume* that design can't be detected by science. I can't comment on Conway Morris whom I know only by hearsay, or Mike Gene whose notions are still only partly clear to me. As for Denton, he grants the existence of mutations random with respect to the outcome, but thinks that such things do not play nearly as important a role in the evolutionary process as designed features, whereas in neo-Darwinism they are the main driver of evolutionary transformation. So I think my point still holds, since ID doubts that such mutations could be the main drivers. You are right that I understated the Darwinian position. I was giving minimum requirements, because, you know, there are always sticklers who will object, saying, "Darwin doesn't directly say that variations are really random". I think Darwin's whole structure of thought implies that, but even if it doesn't, it certainly implies "random with respect to fitness", and that's all ID really needs to show that Darwinism is questionable science. Of course, if we take the more extreme (and I believe justified) interpretation of randomness in Darwin, then Darwin would fall afoul not only of science but of orthodox Christian theology. T.Timaeus
July 12, 2010
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StephenB, That is tremendously high praise, and all I can do is thank you for it. I've enjoyed your arguments for the ID side (and against irrationality re: causality), so thank your for your time and effort here as well. A few select comments: With Darwin, they hold that naturalistic forces brought life to its current status, and even that information itself came out of theses processes. We may think we perceive evidence of design in a DNA molecule, or we can even daydream about the miraculous parallels and similarities between micro marvels [biology] and macro marvels [cosmology] but, in truth, those perceptions are, we are told, misguided. And I would agree that anyone saying we are 'misguided' to regard DNA, life itself, the wonders of the cell, etc as "design" is deluded. The only possible difference here is that the material origin story of the cell, of DNA, of life, etc doesn't really have a role in my seeing that design - except as another instance of design. To give an example: If I'm inspecting a CPU processor, I don't really care if said processor was made by hand, made by a machine, made by harnessed evolutionary processes, etc. I'm looking at design. Differentiating between those processes is like differentiating between which tools were used in the manufacture. Is it not reasonable to hold that the same designer who arranged for the measurable quantities found in the periodic table of elements that chemists study also arranged for the Geometrical marvels that the mathematicians admire? It seems reasonable to me to answer in the affirmative, yet TE’s typically struggle with these points. I suspect some, perhaps many, TEs would affirm that yes, all these things are designed. They may question whether this design can be established by the scientific method, or whether they even need said method to establish it. I affirm [and the Bible affirms] that design is nature is perceptible. ID advocates and TE proponents can reasonably debate the point about whether that same design is provable and testable through scientific means. I believe that it can be, but I respect those who disagree with the point. I am less sympathetic to the idea that the Christian belief system can be reconciled with the idea that biololgical design is an illusion, especially from those who have not a shred of scientific evidence to support that view. I agree with all points here, and that sort of common ground (and, if primarily implied, the rejection of "illusion" re: design in biology/nature) was really what I was driving at as possible to come out of the Biologos camp. I still maintain that this would be a good thing, even though some major divisions would remain between the two outlooks. Perhaps we will see it.nullasalus
July 12, 2010
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Timaeus, I'm going to try and focus on a few things here, so forgive me if I leave a few of your points out, or don't address them thoroughly enough. First and foremost, this seems like the heart of the problem: So what I’m saying is, if the TEs were to offer the sort of olive branch you are suggesting, and say that they are just as much against randomness as against guidance, (a) I wouldn’t trust them, because I believe they deep down *do* have metaphysical prejudices in favor of randomness and against guidance, seeing randomness as compatible with their naturalism and guidance as incompatible with it; Here's the problem: If you don't trust TEs/Biologos, then any talk of finding common ground is dead in the water immediately, isn't it? If they can't be trusted, that's that. Let them out and out endorse ID and it won't matter - in principle it could be some kind of trick, so why seek even that from them? And that's where I'd have to say I differ. If Biologos and TEs copped to the views I said, I admit I would be impressed and find that as common ground to share and celebrate. Would I never regard anything they say with some skepticism or hesitation thereafter? No, but I don't do that for anyone. Either way, if you see things differently, then that's that. I'm hesitant to even discuss the other points you bring up here, only because what initially drew me into this conversation was the idea of finding some common ground with Biologos, even while recognizing that there were differences between the two 'camps'. Still, I'll give some select replies. In classic neo-Darwinism, the mutations must be random, if not in the sense of utterly without a rational cause, at least in the sense of “random with respect to evolutionary fitness”. And it’s this that ID challenges. What about Michael Denton's approach? What about Mike Gene's approach? What about Behe's talk of front-loading? What about Simon Conway Morris' views? The first two, if I recall right, have ID-friendly views which don't dispute 'random with respect to evolutionary fitness'. Behe seems open to such. Simon Conway Morris is not an ID proponent, but I've seen ID proponents such as Benjamin Wiker speak positively about Morris. So on this point, I suspect you've narrowed ID's claims down too far. (Incidentally, while trying to recall his name I hopped over to To The Source. I see he has an article up about Biologos and evolution - worth reading.) ID people are willing to lay their theory on the line, by putting Darwinism to the test of calculation. If the Darwinians can prove that the probability of insectivores evolving into bats by their mechanisms is as high as, say, 50%, ID is dead in the water. I agree that 'Darwinians' do not have this. I suspect that they may never have it, and some may suggest it's unfair to require that they do have it (for any of those large macroevolutionary changes you speak of). I share some of your views here. But this seems like a Catch-22. What about Gould's ideas of contingency in evolution (Which, I would add, is thoroughly tainted with metaphysics) such that any particular outcome of evolution is wildly improbable? If I understand that correctly, that view practically demands that "the probability of insectivores evolving into bats", lacking some tremendously fortuitous fine-tuning, must be far below 50%. Otherwise we're coming close to Simon Conway Morris' view. Further, those mechanisms would still be context-sensitive, wouldn't they? You couldn't just drop insectivores into any environment. "Fine-tuning" would be required to even have a chance at predicting the result. But what are the odds the environment would be tuned so? Again, it sounds to me like any non-ID explanation that could be produced would run alongside an ID explanation. Am I missing something? Darwinian theory makes no sense at all unless the mutations are “random” in the narrow sense specified; but that’s the randomness we can’t, at our present state of knowledge, put to the test. I think Darwinian theory requires a lot more than that, to be true to Darwin. It requires no guidance, period, doesn't it? Otherwise the entire theory can just, as Asa Gray seemed to have regarded it, simply be subsumed under a theistic interpretation easily such that all that really exists is 'artificial selection'. And we're back to the compatibility with ID evolutionary theories. Anyway, again I want to say that I only jumped in here to discuss the potential common ground between Biologos and ID, so forgive me if I'm focusing on that over anything else.nullasalus
July 12, 2010
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T: On a run, but before locking up. As a physicist, we routinely see chance based or effectively chance based circumstances and processes that are subjects of scientific investigation. Kinetic theory and Statistical Mechanics as well as Quantum theory spring readily to mind. Insofar as sciences as conventionally labelled address mechanical necessity, chance circumstances and processes, as well, we look tot he focus of finding out the truth, so far as we can. And, as noted, in Information theory especially, intelligence and artifacts thereof are specific subjects of scientific study of great economic import. The point of the design inference is that it is extending and applying these principles. (My previously linked at 83 I think it is will give more.) Cheers GEM of TKIkairosfocus
July 12, 2010
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Hi Cabal, If you can accept without question that material causes are sufficient to explain life, then you are relying on something metaphysical. Nothing we know about physical reality provides requisite evidence that life can come about by purely material causes (the interaction of law and chance). On the contrary. I believe that design is apparent in nature, and that the analogues of code storage and information processing in biology to our own technological achievements provide reasonable evidence that intelligence is required to produce life. Information may very well be a primary pillar of reality -- the interactions that occur in known physical processes have not been shown to be capable of generating it; information must be infused into a system in order to be present in one. No physical system alone can produce it. In other words: information must be imposed upon a medium, it is not created from within one. We are unlikely to agree on this. Both our views require metaphysical assumptions. But I believe that what we observe in nature better justifies my beliefs than yours (unless you just happen to be a theist who accepts evidence for design in nature). ;-) However you appear to be a staunch materialist, who has decided that belief in God is akin to belief in faeries and unicorns. I cannot help you there other than to inform you that, if you ever reach the end of yourself, a sincere appeal to the living God to reveal the Truth may very well yield surprising results. If you are a committed materialist, then it is practically impossible for you to consider both logical possibilities for the existence of life and the universe. You are only capable of perceiving one of these: that life is the result of blind necessity born of matter and energy; and that time, space, matter, and energy are born of something unknown. The other is taboo: that life and the universe is the result of a creative act by an omnipotent deity. If I'm being to presumptuous, I'll welcome correction regarding your views and philosophy. The term "biological singularity" is merely colorful language I chose on the fly, based on concepts I've gleaned by various writers here, all more clever than myself (I didn't coin the phrase, it's been used elsewhere probably with differing connotations). In short, life's origin as we know it is a singular, unique event obscured by a veil of history. This is true for both the theist and the atheist. If the theist is correct, life is the result of a historic act of creation, unknowable except in revelation; for the atheist, life evolved from the universal common ancestor, whose nature and genesis are equally obscured, unknowable except by speculation. Thanks much for your questions.Apollos
July 12, 2010
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nullasalus, thank you for your thoughtful comments. In many ways, you stand like a giant colossus between the ID and TE movements, weighing and sifting the arguments from both sides without muddling or misrepresenting either. You are probably the only TE I know who could actually play the role of arbitrator. Inasmuch as Timaeus has covered the metaphysical/scientific issue and kairosfocus has addressed the epistomelogical/scientific component, I have nothing to add to their accounts but praise and gratitude. It falls on me, then, to approach the intersection of theology and science as best I can, albeit in abbreviated fashion. TEs in the biologos tradition [and ASA tradition] do, for the most part, insist that they have managed to reconcile their scientifc convictions with their theological beliefs. I question that claim. On the contrary, it seems to me that they reconciled their faith and its rational foundations to a failed paradigm known as Darwinistic science. As you well know, the Christian religion is based on reason and holds that truth is unified. According to that belief system, God does not ask truth seekers to believe in propositions that cannot be scrutinized by reason's searchlight. That is why Christian apologetics typically begin with arguments for the existence of God and proceed forward with historical arguments about prophecies made in Old Testament theology and fulfilled in New Testament history. A God who leaves clues about himself in nature and predicts his own arrival in space/time/history is a God who has earned the right to be believed. Unlike other religions, Christianity does not ask for an irrational leap of faith based on the questionable claims from those who have not really produced their credentials as spokesmen for God. Unlike other major religious leaders, Christ did not just show up unannounced and ask us to trust him. Christianity points back to the the prophecies and assures us that nature itself gives evidence of God's handiwork. The point of Romans 1:20 and Psalm 19 is to identify Christianity's faith system with its reasonable foundations--to create a link between that which we can know through reason or conclude via empirical observation and that to which we believe and commit our lives-- to assure us that if we are called on to die for our faith that we are not dying for, as St. Peter calls it, some "cunningly devised tale." In a general sense, I hold that most TEs militate against this rational framework and reduce the Christian religion to one which is almost solely faith-based, using Darwins failed theory to justify their dubious departure from orthodoxy. To begin with, we are asked to believe that God revealed himself in the cosmological realm and then went back into hiding in the biological realm. With Darwin, they hold that naturalistic forces brought life to its current status, and even that information itself came out of theses processes. We may think we perceive evidence of design in a DNA molecule, or we can even daydream about the miraculous parallels and similarities between micro marvels [biology] and macro marvels [cosmology] but, in truth, those perceptions are, we are told, misguided. Did the same God that designed electrons to make an elliptical journery around neutrons also design the way planets make an elliptical journey around our sun? It's a fair question is it not? Theistic evolutionits tell us that we may not even consider the matter because Darwin and Richard Dawkins tell us biological design is an illusion, and if that is what Darwin and Dawkins say is true in the name of science, then TEs must also accept it in the name of science. In keeping with that point, is it not reasonable to argue that the same designer that fine-tuned the perceptible physical constants that make life possible in our universe also fine tuned the perceptible informational processing that occurs in the DNA" factory." Is it not reasonable to hold that the same designer who arranged for the measurable quantities found in the periodic table of elements that chemists study also arranged for the Geometrical marvels that the mathematicians admire? It seems reasonable to me to answer in the affirmative, yet TE's typically struggle with these points. According to the testimony of reason and the tenets of the, Christian religion nature speaks coherently and with a unified voice. So much so, that we can detect problems that apparently should not be there, as in the case of human suffering. For TEs [in the biologos tradition] nature speaks out of both sides of its mouth, revealing the truth of God's handiwork with one utterance and and withholding it with another. I affirm [and the Bible affirms] that design is nature is perceptible. ID advocates and TE proponents can reasonably debate the point about whether that same design is provable and testable through scientific means. I believe that it can be, but I respect those who disagree with the point. I am less sympathetic to the idea that the Christian belief system can be reconciled with the idea that biololgical design is an illusion, especially from those who have not a shred of scientific evidence to support that view.StephenB
July 12, 2010
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Cabal: That of course pivots on your substitution of a materialistic, loaded redefinition of science a la Lewontin et al and the NAS et al. And the main biological singularity is the obvious one: origin of life. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
July 12, 2010
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Good points, nullasalus. Let me restate. I think that the fundamental problem in assessing Darwinian claims lies in the very nature of science, and what it can do. Science can discover general laws. It cannot deal with particular hypothetical past events, except when they can be directly inferred (as in forensic science) from the operation of general laws. Darwinian evolution, in all its variations, depends upon the assertion that particular sequences of past events happened, sequences which even in principle can't be deduced from natural laws, not even "natural selection", but which are, ex hypothesi, radically contingent. Science does not deal with the contingent; it deals with the necessary. The *best* that science can do with an alleged sequence of past contingent events is to estimate the probability of the given sequence's occurring. But Darwinians won't specify even a hypothetical chain of mutations for *any* major macroevolutionary change, which makes it impossible to calculate the probability of the sequence. Therefore, confronted with the statement: "A series of mutations, culled by natural selection, turned an insectivore into a bat within X million years", the scientific critic has no specific proposal to work with. Of course, morphological and genomic similarities can be trotted out (which is pretty well what every scientific column at Biologos is about), but they don't reveal causal dependency (except for those biologists who are philosophically challenged). What is needed for a causally adequate account of neo-Darwinian evolution is a proposal for a specific series of mutations to produce a particular organ, system, body plan, etc. Despite the differences I am pointing out between sciences concerned with natural laws and sciences based on contingent events, TEs keep insisting on the parallel with Darwinian theory and Newton's theory. Thus, they invite us to compare them. That was what I was doing. Thus, I note that they like to compare Darwin and Newton when it serves their turn, but *don't* use the parallel when it doesn't. They all believe that the inference of the validity of Newton's laws is perfectly scientific and non-metaphysical, and they don't add any qualifier about "maybe or maybe not specific divine actions are a causal factor in moving the planets". And rightly so, in my opinion. Why, then, in saying that mutations plus natural selection are adequate to explain macroevolution, would they have to add any qualifier about "We don't do metaphysics, so we won't enter into the discussion about whether the mutations are caused by blind natural forces or by specific divine actions"? Why should they have to add that caveat, if the science is of the same type as Newton's? In classic neo-Darwinism, the mutations must be random, if not in the sense of utterly without a rational cause, at least in the sense of "random with respect to evolutionary fitness". And it's this that ID challenges. If the TEs want to avoid metaphysics and religion and just do "science", then why don't they take up ID's challenge and simply show that random mutations (in that limited sense, which has nothing to do with metaphysics or divine guidance) can do the job? Why don't they proceed *by isolating a hypothetical sequence for a given transformation, and doing the compound probability calculations*? If the probability comes out high, Darwinism looks pretty good. If it comes out very low, Darwinism looks like a desperate last-ditch attempt to stave off the interpretation of design. ID people are willing to lay their theory on the line, by putting Darwinism to the test of calculation. If the Darwinians can prove that the probability of insectivores evolving into bats by their mechanisms is as high as, say, 50%, ID is dead in the water. Thus, it seems to me that this whole TE thing about "We believe in Darwinian mechanisms, but say nothing metaphysical or theological about whether the mutations are random in the sense of being unguided", is a red herring. It seems to me that the *important* sense of randomness here (from a scientific point of view, that is, not from a religious point of view) is "random with respect to evolutionary fitness". And it seems to me that the TEs assume, without even bothering to do the calculations, that mutations that are "random" in that sense can work creative miracles. And it seems to me that they do this for the same reason that Darwin did it, and for the same reason that Gaylord Simpson and Sagan did it, and the same reason that Dawkins and Coyne do it: they want to ban telic processes from evolutionary theory. But why would one have that motive? If scientists are truly neutral on metaphysical questions, they should be completely open to the existence of telic processes in evolution. They should be open to evidence that random mutations aren't nearly enough, and that the whole process is biased towards certain kinds of development. So it's a metaphysical dislike of telic processes in biology that's driving the TEs. So what I'm saying is, if the TEs were to offer the sort of olive branch you are suggesting, and say that they are just as much against randomness as against guidance, (a) I wouldn't trust them, because I believe they deep down *do* have metaphysical prejudices in favor of randomness and against guidance, seeing randomness as compatible with their naturalism and guidance as incompatible with it; and (b) I'd say "So what?", because the "concession" would be irrelevant from the scientific point of view. Darwinian theory makes no sense at all unless the mutations are "random" in the narrow sense specified; but that's the randomness we can't, at our present state of knowledge, put to the test. So if the TEs really want to be non-metaphysical and scientific, I'd rather hear them say: "Science cannot currently prove that mutations *random with respect to evolutionary fitness* are capable of producing major macroevolutionary change." If they would say that, then yes, that would be an olive branch that could bring ID and Biologos together on some issues. But what are the chances that anyone at Biologos will ever utter those words? T.Timaeus
July 12, 2010
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Apollos,
I think we can agree that there is no valid scientific reason to believe without question that material causes are sufficient to explain the biological singularity;
"believe without question"? There are a zillion things or more that there is no valid scientific reason to believe, but to me, it looks like a more productive position to say "There is no scientific reason to believe that natural causes are insufficient to explain the world." Although there may be plenty of reasons founded on religious or superstitious modes of thought. But that is quite a different piece of cake. Out of curiosity, what is the/a biological singularity?Cabal
July 12, 2010
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gingoro Basic problem is, guess what strongly shapes what we see as convincing or not? ANS: Our worldview core presuppositions. So, it is all too easy to end up reasoning and living in an evolutionary materialistic circle until things crash so loud and hard that we cannot deny it. And as the demise of Marxism showed, that then leads on to trying to repackage the dead ideology. If you were to follow the links I gave, starting with the first, you would see clearly enough just where the design inference comes out: it privileges law and chance, unless a threshold of sufficient complexity and specificity is passed. So, pardon some direct remarks: your question just above does not come across to me as serious. Can we do better than this? GEM of TKIkairosfocus
July 12, 2010
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kairofocus@ 94 "My basic thought on the dust-up above is that at the heart of the matter is our understanding of what science is and should be." I think that is only a piece of the issue although an important piece. IMO the other piece is whether or not the ID work as of today is convincing. "Science at its best is/should be an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, theorising, logico-mathematical analysis and reasoned discussion among the informed." Do you have any preference for material causes vrs either human causes or divine causes? IMO such a preference is essential or too much gets attributed to the Gods and science disappears. Dave Wgingoro
July 12, 2010
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Timaeus, Actually, some ASA-TEs have in the past argued something like the first position you mentioned. I recall that somewhat, which is another reason I suspect those at Biologos might be willing to accept it. If I read you right, it sounds like you think this would be progress (I agree), but would still put them far from ID (I agree)? Wouldn’t be much of a scientific theory, would it? The mechanism would then be vague. It would be unclear whether or not “unguided” mutations could have done just as well as “guided” ones. It wouldn't be, though I suppose that's the point - that to talk of "unguided" or "guided" mutations, in this ultimate sense, is to talk about something other than a scientific theory. We can still talk plenty about mechanisms, about mutations, about models. A comparison with another scientific theory might help. TEs would never accept a theory of gravitation which says, “Maybe the planets are moved wholly by Newton’s laws, or maybe they are moved by Newton’s laws plus a little push from God now and then, and science can’t be sure which, because that’s a metaphysical question”. I don't think this example maps well as stated. First because the status of "laws" is itself a philosophical question, even if scientists are used to talking in certain ways as shorthand. But more importantly, because A) It implies 'God doing stuff' is part of a scientific theory (Which in my limited "possibly Biologos can accept this" example, it isn't), B) It implies that God could only guide through a direct intervention, which even some ID proponents dispute, and C) Implies guidance or its lack is something science can discern. I'd restate the example as follows: "Science studies and creates models of fundamental forces and interactions which describe and predict the motions of planets. Do the motions we see and uncover come about utterly without foresight, guidance or planning? Were they, along with the laws and forces that interact, planned or guided in some way? That goes beyond science." I do think some TEs could and would accept that. Heck, I think some ID proponents could and would accept that. I want to stress, I'm not taking a position on ID itself here. I'm just trying to point out a ground TEs/ECs could commit to that, while falling short of ID, would establish some common ground. Of course, if it falls short of ID, then ID will still have some disagreements. But again, I'm an optimist - I think there's such a thing as progress. "Why not just say outrightly what Darwin consistently stated or implied, i.e., that the mutations are not in any way guided, and don’t need to be, in order to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse?" Because if it's correct that science can't tell whether God guides or guided evolution - either through direct intervention, or Denton-style 'natural unfolding', or front-loaded evolution, etc - then Darwin's personal thoughts on the matter mean diddly. Which, I admit, is a kind of elephant in the room. Me, I don't care if Darwin's personal metaphysics are discarded. What, *you* care? Either way, this would amount to teaching ninth-grade biology students *that science is not capable of saying whether or not evolution can be explained entirely naturalistically*. I could go for that position, if the above inference regarding the limitation of “origins science” were explicitly drawn in front of the students; but I can’t believe that most TE/EC people would support it. I think getting into what should be taught in science classes, especially as some ground level demand, is a mistake. But that said: Isn't "science is not capable of saying whether or not evolution can be explained entirely naturalistically" exactly the claim most 'evolutionists', even those who aren't TEs, stuck with anyway given that "methodological naturalism"* v "philosophical naturalism" schtick? If science truly proceeds according to a method that does not itself require commitment to philosophy, then that very qualification of random you mention, that lack of implication, is built right in. Otherwise it's a lie, and the whole MN facade falls - it's just another name for PN. And if philosophy/metaphysics can be introduced into science, all bets are off. (*Caveat for those reading: I used to accept 'methodological naturalism', and argued for it until as recently as last year or so. I've since changed my mind, and while my thoughts on it are complicated, I regard MN as a major mistake to judge science by.)nullasalus
July 12, 2010
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"kairosfocus" (#94) wrote: "So, it is time to fling down the gauntlet, in the even older taunt and indictment on sterile, metaphysically loaded speculation on origins in Job 38." Speaking of origins, I don't suppose now would be a good time to mention that the "Ludlul bel nemeqi," the standard Babylonian poem of the Righteous Sufferer, long considered to be the much earlier Akkadian source of the 4th Century BC's Book of Job, has the god Marduk laying down the foundations of the earth. And Isaac Newton, who was the Last Alchemist as well as the First Scientist, is well known to have written more on religion than he did on science and mathematics. It should be no surprise that a bit of his dominant leaning toward religious mysticism would from time to time creep into his more technical writing, but one should not ascribe too much to such "leakage."PaulBurnett
July 12, 2010
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Ah Apollos: Cyberspace is never a certainty! (On another front Tiki yields slowly but surely, and Kaltura is now in the cross hairs . . . ) My basic thought on the dust-up above is that at the heart of the matter is our understanding of what science is and should be. I have come to champion the understanding I again put up yesterday in 83, which has deep roots in the actual history and values of science:
Science at its best is/should be an unfettered (but ethically and intellectually responsible) progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, theorising, logico-mathematical analysis and reasoned discussion among the informed.
Once truth-seeking is compromised, a priori, implicitly or explicitly, science's credibility and legitimacy are slowly but surely lost. And, the evolutionary materialistic a priorism of Lewontin, NAS, NCSE, NSTA et al is a definite case in point. (SIDEBAR: Notice the link to the Blogger form of the in-progress IOSE, UD community. Observe as well the onward discussion of societal implications -- including especially education policy and praxis, as well as the challenge of nihilism ever since Plato -- here. In short, the long contemplated critical survey on origins science from hydrogen to humans is materially complete as a beta. In my considered opinion, this is the level on which the battle for our civilisation (and IMO, for our souls) will be decided. And, that includes the family quarrel that is going on between design thinkers of [mono-]theistic bent -- by no means all design thinkers! -- and theistic darwinists.) Using a key passage from Newton's Opticks discovered during the development of IOSE (cf appendix on research methods etc), let us consider his understanding of science: _____________ >> As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [i.e. speculative metaphysics . . . which would include a priori evolutionary materialism] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration [i.e. certain, logical proof and knowledge] of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. [i.e. we see the principle of provisionality] By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover'd, and establish'd as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations [i.e. he foreshadows inference to best explanation, with an emphasis on mathematical postulates and mathematical inferences therefrom to cover the set of observations]. [Opticks, Query 31, 1705] >> _______________ Further to this, in the same Query, Newton underscored the same design-centred, creation based view of science that we find in the General Scholium to Principia:
Now by the help of [the laws of motion], all material Things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid Particles above-mention'd, variously associated in the first Creation by the Counsel of an intelligent Agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it's unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form'd, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages . . . . And if natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will be also enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature.”
With that sort of intellectual horsepower and pedigree so explicitly in my corner, I can see the utter puerility and cynical party-line-ism of the sort of assertions made variously by the Dawkinses, Lewontins, Scotts and mandarins of the US NAS of today's science establishment for what they are. As well pretend that a flashlight out-shines the sun! And, when such, by contrast with the giant of science for the past 400 years then resort to playing at being a secular Magisterium that expels those who dare differ or simply question their orthodoxy, all it tells me is that institutional science in our day is dying of corruption induced by intoxication with evolutionary materialism, and its radically relativist moral implication that might makes right. Something that Plato pointed out and corrected in his The Laws Bk X, 2,300 years ago (the first recorded presentation of a design theory framework)! So, it is time to fling down the gauntlet, in the even older taunt and indictment on sterile, metaphysically loaded speculation on origins in Job 38:
1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? . . .
In short, it is high time we learned to be humble in our attempts to build theoretical explanations of the deep, unobserved past of origins. We were not there, and we cannot know beyond reasonable doubt -- including on the timelines and cosmology, much less origin of life, of body plan level diversity of life or of mind and moralising man. So, we ought not to teach as [practically] certain that which is inherently and inescapably highly speculative and uncertain. So, dialogue in a spirit of cooperation and honest humility about the limits of human knowledge would be a good place to start afresh. Which I think is a good part of what Mr Bartlett is calling for in the original post. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
July 12, 2010
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nullasalus: Actually, some ASA-TEs have in the past argued something like the first position you mentioned. The problem is, what would this "neutral" position leave of neo-Darwinism? Something like this: "Mutations, perhaps truly random or perhaps carefully guided [that's a metaphysical question we scientists don't get into], plus natural selection, have generated all forms of complex life." Wouldn't be much of a scientific theory, would it? The mechanism would then be vague. It would be unclear whether or not "unguided" mutations could have done just as well as "guided" ones. If the mutations could do the job just as well whether they were guided or not, then God is, from an explanatory point of view, redundant; and if the mutations *couldn't* do the job without at least a tiny bit of God's guidance, then God is explanatorily necessary. These two options -- explanatorily redundant and explanatorily necessary -- are so different that it's obscure beyond measure to combine them. It would be much clearer to say either that mutations plus natural selection, completely unguided by God, can produce all species, or that unguided mutations could almost certainly not produce all species, because random searches for useful sequences don't have the probablistic resources to do that. The former would be the Dawkins-Darwinist position; the latter would be the ID position; the unclear combination would be the proposed TE/EC position. A comparison with another scientific theory might help. TEs would never accept a theory of gravitation which says, "Maybe the planets are moved wholly by Newton's laws, or maybe they are moved by Newton's laws plus a little push from God now and then, and science can't be sure which, because that's a metaphysical question". They would be very confident that natural causes can explain the motion of the planets without any conception of "guidance". And they wouldn't think that it was engaging in "metaphysics" to exclude "guidance" in that case. So why the caveat about "guidance" regarding the mutations that are crucial to neo-Darwinism? Why not just say outrightly what Darwin consistently stated or implied, i.e., that the mutations are not in any way guided, and don't need to be, in order to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse? Another way of looking at it would be from the teaching point of view. If the TE/EC people were sincere in offering the "neutral" view you're proposing, then surely they would agree that when evolution is taught in ninth-grade biology, either (i) the word "random" should be entirely dropped, or (ii) it should be explained that "random" is a technical term, used for methodological reasons, and doesn't imply "sheer dumb luck", and doesn't imply anything one way or the other about whether the process is guided. Either way, this would amount to teaching ninth-grade biology students *that science is not capable of saying whether or not evolution can be explained entirely naturalistically*. I could go for that position, if the above inference regarding the limitation of "origins science" were explicitly drawn in front of the students; but I can't believe that most TE/EC people would support it. After all, they wouldn't support teaching that the motion of the planets might not be able to be explained naturalistically, or that chemical bonding might not be able to be explained naturalistically; and given that they are dead set against any distinction between experimental sciences and historical sciences, they wouldn't want the same admission made regarding evolution. So I don't believe that they would allow their "neutral" position to have any effect on science pedagogy. I think they would join with the atheist Darwinists to prevent the insertion of any qualification of "random" which could cause doubt about the sufficiency of natural explanations of evolution. At least, that's their track record -- always to side with the atheist Darwinists on every aspect of the evolutionary question pertaining to either science practice or science pedagogy. T.Timaeus
July 11, 2010
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"Either way, thanks again for the exchange, and here’s hoping Biologos is at least willing to go as far as I say. And that, if they do, ID proponents see that as at least some common ground to stand and discuss on."
I can raise a glass to that. Cheers, nullasalus!Apollos
July 11, 2010
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Apollos, My suspicion is that we’ll see them attempt to have it both ways: foresaw but not directed; God is express but evolution is unguided; etc.. I suppose that's the other side of this conversation. If it comes back that Biologos' members are committed to the positive claim that evolution really IS wholly unguided (Remember, even Eugenie Scott was willing to back down on 'impersonal and unsupervised' re: evolution, during that NABT dust up years ago), then that's it. There really is nothing more to say or discuss. Even I would have nothing to do with Biologos at that point. Even while having serious reservations about ID, even while accepting evolution. My opinion of Biologos, I freely admit, is low. But I also admit to having hopes that they can agree to at least what I mentioned. Kathryn Applegate seems to be open to that idea. Daniel Harrell's piece on Genesis and Evolution showed promise (and then was ruined by Biologos' response, kissing up to a petulant, irrational Dawkins.) I honestly worry that a central problem is this: Biologos wants to proclaim Christianity's compatibility with science and evolution while taking as close to 0 heat from atheists (!)as possible. If that's truly the case, then frankly, Biologos is sunk. Again, Daniel Harrell's piece showed as much - suggest that evolution can be or was guided (even with the express caveat that science is silent on the matter), suggest that design is real (again, with the same caveat), and hell will be caught from Dawkins and company. And they have to be willing to face that hell and tell Dawkins & company to get bent. And that even includes some sweet-talking, strategic-minded "compromising" atheists, who will say nice things about Biologos - but only as long as they deny all (not just scientific, but all) design possibilities and largely function as ID- and YEC-bashing Christians-in-name. Either way, thanks again for the exchange, and here's hoping Biologos is at least willing to go as far as I say. And that, if they do, ID proponents see that as at least some common ground to stand and discuss on.nullasalus
July 11, 2010
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nullasalus, Your compliment is held by me in high regard. I'll close with some brief comments on the rest of your post #85.
If Biologos can’t even agree to that much – if the Biologos position is ‘Evolution is utterly unguided, man appeared by chance alone, God neither directed nor foresaw the arrival of man – but we’re still Christians who believe in God!’, then that’s that.
My suspicion is that we'll see them attempt to have it both ways: foresaw but not directed; God is express but evolution is unguided; etc..
But if the Biologos position is something closer to what I outlined? Then, at least, there is some common ground. There are beliefs in common to be discussed, without requiring ID proponents to give up their positions on design, etc. Even if rapt across the board agreement couldn’t happen, some sort of fruitful cooperation and mutual respect could be possible.
I would be happy to see either of your scenarios be closer to the reality of the general TE attitude toward ID. This I would welcome unquestionably. However I perceive the general goal of Biologos to be the reconciliation of Christian faith with Darwinism. This goal is so radically different from ID that it's hard to imagine what benefit ID could gain by joint efforts. I don't suspect Biologos has as much disdain for materialist dogma or New Atheist philosophy than it does for Intelligent Design.
And even there, wouldn’t it be nice for them to actually disagree with ID’s actual core commitments, rather than some cheap rhetorical imitation of such?
I couldn't agree more. Intellectual honesty is not overrated. I would think that this is prerequisite to any sort of relationship. Otherwise it's the frog and the scorpion all over again.
But what can I say – I value cooperation when possible, even if such is imperfect. And I admit I’d like to see Biologos and ID, without ID capitulating on its core positions, staking out a qualified shared view in opposition to science abusing New Atheists and other such. And I think ID in particular is keenly capable of this – look at the Big Tent. Look at how major ID proponents have been dedicated in explaining the intellectual limits of ID, arguing that it’s not limited to Christianity alone.
I agree with everything you've said here excepting one thing. ID's opposition to New Atheist thinking will come about by promoting the truth that apparent design is actual design, and it will establish this with the quantification of design detection. Biologos is in agreement with the New Atheists: design is not detectable; life is explicable entirely in material terms. They just have differing reasons for their position. Right now the two make a good match for opposition to ID, and that goal is manifest. I suppose I'll refrain from further Biologos bashing. It takes energy and I'm all out. Peace and grace.Apollos
July 11, 2010
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Apollos, It’s a matter of philosophy, because whether or not one is a theist, material laws are the same for everyone. I agree and disagree. Laws are the same for everyone. But material laws? An idealist can agree to the laws science uncovers. So can a panpsychist. So can a panentheist, or a theist, or a hylozoist, or someone buying the simulation argument or, etc, etc. Even what "laws" really are is open to debate, from mere humean regularities to islamic occasionalist direct decrees of God to, etc, etc. When you slice away all the assumed or smuggled philosophy from science, what's left is tremendously useful but shockingly bare bones. That was the original point of science - skipping past all the argument about what was metaphysically the case, and just seeking out models that performed well. I don’t mean to be overbearing with my mildly hypomanic soliloquy; but UD is a canvas, and I felt compelled to paint. I hope you’ll excuse the length of this post, and not feel obliged to respond. I don't mind at all, thank you for writing something with such spirit! And I hope you don't mind my sparse comment in turn - I agree with much of what you say in fact. As I said, right here I'm just focusing on forging some possible common ground between two groups it may be possible to forge it with. I'm certainly not questioning here whether ID can do what proponents say it can, or whether it really is or isn't science or, etc.nullasalus
July 11, 2010
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KF, I responed to your #84 but it appears either stuck in moderation, or consigned to oblivion.Apollos
July 11, 2010
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nullasalus,
...but I think “science” as science rarely shows what people think it does. What many ID proponents would happily chalk up to “nature” or “unguided material causes”, I would say is wildly unsettled.
This is an interesting perspective, and one I've seen dealt with here at UD although I couldn't say for certain when/where/whom. It's a matter of philosophy, because whether or not one is a theist, material laws are the same for everyone.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mat 5:45b)
Nature is a tricky word, to be certain. In my own estimation, "nature" could be defined as everything which can be perceived with the five senses, or inferred/deduced with the provided tools of logic and reason. It could also be defined as all that objectively exists -- that which constitutes reality; this definition is broad, but perhaps more appropriate, and a little less tricky. The problem with "natural" however is that it's subject to equivocation, intentional or otherwise (KF mentions the inappropriate natural/supernatural dichotomy above). I've been trying to use the word material in reference to matter, energy, and the physical laws. This is convenient in that it represents all of reality to the materialist; and to the theist it represents that which is ordered by God to predictable regularity, e.g., the earth orbiting the sun, and the moon orbiting the earth, and the quantifiable "rules" by which we can make predictions regarding those things, and count on them from day to day, everyday. To the theist, material reality is a temporal promise of God. Because he cannot contradict his nature, material reality is a glimpse of his glory.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.(Psalm 19:1,2)
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made... (Rom 1:20a)
To the non-theist, material reality is all there is. Predictable regularity in the universe is so, because it is. The laws that we ascribe to providence are taken by them for granted, but they are laws just the same -- predictable and repeatable and decipherable, regardless of one's philosophical predisposition. And whether or not God is exhaustively involved in the orbit of every electron around every atom's nucleus, guiding its arc with unshakable care and perfection, or whether the rules themselves are so resolute and steadfast, and so well crafted that he need not give it an instance of regular effort, reality functions as intended for everyone; and the order therein can be searched, deciphered, and recorded. Place a theist and a non-theist on a beach together and both will discern sand. To one it is designed, although he cannot tell you how; and to the other it just is, and he cannot tell you how it ultimately came about. But to both, the sand castle -- objectively recognizable and representative -- is designed. It was formed by agency from the sand on the beach. It once was not, and then it was; and soon it will not be again (but the archetype will persist, regardless of one's philosophy). The same pair might admire a painting. In this case, both understand that the canvas was made, but both also understand that a canvas is a neutral backdrop upon which the signal of artistic creation is poured forth. Both can recognize (I suspect because there is no philosophical discomfort in doing so) that the painting is conceptually separate from the canvas -- although a backdrop is quite necessary -- and that the canvas could be anything from dirt to a rock face to a glacier.
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground... (Gen 2:7a)
To the theist, man was drawn upon the canvas of the dust; to the non-theist, he is the stuff of stars. In both cases, there is an intuitive recognition of the difference between the material, and that which is formed from it -- regardless of whether the "stuff" itself was also a product of creation. Even the materialist, when corralled into doing so, will confess that life is unique and special, and that an ordered set of rare circumstances were required to bring it about. With human design, we readily perceive the difference between the subject and the stuff. We understand that the canvas is only a necessity, it is not itself the artistic expression. Take a thousand paintings from a thousand different artists and intersect the features. What falls away is everything that gives it substance -- the individual expression, purpose, and intent; what remains is canvas, paint, and a shell of representative material reality. A theist has no need of being confused between that which is created, and that which is communicated. If I wish to write a message in the sand, I smooth away rough features or prior communications, and I inscribe my announcement, "Johnny loves Alice." The expression is necessarily separate from the medium, and about that there can be no misunderstanding nor equivocation. The "dust" is a prerequisite material reality upon which the message can be imbued (no medium, no message).
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground...
I don't perceive any issue in detecting design because one might believe that both the medium and the message were designed. It's ironic that materialists should potentially be liberated from this confusion, while a theist would stumble over it. I understand your discomfort with the phrase "unguided material cause," because to the theist every aspect of reality from nanosecond to nanosecond may indeed be guided with painstaking detail. However it's the promise of material reality's regularity that leads to the euphemism "unguided." I suppose you could substitute "guaranteed."
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:17)
But why should we insist that every aspect of creation is driven by God at every moment, while at the same time insisting that He has somehow hidden Himself behind predictable regularity (material laws), and made the detection of His signature written upon His most beloved handiwork, the stuff of heresy? I don't mean to be overbearing with my mildly hypomanic soliloquy; but UD is a canvas, and I felt compelled to paint. I hope you'll excuse the length of this post, and not feel obliged to respond. Best!Apollos
July 11, 2010
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Now to take my tongue out of my cheek from my last post, I like both what Timaeus and nullasalus have said although I do not think there is much likelihood of the heavies at BioLogos accepting much compromise except in two possible areas. Many ECs who affirm neo Darwinism would also affirm that God foresaw the results of evolution, especially those who hold a reformed theology. For many reformed God's foreknowledge is not causation as God is not within time but stands apart. Many ECs who affirm neo Darwinism would also affirm that God planned at least to some extent the results of evolution in creating the universe with the fine tuning that we see, likely in form of the laws, values of the constants and initial conditions. However, let me remind people that about a year ago over on the defunct ASA email list that all (as best I remember) of the EC/TEs on the list expected that somewhere between an earth with no life and what we now see, that God had in some fashion "intervened" and likely more than once. Neither do I see the heavies at the DI or UcD agreeing to any compromise but I do remember that with God miracles are possible. As I have said on BioLogos I personally do not find neo Darwinism convincing in terms of the development of complex biological features, nor do I find anything in ID convincing (unless one includes the fine tuning arguments). While I am open to Mike G's front loading arguments I do not see how it could be done at the mechanism level, but in fairness I need to read more of his material. Similarly occasional intervention does not trouble me in the least although I would find intervention at every Planck interval for every state transition troubling since I think God created a real universe out there, not just a simulation of some kind. Some have also suggested that God choose to create the precise instance of the universe that would result in mankind and every individual who has ever lived, I wonder if such is possible even for God as IMO omnipotence wrt God covers more than we can imagine but may not cover anything that we can imagine. I tend to think that this is the best possible world that was possible to be created, given the kind of creatures that God ultimately intends and consistent with his attributes such as love and truthfulness... Frankly I am getting weary of both BioLogos and UcD (and ASA) as both seem entrenched in their positions. I think both would be happier if those of us who say a plague on both your houses simply went away. My preference would be to read semi popular works on math, physics and quantum mechanics rather than struggling through evolution and ID tomes. Already I rarely post on the ASA blogs as I do not view their orthodoxy wrt anthropic global warming consensus as being convincing. Although, I did think that Randy Isaac did a good job in his critique of Meyer's SItC. Unfortunately as far as I saw, he never dealt with the issue about whether the OOL seemed probable given the laws of physics and chemistry, which I personally doubt. I was very disappointed that Meyer in his rebuttal of his critics, totally ignored Randy's respectful and IMO thoughtful criticisms. In general I find consensus in science meaningless unless one's definition of consensus is that almost no active significant scientist is arguing about the issue except to add say one more significant figure to the age of the earth or to the mass of the some subatomic particle. I'd say that we have reached consensus on Newton's laws at none relativistic velocities or on Maxwell's equations and other such well established science. I would really like to see ID and BioLogos become if not allies at least co-belligerents in some limited areas and stop anathematizing each other wrt science and theology. Where, by co-belligerents I mean something like the relationship between Churchill and Stalin in WWII when Germany was defeated. But with people like Ayala writing for BioLogos, with their approval and support, I see little hope of that. IMO Ayala's response to Meyer was less than Christian and lacked intellectual integrity. This site has some similar authors of the main posts but I will refrain from naming them for politeness sake, after all, this is an ID site and you can say whatever you want about science or EC/TEs. Much as I dislike to agree with Gregory IMO ID would be more acceptable to people knowledgeable in science if the young earth position was repudiated. I gave up believing in a young earth 55 years ago, as a young teenager living in the great rift valley of Africa not far from where the Lucy was discovered, in fact we crossed the Awash river on the way home from boarding school, at least twice a year. An earth of less than 10,000 years just did not seem reasonable with what I observed about me, even with only grade 9 science. I agree that an old earth is a separate issue from design detection but condoning a young earth does make ID hard to swallow for many, although that was not a factor for me when I read Behe, Meyer and Dembski and ultimately came to disagree with their thesis. Dave Wgingoro
July 11, 2010
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